Does TLR’s jihad against Jeff Wentworth make sense? Forget that Wentworth has voted with TLR on all but a handful of occasions. Forget that Wentworth is a well known incumbent who will have the support of the local business community, and TLR is, in this race, a bunch of carpetbaggers from Houston. The real question is whether TLR has given serious thought to the risk/reward that comes with loading up on Elizabeth Ames Jones. Ms. Jones has not distinguished herself in this race. Her continuing insistence that she could remain as chair of the Railroad Commission after changing her residency to San Antonio in order to run for the Senate indicated that she didn’t have the judgment to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. She is vulnerable to future attacks by Wentworth, who argues that (1) her chairmanship of the Railroad Commission was invalid because she was ineligible to serve due to her failure to meet the constitutional requirement for all statewide elected officials to reside in the capital city, and (2) her resignation could imperil the validity of any decision the Railroad Commission made while she was ineligible to serve. At the very least, it is a matter than needs to be determined.
The question I have is whether it is really worth it to TLR to spend $2 to $3 million to defeat Wentworth. I’m sure Dick Weekley and Dick Trabulsi think they’re going to win, but elections don’t always turn out the way folks think they will. TLR is betting the farm that Ames Jones will win, but what if she doesn’t? TLR risks losing its aura of invincibility. That is a big gamble for an organization that is not very popular to shoulder. (Of course, if TLR wins, they get the benefit of knowing that senators will be afraid to take them on.) I think TLR is rolling the dice here. If they lose, a substantial chunk of their clout is going to disappear. I’m not saying they are going to lose. TLR has a ton of money to spend, and the Wentworth camp can’t match their deep pockets, if it comes to that. Furthermore, Wentworth has vulnerabilities of his own. But TLR is taking a risk, and if they lose, there are going to be high fives all over the Capitol.