Posts Tagged ‘Texas Senate Race’

Trump Wins Early Louisiana Voting, Cruz Wins Election Day

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Heard about this election day, but Philip Bump in the Washington Post provides more details: Donald Trump won early voting, but Ted Cruz’s percentage of the vote soared on election day:

One of two things happened in Louisiana. We know that the margins between the top three candidates in the state shifted dramatically between votes cast by absentee ballot and those cast on Saturday, the day of the election. That means that either that: 1) A candidate had a very strong get-out-the-vote effort, or 2) There was a broad shift in attitudes about the candidates.

When we looked at this Saturday night, it wasn’t clear which was the case. Now, we have a better sense.

If we look at the votes in counties* for which we have data (culled from the AP’s initial and final vote tallies), you can see that Ted Cruz gained strength after the absentee vote.


this looks like the state of Louisiana bailed on Marco Rubio in favor of Ted Cruz. Which could explain why Cruz is targeting Florida all of a sudden. On Saturday night, Donald Trump called for Rubio to drop out of the race. If he can repeat what he did in Louisiana in Florida in just over a week, Cruz will take Rubio out himself.

This pattern mirrors what Cruz did in the 2012 Texas Senate race. Dewhurst beat Cruz by 18% in early voting, but only 3% on primary day, a massive momentum shift that turned into a Cruz victory in the runoff.

Cruz is a smart, disciplined, relentless campaigner, and after Trump’s early successes in open primaries, we’re finally seeing Trump hit his ceiling and Cruz surge ahead as the superior candidate, especially in closed primary and caucus states.

That momentum, and the widespread distaste for Trump, is why many in the Republican establishment are finally, reluctantly, turning to Cruz as the only way to stop Trump.

Dewhurst Settles Lawsuit Against Michael Looney

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Former Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has settled his lawsuit against Houston oilman Michael Looney, who evidently received money embezzled by Dewhurst campaign adviser Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield:

Former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the once powerful Republican who was bilked by an adviser for at least $2.8 million, has settled a lawsuit against a Houston oilman who used a chunk of the stolen money to invest in a new business.

The out-of-court settlement ends years of litigation by the three-term ex-lieutenant governor aimed at recouping funds embezzled from two campaign accounts by former adviser Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a Dewhurst spokesman said.

Once a trusted consultant to one of Texas’ wealthiest politicians, Barfield was sentenced in February to more than seven years in federal prison for orchestrating a complex money funneling scheme in which he falsified records, bank statements, invoices and campaign finance reports.

Dewhurst filed a civil lawsuit against Barfield in 2013 to get some of the money back. That lawsuit was settled when Barfield signed over his multi-million dollar West Austin home as part of the agreement.

However, Dewhurst’s lawyers also set their sights on Houston businessman Michael Looney, who partnered with Barfield and, according to court documents, received “several hundred thousand dollars” of stolen Dewhurst money.

The funds, according to the lawsuit, were used to start a new oil and gas business co-owned by Looney and Barfield that would make use of valuable seismic data under license from ExxonMobil.

Dewhurst’s lawsuit was asking for an award of one-half interest in the seismic data and the new company. The exact value of the data was not released, but Looney’s lawyers said in a filing that Barfield “stood to make millions and millions of dollars” if the deal went through.

The terms of the lawsuit settlement were not disclosed.


Buddy Barfield Pleads Guilty

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Remember Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, the political consultant who was accused of embezzling over $2 million from David Dewhurst campaign funds? When last we checked, he had sold his house to settle a civil lawsuit from Dewhurst.

Well, Barfield just plead guilty to embezzling $1.8 million from various David Dewhurst campaigns.

“While working on behalf of the David Dewhurst Campaign and Dewhurst for Texas, Barfield knowingly and intentionally engaged in a scheme to defraud the entities of campaign dollars for his own benefit,” a plea agreement signed by Barfield stated.

“Barfield used the stolen funds to pay for expenses such as his home mortgage, school tuition for his children, personal investments and other living expenses.”

Dewhurst campaign officials said Barfield concealed his theft from the campaign accounts by falsifying bank deposit slips, vendor invoices and finance reports to make it appear that the accounts had far more cash on hand than they actually contained.

In the meantime, Barfield and his side businesses, such as Alexander Group Consulting, were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that were never performed.

As I noted in the original story, the embezzlement was a symptom of disorder in the Dewhurst campaign, not its cause. It also shows why it’s a good idea for any political campaign with funds of $1 million to have outside auditing…

Buddy Barfield/David Dewhurst Campaign Embezzlement Update

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Remember the accusations that campaign consultant Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield embezzled over $1 million from David Dewhurst’s Lt. Governor and Senate campaigns over a number of years?

Well, the estimated total he’s accused of embezzling is now over $2 million, plus

Barfield has agreed to turn over his lavish West Austin home and various business assets to Dewhurst to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Dewhurst last year to recover the funds. A final judgment executing the settlement was signed by a state judge in November.

Sale proceeds from Barfield’s home, which has been listed at $2.8 million, will be pooled with the assets of Barfield’s businesses to repay Dewhurst’s campaign accounts for lieutenant governor and his 2012 U.S. Senate race. The home was valued at $1.37 million by the Travis County Appraisal District in 2013.

