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Hector Uribe

Overview of the Land Commissioner race

You may never have seen a race quite like the 2010 race for Texas Land Commissioner.

Meet Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a Republican, and Democrat Hector Uribe, who offers some mild policy disagreements over the job Patterson has done over two terms.

Both demonstrate good humor and so much friendly feeling that Patterson has invited Uribe to fly with him to campaign events in the small, single-engine World War II surveillance plane the land commissioner pilots.

“You reach a point in your life when you’ve got nothing to prove by denigrating somebody else,” Patterson said of the friendly, sometimes funny campaign the two former state senators are conducting for the land commissioner’s job.

Both got small acting roles in the 2004 “Alamo” movie, both were born in 1946, and both lost their 87-year-old mothers this year. Uribe represented Brownsville and South Texas in the Senate from 1981 to 1990; Patterson represented part of the Houston area in 1993-99.

Running a nasty, negative campaign is “just not who I am,” Uribe said.

The two candidates recently sat down in Patterson’s office to discuss the campaign. Uribe assured Patterson’s office receptionists they could keep their jobs after he wins the Nov. 2 election.

He then proceeded to measure the drapes and Patterson’s desk.

“You’re as funny as a fart in the front pew,” Patterson told Uribe as he jokingly grabbed one of several guns he keeps in the office.

You saw my interview with Hector Uribe yesterday. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Commissioner Patterson a couple of times over the past few years, all having to do with the Kenedy Ranch wind farms issue. I have plenty of policy disagreements with him, but I think he’s been a good advocate for renewable energy, and I’ve said so before in this space. As I noted before, Patterson is admirably willing to show up and defend his record anywhere, any time; in this election season, given the behavior of all of his statewide colleagues, that’s so refreshing it’s downright quaint. I want to see Hector Uribe win this election because his views and priorities are more closely aligned with mine, not to mention that it sure would be nice to have a(nother) Democrat on the Legislative Redistricting Board. But especially in a year where it seems like just about every Republican candidate out there has lost his or her mind, I appreciate the fact that my only real beef with Patterson is over boring, wonky policy matters. I wish a lot more elections were like that.

Interview with Hector Uribe

Hector Uribe

Next up is Hector Uribe, who is the Democratic candidate for Land Commissioner. Uribe is a former State Rep and State Senator from the Rio Grande Valley and a movie actor as well as my favorite candidate from this cycle. He’s running against two-term incumbent Jerry Patterson, who to his great credit has willingly engaged in open debate with Uribe, thus setting him apart from pretty much all of his Republican statewide colleagues. Though the tone of this campaign has been remarkably civil, there are many issues on which Uribe believes Patterson has done the wrong thing. You can hear all about it in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

UT/TT poll: Perry 39, White 33

Another poll result.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, Bill White, by 6 percentage points — 39 percent to 33 percent — in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 5 percent of the Texans in the survey; Green Party candidate Deb Shafto gets 1 percent. And 22 percent of respondents — more than one in five Texans — say they’re undecided about which candidate to support with only seven weeks to go in the fall campaign.

Clearly, the natives are restless: In addition to the high percentage of undecided voters up and down the ballot, the poll also found that third-party candidates are capturing enough of the vote to affect the outcomes of some statewide contests. And 31 percent of respondents — nearly one in three Texans — consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.

“White has not yet faded and remains in striking distance of Perry,” says Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas who oversees the UT/Tribune poll with his colleague Jim Henson. “The downside for White is that Perry is up by 18 points among those who say they are extremely likely to vote. White needs a big turnout among young voters and minorities to be competitive.”

As for the undecided voters, Shaw and Henson say the high percentage isn’t that unusual when you consider that they weren’t pressed to say whom they’d support if the election were held today. The candidates have plenty of voters to fight for, they say — and there are enough unanchored votes to swing the election either way. The question to be answered between now and November is what those people will do when it comes time to vote.

“There are a lot of people out there who are not ready to respond to a poll about who they’re going to vote for,” Henson says. “If you look at the breakdown, there are a lot of moderates and a lot of independents.”

