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Politics & Policy |
December 28, 2006

Pitts: Craddick Can’t Get There

Jim Pitts announced for Speaker at his 4 p.m. press conference. Apparently the audio was not working, so anyone viewing the proceedings couldn’t hear anything. You don’t suppose the Speaker’s gremlins had anything to do with this, do you? Following his remarks, Pitts was asked why he decided to run.

Politics & Policy |
December 28, 2006

Pitts’ Play

What a wild day this has turned out to be–an historic day. The entry of Jim Pitts into the speakers’ race has everybody guessing what he’s up to. Question: Has he entered the race on his own behalf? Or is he a stalking horse for McCall? Or evenCraddick? Answer: I…

Politics & Policy |
December 28, 2006

Speaker’s Race Update: McCall Moving?

I have not posted anything on the speaker’s race since I broke the news on Saturday that McCall had filed to enter the race because I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t think anyone else did either. I’m not going to buy into posturing. That said, I…

Politics & Policy |
December 23, 2006

MCCALL WILL CHALLENGE CRADDICK

In response to my previous posting, “More (or Less) on the Speaker’s Race,” I received an e-mail saying that Brian McCall had filed the requisite statement of intention to run for speaker. At about the same time, a House member e-mailed TEXAS MONTHLY editor Evan Smith saying the same thing.

Politics & Policy |
December 23, 2006

More (or Less) on the Speaker’s Race

After a day of making calls, I think the speaker’s race is no different than it has been for months, which is a one-person competition (Senfronia Thompson’s announced candidacy notwithstanding) until a Republican wannabe steps forward. Or, as a Republican member told me yesterday (Friday), “It’s a fishing tournament. There’s…

Politics & Policy |
December 22, 2006

Speaker’s Race Update

From a Craddick supporter: Yes, Talton is making calls. No, he doesn’t have any support. Mikhail Watts wants Talton to be chair of Civil Practices. This is all a play for Talton to get the chairmanship. Hmm…all I can say is that this is a pretty dumb way to get…

Politics & Policy |
December 21, 2006

SPEAKER’S RACE BREAKS OUT (Maybe)

I have gotten two calls today to this effect: Robert Talton has a group of conservatives who are ready to abandon Tom Craddick for Brian McCall. There are various versions of this: (a) Talton really wants to be the speaker. (b) No, it’s McCall all the way. (c) The insurgents…

Politics & Policy |
December 20, 2006

Will Bush Control His Presidential Library?

Proselytizers for the New Media, of whom I am not one, say that the Internet is superior to the mainstream media in disseminating information to the public. I have always been skeptical about this claim (except when I am doing the disseminating), but I have seen it come to life…

Politics & Policy |
December 14, 2006

Armey Maneuvers

I’m not in the habit of tooting our own [TEXAS MONTHLY] horn, so I hope readers will tolerate this exception, because it deals with a subject I have been writing about frequently: the debate among Republicans about why they lost the election. This is the main subject of Evan Smith’s…

Politics & Policy |
December 14, 2006

Protest at SMU Targets Bush Library

The likelihood that the George W. Bush presidential library will be located at SMU has not been welcome news for at least one segment of the university community. A letter, dated December 16, from “Faculty, Administrators, & Staff” of the Perkins School of Theology to R. Gerald Turner, president of…

Politics & Policy |
December 14, 2006

Evans-Novak: Bonilla Blew It

The Evans-Novak political report says Henry Bonilla “was at fault in many ways” for his crushing defeat in the 23rd congressional district. The list of misfeasances and my comments: * “He did not spend enough money to get himself over the 50 percent mark on Election Day…

Politics & Policy |
December 13, 2006

Bonilla Fenced In

Thanks to my intern, Will Krueger, for finding this observation by the National Journal’s Charles Mahtesian, who is the editor of the Almanac of American Politics: “Take a look at these remarkable numbers in Maverick County. Bonilla won it with 59% in 2004, even as Kerry was carrying the county;…

Politics & Policy |
December 12, 2006

It’s All Over

Final Total: Rodriguez 38,247Bonilla 32,165 The last 8 boxes from Medina County gave Bonilla whopping 3174-1511 edge in the district’s second-heaviest-voting county, but Rodriguez still coasted to a 6,082-vote victory. This seat should be a permanent Democratic pickup. Assuming that the Ds can hold the seat in 2008, the…

Politics & Policy |
December 12, 2006

Bexar Boxes In; Rodriguez Extends Lead

10:38 p.m.All 92 boxes in Bexar County have reported, and Rodriguez has extended his lead to 6,340 votes. Only 8 Medina County boxes are outstanding. Jan Jarboe Russell e-mailed her assessment of the race from San Antonio: “I think MALDEF helped out too by getting early voting extended for…

Politics & Policy |
December 12, 2006

Uvalde Reports: Too Little, Too Late

9:31 p.m.All fifteen boxes in Uvalde County are now in. Bonilla won the county, 1867 to 1220. Rodriguez’s lead is down to 6,082. Still five boxes out in Bexar, plus all but the early vote in Medina, Val Verde, and El Paso: 40 boxes out of 267.