In all, the judgment states that the David Dewhurst Committee and Dewhurst for Texas campaign accounts should receive $3,750,000 from the Barfield properties. It lists seven Barfield companies, including Alexander Group Consulting, which conducted campaign work for Dewhurst and other candidates.

Evidently there is some fire behind all that smoke. (Also, it appears that Betsy Woodruff was right (and I was wrong) to describe Barfield as having embezzled “millions” plural rather than singular.) Also, this evidently doesn’t get him off the hook for possible criminal charges, which I understand are at both the state and federal levels (the latter for violating federal campaign finance laws for Dewhurst’s losing 2012 U.S. Senate race).

Still unanswered is just how bad is David Dewhurst’s oversight that someone managed to steal $2 million from his campaigns and he didn’t notice for years?

(Speaking of disorder in the Dewhurst campaign, according to this story I missed from last year, he evidently still owes vendors over $1 million from the Senate campaign. I sent out some queries Friday to the vendors named in the story to see if Dewhurst has paid those bills in the interim, but have yet to receive a reply from any of them.)

The Ted Cruz Victory: One Year Later

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Travis McCormick notes that exactly one year ago, Ted Cruz beat David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican Senate runoff. (He also demolished a number of myths in the process.) And pretty much every day Ted Cruz has been in Washington, he’s confirmed that Texas voters made the right decision.

Can anyone imagine Dewhurst leading the fight against illegal alien amnesty? Or schooling Dianne Feinstein on gun control? (I can imagine Dewhurst voting against gun control, but not leading the fight against it.) Or holding the feet of other Republicans to the fire on conservative principles? (As I said then, “We sent Cruz to Washington to shame Republicans into acting like Republicans.”)

No wonder Cruz is getting buzz as a 2016 Presidential candidate. I don’t see anyone else better on the horizon…

Nitpicking National Review On Dewhurst

Monday, July 15th, 2013

When you’re a domain expert in something, sometimes you agree with the central point of an article, but enough details ring false that you wonder how closely the reporter has been following the story. For example, this Betsy Woodruff piece in National Review gets the big picture right (David Dewhurst’s loss to Ted Cruz has weakened him politically), but gets numerous details wrong.

“Only one person has ever lost an election to Ted Cruz, and he’s not doing so well right now. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst,”

No. The proper way to start that sentence is “Only one person has ever lost a runoff to Ted Cruz.” Paul Sadler lost an election to Ted Cruz, and a whole bunch of other candidates (Tom Leppert, Craig James, Glenn Addison, etc.) lost a primary to Cruz.

“But things went from bad to worse for him when the news broke, shortly after his defeat, that his former campaign manager, Kenneth Barfield, appeared to have stolen millions from the lieutenant governor’s campaign coffers over the previous five years.”

Last I checked, Barfield was accused of stealing a maximum of just over one million (singular), not millions (plural).

“Further, [Dan] Patrick used to be a vocal champion of Dewhurst’s. During the contest for the senatorial nomination, Patrick strongly defended the lieutenant governor on his radio show.”

This is not how I remember things. Patrick contemplated a run against Dewhurst himself, criticizing Dewhurst at length over his handling of the anti-TSA groping bill. He did finally come down on Dewhurst’s side against Cruz very late in the game, i.e., only a week before the runoff, but I don’t recall him being particularly vocal. (Granted, I don’t listen to Patrick’s radio show. Maybe he was far more vocal in support there in that last week.)

The piece is otherwise fairly reasonable, but I found it just wrong enough to merit correction…

Well, Who Hasn’t Misplaced $600,000?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Top David Dewhurst campaign aide Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield has been accused of embezzling at least $600,000 from the Dewhurst campaign, starting all the way back in 2008. (This news evidently first came to light December 28, but I was distracted by tidings of comfort and joy.)

I’ll just wait a moment while that sinks in. $600,000 is pretty freaking big chunk of change. It’s only a little bit less than Democratic Senate nominee Paul Sadler raised during his entire campaign. I can’t imagine how Barfield thought such a sum wouldn’t be noticed, even in such a cash-flush environment as Team Dewhurst. The news reports don’t entirely make clear whether the funds were embezzled from Dewhurst’s 2010 Lt. Governor re-election campaign, his losing 2012 Senate run, or both, since Barfield worked on both.

Some articles suggest that Barfield embezzled the funds to make up for losses on business deals.

There was also this:

There also were reports of friction between Barfield and others on Dewhurst’s campaign team over what strategy to use against rival Ted Cruz before the GOP Senate primary.

While some thought it best to ignore Cruz as much as possible, Barfield pushed for the campaign to sharpen its attacks on Cruz, efforts that many analysts now believe were too exaggerated and turned voters against Dewhurst.

So the guy stealing money from the campaign was also the guy who managed to lose the campaign.

How convenient.

I think the embezzlement is a symptom of the disorder within the Dewhurst campaign, not the cause. Having a flush campaign papers over many flaws, but if a guy steals $600,000 from you over four years, you have some serious oversight problems. I think that if someone stole $600,000 from me, I would notice, even if I were a quarter-billionaire.

