Posts Tagged ‘Roger Williams’

Quick Impressions of the Texas Senate Debate

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I attended the Texas Tribune Republican Senate Candidate Forum tonight, and thought I would post a few quick impressions before I have to walk my dog.

Three of the four candidates came across as prepared, articulate, polished and effective speakers, and all four tried to portray themselves as tea party conservatives:

  • Ted Cruz was the most polished of the four, as you would expect of the former Texas Solicitor General. He was very good not only at making his points, but also expertly tying highlights of his career and life-story (like his work on 10th Amendment issues for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and his father fleeing Castro’s Cuba [see here for correction]) into answers without it seeming forced. His only drawbacks were that every now and then he would seem just a little bit too polished, his pitch modulations a little too calculated, and he needs to add a few touches of humor liven things up. (His one recycled Reagan anecdote isn’t going to cut it.) With Michael Williams out, I think Cruz cemented his status as both tea party favorite and frontrunner.
  • I have not made any secret of my doubts as to Tom Leppert‘s new-found conservative convictions, but he comes across as a very polished and prepared speaker. He says that he cut a lot of unnecessary programs as Dallas Mayor; when I get a chance, I’m going to ask his campaign for a list. If you didn’t know about his previous record, you would think him just as conservative as his compatriots. He did have a couple of weaknesses as a public speaker: shrugging and spreading his hands was his go-to move for almost every question. He also displayed a sort of nervous eye-twitch between questions, maybe because of the bright stage lights. But guess what? There are going to be a lot of bright stage lights between now and March…
  • Roger Williams had the most varied performance: He has an engaging, natural personality (with just the right touch of rough-hewn “old coot” country charm) and can clearly hold his own against his more polished opponents, but he went back to his “I’m a small businessman” routine two or three times too many, and too transparently. On the other hand, Williams also got the best laugh lines of the night. Referring back to an earlier question about how he’d eliminate the budget deficit in one year (he didn’t think the Ryan plan went far enough), in a question on the the EPA’s attempt to take over Texas air quality, he said “You know that 1.6 trillion I’d cut out of the deficit? The EPA would be among them.” Williams probably improved his standing the most of any candidate attending.
  • Elizabeth Ames Jones…look, I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Jones should get out of the race. It wasn’t her message (she made effective conservative points), it’s the fact that she was a cringingly bad public speaker tonight. I can’t tell if it’s nervousness or an actual speech impediment, but her voice sounded like it was trapped at the back of her soft palate, almost as if she had all her wisdom teeth yanked a week ago and was still getting use to her own mouth, and late in the debate she seemed to have a slight lisp. She spoke like someone who was so eager to talk that the words all tried to come out in a rush at once, causing her to stumble over herself, stop and start, and generally sound nervous; way too nervous for someone that already holds a major statewide office. She calmed down a little bit after the first couple of questions, and occasionally made good points (“I have to fight the EPA every day”), but she was far and away the weakest candidate on stage by a good measure. And her “I was down in the trenches” refrain (mostly dealing with her time in the legislature) got even tireder than Williams’ small businessman shtick. Between this and her abysmal fundraising numbers, I see no hope for Jones in this race and no reason she should continue in it. She’s doing a good job on the Railroad Commission, and she should probably stay there for the immediate future.
  • Not a lot of policy differences on display. All agreed not to raise taxes under any circumstances (I wondered why moderator Evan Smith didn’t ask any of them “Not even in the event of a World War with China?”), all were on-board with the Ryan plan or an even more immediate cutback in federal spending, all for greater border control measures and against amnesty, all pro-life (one of Jones’ most effective moments), all more national energy exploration, all against earmarks, all slamming Obama.

    Enough for tonight. I’ll post more tomorrow if I have the time.

    Texas Senate Race Updates for May 27, 2011

    Friday, May 27th, 2011

    It being the Friday of a long weekend, I doubt terribly many people are going to be reading this, but there have been some significant Texas Senate race developments:

  • Houston State Senator (and former sports caster) Dan Patrick is considering running for the Senate seat currently held by Kay Baily Hutchison. He was rumored to be considering a run back when Hutchison announced her retirement in January, but he’s been mum on the issue during most of the current Texas legislative session. He announced that he was forming an exploratory committee on Laura Ingraham’s talk radio show this morning. As anyone who reads this blog knows, he’s joining a crowded field, but he does fill the niche as a full-bore cultural Christian conservative that none of the other declared candidates (save longshot Glenn Addison) really fill. With Ted Cruz and Tom Leppert already off to significant head starts, Patrick will have to do some serious fundraising if he wants to be competitive. Patrick might benefit from some confusion with the other sportscasting Dan Patrick. Many Houston TV viewers remember Patrick as a sportscaster from the “Luv Ya Blu” era Houston Oilers era of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (I have vague memories of Dan Patrick being thrown out a door during a dust-up with then Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini, but I may be misremembering one or both of the people involved.[2014 Update: Actually, I talked to Dan Patrick, and while he watched it happen, it wasn’t him, but rather Houston Post reporter Dale Robertson, who Pastorini threw out.]
  • Speaking of Addison, he’s complaining that The Texas Tribune is excluding him from an upcoming debate. Actually, I can see both sides on this issue. Certainly The Texas Tribune, as a private organization, can use any criteria they want to determine who a “serious” candidate is, and the one they chose (someone had to have raised at least $100,000 by March 31) is both objective and defensible. Plus the more crowded any debate, the less time potential voters have to assess any one candidate. On the other hand, the idea that fundraising should be the only gating factor in determining electability is entirely too reductive for a robust democratic process. My suggestion? Have the political equivalent of a “play in” game. Reserve one spot for a declared candidate who does not meet the $100,000 threshold criteria (Addison, Lela Pittinger, Andrew Castanuela, or Sean Hubbard) and then let people vote online for who to include. That would give the longshots a chance to be seen, and add interest to the proceedings…
  • Michael Williams recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to raise money for his campaign.
  • Williams also appeared to answer questions from the NE Tarrant Tea Party. Pssst, NETarrantTeaParty1: It’s called a “tripod.” Invest in one.
  • Ted Cruz wins a straw poll of Houston Republican women. However, he gets dinged by The Race to Replace KBH for an ad misrepresenting that straw poll win as an endorsement (Republican Women’s Clubs bylaws forbid endorsing primary candidates). The ad was corrected shortly thereafter.
  • Speaking of Cruz, he got some serious love from Terry Jeffrey over at The Heritage Foundation’s Townhall.
  • Roger Williams appears on the Matt Lewis show. Williams comes on just after eight minutes in.
  • Elizabeth Ames Jones slams the Obama administration for their energy policy. “The demand for oil is not going away just because some bureaucrats have the ill-conceived or ill-informed idea that all our energy needs can be met by green energy.” I still don’t think Jones has a real chance in the race, but she seems strongest when talking about oil and gas issues. Maybe it’s a good thing that she hasn’t resigned from the Railroad Commission…
  • She also gets profiled in the Round Rock Leader.
  • 2012 Election Tidbits for May 11, 2011

    Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

    A few 2012 election tidbits, on the Senate race and others.

  • Since I dinged them over inaccuracies in their reporting on the Texas Senate race, it seems only fair to praise Ryan Murphy and Matt Stiles for this nifty interactive map of Q1 fundraising by incumbent Texas congressmen.
  • 2011 hasn’t been kind to Elizabeth Ames Jones thus far, but today she’ll be talking to the U.S. congress about fracking. And not the Battlestar Galactica kind.
  • Roger Williams sets up a separate website to slam Obama’s job on the economy and boost his own chances. This strikes me as a good move, but I think the site is a little lite on content right now; a splash page and a video are a nice start, but he should have links to more information for each of his four subheads. There’s plenty of ammunition for the charge that Obama has screwed up the economy, and the more he can put up there, the more likely voters are to consider Roger Williams’ campaign.
  • Speaking of Obama, he was in Texas yesterday to raise money and pander to the amnesty crowd, but was too busy to look at the areas of the state ravaged by wildfire.
  • Newt Gingrich will run for President. Gingrich would make an excellent Presidential contender…in 1996. Today, with Gingrich already pulling sellout moves like pandering to the ethanol lobby, I see no reason to believe he would be the best choice for President.
  • LinkSwarm for Friday, May 6, 2011: Immigration, the NYT, and Tom Leppert’s SEIU Ties