Politics & Policy |
December 12, 2006

More on District 23

9:14 p.m. Rodriguez 34,456Bonilla 27,285 Here are the outstanding boxes: 14 of 15 in Uvalde County (Early vote: Bonilla 754, Rodriguez 437)17 of 18 in Val Verde County (Early vote: Bonilla 993, Rodriguez 901)23 of 24 in Medina County (Early vote: Bonilla 1080, Rodriguez 434)8 of…

Politics & Policy |
December 12, 2006

New Math: “Zero” = Won

In what has to be regarded as (1) a monumental upset and (2) a huge defeat for President Bush in the heart of Texas, Democrat Ciro Rodriguez is on his way to defeating Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in the 23rd congressional district. The 8:50 p.m. totals:Rodriguez – 30,408 (56.84%)…

Politics & Policy |
December 11, 2006

SurveyUSA: Rodriguez Closes in on Bonilla

Henry Bonilla’s lead over Ciro Rodriguez in the race for the 23rd congressional district has narrowed to four points on the eve of today’s election, according to a new Survey USA poll. On November 7, Bonilla fell just short of winning without a runoff, while Rodriguez led the also-rans with…

Politics & Policy |
December 10, 2006

Adams Yes, Jefferson No

I want to call readers’ attention to a comment that I overlooked to “Bush at the Bottom,” posted on December 2, about historian Eric Foner’s evaluation in the Washington Post of George W. Bush’s place in history. Foner said Bush was the worst president ever. I went on to write…

Politics & Policy |
December 10, 2006

Zogby: Bush at All-Time Low

A job approval rating of 30% for President Bush is the lowest he has ever recorded in the Zogby poll, the previous benchmark having been 31% in early June. Shortly before the midterm elections, he stood at 36%. Zogby is an outlier among December polls:Newsweek 32%CNN 37%…

Politics & Policy |
December 6, 2006

Full House

The 150th and final seat in the Texas House of Representatives, left vacant by the death of Glenda Dawson, will be decided by a special election, and probably a runoff as well. The field includes three Republicans and a Democrat. I have posted previously on this race (See “The Last…

Politics & Policy |
December 6, 2006

SurveyUSA: Bonilla Leads Rodriguez

With a week to go before the runoff election for congressional district 23 between Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla and Democratic challenger Ciro Rodriguez, a SurveyUSA poll shows Bonilla leading by 53% to 46%. The sample of 471 likely voters has a margin of error of +/- 4.6%. SurveyUSA uses…

Politics & Policy |
December 5, 2006

Teddy K. vs. Gates

The confirmation hearings for Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense opened today, and one of the memorable exchanges occurred during questioning by Ted Kennedy. After Kennedy spoke of soldiers from Massachusetts who had given their lives in Iraq, Gates answered: GATES: Senator Kennedy, 12 graduates of Texas A&M have…

Politics & Policy |
December 5, 2006

NOT NECESSARY TO TOLL, A&M EXPERT SAYS

Few things are duller than a committee meeting in the interim between legislative sessions. Witnesses drone on about policy choices involving arcane issues. Some of the committees exist only for a short duration and will vanish once the legislative session begins in January. The media almost never shows up for…

Politics & Policy |
December 2, 2006

Bush at the Bottom?

The Washington Post will feature a story tomorrow, December 3, by Columbia University historian Eric Foner in which the author attempts to make the case that George W. Bush is the worst president ever. Foner is the author of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution: 1863–1877, winner of the Bancroft Prize…

Politics & Policy |
November 30, 2006

Vetting Bonilla

Now is the time for all good members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to come to the aid of their party–even if the beneficiary is a huge underdog. According to the Washington Post’s political blog, The Fix, the DCCC is spending $154,000 on a TV spot for Ciro…

Politics & Policy |
November 29, 2006

The Last Race

As the legislative session approaches, the Republican majority in the House of Representaives is 80-69, with one seat yet to be decided. That seat was occupied by the late Glenda Dawson, whose death from a brief illness occurred too late for her name to be replaced on the ballot. The…

Politics & Policy |
November 29, 2006

Pelosi: Time to Reyes Her Game

Those who thought Nancy Pelosi’s main problem as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives would be her extreme liberalism were wrong. It’s her lousy political instincts. She couldn’t last a week in a leadership position in the Texas Legislature. Pelosi has displayed two shortcomings that, if not corrected, will…

Politics & Policy |
November 27, 2006

Gates: The Final Word

For readers who continue to be interested in Bob Gates’ nomination as Secretary of Defense, and are interested in CIA history as well, I recommend this Web site: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB208/index.htm The site includes not only information from the national security archives, but also an excellent, fair, and highly readable excerpt…

Politics & Policy |
November 24, 2006

Survey USA: Kay Down, Cornyn Mixed

John Cornyn’s comparative ranking has fallen in the latest Survey USA ratings of the 100 United States Senators, although his own approval and disapproval ratings actually improved. Last month, Cornyn was ranked 87th, with an approval rating of 40 percent and a disapproval of 43. This month, with an…

