Governor's race

The First Hutchison TV Spot

Nov 20, 2009 By Paul Burka

Hutchison is shown sitting in a living room, or perhaps a hotel suite. She is wearing a white blouse with a dark vest, brown or perhaps purple. A lamp is lit on a desk behind her left shoulder. In the foreground is a built-in segment of a bookcase. A red…

The governor’s race: critiquing the criticism

Sep 24, 2009 By Paul Burka

From the Hutchison campaign, 23 September: Instead Of Cutting Spending, Rick Perry Balanced The Budget Through $12.1 Billion In Federal Stimulus Funds. “With little debate, the Texas House passed its largest budget ever Friday, a day after senators also breezed through the $182.3 billion plan for the next two years.

The Unemployment Insurance Issue and the Governor’s Race

Aug 5, 2009 By Paul Burka

Let's just start out by reviewing what has happened so far. As those who have followed the debate know, $555 million in federal stimulus funds was available for Texas, provided that the Legislature agree to make several changes that increased the number of people who would be eligible for UI benefits. --changing the base period for calculating UI benefits to include employment in the most recent quarter. To be eligible for stimulus funding, a state had to make this change. In addition, a state had to adopt two of the following three changes: 1) eligibility for family members who leave their jobs for a compelling family reason (such as a spouse getting a new job in another city, or leaving work to care for a family member) 2) eligibility for a person seeking only part-time work 3) eligibility for a person who is currently enrolled in a job training program These changes, if made by statute, would increase benefits by $72 to $75 million per year, in perpetuity. Governor Perry decided to turn down the funds rather than subject employers to these additional costs. Senator Kevin Eltife passed a bill through the Senate that would have allowed the Legislature to override the governor's decision, but it had no chance to become law, and Texas did not receive the $555 million that was available. I thought at the time that Perry was showboating and had made a decision based on politics and ideology, and I said so in this space. He was showboating. Still, there is more to be said about this topic. I assume that most readers know that UI benefits are paid from a trust fund that is funded by a tax on employers. (Actually, employers pay two taxes. One is a benefits tax designed to ensure that enough money is available to pay benefits to the unemployed. The other is a deficit tax designed to raise enough money so that the unemployment trust fund remains above a certain level, which is 1% of total taxable wages in Texas, or around $86 billion, but below a ceiling of 2% of taxable wages.) Yet another drain on the trust fund is a statute that allows money to be shifted from the trust fund to the governor's Texas Enterprise Fund, when the trust fund balance is above the 1% floor. Employers might well contemplate whether it is wise for their tax dollars to be used for reasons other than keeping the trust fund in sound condition. Then employers will be taxed again to refill the coffers of the UI trust fund, so that yet more dollars can be shifted to the Enterprise Fund.

The Perry Fundraising Letter

Jul 5, 2009 By Paul Burka

[Dated June 22, 2009; italics, bold facing, and ellipses are original] Dear ---- A few weeks ago, I found myself at the center of a national firestorm, and the subject of withering attacks from the left, because I had the nerve to defend the U.S. Constitution. I don't know when the Bill of Rights became like a cafeteria plan, where we can pick and choose the amendments we like, but clearly there are folks in Washington who do not appreciate my stand for the 10th Amendment, which says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." When I placed my hand on the Bible and swore a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Texas, I swore to defend the entirety of those founding documents -- not just those parts that are convenient. It is a duty that I take very seriously. I am fighting for the very Constitution that our Founding Fathers crafted to limit the reach of the federal government in our lives. But I need your immediate help. Your gift of $50 or $25 to my campaign today will help me compete against my well-funded Washington-connected opposition that thinks power and freedom emanates from government. The fact is, the Constitution was created to limit the powers of the federal government, not unleash them. In the coming gubernatorial campaign, I will ask you to honor me with another term as Governor for Texas. But understand, this campaign is not about personalities but principles. It as about two models of governing: the Washington model that talks the talk about limited government while delivering record earmarks and increasing bureaucratic control, and the Texas model of balanced budgets and fiscal restraint that recognizes growth and prosperity are not granted by government but created in the private sector.

Texas Politics Project Responds

Mar 23, 2009 By Eileen Smith

In Paul Burka's latest post, he questions the methodology behind the poll conducted by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project at UT. Here is their response, in full (courtesy of professors Jim Henson and Daron Shaw). In the Friday afternoon Texas Monthly podcast, in a post on his blog the following day, and in the comment fields following that entry, Paul Burka made a series of inaccurate characterizations of the poll released by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project last week. Consequently, we feel compelled to respond. In so doing, we hope to give Mr. Burka, readers of the blog, and the broader public a clearer idea of how the poll works. Mr. Burka’s skepticism concerning some of our results seems based on a combination of his misunderstanding of where our sample comes from and how we use the Internet to administer the survey. Let us begin by explaining our decision to conduct an online survey. Put another way, why didn't we just do another phone poll? In our view, the issues preventing effective online polling are receding while those plaguing traditional phone polling are becoming increasingly troublesome. In particular, phone polls have had lower response rates in recent years, which exacerbate widely recognized response biases. Weighting the data is the typical response, but how reliable are estimates when you have to weight low incidence populations (for example, young African American males) by a function of 8 or 12 or even 16? Perhaps more problematic is the spread of cell phone use and the decline of landlines. Finally, talking to people over the phone also places constraints on the sort of question frames and response options you can use; these problems are reduced or removed when you use the web.

Perry camp touts UT poll results to national GOP activists, media–but is the methodology accurate?

Mar 21, 2009 By Paul Burka

The following e-mail went out to Republican activists, consultants, and Washington media types over the name of Perry campaign guru Dave Carney. Among the recipients were consultant Arthur Finkelstein, representatives of the Club for Growth, Washington Post columnist Chris Cizzilla, and prominent Patton Boggs attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, who represented the Bush campaign in legal maneuvering over the Florida recount in 2000. Subject: Hutchison Team Quiet About New Poll The only thing positive that the Hutchison campaign has had to talk about since getting in the Governor's race last year has been public poll numbers showing her with a sizable lead. (Like many of the elite they confuse popularity with electability.) Well today that came to an end and not surprisingly the Hutchison campaign has gone silent. Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News yesterday reported, "Asked who they'd vote for it the primary were today, 36 percent of registered likely GOP voters said Hutchison, 30 percent for Perry. A quarter say they remain undecided -- a huge number. The survey was conducted Feb. 24-March 6. The margin of error is 5.7 percent -- which means the results are effectively a tossup. The poll was conducted by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project at UT. That is in sharp contrast to the polls showing her with a 25 point lead before she announced her candidacy. This follows her anemic fundraising performance during the first reporting period of the campaign where she raised less then $32,000. In contrast over the same time period Governor Perry raised more than $1,000,000. Couple all that with these two articles that came out today and it’s been a bad first few months for Senator Hutchison's fledging campaign. [end of release] Click here for the link to the first article and here for the link to the second. A couple of comments: