Posts Tagged ‘Barry Smitherman’

Texas Attorney General’s Race: State of Play and Updates

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

In comparison to the Lt. Governor’s race, the Attorney General’s race is relatively straightforward: There’s a conservative favorite (State Senator Ken Paxton), the well-funded big business republican (State Senator Dan Branch), and a longshot (Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman). A recent poll shows Branch at 42%, Paxton at 38%, and Smitherman a distant third at 20%. But the further down the ballot you get, the less accurate polls tend to be, so take that with a grain of salt.

Ken Paxton is a solid conservative that the majority of movement conservatives in the state have gotten behind (I’d guess that support is running about 85% among state conservatives compared to 15% for Smitherman). He’s also racked up an impressive list of conservative endorsements, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility,

And while Paxton hasn’t been formally endorsed by Ted Cruz, he is getting a lot of mileage out of the Cruz quote that he’s “a tireless conservative warrior.”

By contrast, I haven’t heard a single conservative say they’re supporting state Representative Dan Branch, who is perceived as a RINO in the David Dewhurst mold (without the record of achievement) and an ally of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The representative of tony Highland Park, “his main support base appears to be establishment Republicans.” He’s a business favorite and has tapped extensive fundraising resources in the Metroplex. His attempt to rebrand himself as a Tea Party conservative is pretty laughable: Says the Houston Chronicle editorial board:

a respected GOP state representative from Dallas whose moderate positions and pragmatic approaches to governance frequently align with those of Speaker Joe Straus. Running for attorney general, Branch is portraying himself as the most conservative candidate in the race (a laughable claim), a raging anti-Obaman, a tea-party firebrand and an anti-abortion crusader. We haven’t seen such an extreme re-branding effort since the late Phyllis Diller’s plastic surgeries.

And that’s from the MSM. Most conservative activists I’ve talked too are considerably less kind…

A Branch ad:

A lot of conservatives supported Barry Smitherman‘s run for Railroad Commissioner, but support for his Attorney General run is pretty thin on the ground (David Bellow and some pro-life endorsements being notable exceptions). Red State’s Erick Erickson goes so far as to call Smitherman “an establishment tool.” I think that rather overstates things, but there’s a lot of sentiment that Smitherman has overstated his resume as a Harris County prosecutor, and has tried to move up the statewide ladder too far, too fast, with too thin a resume.

A Smitherman ad:

Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face (I kid you not) Sam Houston (a trial lawyer unrelated to the hero of San Jacinto, who lost a 2008 Supreme Court race) in the general election.

Some race tidbits:

  • Wrangling over an unsuccessful Ken Paxton investment.
  • Here’s Smitherman’s attack site against Paxton. While it’s not quite as weak tea as the Chinese lawsuit bit Dewhurst tried to use against Cruz, the bag has still been seeped two or three times…
  • The man Smitherman wants to succeed as Attorney General is less than thrilled at his criticism of the way the state child support division is run. “As attorney general, I’ve elevated the Texas Child Support Division to number one in the entire nation. Under my leadership we’ve collected more than $28 billion in child support, but we also have achieved one the highest rankings in the nation for efficiency.”
  • Back in 2010, Smitherman was a big fan of smart meters.
  • Smitherman pays a blogger covering the race for consulting services. (Just for the record, I ain’t been paid nothin by nobody for political blogging, unless you count free soda at pizza at Ted Cruz headquarters after I endorsed him…)
  • Evidently Smitherman’s position on the death penalty isn’t quite as unwavering as he would lead you to believe.
  • Branch gets endorsed by the Houston Chronicle.
  • Texas Statewide Race Roundup for October 2, 2013

    Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

    Time for another (no doubt incomplete) roundup of statewide race news:

  • Holly Hansen interviews Greg Abbott.
  • Wendy Davis expresses enthusiasm for gun control, because that will go over so well in Texas. Next up: Wendy David calls for banning BBQ, Tex-Mex, football and Christmas.
  • Davis is expected to announce for Governor tomorrow.
  • Politico previews the Abbott-Davis fight as “bruising.” Well, yeah. It’s going to bruise Democratic egos and wallets to accomplish very little. Also contains this gem: “Republicans control more than 60 percent of statewide offices.” Well, yes, 100% is indeed more than 60%…
  • Left-leaning Texas Monthly just goes ahead and says Abbott will be the next governor. And here’s an excerpt of their cover profile of Abbott.
  • Unless Debra Medina runs as an Independent. Is she trying to elect Wendy Davis? Also, “I couldn’t raise money for a Comptroller race, so I’m going to run for governor” doesn’t make a lot of sense.
  • A roundup of Abbott vs. Davis fundraising between June 17 and August 5.
  • There was a Lt. Governor candidates forum in Houston.
  • There’s another one in Houston tomorrow, October 3, from 5-8 PM at Grace Community Church, 14505 Gulf Freeway.
  • PJ TV Interviews Todd Staples:

