Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

Inter-Blue Fratricide for Texas 7th U.S. Congressional District

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

I haven’t done a roundup on the Texas 7th U.S. Congressional District race because Republican incumbent John Culberson is not retiring, and he won his two most recent races by 56.2% to 43.8% in 2016, and 63.3% to 34.5% in 2014. That’s not exactly swing district territory, but Clinton carried the district in 2016.

Because of that, Democrats seem to be taking a real run at the seat with four different Democrats pulling in between half a million and a million in fundraising for the race. That’s some pretty serious cheese.

Even more surprising: One of the Democratic candidates is Laura Moser, a pro-abortion woman and part of #TheResistance, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s list have both come out hard in the race.

Against Moser:

EMILY’s List is dumping big money into an upcoming Democratic primary in Texas’s 7th Congressional District, pitting the women’s group against a pro-choice woman who was, in the months after the election of Donald Trump, a face of the resistance.

Laura Moser, as creator of the popular text-messaging program Daily Action, gave hundreds of thousands of despondent progressives a single political action to take each day. Her project was emblematic of the new energy forming around the movement against Trump, led primarily by women and often by moms. (Moser is both.)

It was those types of activists EMILY’s List spent 2017 encouraging to make first-time bids for office. But that doesn’t mean EMILY’s List will get behind them. Also running is Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, a corporate lawyer who is backed by Houston mega-donor Sherry Merfish. EMILY’s List endorsed her in November.

The 7th District includes parts of Houston and its wealthy western suburbs, and Merfish and her husband, Gerald Merfish, are among the city’s leading philanthropists. Gerald Merfish owns and runs a steel pipe company in the oil-rich region and Sherry Merfish, who worked for decades for EMILY’s List, is a major donor to the Democratic Party and to EMILY’s List.

Actor Alyssa Milano, another face of the Trump resistance, is backing Moser, and plans to drive voters to the polls as a campaign volunteer. “I like EMILY’s List a lot but I feel like they missed the boat on this one,” Milano told The Intercept. “Laura is a proud progressive Democrat and her values are the values of the majority of the country, which is evident by the success of her grassroots campaign and her broad base of support.”

The Houston district is one of scores where crosscurrents of the Democratic Party are colliding. Democrats, who in the past have had difficulty fielding a single credible candidate even in winnable districts, have at least four serious contenders in the race to replace Republican John Culberson. Moser, who has more than 10,000 donors — more than 90 percent of whom are small givers — and cancer researcher Jason Westin make up the progressive flank, while Fletcher and Alex Triantaphyllis are running more moderate campaigns. Triantaphyllis, a former Goldman Sachs analyst who doesn’t live in the district, has the backing of some establishment elements of the party.

“Alex T has been open about being the chosen candidate of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee],” said Daniel Cohen, president of Indivisible Houston, who is not endorsing any particular candidate.

For “more moderate” and “establishment” read “Clinton-approved.”

Indeed, until 2017, Moser was living in Washington, where she worked as a writer, and only recently relocated back home to Houston. Her husband, Arun Chaudhary, a partner at Revolution Messaging, which did media and email work for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, hasn’t gotten around to updating his bio, which still suggests that he “lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, son and daughter.”

And that seems to be the real reason the Democratic establishment has come down on her in the primary like a ton of bricks:

Indeed, the Democratic Party seems more than willing to block and purge candidates that don’t toe the line.

It seems it doesn’t matter how pure your progressive credentials or positions are, if you’re the wrong kind of people. Those not already approved by mega-donors and the Clinton machine need not apply…

Quick Impressions: Texas Sixth Congressional District

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

After Joe Barton’s naked selfies leaked, he announced his retirement, leading to yet another hotly contest U.S. congressional race. The Sixth district runs from Arlington down through Ellis and Navarro Counties. It used to be Phil Gramm’s seat, but in a very different geographic configuration, and is solidly Republican.

Unlike several of the other U.S. congressional races I’ve covered this year, this one has a clear favorite.