    Friday, May 6th, 2011

    A small LinkSwarm for a lazy Friday:

  • Mickey Kaus: “Why do these Democrats tell pollsters that immigrants are a burden because they ‘take our jobs’? Maybe because they do. Just a thought.”
  • The New York Times gets the Texas Senate Race, well, not quite right. “So far, only Republicans have declared in the Senate race.” False. Political neophyte Sean Hubbard has declared for the Democratic nomination, and has been filing his campaign financing reports with the FEC. “At least seven Republicans are vying for the seat being vacated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.” Technically true but incomplete; there are five declared major candidates (Ted Cruz, Tom Leppert, Michael Williams, Roger Williams, and Elizabeth Ames Jones), three declared longshot candidates (Glenn Addison, Andrew Castanuela, and Lela Pettinger), one withdrawn candidate who filed her wind-down report with the FEC (Florence Shapiro) and one undeclared potential frontrunner (David Dewhurst). Saying “At least seven” makes me wonder exactly who you’re counting…
  • The Race to Replace KBH on Senate candidate Twitter antagonists. “Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite them/And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so on ad infinitum…”
  • From the same source we also learn that Leppert asked for, and received, the endorsement of the far-left SEIU.
  • More on Leppert’s SEIU support from the horse-mouth, SEIU Texas political coordinator Shannon Perez in the lefty Dallas Observer:

    “The Republican primary voters of the state of Texas need to know the truth about Tom Leppert.
    When he first ran for Mayor, as a moderate and a supporter of working men and women, he was pro-SEIU, pro-public employees organizing, pro-collective bargaining.
    So committed to these ideals was Tom, that he vigorously pursued SEIU’s endorsement.
    So committed to these ideals was Tom, that he came to our union organizing launch in the Water Department — encouraging folks to join SEIU. So committed to these ideals was Tom, he frequently threw on an SEIU T-shirt and came to our union hall…Tom even signed an SEIU membership card!

    Tom, Tom, Tom, it makes it hard to take your Second-Coming-of-Ronald-Reagan rhetoric seriously when stuff like this keeps tumbling out of your closet. Is it too late for you to switch to the Democratic Primary? You’ve already got a huge lead over Sean Hubbard…

  • More Texas Senate Race Fundraising Nuggets and Race Tidbits

    Thursday, May 5th, 2011

    Though the aggregate FEC totals have been up for a little while, the FEC has finally put up the lists of individual contributors to examine.

  • Ted Cruz: The first thing that jumped out at me from Cruz’s contributors was the number of times “Crow” and “Crow Holdings” appears. For those unfamiliar with him, the late Trammell Crow (he died in 2009) was a self-made Dallas construction and real estate billionaire. Having such deep-pocketed backers in Tom Leppert’s backyard is a good sign of his ability to wage a serious, well-funded campaign statewide. He also got out-of-state funding from Chad & Julia Sweet, a Washington, D.C. power couple whose marriage was important enough to make the style section of The New York Times.
  • Tom Leppert: Far and away the biggest name on this list (at least for football fans) is former Dallas Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, as well as his wife and two officers of The Staubach Company, the very successful real estate business he founded after retiring from football. Staubach was previously a supporter of State Senator Florence Shaprio’s abortive run, and was himself frequently rumored as a possible GOP candidate back in the 1980s. As the Cruz campaign noted, Leppert’s donations are overwhelmingly from the Dallas area.
  • Michael Williams: Lots of oil and gas money from around the state (which you would hope for from someone on the Texas Railroad Commission). Not as much out-of-state money as Cruz, but some, such as Patton Boggs partner Daniel Addison.
  • Roger Williams: Almost all in-state contributions (nothing wrong with that, if you have enough of them), an awful lot from Ft. Worth, including chain restaurateur Bobby Cox. Though Bush41 has endorsed him, he hasn’t contributed to the Roger Williams campaign.
  • Elzabeth Ames Jones: Mostly from San Antonio, some oil and gas money. The only thing that jumps out at me is she got a $1,000 from a bookstore owner, as it’s amazing to think that someone who owns a bookstore actually had $1,000 to give a candidate. (“How do you make a small fortune owning a bookstore? Start with a large fortune.”)
  • And on the Democratic side, Sean Hubbard (still the only declared Democratic candidate) has, uh, five contributors other than himself. Including what seems to be a husband and wife. And someone else with the last name “Hubbard.”