You can see more info here, though full crosstabs aren’t out yet. Color me a little skeptical of this one. I believe Rick Perry has a lot of soft support, but I don’t believe 22% of the electorate is actually undecided. Just hearing the words “Democrat” and “Republican” should get you a candidate selection over 80% of the time, as it did in their generic Congressional/legislative ballot question. Nor do I believe that the Libertarian candidates will collect over 5% of the vote in most of these races. No Libertarian candidate got as much as 5% in 2006 in a statewide race. Finally, if 14% of your sample is people who don’t know (6%) who they voted for President in 2008 or didn’t vote at all (8%), then I think you’re sampling a lot of people who will not be voting this November. Unless you were ineligible to participate in 2008, if you didn’t vote then you ain’t voting now.

Note that in their May poll, Perry was leading by 9, 44-35, meaning he lost five points and White two between the two polls. I didn’t see a “Who did you vote for in 2008?” question in their Day One toplines, so I can’t compare the two on that. Interestingly, every single candidate appears to have lost ground in this poll since May:

Candidate Race May Sept ================================ Perry Gov 44 39 White Gov 35 33 Dewhurst LtGov 44 41 Chavez-Thompson LtGov 30 26 Abbott AG 47 43 Radnofsky AG 28 26 Patterson LandCom 39 35 Uribe LandCom 27 25 Staples AgCom 39 33 Gilbert AgCom 28 26 Porter RRCom 39 33 Weems RRCom 27 25

All Republicans except Dewhurst, who went from +14 to +15, saw their leads shrink. That’s with the generic Congressional ballot going from 46-34 in the GOP’s favor in May to 48-33 in September. You’d think that might have been worthy of comment, but it went unnoted by the pollsters. Given my issues with the sample, I don’t think it means all that much, but it was striking nonetheless. I presume there will be more data coming, including the full crosstabs, so we’ll see what else there is soon enough. Burka has more.

Fundraising: Other statewides

Bill White kicked butt in the fundraising department, but how did the other statewide candidates do? Not nearly as good, unfortunately. Here’s a look:

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458383&form=COH

Totals From Report For Linda Chavez-Thompson
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $94.00
Total Political Contributions: $331,023.42
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $1,442.55
Total Expenditures: $162,904.34
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $136,421.09
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458315&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For David Dewhurst Committee
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $3,172,765.68
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $987.03
Total Expenditures: $1,299,511.30
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $3,550,829.75
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $1,137,500.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458258&form=COH

Totals From Report For Barbara Ann Radnofsky
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $11,790.00
Total Political Contributions: $233,941.91
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $1,424.84
Total Expenditures: $176,092.13
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $415.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $463,852.09
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458479&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For Texans for Greg Abbott
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $30.00
Total Political Contributions: $1,717,734.99
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $2,861.64
Total Expenditures: $653,222.40
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $11,209,703.93
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458764&form=COH

Totals From Report For Henry E. Gilbert
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $51,701.98
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $6,229.72
Total Expenditures: $32,684.16
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $90,710.73
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458472&form=SPAC

Totals From Report For Texans for Todd Staples
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $1,455.00
Total Political Contributions: $387,462.34
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $3,616.61
Total Expenditures: $210,392.40
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $1,065,709.00
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458249&form=COH

Totals From Report For Jeffry D. Weems
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $168.00
Total Political Contributions: $63,716.53
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $100.00
Total Expenditures: $88,389.86
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $17,448.60
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=457583&form=COH

Totals From Report For David J. Porter
Filed on: July 14 2010
Covering the Period February 21, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $782.00
Total Political Contributions: $128,482.00
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $63,133.72
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $74,727.48
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $15,000.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458410&form=COH

Totals From Report For Hector Uribe
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period February 22, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $1,295.00
Total Political Contributions: $44,703.85
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $33,008.80
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $7,289.77
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/php/summary.php?rn=458409&form=COH

Totals From Report For Jerry E. Patterson
Filed on: July 15 2010
Covering the Period January 01, 2010 Through June 30, 2010

Total Unitemized Contributions: $0.00
Total Political Contributions: $307,629.67
Total Unitemized Expenditures: $0.00
Total Expenditures: $205,441.21
Total Unitemized Pledges (Schedule B1 or B2) $0.00
Total Contributions Maintained As Of The Last Day Of The Reporting Period $822,401.18
Total Principal Amount Of All Outstanding Loans As Of The Last Day of the Reporting Period $0.00
Total Unitemized Loans: $0.00

The Republicans break down into three groups: Dewhurst and Abbott, who have the resources to run a bunch of TV ads statewide if they want to (though I suspect Abbott will save a few pennies for a 2012 Senate race); Staples and Patterson, who have a comfortable lead in finances but don’t have enough to do more than spot some ads in select markets; and David Porter, who has a token amount, though still more than his opponent, Jeff Weems. None of the Democrats are going to approach the top level, but getting to the second tier is a doable goal, especially for Chavez-Thompson and Radnofsky. If you’re a big Democratic donor and you’ve already given five figures or more to Bill White, you can get a pretty decent amount of bang for those bucks if you were to write a similar check to some or all of his ballotmates.