  • Ken Cope: Plus: Ex-military background. Minus: Finished fifth against John Cornyn in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary, which suggests he’s not a serious candidate.
  • Shawn Dandridge: A black Republican with a military background who hates Obama, Dandridge is Cisco-certified and getting an MBA; an interesting background. “Shawn also has been a small business owner and real estate investor since 2008. He has rental properties in three states that have a value of close to $1 million.” That suggests he may have State Rep race money, but not U.S. congressional race money (he’s raised $5,126.)
  • Thomas Dillingham: Not in the district yet. Though he has an interesting Facebook story…
  • Shannon Dubberly: Another guy with ex-military background (counterterrorism, even), who has raised $51,465. Potential dark horse.
  • Jake Ellzey: Another ex-military guy, one who stands out a bit due to one notable endorsement: Rick Perry. That’s a good endorsement, and he’s raised $71,943. Potential dark horse, and right now probably the favorite to make the runoff with Ron Wright.
  • Deborah Gagliardi: Owns her own engineering and architecture firm in a year it’s good to be a woman running for office. “When the City of Arlington spent taxpayer dollars courting a contractor with a history of over-budget, poorly constructed projects, Deborah fought to expose them. If elected, her first priorities will be not only to fix the existing infrastructure in District 6, but to overhaul how infrastructure is built and maintained. High-cost, low-quality vanity projects will be a thing of the past.” Running for U.S. Congress to fix local infrastructure indicates a fairly imperfect grasp of federalism. Plus her campaign news page is blank, suggesting a certain lack of attention to the race.
  • Kevin Harrison: “Founder & President of West Coast Bible College & Seminary.” Maybe he has some ability to self-fund and an in with religious conservatives (though not reflected in the FEC reports, which shows no money raised). Potential dark horse.
  • Mel Hassell: A cipher with no website.
  • Mark Mitchell: A perennial candidate that’s lost a number of state rep races, there’s no reason to believe he’ll be competitive in a heavier weight class.
  • Troy Ratterree: Using a Facebook page as your campaign website is not generally conducive to victory.
  • Ron Wright: Current Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector who has earned the endorsements of State Senator Konni Burton and several others, and right now is the favorite for the seat, despite the bow ties and not having raised any money as of the last FEC reporting period, presumably because of how late Barton dropped out.
  • Democrats

  • John W. Duncan: Gay guy who works for “he largest local non-profit HIV/AIDS service organization in North Texas” and is married to a gay Christian minister. Raised $21,143.05.
  • Jana Lynne Sanchez: A former journalist, so naturally she’s a Democrat. She’s endorsed by the Dallas AFL-CIO, so she’s the establishment candidate in the race, to which she’s raised $137,832.08, the most of any candidate thus far.
  • Levii Shocklee: Navy veteran. No bio on his website.
  • Justin Snider: Locksmith and Bernie Bro.
  • Ruby Faye Woolridge: Lost the race to Barton in 2016. She has a lot of party experience and has raised $92,121.60. Woolridge is black, and the district is just under 21% black, and just over 22% Hispanic, which sets up a black/Hispanic interparty brawl between Woolridge and Sanchez.
  • Expect Wright to be the favorite, but if he doesn’t get his fundraising in gear, Ellzey or another dark horse could lap him. I expect whoever comes out on top in the GOP primary to easily handle Sanchez or Woolridge in the general.

    It’s Another “Trump Can’t Win” Compilation

    Sunday, January 28th, 2018

    It’s been one of those days, when even lazy blogging material is hard to come by, so here’s another “Donald Trump Can’t Win” supercut:

    Quick Impressions: Texas Fifth Congressional District Race

    Thursday, December 28th, 2017

    This is the seat Jeb Hensarling announced he was retiring from a couple of months ago, meaning most of the candidates have had to scramble to get campaigns off the ground. The Fifth Congressional District runs from southeast Dallas all the way down to Nacogdoches, and is so safely Republican that Democrats didn’t even bother to field candidates in 2014 and 2016. This race features both a former and a current State Representative, neither of which is likely to be the favorite.

