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Back to Basics PAC

Back to Basics polls SD06

We don’t know when a special election in SD06 to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos would be, but Back to Basics says we should start preparing for one.

Sen. Mario Gallegos

According to a new poll commissioned and released by the Back to Basics PAC, the late Senator Mario Gallegos is well-positioned to receive a majority of the vote in the Senate District 6 general election, and longtime Harris County leader Sylvia Garcia is the strongest candidate to replace Gallegos in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election for the district.

“This survey shows a few key things,” said Jeff Rotkoff, a consultant to the Back to Basics PAC. “First, Harris County voters have a high awareness of Senator Gallegos’ tragic and untimely passing, and they are ready to honor his legacy by voting for him on November 6.”

“And second, Harris County Democrats have a strong candidate to hold this seat in Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. Whenever Governor Perry chooses to set the special election to fill Senator Gallegos’ vacancy, the ballot might as well read ‘Sylvia Garcia’ and ‘everybody else,’” Rotkoff concluded.

Back to Basics’ survey of 403 likely voters was fielded between October 23 and 25 by the respected polling firm Opinion Analysts. The results include a +/- 4.9% margin of error. Key findings are below.

You can see the full memo at the link above. I think their characterization of Garcia’s chances is, shall we say, exuberant. They show her up by 12 points over State Rep. Carol Alvarado in a hypothetical four-way race that includes two male Republicans, but only at 31%, which is still a long way from 50. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot that can happen between now and whenever Rick Perry deigns to call this election. Rep. Alvarado released a statement disputing B2B’s assessment of the race the day after the poll came out. I don’t have anything further to say about this till after Election Day.

30 days out gubernatorial fundraising numbers are in

Lots of money out there.

A handful of mega-wealthy donors helped Gov. Rick Perry raise almost twice as much money as Democrat Bill White between July and September, according to campaign releases Monday.

The $8.2 million that poured into Perry’s campaign account was boosted by $600,000 from Houston home builder Bob Perry, no relation, and $275,000 from Gulf States Toyota owner Thomas Friedkin.

Perry also received $250,000 from Dallas investor Harold Simmons, whose company is building a low-level nuclear waste dump in West Texas.

White reported raising $4.68 million between July 1 and Sept. 23. His biggest individual donation was $125,000 from Robert Patton Jr., owner of Fort Worth magazine.


Neither Perry’s campaign nor White’s released his full Texas Ethics Commission filing, making it difficult to assess their campaign spending and cash-on-hand reports.

Perry’s release said he had $10 million cash on hand for the final five weeks of the campaign, while White reported having $2.75 million.

White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said that was because White had spent $11 million on buying television airtime going forward into October.

Here’s White’s report and here’s Perry‘s. White had a $3 million cash on hand advantage as of June 30, and he’s obviously been using it. From what I am told, White had spent $4 million on TV ad buys for the month of October as of September 23, while Perry had only paid for TV time through September 27. He’s bought more since then – I know I’ve seen some ads – and he’ll surely buy more – what else are you going to do with $10 million in campaign cash? – so the cash-on-hand number as of September 23 is a bit misleading. If you suddenly start seeing a bunch of Perry TV spots, you’ll know. I should note that one usually gets a better deal on TV ad buys the earlier one makes them, so White’s money ought to go farther.

There’s also still third-party spending to be accounted for. The Back to Basics folks have another statewide newspaper ad attacking Perry, which you can see here if you don’t read your paper the old-fashioned way. Unlike their previous ad, this one was accepted by the Houston Chronicle; you can see it on page A9. And speaking of newspapers, it’s not an ad but you ought to see the Tyler newspaper calling out Perry for his refusal to debate (full text here).