  • Also Jerry Patterson:

  • And David Dewhurst (but I’m not seeing one for Dan Patrick):

  • Jerry Patterson slams his rivals as soft:

  • Three Attorney General candidates (Ken Paxton, Barry Smitherman, and Dan Branch) also had a debate.
  • They also clashed over who had endorsed who.
  • Paxton unveils a list of 100 important Texas Tea Party supporters.
  • Smitherman picks up a Right-to-Life endorsement.
  • George P. Bush visits Seguin and San Angelo.
  • Jason Gibson, who briefly competed in the 2012 Senate race, is considering running against John Cornyn in 2014, presumably (as in 2012) as a Democrat.
  • Dem State Rep. Mike Villarreal prefers not to lose a statewide race for Comptroller.
  • Three Joe Straus allies (Bill Callegari, Rob Orr and Tryon Lewis) decide that now is a good time to retire.
  • Barry Smitherman Is Not Helping Himself

    Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

    In the last two weeks, Barry Smitherman has put his foot in it twice, committing unforced errors in his quest to move up from the Railroad Commission to the Attorney General’s office.

    First, he said that America’s low birth-rate was a long-term threat to the nation and that many aborted babies “would have voted Republican.”

    The first assertion is plausible (albeit a long-term concern), but very far indeed from the purvey of the Texas Attorney General. The second statement, in addition to being statistically dubious (minorities tend to both have abortions and vote Democratic at a much higher rate than whites), is offensive because it takes a profound moral issue and trivializes it by turning it into a partisan issue.

    Smitherman could easily have avoided the problem by merely stating “I am strongly Pro-Life, and as Attorney General I will protect the unborn and defend Texas laws restricting abortion.” This is a plausible, principled, focused response that presents a much smaller attack surface for the opposition.

    As if shooting himself in the foot wasn’t sufficient, Smitherman promptly took his gun out of the holster again, took aim, and shot himself in the other foot, stating:

    “We are uniquely situated because we have energy resources, fossil and otherwise, and our own independent electrical grid. Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system.”

    With just a little editing, Smitherman could have sounded far-sighted rather than kooky, emphasizing keeping Texas prosperous, and our infrastructure working, no matter the challenges or difficulties in the rest of the nation. However, when you start speaking of “an independent nation,” then you’ve stopped making sense and started to play footsie with the “Secede!” kooks.

    As a science fiction writer, I can spin a number of vaguely plausible (but unlikely) scenarios in which Texas might secede from the United States. Hell, I can even think of situations where I might push for such action myself (if the feds abolished private property and civilian firearms ownership, I’d be headed for the barricades). What all those scenarios have in common is that none of them are particularly likely, certainly not in the short term, and probably not in the medium term even. (And good freaking luck “seceding” from hyperinflation, a far more likely “doomsday” scenario than any which result in Texas becoming its own country again.)

    Look, I’m a native Texan. I’m proud of the state’s heritage as an independent nation, and do believe that (if we had to) Texas could succeed and thrive as an independent nation. But talk about secession (and the “War of Northern Aggression”) is only get a rise out of the yankees, and no one who takes it seriously should be holding statewide elective office. The United States of America will survive Obama, and there’s a difference between prepping and conspiratorial doomsday mongering. (And “closed-loop” economic autarky is loser economics.)

    Moreover, even in that extremely unlikely scenario, I fail to see how the Attorney General of Texas would have a leading role in such preparations. The fact that Smitherman brought it up suggests (again) that he lacks the focus and message discipline necessary to be Attorney General.

    Texas Statewide Races Update for July 30, 2013

    Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

    Still getting up to speed, so expect these updates to be a bit random for, oh, the next five weeks or so.

  • Abbott: The Obama Administration’s Voting Rights Act lawsuit is purely political.

    The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats‘ fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters. Democrats could never “turn Texas blue” if that trend continued, so they got the courts to draw district lines that guarantee Democratic victory in predominantly Hispanic areas.

    Instead of allowing the Voting Rights Act to work in a way the Constitution allows, the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points. The president is using the legal system as a sword to wage partisan battles rather than a shield to protect voting rights. This overreaching action undermines the Voting Rights Act and the rule of law. Texas will not tolerate it. So far, neither will the Supreme Court.

