Politics & Policy

Reporting and commentary on the Legislature, campaigns, and elected officials
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Politics & Policy|
August 23, 2006

So Solly

The District 33 (Corpus Christi) blog is back in session. I was part of a small group who met today with Solomon Ortiz Jr., the Democratic nominee to replace Vilma Luna and the subject of much commentary from readers (see “Split Decision,” below). He has scads of boyish charm and

Politics & Policy|
August 22, 2006

D as in Denial

I never expected a post on an obscure Corpus Christi legislative race (See “Split Decision,” below) to generate so many comments. The anger of Democrats boiled over at my suggestion that the Republicans could win the seat in the heavily Democratic district due to a split in the Democratic party,

Politics & Policy|
August 22, 2006

Poll Axed

Just in: the latest Survey USA poll on the approval rating of all governors. It is not good news for Rick Perry. Since the last poll on August 6, Perry’s approval rating has declined from 52% to 43%, while his disapproval rate has done exactly the reverse–climb from 43%

Politics & Policy|
August 22, 2006

Hecht Maybe

I herewith offer these thoughts on the Nathan Hecht controversy–he is appealing his admonition by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for his public support of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court last year–as red meat for the critics.Here is a summary of the case from

Politics & Policy|
August 21, 2006

Split Decision

When Corpus Christi state representative Vilma Luna decided to give up her legislative seat in July to take a lobbying job in Austin with Hillco Partners, the Democratic party had every reason to believe that the seat would remain in the party’s column. The Republicans had not fielded a candidate

Politics & Policy|
August 18, 2006

Interpreting the Polls

A friend who takes issue with my recent posts (“Main Event” and “Main Event, the Post-Mortem,” in which I asserted that the thwarting of the terrorist plot at Heathrow Airport would benefit the Republicans in the midterm elections, has been bombarding me with e-mailed poll results showing that, so far,

Politics & Policy|
August 17, 2006

We Approve

Survey USA came out with a new poll yesterday about the president’s state-by-state approval rating. Texas is fifth highest (54%) behind Idaho (59%), Wyoming (58%), Utah (57%), and Nebraska (55%). The only other states where Bush scored at least 50% were Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma? Can

Politics & Policy|
August 17, 2006

Grand Old Parting of the Ways

Those fratricidal Republicans are at it again. Earlier this month, the Dallas Morning News finally got state GOP executive director Jeff Fisher to acknowledge what everybody knew, which was that a 2005 telephone poll to determine the level of support of several “moderate” (that is, conservative, as opposed to

Politics & Policy|
August 16, 2006

Reid It and Weep

Let’s try reposting this. Apparently some readers were too harried to check out the link for this story [hint, guys, click here] from August 5 Las Vegas Sun and didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. As far as I can tell, the Texas media missed this

Politics & Policy|
August 15, 2006

Has-Ben

When this blog started in early July, rumors were rife that Ben Bentzin, the Republican nominee in Texas House District 48 (West Austin) against Democrat Donna Howard, would withdraw from the race. Several GOP sources told me that was not the case, which I posted, which a couple of e-mailers

Politics & Policy|
August 12, 2006

Main Event, the Post-Mortem

In “Main Event,” which I posted yesterday, I argued that the news of the terrorist bombing plots would work to the Republicans’ advantage in the fall elections. Four of the six readers who posted comments took issue with the post, as did our editor, Evan Smith, who told me

Politics & Policy|
August 11, 2006

Main Event

When you look at the ocean, it appears to be immutable and everlasting. But it is subject to forces beyond its control. Small changes occur because of the tides. Great changes occur because of tropical storms. So it is with politics. We think we know how it is shaping up,

Politics & Policy|
August 9, 2006

Not So Sharp

Just to make sure that nobody missed the latest Rasmussen poll in the governor’s race (500 likely voters), the Bell campaign sent out their own release with the spin that Bell had knocked 10 points off Perry’s lead since the previous poll. Half of that is Perry’s own slippage. The

Politics & Policy|
August 8, 2006

Write to Vote

Now that we don’t have Tom DeLay to kick around any more, what are the prospects that the Republicans can effectively mount a write-in campaign against Democratic nominee Nick Lampson? Start with the rules: A candidate must file a Declaration of Write-In Candidacy with the Secretary of State’s office by

Politics & Policy|
August 7, 2006

Scalia Denies DeLay

Just out: Justice Scalia refused to stay the order of the Fifth Circuit that Tom DeLay’s name should remain on the ballot. James Bopp, attorney for the Republican Party of Texas and chairman Tina Benkiser, said that he will not pursue the appeal. The link has the full story.