    Republican U.S.

  • Danny Campbell has a military background (a plus), but no evident political experience or a proven ability to self-fund.
  • Sam Deen is another veteran, and as a serial entrepreneur, he might be able to self-fund, but it’s unclear he has U.S. Congressional race money at his disposal.
  • Lance Gooden currently represents the 5th state House district. Gooden and Stuart Spitzer have spent turns knocked each other off the Republican primary, with Gooden winning in 2012 and 2016, and Spitzer winning in 2014. His Empower Texans ratings have been all over the map (29% in 2011, 89% in 2013, 42% in 2017), and they’re not fans. Irritatingly, Gooden’s webpage currently features a donation form you can’t bypass to find out such trivia as his stand on issues…
  • Charles Lingerfelt doesn’t have a web page, only a Facebook page, where he’s been endorsed by former Dallas Cowboys Lineman John Niland. Well, that’s something…
  • Bunni Pounds is Hensarling’s former fundraiser, and he’s endorsed her, so she should be a serious contender.
  • Kenneth Sheets is the former state rep in the race. Another impressive military resume, having served as a marine in Fallujah in 2007. He used to represent the 107 state congressional district, where he racked up a reasonably conservative record until he lost to Victoria Neave by less than 900 votes in 2016. A law partner, Sheets should be able to self-fund, and he got endorsed by Empower Texans in 2012.
  • There’s a candidate named David Williams…with no webpage. Sorry, got nothing.
  • Jason Wright was Ted Cruz’s eastern regional director and Cruz endorsed him. A serious contender.
  • Democrat

    The only Democrat running is Dan Wood, a former DA for Kaufman County and a former city councilmen for Terrell (population around 15,000). Wood has raised $27,737 so far in the election cycle, getting a jump on Republicans who came in after Hensarling’s announcement. Except a competent but losing campaign.

    I expect this race to come down to come down to Pounds and Wright, with the two state reps on the outside looking in, though if I were to pick one of them to edge into the runoff, it would be Sheets.

    Blake Farenthold Withdraws From Primary

    Thursday, December 14th, 2017

    Breaking news:

    U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, under fire over a sexual harassment lawsuit, will withdraw from the March 6 Republican primary.

    Mike Bergsma, chairman of the Nueces County Republican Party, told the Caller-Times he was told this morning by Farenthold’s campaign team he will not seek re-election next year.

    “It’s a damn shame,” he said. “He’s been an excellent congressman, and I’m sorry this has happened.

    “One wonders whether anyone could have survived scrutiny that intense.”

    A statement from Farenthold’s camp was expected later this morning.

    News of Farenthold’s decision comes as two prominent Texas Republicans, one a sitting member of Congress and the other a former congressman and presidential hopeful, are supporting challengers to Farenthold in the primary.

    Former Congressman Ron Paul, who retired after seeking the 2012 presidential nomination, said he is backing longtime Victoria Republican activist Michael Cloud.

    “I know him to be a man of his word, principled, trustworthy and hardworking,” Paul said in a statement distributed by the Cloud campaign. “I hope my former supporters will get behind him because our country desperately needs leaders with integrity, courage and moral character. Michael Cloud is that kind of leader.”

    U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, meanwhile, announced his support for Bech Bruun, the Corpus Christi native who last week resigned as chairman of the Texas Water Development Board to challenge Farenthold. Williams is the first member of the Texas GOP delegation in Washington to publicly break with the incumbent.

    “Bech is exactly the kind of person I would be proud to call a colleague in the United States Congress,” Williams, R-Weatherford, said in a news release distributed by Bruun. “Bech knows what it means to be a good steward of your hard-earned tax dollars.”

    Farenthold, who is seeking a fifth term representing the Coastal Bend, has been under intense fire since it was disclosed that he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide with $84,000 in taxpayers’ money. He has said the settlement was a strategic decision to put the matter to rest even though he insists the charges are untrue.

    It would have been better had Farenthold resigned ahead of the primary filing deadline, but since there were already six Republicans and three Democrats gunning for his seat, voters will not lack for choices…

    Have Democrats Found Their 2018 Paul Sadler?