  • Abbot also appeared on Lou Dobbs to discuss voter ID:

  • He also appeared on the Mike Huckabee show:

  • And the Mike Gallagher Show:

  • And Trey Ware’s show on KTSA:

  • Huckabee, who last endorsed David Dewhurst in the Senate race, endorses Dan Patrick in the Lt. Governor’s race. I’m sure the endorsement had nothing to do with Huckabee’s son doing work for a consulting firm hired by Patrick…
  • Former state Rep. Ray Keller is running for the Railroad Commission.
  • Interview with Barry Smitherman
  • The Houston Chronicle tackles the Lt. Governor’s race by…comparing Twitter statistics for Jerry Patterson and Dan Patrick. I feel dumber merely by having linked to that.
  • Texas Sparkle endorses Todd Staples for Lt. Governor.
  • Eric Opiela is running for Agricultural Commissioner. I sort of like his ad featuring a Prius-driving EPA official:

  • Malachi Boyuls is running for the railroad commission. You don’t see many Malachis in public office these days…

  • Democrat Mike Mjetland is considering running for Governor.
  • Dan Branch Makes His AG Run Official

    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

    State Rep Dan Branch has made his Attorney General bid official. With $4 million on hand he already has a formidable warchest. His primary opponent right now is Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, who has just over $1 million on hand. I keep hearing murmurs of Ken Paxton possibly getting in, but so far he hasn’t made any definitive moves in that direction.

    Both Branch and Smitherman are running as conservatives (duh; they’re running as Republicans in Texas).

    Texas Statewide Race Update for July 16, 2013

    Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

    Time permitting, I’m hoping to do regular updates on the 2014 statewide races in Texas the same way I updated the senate race. But with so many more offices and players, it’s going to take me some time to get up to speed.

  • Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial warchest has swollen to a formidable $23 million.
  • He also visited Longview, Wichita Falls, and Duncanville.
  • Todd Staples leads the money race for Lt. Governor, according to this fragment of the story that isn’t behind the Statesman paywall.

    Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, with $3 million in the bank, has the largest campaign treasury of the four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, according to the latest fundraising statements, which were due Monday.

    Thanks to a $650,000 personal loan to his campaign, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the latest entrant in the race, edged past Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in money in the bank — $2.1 million to $1.73 million — even though Dewhurst raised $1.2 million compared with about $100,000 for Patrick. The fourth candidate, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, raised $417,000, bringing his treasury to $1.3 million. Patterson said he hopes to raise $3 million in the next six months to remain competitive, and Dewhurst has a personal fortune that he can tap

  • The Texas Tribune has more fundraising roundup news. Tidbits:
    • State Rep. Dan Branch hasn’t even declared his AG run, but already has $4 million on hand, including a $5,000 donation from George W. Bush.
    • Barry Smitherman has over $1 million cash on hand for his AG run.
    • State Sen. Ken Paxton (honestly, I was just guessing he would make an AG run) has more than $1.6 million cash on hand. He hasn’t declared yet.
    • George P. Bush reported $2 million raised and $2.6 million on hand for his Comptroller run.

    I’ll be digging into the financial reports for all the major candidates when I get a chance (don’t hold your breath this week).

  • Democratic abortion diva Wendy Davis raised just under a million dollars…for her state senate campaign. No word on a governor’s run.
  • Even in-the-tank liberal fossil Paul Burka says Davis has no chance to win the Texas Governor’s race.
  • A David L. Watts, Jr. is running for Land Commissioner. His platform so far seems to be that George P. Bush isn’t conservative enough.
  • Perry’s Decision and the State of Play for Texas Statewide Races in 2014

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

    With Rick Perry declining to run for reelection as Governor, we finally have the crystallizing event that will set the 2014 field. So here’s an early look at how the next year’s statewide races are shaping up in Texas:


    Attorney General Greg Abbott and his $18 million warchest is going to be the overwhelming favorite almost no matter who else jumps into the race; he has all Perry’s strength’s without Perry’s disadvantages. If David Dewhurst jumps into the Governor’s race, Abbott will still be the prohibitive favorite. Tom Pauken will be hard-pressed to match Glenn Addison’s 2012 senate race total of 1.6%. On the Democrats’ side, instant abortion celebrity Wendy Davis might be the favorite, but there’s no reason to expect Abbott won’t cream her by 20 points, and as a politician since 1999, there’s no indication she can self-fund. Neither of the Castro brothers strike me as stupid enough to want to tarnish their national office chances by losing a governor’s race. Beyond that it’s random state senators and reps (reportedly Rep. Mike Villarreal and Sen. Kirk Watson are considering runs), or retreads from the 2012 senate race.

    Lt. Governor

    His humiliating senate race defeat proved that David Dewhurst is vulnerable to a challenge from the right, but I remain unconvinced that any of the three currently declared candidates (Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, and State Senator Dan Patrick) are the ones to do it. Dewhurst and Perry both moved up from the Land and Agricultural Commissioner positions (respectively), but neither ran against an incumbent, much less a well-heeled, entrenched one. Patrick tested the waters for the 2012 senate race, but found the groundswell for him non-existent. Moreover, Patrick’s candidacy appeals most to social conservatives, but after the abortion dustup, they would seem among the least likely to desert Dewhurst. Presumably U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul (the only man currently in Texas politics richer than Dewhurst) could defeat Dewhurst were he to get in, but so far he hasn’t made any moves to get into the race. In this, and all lower statewide races, whoever runs for the Democrats is whatever random candidates decided to skip the governor’s race.