Politics & Policy|
August 6, 2006

Abbott vs. Van Os

The resolution of the redistricting lawsuit became a battleground in the race for attorney general — although it’s not much of a race when the outcome is predestined. Incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and his longshot Democratic challenger, David Van Os put out dueling press releases on the subject,

Politics & Policy|
August 5, 2006

Take a Seat

A reader who identifies himself as “Hopeful Democrat” commented on my post about the redistricting case (“Exit Lines”): “Please clarify your statement to the effect that it is unlikely that Democrats will win seats in November now held by Tom DeLay and Henry Bonilla. Do you mean that both seats

Politics & Policy|
August 5, 2006

Grand Old Parry

To: Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National CommitteeFrom: Paul Burka, humble bloggerRe: Your mailed invitation to take part in the official CENSUS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTYI am so glad that you have chosen me as a representative of all Republicans living in my voting district. I am particularly honored that, as

Politics & Policy|
August 4, 2006

Exit Lines

The only surprise in the new congressional redistricting map for Central and South Texas drawn by a three-judge federal court was the inclusion of District 15, represented by Ruben Hinojosa, of Mercedes, among the districts the Court revised. The panel’s general intentions became known early in Thursday’s lengthy

Politics & Policy|
August 4, 2006

DeLay DeNied Again

Now that a Fifth Circuit appeals panel has ruled that Tom DeLay’s name must stay on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Congress in District 22, what are the political ramifications? After federal District Judge Sam Sparks ruled against DeLay earlier this summer, some Republicans, and even

Politics & Policy|
August 2, 2006

Fine Lines

The long road that began with Rick Perry’s decision to call a special session for congressional redistricting in the summer of 2003 approaches its terminus on Thursday morning when a three-judge panel in Austin hears oral arguments about how to fix the Voting Rights Act violation identified by the Supreme

Politics & Policy|
August 1, 2006

To Circuit, With Love

All of you posted extremely good comments about my report from the Fifth Circuit. I thought I would just pull them up into the main portion of the blog and respond to them here.First, a word about the experience of watching the oral arguments. It was so great. The courtroom

Politics & Policy|
August 1, 2006

Creamed Cornyn

Count me as among the stunned that U.S. Senator John Cornyn turned on President Bush yesterday on the subject of immigration. The former Texas attorney general, whose approval rating ranks 87th among the 100 senators, was cited in the Dallas Morning News as saying that President Bush

Politics & Policy|
July 31, 2006

Joe Allbaugh

“They take a shot at the presidency indirectly through me, which is fine . . . It just angers me that our professional journalists have accepted lower standards. I feel like Sergeant Friday: ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’”

Politics & Policy|
July 31, 2006

Taking the Fifth

NEW ORLEANS — This morning the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the Texas Republican Party’s appeal of an Austin federal district court ruling prohibiting the RPT from declaring Tom DeLay ineligible to remain on the ballot as the GOP nominee from congressional district 22 (on the grounds that he

Politics & Policy|
July 30, 2006

The Fifth Element

I will go to great lengths to keep readers informed — in this case, some 500 miles. Tomorrow the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear the Republican Party of Texas’s appeal of the Tom DeLay ballot case. and I’ll be there. (Great sacrifice, having

Politics & Policy|
July 28, 2006

Cell Blocked

Is the Republican party bent on self-destruction? David Broder’s column in today’s Washington Post features an interview with an unnamed longtime Republican bigwig from the South who laments what has become of his party–in particular, President Bush’s veto of the stem cell bill and congressional Republicans’ refusal to wage

Politics & Policy|
July 28, 2006

Hiding in the Bushes

What is George Bush running for? George P. Bush, that is. The Rice University (a plug for the old alma mater) and UT Law School (and another plug) grad told Time last year that a run for public office was at least ten years away. But Republicans in North

Politics & Policy|
July 27, 2006

Bell Rings

I want to call readers’ attention to the posts by Jason Stanford of the Bell campaign concerning my takes on the Wall Street Journal/Zogby Poll (“Polls Apart”) and the Rasmussen poll (“Bell Tolls”) earlier this week. The Zogby poll had Bell running second, at 20.8 percent, an eyelash ahead of

Politics & Policy|
July 27, 2006

Jamail Call

Texas lawyers have been burning up cyberspace sending around this three-minute video excerpt of a deposition featuring famed Houston trial lawyer Joe Jamail. It gives a whole new dimension to the term “oral argument.” Definitely R-rated.I’m not confident that the link is going to work, so I’ll duplicate it

Politics & Policy|
July 25, 2006

Bell Tolls

It was fun while it lasted. One day after a Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll showed Chris Bell running second (see yesterday’s posting, “Polls Apart”) to Rick Perry by 38%-20%, a new Rasmussen poll shows him running fourth, and not a very good fourth at that:Perry 40%Strayhorn 20%Friedman 19%Bell 13%And

Politics & Policy|
July 24, 2006

Polls Apart

Chris Bell is touting the first poll to show him running second in the governor’s race. The July Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll has Perry in front with 38.3 percent, Bell second with 20.8 percent, Kinky third with 20.7 percent, and Strayhorn trailing with 11 percent. I am dutifully reporting

Politics & Policy|
July 24, 2006

Drawing the Line(s)

What is the likely outcome of the Texas redistricting case, which will be argued before a three-judge federal court in Austin on August 3?Although a multitude of maps have been filed with the Court, only three are likely to matter: the State Defendants Plan (approved by Perry, Dewhurst, and

Politics & Policy|
July 24, 2006

Open Circuit

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has set the Tom DeLay ballot case (Texas Democratic Party v. Benkiser) for oral arguments on Monday, July 31, in New Orleans. The Court had the option of deciding the case on the briefs alone, so a reasonable conclusion is that the legal issues

Politics & Policy|
July 23, 2006

A Great Toy

This is for serious political junkies only: Check out the NY Times online electoral guide. It has great information about every U.S. Senate and House race and all the governors’ races–including, when available, money raised, candidates’ commercials, polls, and demographic data. One thing the map doesn’t do is offer

Politics & Policy|
July 22, 2006

Fore!