Back to Basics jumps in to HD133

The Back to Basics folks, who must have the busiest website design shop in the Western hemisphere, have jumped into the HD133 race by going after Jim Murphy, the former Rep from HD133 running to win his seat back from incumbent Rep. Kristi Thibaut. This page doesn’t have the bells and whistles that some of their other efforts have had – it looks an awful lot like a mail piece that’s about to get dropped – but it is characteristically aggressive and unapologetic, two things you need in a year where base mobilization is key. And if there’s a single House district in Harris County where that will be critical, it’s HD133. Consider the following chart of Democratic high scores in the district since 2002:

Year Candidate Pct State ============================== 2002 Mirabal 42.7 45.9 2004 Molina 44.0 42.1 2006 Moody 43.8 46.8 2008 Obama 51.9 43.6

This doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Margaret Mirabal, who carried Harris County, was an outlier that year. Only John Sharp, at 40.3%, joined her in cracking 40% in 133, and all other Democrats ran six or seven points behind their state total there. In 2006, four other statewide Democrats topped 40%, with countywide candidates doing even better – Jim Sharp was the high scorer, with 44.7% – and all statewides doing two to three points worse there than overall. I figure the baseline has probably moved another two points or so in the Democratic direction. That’s clearly not enough to win, but now look at the difference between 2004, when then-Rep. “Moldy Joe” Nixon ran without a Democratic opponent and there was precious little going on organizationally to get Democratic votes out, and 2008. The district wasn’t that much bluer in 2008 than in previous years, it just voted like it. If Democrats get their voters out in HD133, they win, simple as that. We’ve got a great candidate at the top of the ticket, we’re vastly better organized than we were even four years ago, and we’ve got a strong candidate running for re-election. The rest is up to us.

A preview of tomorrow’s paper

Look for the following ad in Tuesday’s newspaper:

Says it all

Click on it to see a larger version, and to visit the latest site that the Back to Basics PAC has worked up. I confess, I’m still rather partial to the chicken suit, but that’s quite a striking image, and it hits Perry where he lives. Well done, y’all. See here and the Back to Basics Facebook page for more.

Dirty deals, done dirt cheap

So I missed this DMN story from the weekend about Rick Perry’s excellent fortune in the real estate market.

Three years after Gov. Rick Perry’s biggest real estate score, questions persist about whether the governor benefited from favoritism, backroom dealing and influence-buying.

The Dallas Morning News found evidence that Perry’s investment was enhanced by a series of professional courtesies and personal favors from friends, campaign donors and the head of a Texas family with a rich history of political power-brokering.

Together they may have enriched Perry by almost $500,000, according to an independent real estate appraisal commissioned by The News.

BOR breaks it down into small, easy pieces. Short version: It’s good to be the king. It’s even better when your business partner in the deal forgets to disclose it, as required by law.

State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, didn’t list his September 2000 acquisition of the waterfront lot on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson in the disclosure form he filed for that year. He also didn’t note a year later the fact that Perry purchased the property from him in 2001, the documents show.

State law requires elected officials such as Fraser, a friend and political ally of the governor, to describe “any and all” interests they or their families have in real property. They also must disclose any proceeds they received when those interests are sold. Failure to file the forms on time can result in civil penalties levied by the commission, though Fraser will not face enforcement because the commission doesn’t have the authority to levy fines for a 10-year-old violation.

Fraser, a wealthy investor, listed numerous stock holdings and other financial information on the 52-page filing but omitted the land deal. He was traveling out of the state on Wednesday and was unavailable for comment, said his chief of staff, Janice McCoy, who declined to discuss the issue.

Andy Wilson, a research associate for campaign finance issues at the watchdog group Public Citizen Texas, said the senator’s failure to correctly file the forms is no small matter. “The public’s right to know on this is absolute,” Wilson said. “Considering that, for most Texans, their homes are the most important thing that they own, I’m surprised that someone would forget to put this on a financial disclosure — especially waterfront property on Horseshoe Bay.”

I dunno, you’d think that buying and selling a house is the sort of thing you might remember doing. Unless of course there was something about it that you didn’t want people to know about.

Turns out that’s not the only questionable dealing Perry has done. The good folks at the Back to Basics PAC have uncovered a few more, which they detail at their latest website, From their press release:

Today, Back to Basics PAC launched a new website highlighting a few of the suspicious and murky land deals that have put hundreds of thousands of dollars in Rick Perry’s pockets.