    In other Senate race news:

  • North Texas Tea Party member Jim Bright ranks the Senate candidates from best to worst. Best: Ted Cruz and Michael Williams: “Both delivered an excellent message.” Worst: Elizabeth Ames Jones (“has the right ideas, but terrifyingly short on specifics, weak on delivery, and long on platitudes. It was a very banal speech.”) and longshot Lela Pittenger (“doesn’t seem to really grasp what we are up against. She doesn’t understand and has no concept of the fight we are in politically.”)
  • According to the Southern Political Report, “Former Comptroller John Sharp, who had previously said he would run for the seat, cancelled [sic] his FEC-authorized fundraising committee in February.” I guess I’ll have to stop dinging him, though he should probably take down his Facebook page.
  • The Race to Replace Kay Baily Hutchison (yes, a blog specifically about the race) says that Tom Leppert is a flip-flopper. He makes much of Leppert’s freindly relations with the gay community, which, to my libertarian-leaning mind, is pretty thin gruel. I’d like to know more about Leppert’s tax hikes and political donations (among other topics).
  • Michael Williams slams Obama for favoring lizards over Texas jobs.
  • All the candidates issued “we’re glad Osama is toast” statements, but I think the best was actually Roger Williams. I think it’s also the only one that mentions radical Islam.
  • Proof that blogging about things you’re not a domain expert in can come back to bite you. Here’s a roundup of Texas 2012 races posted May 4; judging by the author’s description, he hasn’t followed the race for the last two months, since he has John Sharp still in it, and omits Ted Cruz, who has as good a claim as anyone to being the front-runner.
  • Texas 2012 Senate Race Update: Final Q1 Fundraising Reports

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    The FEC finally has fundraising totals for all the major declared candidates in the 2012 Texas Senate race. Ranked from most to least, they are:

    1. Tom Leppert: Raised $2,690,081 (including a $1,600,000 loan) and still has $2,592,219 on hand
    2. Ted Cruz: Raised $1,013,060 (including a $70,000 loan) and has $965,153 on hand
    3. Roger Williams: Raised $598,470 (including a $250,000 loan) and has $1,250,300 on hand
    4. Michael Williams: Raised $418,619 (including $132,160 in loans) and has $369,369 on hand
    5. Elizabeth Ames Jones: Raised $122,185 and has $128,541 on hand

    Despite later starts than their opponents, Leppert and Cruz are clearly setting the pace here. Both seem to be raising money and campaigning hard, and Cruz has generated a significant swell of grass-roots enthusiasm. If they can keep this up, both will be serious contenders to make the runoff in March, with or without Lt. Governor David Dewhurst entering the race.

    Roger Williams has raised enough to stay in the game, but despite the endorsement of former President George H. W. Bush (a legendary rainmaker with a well-oiled fundraising machine), there’s no sign that the Bush dynasty has put the full force of their fundraising prowess behind him. He’ll need to knock out Leppert (or Dewhurst, if he runs) to make the runoff, and so far he shows no signs of doing it.

    Michael Williams has also raised enough to stay in the game, and probably has grassroots enthusiasm second only to Cruz, but he needs to pick up the pace if he wants to remain competitive. The current pace isn’t going to get it done, and he can’t make the runoff unless Cruz slips.