    Saturday, December 9th, 2017

    After having gay leather bar owner Jeffrey Payne and perennial candidate Grady Yarborough as their ostensible gubernatorial frontrunners, Democrats finally seem to have lured someone who’s won at the county level to the race in the form of Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Valdez was elected to her current post four times, so she has as much electoral experience as Wendy Davis had in 2014. However, she lacks Davis’ celebrity status outside the state, so she’s unlikely to draw anywhere near Davis’ fundraising dollars, surefire donations from Emily’s and Annie’s Lists notwithstanding. Valdez is also a lesbian, so she might split the gay vote (small as it is) with Payne.

    Also, Mark White’s son Andrew has thrown his hat into the ring as well. His myriad political experience includes…being Mark White’s son. That’s it. He’s also making all sorts of bipartisan noises, but when you read his positions, they’re thinly disguised Democratic Party boilerplate, such as supporting the DREAM Act and boosting “sanctuary cities.” He also trots out the “personally pro-life” and “safe, legal and rare” canards, which always amount to “bring on the partial birth abortions!”

    The Texas Tribune has a modestly irksome roundup of the race up. I couldn’t help noticing that one candidate the Texas Tribune omitted a picture for was the only candidate who had previously made it to a statewide ballot in November: Grady Yarborough, who in his 2016 Railroad Commissioner run did not do any worse (38.3% of the vote) than most statewide Democrats did in 2014. And he, like fellow gubernatorial candidate Cedrick Davis Sr., former Mayor of Balch Springs (in Dallas County south of Mesquite), who’s photo is also omitted, is black, while they included the picture of another longshot, distinctly pale former congressional candidate Tom Wakely. Another longshot mentioned in the piece, Dallas investment adviser Adrian Ocegueda (who I’m fairly sure is the only candidate whose webpage talks about contracts in virtual reality), also had his picture omitted.

    Other 2018 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial candidates not even mentioned:

  • Garry Brown, an assistant for Williamson County commissioner Terry Cook (and formerly for Rep. Lloyd Doggett)
  • Joe Mumbach
  • Lee Weaver
  • The press seems to want to this to come down to a White/Valdez race. My guess is they’re half right. I’m betting White does get into the runoff due to the electorate’s lamentable but demonstrated tendency to support political dynasties. However, right now I’d guess that, despite hostile press gatekeepers to the contrary, Grady Yarborough is more likely to make the runoff than Valdez…

    Dear Jason Villalba: Enjoy This Festive Holiday Primary Challenge

    Monday, November 27th, 2017

    With the retirements of Joe Straus and Byron Cook, Jason Villalba might be the least popular Republican in the Texas House. Which explains why Santa (in this case Texas conservatives) delivered a primary challenge as an early Christmas present.

    With a disastrous record in the Texas House and recent calls for gun control, Texans won’t be surprised to learn that State Rep. Jason Villalba (R—Dallas) could face a tough reelection.

    On Monday, Dallas business owner Lisa Luby Ryan, who operates an interior design firm and the antique home furnishings store Vintage Living in Dallas, validated earlier rumors she was considering a run and announced her campaign against Villalba in the Republican primary.

    “I’m simply overwhelmed at the initial support we have already earned and grateful for the caliber of individuals joining this campaign,” said Ryan in a news release. “Today’s announcement sends a loud and clear message that this district believes that we can do better than our current representation. I am running to provide voters a clear choice, and with this great support I intend to win.”

    In her campaign announcement, Ryan also released an impressive list of supporters who are already endorsing her campaign. The list includes a bevy of conservative mainstays and a substantial number of prominent community business owners including Brint Ryan (no relation), a prominent tax consultant and chairman of the University of North Texas Board of Regents, who will serve as Lisa Luby Ryan’s campaign treasurer.

    While Ryan’s background certainly plays into the amount of support she’s receiving in the district, and it’s also true that Villalba’s record has declined even further this session compared to his last, it’s likely that the donor community is supporting his opponent because Villalba has exhausted his usefulness.

    While Villalba was, admittedly, a clownish and useless member of House Speaker Joe Straus’ team, he was a part of the team. But now, that team won’t be taking the field.

    Given Straus’ announcement that he will not seek re-election and conservative efforts to amend the Republican caucus bylaws to ensure a more conservative Speaker is elected, Villalba is likely to be left on the outside looking in regardless of who is elected to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.

    And it’s not just Dallas donors who have made that observation.

    Indeed, at a recent lobby meeting hosted by Straus’ chief strategist, Gordon Johnson, Villalba didn’t even make the list of lawmakers that the group would try to “protect” in the upcoming Republican primary elections.

    Given that Straus’ allies in the lobby were forced to spend more than $500,000 to protect Villalba in the 2016 primary, Villalba will be in serious trouble if the Austin political establishment hangs him out to dry.

    Or if his constituents take a look at his record.

    You may remember Villalba from such hits as I’m A Thin-Skinned Twitter Blockhead, Let’s Make It illegal For Gun Owners and Bloggers To Photograph the Police and I Have A Whole Lot of Stupid Ideas.

    Let’s hope Lisa Luby Ryan succeeds in retiring him in 2018.

    Texas News Roundup for November 9, 2017

    Thursday, November 9th, 2017

    Bunch of Texas news, none of which I feel like doing a separate post on. Ready? Go!

  • The state of Texas, withe the assistance of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has successfully thwarted the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management land grab along the Red River. Good job for TPPF, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush successfully getting BLM to give up.
  • All Texas constitutional amendments pass.
  • U.S. Rep. Ted Poe announces retirement.
  • I also missed that Lamar Smith announced his retirement a few days ago as well. With Jeb Hensarling, that’s three incumbent Texas Republican Reps who have announced their retirement.
  • Ranger College: Want to pay higher taxes to support our corrupt community college? Brown, Erath and Comanche County: Get stuffed! Not often you see a proposition defeated 97% to 3%…
  • Reminder: Election Tomorrow for 2017 Texas Ballot Propositions

    Monday, November 6th, 2017

    Once again, an off-year election is sneaking up on us on tomorrow.

    There are a number of Texas constitutional amendments on the ballot. Here’s my quick “one-eyed man in the land of the blind” summary:

  • Proposition 1: “Authorizes tax exemption for property of partially disabled veterans received as donations.” Yes.
  • Proposition 2: “Makes changes to home equity loan provision of constitution.” This is a tricky one. Libertarian in me says “Yeah, sure, do whatever you want. Your funeral.” The other part of me thinks that, after 2008, having too stringent rules on tricky types of home equity borrowing isn’t exactly at the top of my list of problems. The fact that realtors and bankers have poured money into supporting this tip the balance to me recommending No.
  • Proposition 3: “Provides for how long an appointed officer may serve after his or her term expires.” Yes. Think of this as the “Texas Racing Commission” rule.
  • Proposition 4: “Requires a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to a statute.” Yes. Evidently a judge got chuffed in 2013 that mere legislators passed a law stating this, so now we have a constitutional amendment to do the same thing…
  • Proposition 5: “Defines professional sports team in charitable raffles.” Yes. Basically clarifies the terms of a previous constitutional amendment.
  • Proposition 6: “Authorizes property tax exemption for surviving spouses of first responders killed in line of duty.” Yes.
  • Proposition 7: “Authorizes financial institutions to offer prizes to promote savings.” Tentative No, since this is a carve-out for a particular industry.
  • Travis County also has some bond issues.

    Also, Williamson County voters will get a chance to eliminate the position of County Surveyor, and pretty much any time you can eliminate a government position, you should go for it…

    Jeb Hensarling To Retire

    Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

    Texas U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling announced he’s retiring at the end of his term.

    Here’s his retirement statement in full.

    Hensarling, head of the House Financial Services Committee, is a solid conservative, earning a 96% rating from the American Conservative Union, and a 93% rating from the NRA.