Just so we’re clear

While I was out in the wilds of New York, I got word from Harold Cook that a fellow named Daniel Melder had criticized Land Commissioner candidate for his most recent press release, the one about the guy in Indiana who was using a photo of Uribe on his dating profile, and in doing so pointed to my post about that to say that he was glad to see that he’s “not alone in thinking that the Uribe campaign is bringing mockery upon itself”. I’m not sure why he cited my post for that purpose, since I reiterated my position that Uribe was my favorite candidate of this cycle in it, but once and for all, for the record, I do not believe Uribe’s use of humor, in this matter and in previous releases, brings any mockery upon himself or his campaign. To the contrary, I think he’s hit exactly the right notes, and has used the funny in a very effective way. My advice for the Uribe campaign is don’t change a thing.

I don’t want to be too hard on Mr. Melder, who raises a perfectly valid question. Lord knows, after suffering through five years of Kinky Friedman’s schtick, I totally understand Melder’s concern. The key difference is that humor is just one facet of Uribe’s campaign. He’s not afraid to make a joke and get a little attention for it, which is something that all candidates farther down on the ballot try to do, but if you’ve been following his campaign, it’s clear there’s a lot more to him than that, and that unlike some other candidates who have been derailed by trivial pursuits, Uribe is taking this all very seriously. He just doesn’t take himself too seriously, which frankly is an example we could all follow.

Being Hector Uribe

There are days when I truly love being a political blogger, because they give me a reason to take note of stuff like this.

Somewhere in Indiana, a man needs a date. And he’s using Democratic land commissioner candidate Hector Uribe‘s photo to try to seal the deal.

Just click over and enjoy. I’ve got a copy of the press release that Team Uribe, a/k/a Harold Cook, sent out on this. Have I mentioned lately that Uribe is my favorite candidate of this cycle?

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Meet the statewides: Uribe and Gilbert

Continuing with the TDP’s “Meet the Statewides” production, here we have intro videos for two more candidates. First up is my favorite candidate for this cycle, Land Commissioner hopeful Hector Uribe.

Next up is the Democratic candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hank Gilbert.

You can see all the Meet the Statewides pages, in English and Spanish, here.

An open letter from Hector Uribe

I’ve mentioned before that Hector Uribe, the Democratic candidate for Land Commissioner, may be my favorite candidate for this election cycle. I said that because he showed early on that he had a sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to use it. Uribe has a lot more than that going for him, as he demonstrated in an email he sent out today. I’m reprinting it here, because it deserves as much of an audience as it can get.

An Open Letter

On May 5, we emailed supporters and those interested in the campaign for Land Commissioner a light-hearted “happy Cinco de Mayo” message. My email celebrated the sentiment behind the day, which in my view is a very Texan “against all odds, we can do it!” attitude.

In the email, referring to both Linda Chavez-Thompson (the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor) and me, I wrote the following phrase:

“Linda and I are both running so that we can represent all Texans.”

We received hundreds of responses. Nearly all were positive. A few were not. One reply from a Mr. Thomas Lake, asked, “So, who exactly are you representing, and are they legal?”

The Texans I said I want to represent? They’re Texas Texans. Texans are Americans. Americans are, in the context you mean, legal citizens of the United States of America. Even citizens like you, Mr. Lake, are legal – at least unless hate is outlaw.

Lately, it has been hard to miss the fact that people who share Mr. Lakes’s obvious views seldom pass up the opportunity to display their obsession with race and culture, couched in terms of citizenship status. Frankly, Mr. Lake, I’m sick of it. So are a lot of other Texans who agree with me that it’s high time we focused on tackling the very real challenges Texas families are facing.

The immigration reform debate in Washington is long-overdue and welcome, and I very much hope that the Congress reaches a fair conclusion that takes all the complex social and economic factors into account and moves the country forward fairly. And most Texans understand that the debate has little to do with the business of the Land Commissioner.