    Attorney General

    With Abbott running for governor, this race is wide open. With Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman’s website already touting him as a potential candidate, his entry is pretty much a foregone conclusion. State Rep. Dan Branch is also said to be considering a run. Someone on Abbott’s staff could also get in, or a state legislator with a law degree who has been blessed by Texans for Lawsuit Reform. (Maybe Ken Paxton?)


    Incumbent Susan Combs has said she’s not running for reelection. Early word was she was eying the Lt. Governor’s race, but I don’t see her getting any traction there. Losing 2010 Tea Party/Ron Paulite gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina is rumored to be considering a run (and the previous link goes to a webpage for an exploratory committee for that race). State Senator Glenn Hegar is also said to be considering a run, as is state Ways and Means chairman Harvey Hilderbran. (State Senator Tommy Williams has preemptively bowed out.)

    Land Commissioner

    With incumbent Jerry Patterson gunning for Dewhurst’s job, George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew of Bush43, and grandson of Bush 41, is considered a lock for the race. Though nothing about George P. Bush’s limited public appearances suggests he’s invulnerable, it’s doubtful he’ll draw a serious challenger this far down the ballot who’s willing to take on the Bush Machine’s renowned fundraising prowess.

    Agricultural Commissioner

    State Rep. Brandon Creighton is rumored to be interested in a run. Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt is passing on the race

    Railroad Commission

    When Smitherman runs for AG, his position will open up. State Rep. Stefani Carter will be running, along with “Dallas businessman Malachi Boyuls and geologist Becky Berger of Schulenburg.” Greg Parker, who made it into the runoff with Smitherman in 2012, is another possibility.

    And don’t forget all those wildcard Texas millionaires and billionaires who might suddenly decide to run for office…

    Who I’m Voting For Today in the Texas Republican Primary

    Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

    Voting Day!

    After spending the bulk of my time on the Texas senate race, I’ve spent the last day or so trying to get a handle on some down-ballot races. So here’s who I’m voting for in contested races, starting at the top and providing (very) brief explanations. Hopefully this will be of use to other conservative Republican voters looking for information at the last minute. (Hey, people are busy!)

  • United States Senator: Ted Cruz, for the many reason I list here.
  • United State Representative, District 31: Incumbent John Carter. Though not perfect (he was late getting on the anti-SOPA bandwagon), I like Rep. Carter personally, and he’s generally been a very good (and very conservative) Representative.
  • Railroad Commissioner: I’m leaning toward Roland Sledge, who’s solidly conservative, if a bit goofy. Former Rep. Warren Chisum is also a solid choice. I don’t trust Christi Craddick, who seems to be running on her father’s reputation.
  • Railroad Commissioner, Unexpired Term: Possibly the toughest race to pick, as both incumbent Barry Smitherman and Greg Parker strike me as very solid conservative choices, and each has picked up some Tea Party endorsements. I lean slightly toward Smitherman based on his impressive array of endorsements.
  • Texas Supreme Court Place 2: Incumbent Don Willett, a solid conservative with solid endorsements.
  • Texas Supreme Court Place 2: Incumbent David Medina, endorsed by Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
  • State Board of Education, District 10: Jeff Fleece, based on endorsements from Holly Hansen and YCT.
  • Texas State Senate District 5: Charles Schwertner, for the reasons I list here.
  • Texas House District 136: Tony Dale, who has picked up a solid list of conservative endorsements.
  • Williamson County District Attorney: John Bradley. The fact that Jana Duty has made so much hay from one trial makes me quite suspicious of her. Once again, Holly Hansen provides needed insight on the race here, here, and here.
  • Williamson County Attorney: Dee Hobbs, mainly because Jeff Maurice ran as a Democrat as late as 2009.
  • Williamson County Tax Assessor Collector: Incumbent Deborah M. Hunt. When your opponent can’t be bothered to put up more than a Facebook page…
  • Williamson County Sherrif: Incumbent James R. Wilson, who has done a good job. His opponent sounds like Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud…
  • 425th District Judge: Incumbent Mark Silverstone, based on Rick Perry’s endorsement.
  • Williamson County Commissioner Precinct 1: Incumbent Lisa Birkman, for reasons outlined here. Holly Hansen also provides compelling arguments why you should favor Birkman over Seitsinger here, and here.

    Other Sources of Information

  • Williamson County Ballot
  • The List of Young Conservatives of Texas Endorsements
  • Texans for Lawsuit Reform Endorsements
  • Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Endorsements