    Ever since I posted on Elizabeth Ames Jones’ paltry fundraising efforts, I’ve been trying to figure out a reason for her to stay in the race. I haven’t come up with one. If there’s any significant enthusiasm for her campaign out among Texas Republicans, it takes more sensitive scientific instruments than I possess to measure. I don’t see her candidacy filling any sort of ideological void, and the sort of people who would vote for her solely based on her sex are not the same people who vote in a Republican primary. While there’s a lot of time left in the campaign, unless she can figure out how to make some serious noise (say, launching a series of non-stop attacks on Leppert for being a secret RINO) she should probably get out of the race.

    A few other fundraising tidbits gleaned from the FEC reports:

  • Sean Hubbard, thus far the only declared Democratic candidate, raised $6,511.
  • Among the longshots, Andrew Castanuela ($262) and Lela Pettinger ($150) are hardly setting the world on fire, but Magnolia funeral home-owner Glenn Addison (who’s running on a social conservative platform) managed to pull in $20,432 (even if $6,877 was in loans), or about one sixth what Jones, a statewide office holder who has been running for about a year, pulled in over the same period of time. For someone with no real chance of winning the nomination, that’s pretty impressive. Mr. Addison won’t be the next U.S. Senator from Texas, but he might do very well in a local race should he choose to run for one in 2014.
  • Texas 2012 Senate Race Update: Elizabeth Ames Jones Pulls In Paltry $122,185

    Thursday, April 21st, 2011

    FEC Reports for the Texas Senate Race continue to be posted for the fundraising period of January 1—March 31. (Indeed, they’re being posted so slowly that I wonder if a single arthritic temp is doing all the data entry.) The reports of Ted Cruz (over $1 million announced) and Michael Williams (over half a million announced) are not up yet, Tom Leppert’s $2,690,081 ($1.6 million of which was Leppert’s personal loan to his own campaign) was already announced, and Roger Williams raised $598,470.

    But Elizabeth Ames Jones’ report is finally up, and it’s disastrous: $122,185. Raising less than one-quarter what the other major declared candidates have in the same period of time isn’t going to get the job done. Moreover, it’s a major step back from her previous 2010 fundraising total of $989,765.

    Jones already had the most difficult path to victory of the major declared candidates, a path some were already saying was non-existent. Ted Cruz and Michael Williams were battling in the Tea Party Primary for the movement conservative vote, while Tom Leppert and Roger Williams are competing for the “who gets the establishment nod if David Dewhurst skips the race” slot. Jones, on the other hand, has, what? Unless she can magically pick up a disproportionate share of the woman’s vote (which seems doubtful), it’s impossible to see how she remains competitive when she’s been so heavily outgunned in the fundraising arms race. I’m far from an insider, but as far as I can tell, the groundswell for a Jones candidacy has been all but non-existent.

    There’s a long way yet to go before the primary, but unless Jones can, at a minimum, quadruple her fundraising totals in the second quarter, she’s toast. She made be toast already.

    Texas 2012 Senate Race Roundup for April 17

    Sunday, April 17th, 2011

    Texas Democrats may have finally lured a high-profile candidate to the race: retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. The only problem? His last notable job was being commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Which was, as Democrats wanted us to know in 2004, The Most Evil Thing Ever. Sean Hubbard now has a ready-made campaign slogan: Sean Hubbard: He Never Had Subordinates Violate the Geneva Convention.

    Democrats also announced that Texas will be one of the six GOP states targeted as a takeover opportunity. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Speaking of dubious notions, there’s talk of Ron Paul’s other son, Fort Worth physician Robert Paul, making a run for the Texas Senate seat. I don’t buy it. If the GOP field was already too crowded for Paul père to make a run, I don’t see his son having a chance either.

    Most of the Republican contenders were (wisely) making appearances at various tax day Tea Party rallies:

  • Ted Cruz was at the Clear Lake Tea Party rally
  • Michael Williams was at the Waco Tea Party
  • Both Tom Leppert and Roger Williams mentioned being at The Lone Star Tea Party (not clear on the location; maybe Grand Prairie)
  • Here’s a piece where David Jennings defends Tom Leppert from charges of being a liberal…but which also points out that he donated money to the Democratic campaigns of Ron Kirk and Daniel Inouye. I’m not sure you’re helping his cause…

    Good: Roger Williams offers up a list of conservative beliefs. Bad: It’s in the form of a PDF.