I want to be the Texas Land Commissioner to help lead the way to a 21st Century energy era which promotes renewable energy – wind and solar, so that Texas can continue to lead the world in energy development and production, while also doing our part to ensure that we have clean water to drink, and clean air to breathe. For all Texans.

I want to be the Texas Land Commissioner to ensure that our hundreds of miles of coastline stays clean, and that our beaches remain a tourism-based economic engine which helps keep communities strong, and helps keep taxes low. So every Texan can reap the rewards of our natural landscape.

I want to be the Texas Land Commissioner to make absolutely sure that we repay the gift Texas’ military veterans gave us with their service, by maximizing low interest loans so that they can achieve their dreams, just as they helped protect our American dream with their service.

And I want to be Texas’ Land Commissioner to ensure that we protect pristine public lands such as the Christmas Mountains, so that future generations of Texans won’t be disappointed that we squandered what we were entrusted to protect.

Mr. Lake, I will not apologize for my heritage, my ethnicity, or my culture. I am a proud Texan, following in my family’s footsteps since the 1800’s. But if my ethnicity bothers you, sir, I encourage you to not vote for me – because I’m proud of it.

I will not apologize for wishing folks a happy Cinco de Mayo, which incidentally, Mr. Lake, is in large part a uniquely Texas celebration, much more so than in Mexico.

Mr. Lake, I will not accept the sad attitude you demonstrate, in which you insult me and countless other proud Texans like me, in your zeal to promote an agenda with shameful, barely-masked roots, designed to divide Texans into “us” and “them,” instead of bring Texans together in the spirit of ensuring that our state remains the best place on earth to live and work.

Mr. Lake, when I said I want to represent all Texans, I even meant you, and if elected I will do so fairly and proudly. But while I would be pleased to represent you, I don’t particularly want your support, or that of those who share your views. While I’m not sure he wants your support any more than I do, I invite you to contact my opponent to see if you fare any better with him than you have with me.

I hope that answers your question with crystal clarity, Mr. Lake.

And as we continue this campaign, I will continue to run for one purpose– to represent all Texans.

There’s almost no one left in my family from my grandparents’ generation, and with their passing I’ve essentially lost touch with my ethnic heritage. I’ve got my memories, and I should do a better job of passing them on to my children, but they’re all I’ve got. Despite that, deep down I’m still an Irish/Italian kid from New York, and if there’s one thing I know about my heritage it’s that if this were 1910 instead of 2010, it’d be my family that the Thomas Lakes of the world would be looking down on. If it’s all the same to him, I’ll stand with Hector on this.

The Commissioners

Here’s a look at how the candidates in the three Commissioner races did across Texas.

– In the Democratic primary for Land Commissioner, Bill Burton won a majority in an astonishing 193 counties; of those, he scored better than 70% in 123, and better than 60% in 161. So why isn’t he the nominee for Land Commish? Only 55 of those counties had as many as 1000 votes cast in them. There were 317,597 votes cast in those 193 counties he won, and 247,923 in the 53 counties carried by Hector Uribe (some counties had no primary votes cast in them). Uribe also had big margins, and they came in such places as Webb, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, El Paso, Bexar, and Travis, all of which he won with 64% or more of the vote. Burton carried Dallas and Harris Counties, where he won 20 of the 25 State Rep districts (Uribe took 134, 136, 143, 145, and 148) thanks in part to endorsements from various African-American groups, and he won his home county of Henderson with 82%, but for the most part he was running up the score in places with few people. That 82% total netted him 566 votes; Uribe’s 86% tally in his home of Zapata County was worth over 2,000 votes. In the big counties he won, Burton’s wins were closer – his combined margin of victory in Dallas and Harris was about 16,500 votes, or about 500 votes fewer than Uribe’s margin in Hidalgo. Uribe’s win wasn’t broad but it was deep, and it was in places the Democratic Party hopes to do well this fall.

– I had no idea where Kinky Friedman’s strongest showings would be. Turned out he did pretty well in South Texas and along the border – his 63% in Webb County was his best performance, and he also took places like Zapata, Jim Wells, Val Verde, Maverick, and Hidalgo. He also had a comfortable win in Collin County, and squeakers in Montgomery, Galveston, Denton, and Tarrant, where he had been endorsed, albeit somewhat casually, by the Star-Telegram. He did not carry the other major counties in which he received endorsements, Dallas and El Paso; perhaps the latter didn’t like the song. He did win his home Kerr County, for a total of 66 all together. Hank Gilbert won 179 counties, including big wins in Travis and Fort Bend, and smaller but solid margins in Williamson, Bexar, and Harris, where he took 20 State Rep districts. He won his home county of Smith with 55%.