Of course, as of this moment Barfield does not appear to have been indicted, much less convicted. But if true, the story should really give hope to Jerry Patterson and anyone else gunning for Dewhurst’s current job, as it suggests that Dewhurst’s attention to detail is somewhat less than total…

Paul Burka Discusses Ted Cruz, and Proves (Yet Again) He Doesn’t Understand Conservatives

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

So Paul Burka noticed that Senator-elect Ted Cruz picked conservative Chip Roy as his Chief of Staff.

Sayeth Burka:

What I find revealing about the choice of Roy is that Cruz–who has been making noise as a potential contender for the White House in 2016–appears to be putting his chips on the tea party as the future of the Republican party. In doing so, he is aligning himself with insurgents like Rand Paul and, of course, the chief insurgent, Jim DeMint, who helped fund Cruz’s Senate race.

Is this a good bet? I’m dubious. The tea party has a lot in common with the old Ross Perot “United We Stand” bunch. These groups seldom have staying power. Granted, the Kochs’ involvement makes the tea party’s survival more likely, at least in the short run, but in the establishment almost always prevails. It may prove to be the case, though, that Cruz is so appealing that he can transcend the factionalism in the Republican party. The strength of the Republican field in 2016 is that it is filled with big names: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. Only Rubio and Cruz qualify as fresh faces, though, and that might be where the rank-and-file look first.

Wait, let me get this straight: A conservative Republican Senator-elect, who worked at a conservative think tank, ran as a conservative, courted conservatives, and beat the overwhelming favorite establishment candidate while pledging to govern as a conservative, has now chosen…a conservative chief of staff?

Sadly, Burka misunderstanding conservatives is nothing new. The idea that conservatives truly believe in low taxes, balanced budgets, and limited government seems entirely alien to Burka. When it comes to describing inter-Republican-Party dynamics, he’s like a color-blind man trying to describe The Wizard of Oz.

And so instead of reaching the obvious conclusion, that Ted Cruz chose a conservative chief of staff because he’s a conservative, Burka prefers to envision imaginary 2016 horse-race jockeying.

I could try to explain to Burka exactly why the Tea Party exists and what it wants, but I fear it would be like trying to teach the fundamentals of optics to a dog.

Bright Spots

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Well, that could have gone better.

As an effort at alleviating depression among the vast right wing conspiracy, here are a few glimmers of hope amidst the dismal news:

  • Republicans kept the House.
  • Ted Cruz won. And here’s his victory speech:

  • Democrats picked up senate seats, but they still don’t have a filibuster-proof majority.
  • Randy Weber won.
  • Republicans hold as many statewide offices in Texas as they did before, i.e. all of them.
  • Republicans won all four seats on the Third Court of Appeals.
  • Donna Campbell won.
  • Tony Dale won.
  • In the real-life 2012 version of Atlas Shrugged, Texas has taken the place of Colorado, i.e. the redoubt of a dynamic economy, freedom and limited government in a country grown ever-more statist. Thankfully, it’s not the only one, and red states are still outperforming blue states by a good measure. A narrow Obama victory can’t change that. We’ve got to keep on fighting the good fight.

    We lost the battle. The war goes on.

    How Big Will Ted Cruz Win Tomorrow?

    Monday, November 5th, 2012

    I’m pretty confident that Ted Cruz will win the election (and deservedly so). The only question now is: By how much?

    To determine that, let’s look at the recent history of non-Presidential top-of-the-ballot races in Texas:

  • 2000 Senate: Kay Bailey Hutchison 4,078,954 (65%) over Gene Kelly 2,025,024 (32%)
  • 2002 Senate: John Cornyn 2,480,991 (55%) over Ron Kirk 1,946,681 (43%)
  • 2002 Governor: Rick Perry 2,617,106 (58%) over Tony Sanchez 1,809,915 (40%)
  • 2006 Senate: Kay Bailey Hutchison 2,661,789 (62%) over Barbara Ann Radnofsky 1,555,202 (36%)
  • 2008 Senate: John Cornyn 4,326,639 (55%) over Rick Noriega 3,383,890 (43%)
  • 2010 Governor: Rick Perry 2,733,784 (55%) over Bill White 2,102,606 (42%)
  • (I’m throwing out the 4-way 2006 gubernatorial race as not germane. All numbers via Wikipdia, % rounded.)

    In terms of financial resources, Sadler’s fundraising has been very poor, having raised just over $800,000; poorer even than Rick Noriega, who managed to raise over $4 million, or Barbara Ann Radnofsky, who raised about $1.5 million. Then again, money isn’t everything: Tony Sanchez spent $60 million of his own money to garner a meager 40% against Rick Perry in 2002.

    I don’t think Sadler will do as poorly as vanity candidate Gene Kelly did in 2000. I expect Obama to run 4-5 points worse than he did in 2008, and I expect Sadler to probably lose a point or two off Obama’s total. So, I predict: Ted Cruz gets 61% of the vote, and Paul Sadler gets around 39%.