Our spy on the scene at the ALEC legislative conference in San Francisco Blackberried this report: “Sen. [Troy] Fraser was playing golf with Michael Gregg, his chief of staff, Wednesday. Michael hit a tee shot 200 yards and knocked Fraser out while driving his cart. The golf ball is resting

Politics & Policy|
July 21, 2006

Bonilla Weighs In

This is the text of a release received from Bonilla’s office late this afternoon:“Today Congressman Henry Bonilla (R-TX-23rd) issued the following statement regarding the brief in response to the redistricting proposals submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.‘Last week my colleagues Lamar Smith and Henry

Politics & Policy|
July 21, 2006

Kinky’s Kronies

I had hoped to do a list of major and interesting donors to Kinky Friedman’s campaign, as I have done for the Bell, Perry, and Strayhorn campaigns. But — and I trust this will not come as a huge surprise — the Friedman campaign is not like the Bell, Perry,

Politics & Policy|
July 21, 2006

Blogrolling In Our Time

“Management” has suggested that I use this blog to tout the many wonderful articles in our August issue, which is hot off the presses. At first, I was very huffy about this, but then I realized that I wasn’t keeping up with the times. I

Politics & Policy|
July 21, 2006

Perry’s Pals: The Conclusion

This is the final installment of contributors from the Perry campaign’s semiannual filing with the Ethics Commission. The report runs to 2,280 pages (one contribution per page), but the last 400 or so represent expenditures rather than contributions. That leaves 371 names from which I culled the biggest and most

Politics & Policy|
July 20, 2006

And We Thought KBH and DD Were BFF

A story is making the rounds that Kay Bailey Hutchison sent (or is sending, or will send) an emissary to David Dewhurst with the message that she is definitely running for governor in 2010 and would like the lieutenant governor to find some other office to run for. Is this

Politics & Policy|
July 20, 2006

Perry’s Pals, Cont’d. Again

This is the third of four lists of big-bucks and otherwise interesting contributors to the Rick Perry campaign. Donors appear in alphabetical order in the campaign’s filing with the Texas Ethics Commission. This posting encompasses pages 1,001 through 1,500 of a 2,280-page filing. *Anne Marion, art patron and

Politics & Policy|
July 20, 2006

Chris’s Chums

Chris Bell had 665 campaign contributors. I have not been listing “in kind” contributions for other candidates–donations of airplanes and automobiles, funds expended to host an event, and the like–but because Bell’s largest contribution falls in that category, I will include in-kind contributions for donors who gave at least $5,000.

Politics & Policy|
July 18, 2006

Perry’s Pals, Cont’d.

Here are more major or otherwise noteworthy contributors to Rick Perry’s reelection campaign, from pages 501-1,000 (of 2,280) from the report filed on July 17 with the Ethics Commission.*Hugh Fitzsimmons, investments, Houston, $10,000. (Former chairman of the Texas Racing Commission.)*Morris Ester, president of Exxon-Mobil Production Co., Houston, $3,500 (two

Politics & Policy|
July 18, 2006

Time to Unspike?

A few days back, I posted a comment spiking the rumor that Republican nominee Ben Bentzin would abandon his race against Democrat Donna Howard for state representative in Austin’s District 48. Howard won a special election runoff in the spring. Ever since the posting, based on a conversation with

Politics & Policy|
July 18, 2006

Perry’s Pals

I’ve been through the first 500 names (of 2,280) on Rick Perry’s campaign finance filing. The list was filed in alphabetical order. Perry had many more small donors than Carole Strayhorn did, and, so far, no contributions that were even in the neighborhood of the $250,000 Strayhorn received from trial

Politics & Policy|
July 17, 2006

The Givers

Before I list the donors who gave at least $25,000 to the Carole Keeton Strayhorn campaign, permit me to tell you a story. Before the 1998 governor’s race, I wrote about the contributors to George W. Bush’s and Garry Mauro’s campaigns. One of Mauro’s contributors was Larry Gatlin of Abilene.

Politics & Policy|
July 17, 2006

The State of the Race

The campaign fundraising deadline is a good occasion to look at the state of the governor’s race. Rick Perry remains the favorite, but a good argument can be made that any of the other three major candidates — Chris Bell, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, and Kinky Friedman — could finish second.Perry

Politics & Policy|
July 17, 2006

Cashing In: The Complaint

The Strayhorn campaign confirms: $3.1 million raised since January 1, $8 million cash on hand. But don’t look for it on the Ethics Commission Web site today. A phone call to the commission elicited the information that “it takes a long time to pull [the electronic filings] over.” If I

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