Politics & Policy |
November 24, 2006

Swinging (at) Gates

Robert Gates, the Texas A&M president and nominee for Secretary of Defense, continues to be dogged by critics who accuse him of politicizing intelligence when he was deputy director of the CIA under William Casey in the eighties. The latest to weigh in is a former Soviet analyst Jennifer Glaudemans…

Politics & Policy |
November 23, 2006

Perry Boosts Bonilla

The decision by Governor Perry to set the runoff for the 23rd congressional district on December 12 is a big boost for incumbent Henry Bonilla and may deter national Democratic strategists from making a major financial commitment to Ciro Rodriguez. By choosing the earliest possible date for the run-off, Perry…

Politics & Policy |
November 22, 2006

SurveyUSA: Disapproval Soars for Bush, Perry

In SurveyUSA’s first monthly poll of presidential and gubernatorial approval ratings since the election, both President Bush and Governor Perry posted their worst disapproval ratings in a year. Perry had an approval rating of 41% and a disapproval rating of 56%. This is in the ballpark of…

Politics & Policy |
November 22, 2006

Gibbs Me a Break!

The self-destruction of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs means that the race for the Republican nomination against Democrat Nick Lampson in 2008 in the 22nd congressional district is wide open. She came to Washington as the most obscure member of Congress, the winner of a special election to fill Tom DeLay’s unexpired term…

Politics & Policy |
November 20, 2006

Bonilla’s Barrier

What chance does Ciro Rodriguez have to beat Henry Bonilla in the 23rd congressional district runoff? If you look only at fundraising and political skill, it’s Bonilla by a landslide. But that is not all there is to politics. Races are fundamentally about numbers, and the numbers (based on normal…

Politics & Policy |
November 20, 2006

How Did Hispanics Vote?

The experts on Hispanic voting in Texas, the nonpartisan Willie Velasquez Institute in San Antonio, reported this breakdown for Hispanics in the governor’s race: Bell 39.6%Strayhorn 28.6%Friedman 14.3%Perry 13.9%Other 3.6% The Velasquez Institute based its findings on exit polls of 440 respondents conducted in…

Politics & Policy |
November 20, 2006

Why Didn’t Hispanics Vote?

This is a perpetual lament in Texas Democatic politics, only the lack of Hispanic participation was worse than usual. One obvious reason for the dropoff compared to 2002 was that an Hispanic, Tony Sanchez, was the Democratic nominee for governor four years ago, while the candidate this year was Chris…

Politics & Policy |
November 17, 2006

Can’t Tell the Parties without a Scorecard

A couple of incidents since the election raise the issue of whether Texas Democrats are acting just like the Republicans they most love to hate–Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick–by resorting to threats and extreme partisanship. Case 1: The state’s Democratic congressional delegation asked Governor Perry to fire the two former…

Politics & Policy |
November 17, 2006

Help for Ciro

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, is keeping her hand in the political game. She is hosting a fundraiser Monday for Ciro Rodriguez, the D’s challenger to Republican Henry Bonilla in Congressional District 23. The invitation includes mention of “special guest” Nick Lampson and “honorary hosts” Chris…

Politics & Policy |
November 16, 2006

Of Course, There Is No Speaker’s Race, But…

This is an amended version of a posting from yesterday. The topic du jour was the possibility of a speaker’s race (which is more talk than action, so far). The speculation focused on two actions of Governor Perry. One was his comment, when asked about a speaker’s race, that it…

Politics & Policy |
November 16, 2006

Gates Reconsidered

Several days ago, I wrote a piece headlined “Bob Gates is the Right Choice” [to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense]. Joey Kolker, a student of mine, came across the following article from the Baltimore Sun that takes a different view and fowarded it to me. The author,…

Politics & Policy |
November 15, 2006

Winners and Losers

Whose stock rose, whose fell, on November 7: Rose: Fred Baron. Other trial lawyers lavished millions on the Chris Bell and Carole Keetonm Strayhorn campaigns and came away with nothing to show for it. Baron created and funded ($1.7 million) the Texas Democratic Trust, and Dallas Democrats leveraged the money…

Politics & Policy |
November 13, 2006

GOP Post-Mortem

Let the recriminations begin. Republicans nationally and in Texas are headed for a debate about why the GOP lost so badly in the national elections–and whether the victory in Texas was as decisive as it appeared to be. The central question will be whether Republicans lost the national election (and…

Politics & Policy |
November 13, 2006

Half Full or Half Empty?

As Democrats celebrate picking up five seats in the Texas House of Representatives, they should reflect on what might have been. In a posting the morning after the election (see “Seaman vs. Garcia: One Box to Go” in the blog archives), I listed seven races other House that were close…

Politics & Policy |
November 10, 2006

After Bob Gates, la deluge?

Now that A&M president Robert Gates has been named Secretary of Defense, who will be his successor? This is a question of considerable importance to the state, because A&M has become an academic powerhouse under its last two presidents, Gates and before him Ray Bowen. The concern that I have…

Politics & Policy |
November 10, 2006

Bob Gates Is the Right Choice

Since the entire blogging world is writing about the choice of Texas A&M president Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, I might as well weigh in, having just written 8,000 words about him in the cover story of the November issue of TEXAS MONTHLY. In my opinion, President Bush could…