Rick Perry said, “The idea that you’re supposed to go get an ethics report when you buy a piece of property might be a bit cumbersome for elected officials.”

We disagree, Governor. Back to Basics PAC believes Texans have a right to know about Perry’s dirty deals, and we will continue doing everything we can to make sure all Texas voters hear about his unethical and corrupt behavior.

Visitors can watch Perry play “Let’s Make a Deal” at

Here’s the source for that “cumbersome” quote. Hey, if it’s too much trouble to report that kind of thing, there’s always life in the private sector, where you can use your cronies to get as rich as you want without anyone caring too much about it.

By the way, that Ricks Dirty Deals site pays homage to that classic game show “Let’s Make A Deal”. For those of you who are too young to remember the 1970s, here’s a short clip to give you a feel for it:

Is it just me or does anyone else think that Monte Hall’s hair is a primordial ancestor of Rick Perry’s? Among the many charms of this show was the silly costumes the studio audience members wore to get Hall’s attention – I’ve been picturing Troy Fraser and Mike Toomey in fright wigs and clown shoes as a result of all this – and vintage 70’s muscle cars, of the kind they don’t make any more. Those were the days, my friends.

Finally, as an aficionado of 70s-era game shows, I recognize the theme music they’re using on – not from “Let’s Make A Deal”; clearly the Back to Basics folks are too young for this – but for the life of me I can’t place it, and it’s driving me crazy. A little help here, please? Thanks.

Meet the Mostyns

I have two things to say about this.

Attorney Steve Mostyn said Tuesday he and his wife, Amber Anderson, are committed to putting a “substantial” amount of money that likely will exceed $3 million into ending hard-right Republican politics in Texas government.

The pair already has put $1.3 million into committees that can help Democrat and former Houston Mayor Bill White win the governor’s office, making them far and away his biggest benefactors in this race.

“My gut seems to be dictating this instead of my head,” Mostyn said. “If my head was dictating it, I’d probably put the money into a trust fund for my kids.”

The couple’s largesse and manner of giving is rapidly turning them into a Democratic version of Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, a frequent and substantial donor to Republican and conservative candidates and causes.

The Mostyns are also the main funders of the Back to Basics PAC. Regarding the comparisons to Bob Perry, call me when Governor White names a Mostyn Law Firm employee to a newly-created commission that has the power to positively affect their own firm’s bottom line. It’s never been just about the money where Bob Perry is concerned, it’s been about what he has gotten for that money.

Two, I have been in favor of restricting the total amount of money that a single donor can give in an election cycle for a long time. A bill to do just that was introduced last session by Democratic Reps. Mark Strama and Mike Villarreal but predictably got nowhere. (I actually think the $100K limit this bill would have imposed is too low. I’d go for $250K, with an inflation adjuster built in to allow for the increasing cost of elections. But these are details to be quibbled over. It’s the principle that matters.) I know plenty of other Democrats who would like to see such limitations enacted. If Republicans don’t like what the Mostyns are doing, perhaps they will reconsider their opposition to bills like this one. Until such time as we are living in my ideal world, however, I’m not going to criticize Democratic activists for engaging in legal activities.

Back to Basics PAC back on the air

From the “Stuff That Happened While I Had Put Down The Internet” department, here’s an update on the Back to Basics PAC, which produced and ran a great TV ad about Rick Perry’s budget hypocrisy.

Since we’ve released the ad showcasing the double-faced hypocrisy of Governor Perry, Texans have taken notice, and we’ve clearly struck a nerve with Governor Perry and the Texas GOP. The day after our ad aired on a $250,000 buy in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, the Texas GOP filed a frivolous complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission to try to shut us down.

Their ethics complaint was based on a lie. We hand-delivered a letter to Ms. Rosemary Edwards, the head of the Travis County Republican Party, demanding an apology from them.

You can see the ad here, and you can make a contribution here to keep their ad running if you are so inclined.

Cuts for thee but not for me


That comes courtesy of the Back to Basics PAC, and the Trib says they’ve bought $250K in airtime for it. More like this, please.