    Texas 2012 Senate Race Information Sources Round 2: Facebook Boogaloo

    Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

    (I know, tired meme is tired. But I just like saying “Facebook Boogaloo.”)

    It being the second decade of the 21st century and all, it occurs to me that merely providing links to the individual candidates blogs is probably insufficient to keep up with their latest statements. So, in the interest of providing myself a handy cheat sheet informing my readers of the latest developments, here are the major candidates’ Facebook pages (plus that of the undeclared Dewhurst):

  • Ted Cruz
  • David Dewhurst
  • Elizabeth Ames Jones
  • Tom Leppert
  • Michael Williams
  • Roger Williams
  • Oh, and in case you think numbers of Facebook fans are a serious measure of popularity 11 months before an election (I don’t), here are the number of “likes” for each candidate’s respective pages:

  • Ted Cruz: 57,128
  • David Dewhurst: 21,320
  • Elizabeth Ames Jones: 8,018
  • Tom Leppert: 1,268
  • Michael Williams: 7,871
  • Roger Williams: 6,191
  • Now some more race tidbits:

  • According to an interview with him, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst may not run for the Senate in 2012, opting instead to run for Governor in 2014.
  • Interview with Michael Williams at GOP-Is-For-Me. (Psst: Michael: Twitter and Facebook are fine and all, but I shouldn’t have to go past the News/Blog page of your website to find this.)
  • And speaking of Michael Williams, he raised $500,000 in the first quarter of this year, significantly behind what Cruz and Leppert have announced they’ve raised.
  • Some musing from the new Texas Iconclast blog on what those numbers mean.
  • Texas 2012 Senate Race Websites (and Tidbits)

    Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

    Note: A more detailed and up-to-date list of Texas Senate Candidate Websites can be found here.

    For today’s 2012 Texas Senate Race coverage, I thought I would provide a handy list of all the candidate’s own websites (listed alphabetically).

    Websites for 2012 Republican Senate Candidates

  • Ted Cruz
  • David Dewhurst has not announced he’s running yet, so here’s his official Lieutenant Governor’s page
  • Elizabeth Ames Jones
  • Tom Leppert
  • Michael Williams
  • Roger Williams
  • Since I’m trying to provide a complete lineup, here are some very, very longshots that have declared for the Republican primary:

  • Glenn Addison
  • Andrew Castanuela
  • Lela Pittenger
  • I’ve seen reports that a Nick Latham is running (he declared in 2009), but it’s hard to take him seriously as even a longshot candidate when all the links on his website are 404.

    Websites for 2012 Democratic Senate Candidates

    Through diligent research, I have finally found an actual, declared candidate for the Democratic nomination. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your de facto Democratic Senate front-runner, Sean Hubbard. Yes, it’s a Facebook page. I was able to reach Hubbard by email, and he says he’s just waiting for the domain transfer for his actual campaign website to go through. To his credit, that Facebook page has been updated recently, which puts him one up on John Sharp. (Actually, it appears that a few other people have finally posted encouragement on Sharp’s Facebook page, although Sharp himself still hasn’t posted in more than a year.) One problem facing Hubbard is that Texas voters might be a little hesitant to vote for someone who looks like he still gets carded trying to buy a beer…

    As for other Democratic Senate candidates, I sent email to Sharp to see if he was running and received no reply. I emailed Chet Edwards today, but there hasn’t been much time for him to get back to me. I see Chris Bell’s name being bandied about, but his law firm doesn’t have an e-mail address for him, and it seems rude to bug him by phone.

    Supposedly there’s a transsexual bodybuilder named Chris Tina Bruce running as an independent, but I can’t find a campaign website. Given the paucity of Democratic candidates, I’m not sure why Bruce doesn’t just declare for the Democratic primary, as the field is wide open…

    And finally a dollop of Senate race tidbits:

  • Ted Cruz says he has raised (extend Dr. Evil pinkie) one MILLION dollars for his campaign.
  • Tom Leppert says he’s raised $2.6 million…but that includes a $1.6 million loan from himself to his campaign.
  • Ted Cruz gets some serious love from The Weekly Standard.