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March 17th, 2014:

No love for Dan

Here’s one vote he won’t get.

“Oozing charm from every pore I oiled my way around the floor”

Whether incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst can make up for a big primary night loss to challenger Dan Patrick in a May runoff may depend on if he can successfully court the supporters of his two former opponents.

But in interviews on Tuesday, neither Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples nor Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who earned a combined 30 percent of the vote in the March GOP primary for lieutenant governor, were ready to come out in favor of Dewhurst.

Staples said outright that he had decided not to give a nod in the race.

Patterson said he was still making up his mind about whether to endorse Dewhurst, but forcefully attacked Patrick, saying the Houston state senator would take the state backward as lieutenant governor.

“He will wholly be bad for Texas, bad for the Republican Party,” Patterson said of Patrick. “We have two choices, and I will categorically tell you I’m not voting for Dan Patrick either in the primary or the general election. I’ll vote Libertarian in November if I have to.”

I’ve noted before how Democrats are rooting for Patrick to win the runoff since he is viewed as being more beatable in November. Some people have expressed skepticism of this, partly on the belief that there are no ticket-splitters any more. I get that, but there are plenty of such people left in Texas. We saw a great example of it in 2010. Bill White received over 387,000 more votes than Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, while Rick Perry collected over 311,000 fewer votes than David Dewhurst. That’s nearly a 700,000 vote swing towards White. People often don’t realize how big the swing was towards White because the Republican tidal wave of 2010 was too big for it to matter, but in a more normal year, 700,000 votes is more than enough to make a difference.

Consider this scenario: Turnout in November is 4.9 million voters – a bit less than 2010, but more than any other off year. The average statewide Republican wins with a 57-43 margin, which I think we can agree is healthy enough to invite plenty of post-electoral scoffing at Battleground Texas and any thought of a blue state in the foreseeable future. Well, in this scenario a Bill White-sized swing is just about what it would take to tip an election, since the average vote tally would be 2.8 million to 2.1 million. If there’s any Republican candidate capable of inspiring that kind of disloyalty among his fellow Republicans, it’s Dan Patrick.

Maybe you think my scenario is too optimistic, maybe you think Leticia Van de Putte won’t have the resources to compete the way White did (you know you have the power to help with that, right?), or maybe you have some other reason to be skeptical. I’m just saying we’ve seen the kind of crossover voting needed to make a VdP win happen in very recent memory, so don’t say it can’t happen because it already has.

Residency is hard

Fascinating story about residency and elections in Galveston.

Two of the three candidates for Galveston mayor are challenging the residency of front-runner Jim Yarbrough, the former county judge who was expected to coast to victory in the May municipal election.

An attorney for three-term Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton and businessman Don Mafrige late Wednesday sent a five-page letter asking the Galveston city secretary to declare Yarbrough ineligible to be a candidate.

Mafrige, who financed the challenge, said it should not be viewed as a tactic to oust a popular candidate. “We didn’t take him out, he took himself out by not really being eligible to run,” Mafrige said.

Beeton said only another candidate can challenge a candidate’s residency.

Yarbrough disputed the challenge to his candidacy and said he would hire an attorney. “I’m glad they did it,” Yarbrough said. “We need to resolve the issue now before the election.”

[…]

The letter sent by attorney Mark Wawro on behalf of Beeton and Mafrige alleges that Yarbrough violated a section of the city charter that says a candidate must not claim a homestead exemption on property other than the candidate’s Galveston residence for at least a year before the May 10 election. Attached to the letter is a request by Yarbrough for a homestead exemption in Fayette County in March 2012 and a request to withdraw the exemption dated Sept. 8, 2013.

Yarbrough said that although he made his request in September for removal of the exemption, it was removed retroactively for the entire year and therefore enabled him to meet the charter provision requirements.

Jerad Nachvar has an in depth legal analysis of this that you should read. From my layman’s perspective, you’d think Galveston’s residential exemption standard would be fairly straightforward, but even that is subject to interpretation. I agree with Yarbrough that we ought to try to resolve this before the election – we know all too well what a mess it is to try and sort these issues out after the election – but it sure would be nice if there were a way to do that without having to go to court. I hope we get some clarity out of this.

Perry’s No Jobs Tour continues

TrailBlazers takes the bait.

Corndogs make bad news go down easier

Corndog manufacturing is a growth industry

Rick Perry is on the road again. But then, he’s rarely off it these days.

This weekend, he’s in Western Kentucky at Murray State University to headline a Republican Party fundraiser.

Then, it’s off to California to talk to their businesses about uprooting and moving en mass to the Lone Star State.

The three-day trip to California is being paid for by Americans for Economic Freedom, a group Perry and his supporters helped establish. It emphasizes some of Perry’s fundamental tenets about helping create job growth, including low-taxes, low-wages and lawsuit limits.

The reported $300,000 radio and TV ad buy for the trip features Perry. It brags about 50 California companies moving to Texas over the past year or so and how Texas has surpassed Silicon Valley as the top exporter of tech products.

I’ve talked before about how the most notable thing about Rick Perry’s job stealing tours is how he never actually manages to steal any jobs while on them. This ad running in California – “running” is almost certainly an overstatement; given how it takes roughly a million dollars a week to run an effective TV advertising campaign for a statewide candidate in Texas, one can guess how many Californian eyeballs will actually view this latest piece of performance art from our Governor – may brag about “50 California companies moving to Texas over the past year or so”, yet Governor Perry’s press releases in that time frame makes no mention of any such relocations. You’d think if these company moves are worth bragging about in a TV ad, they’d have been worth mentioning in a press release or two. Maybe someone should ask him for the specifics. They might also ask about how miraculous things really are here. Or maybe we should all remember that the real point of all this is Rick Perry touting the virtues of Rick Perry. By that metric, it remains a success.

Once again, the cost of not expanding Medicaid

Short answer: It’s a lot.

It's constitutional - deal with it

It’s constitutional – deal with it

A team of Harvard researchers recently released a deeply sobering study quantifying how many Americans stand to die needlessly in the unflinching states hellbent on denying Medicaid expansion, as provided by the Affordable Care Act. The study singles out Texas:

“In Texas, the largest state opting out of Medicaid expansion, 2,013,025 people who would otherwise have been insured will remain uninsured due to the opt-out decision. We estimate that Medicaid expansion in that state would have resulted in 184,192 fewer depression diagnoses, 62,610 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures, and between 1,840 and 3,035 fewer deaths.”

Crunching the numbers, the study suggests that Texas could bear almost 18 percent of a potential 17,104 unnecessary deaths nationwide. The figures are stark, damning, and presented with dispassionate and clinical precision—and yes, the study was quickly subjected to right-wing critics arguing the math.

You can read about the study here. The Observer story goes on to carp about the lack of media coverage of this issue, and while I agree that there ought to be a lot more written about it, at this point it pretty much has to be a campaign issue to be news. I hate to be one of those people telling the Wendy Davis campaign what to do – in part because I think most of the “advice” given to her has been in response to trivial matters, and in part because I doubt any of us armchair quarterbacks have any idea how to win statewide races – but I’d really like to see her jump all over this. I see no real downside for her in going big on economic populism, which includes Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage. The latter is broadly popular, including in Texas, and the former will put her on the side of most doctors and hospitals, as well as county officials. It fits with her overall message of breaking from the Rick Perry past that Greg Abbott represents and it will help drive turnout from the Democratic base, which is job one for her. We need to be talking about this, and that means we need Wendy Davis talking about it.