– I don’t know what I expected when I looked at the GOP primary for Railroad Commissioner, but it was ugly. Victor Carrillo won a grand total of six counties, four of which had less than 100 votes each in them. They still loved him in his home county of Taylor (that’s Abilene, in case you were wondering), and he collected over 60% of the votes in Webb, but it was all downhill from there. David Porter took 60% or more of the vote in 186 counties. He won by a two to one margin in neighboring Lubbock, and was over 60% in Bexar, McClennan, Denton, and other places too numerous to name. He won 15 of the 25 State Rep districts in Harris County, which he carried with “only” 53% of the vote. You can explain his win over the better-funded incumbent, who ran a competent campaign despite what the spinmeisters would have you believe, however you like. All I can say is that had I not known better, I’d have thought Porter was the incumbent and Carrillo was the unknown challenger.

Election results: Other statewides

The big story in the other statewide primaries is the loss of Railroad Commission Chair Victor Carillo to a first-time candidate.

David Porter, who moved to Giddings after building a business in Midland, ousted Victor Carrillo, the highest-ranking nonjudge Latino in Texas government, in an election some said was determined by ethnicity.

Carrillo, who was appointed to the panel in 2003 before winning election a year later, had the support of top Republicans and vastly more money, according to campaign filings. Through Feb. 20, Carrillo had $322,601 on hand; Porter had $11,251.

Porter, who said he spent about $50,000 on his campaign, played up his lack of political credentials in his campaign, and he credited his outsider status for the victory. “People are tired with professional politicians, and looking for a change,” he said Tuesday night.

But Carrillo’s camp thought his biggest problem might have been his last name.

“We’ve got the problem of an Anglo surname versus an Hispanic,” said campaign consultant Susan Lilly, who said Carrillo’s campaign had spent at least $600,000. Candidates with any kind of unusual name are at a disadvantage, she said.

Hold that thought, because we’ll be coming back to it when we look at the Harris County results. I had the opportunity to finally meet Jeff Weems last night at the Bill White event. As you might imagine, he was happy with that result. The question is whether the industry support in this race will switch from Carillo to Porter or Weems. Their July finance reports will be a lot more interesting to look at now.

Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson won without a runoff in the Lite Guv primary; the SOS shows her at 53.10% to Ronnie Earle’s 34.67%. You have to figure there might have been a runoff if Mark Katz had run an actual campaign. Hank Gilbert won what turned out to be a not-too-close race against Kinky Friedman, getting over 52%. Friedman is now a three-time loser, once as an R, once as an I, and now as a D. Turn out the lights, dude. Hector Uribe won a closer-than-I-expected race to be the candidate for Land Commish, winding up with 51.67% after early returns had him trailing. When I went to bed last night, Bill Burton was up on him by about 10,000 votes, but Uribe’s turf in South Texas had largely not reported yet. The Democrats got the slate their best slate.

Finally, there will be a runoff for the Republican nomination for Harriet O’Neill’s open Supreme Court slot, with four candidates finishing within 2000 votes of each other. The leader, former State Rep. Rick Green, is the worst of them.

Green, who represented the Dripping Springs area in the Texas House from 1999 to 2003, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the night’s returns and “real thrilled” about the prospect of a runoff, and that he thought his campaign had “good ground game and a good Internet presence.” The former lawmaker made headlines in 2006 for a public row with his Democratic successor, state Rep. Patrick Rose, whom he allegedly punched and shoved on Election Day. While in the Legislature, Green attracted criticism for using his Capitol office as the setting for a health supplement infomercial for a company and arguing successfully for the parole of a man who had lent $400,000 to his father’s company. He also made Texas Monthly’s list of the 10 worst legislators.

The libertarian-style candidate has earned the endorsements of rightwing celebs Chuck “Walker, Texas Ranger” Norris and the prolific Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC’s 18 Kids & Counting!, as well conservative lawmakers like state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. Green is also cozy with the Aledo-based organization WallBuilders, a group that wants to close the gap between church and state, and advocates for other causes that preserve America’s “moral, religious and constitutional heritage.”

Yecch. Barring anything strange, Green will apparently face off against Fort Worth District Court Judge Debra Lehrmann, with the winner going up against Jim Sharp in November. In the other Supreme Court primary, the newly-appointed Justice Eva Guzman won easily against Rose Vela.

Eight days out reports

The 8 days out reports aren’t available on the TEC website yet for the Governor’s races, so I can’t show you the details. The Trib did it the old-fashioned way, by viewing the actual paper forms, so go look at their numbers. Bill White raised another ton of money, and we can see that Rick Perry and KBH have spent down their kitties considerably. No surprise – you cannot escape their ads, no matter how you try, if you turn your TV on. The end result is that all of a sudden, the playing field is a lot more level than it’s ever been. And that’s a mighty good thing.

Beneath the fold are the reports from the other Democratic statewide races, with my comments. Click on to read them.

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Endorsement watch: Land Commish and Ag Commish

Two more endorsements from the Chron, both for the Democratic primary. First, for Ag Commish:

In the Democratic primary contest to select an opponent to face Republican incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in November, the Chronicle recommends native Houstonian and longtime Northeast Texas rancher Hank Gilbert. (Kinky Friedman’s jokey candidacy does not deserve serious consideration.)

Take that, DMN and FWST!

And for Land Commish:

In the Democratic primary to select a nominee to face incumbent Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in the fall, the Chronicle believes the best-qualified candidate is former South Texas state Sen. Hector Uribe, a lawyer with a wealth of legislative experience on the issues he will confront if elected. While serving in the Senate for 12 years, Uribe chaired a standing subcommittee on water resources and vice-chaired a joint subcommittee on oil spills and water pollution abatement.

On the other hand, the El Paso Times goes Kinky.

Friedman would bring a Texas-maverick personality and outlook to the rather colorless post and bring attention to Texas agriculture.

And personality aside, he has some good ideas when it comes to such matters as animal rescue and biomass and bioenergy projects. He’s also keen on going after grants in various areas, something important in a money-tight Texas and nation. Also, he wants to market Texas agriculture in new ways.

What does he know about agriculture? Not as much as we would like, but if he surrounds himself with experts, that will fill the gaps.

Much like the Star-Telegram, it’s not really clear why they think he’s the better choice. I mean, the “Sure he’s an idiot, but he’ll have smart people around him so who cares if he doesn’t actually know what he’s doing” thing worked out so well with our last President, didn’t it? They also included an endorsement of Bill White for Governor, but did not mention Land Commish or Lite Guv. (No mention of Farouk Shami, either, despite the fact that he appears to have some actual support in El Paso. A little, anyway.) So Gilbert and Friedman each get three endorsements out of these papers, while Hector Uribe goes 5-0 (it’s not clear to me that his opponent, Bill Burton, actually bothered to screen with any ed board) with the EPT still pending.

Endorsement watch: A split for the Lite Guvs

The two major Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor split a pair of endorsements yesterday. The Dallas Morning News went with Ronnie Earle.

Given the choice facing Democrats in the March 2 primary, the better candidate is Earle, who served 31 years as Travis County district attorney before retiring in 2008. He also draws on two terms in the Texas House from the 1970s.

Neither candidate details a clear vision of how to deal with such issues as the state budget crunch, under-funded highways and challenges for public education.

Chavez-Johnson, 65, of San Antonio, has an inspiring personal story of leaving school in the ninth grade to help support her family in the Panhandle. Self-schooled, she rose through labor leadership in Texas, ultimately spending 12 years as a top AFL-CIO executive in Washington before retiring.

[…]

Earle has the better insight into the levers of power in government. To make a creditable run against Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in the fall, he would have to sharpen his message beyond his current call for a big study of state finances.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the DMN’s distaste for a labor-oriented candidate, but neither can I dispute their final sentence, mostly because at this point I have little idea what either of these candidates are saying. (Here’s a video of Chavez-Thompson, so at least we have that much.) I really really really hope whoever wins that race can raise the money to hire some staff and get his or her message out there.

On the flip side, the Express News goes with Chavez-Thompson.

Chavez-Thompson is undoubtedly the best Democratic candidate in the race. She has a long record of working for Democratic causes and candidates. She also serves as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

A native of the Texas Panhandle who grew up working in cotton fields, the former labor leader earned a reputation as a tough but reasonable advocate for her causes when she represented San Antonio’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Chavez-Thompson, currently a member of the VIA Metropolitan Transit Board, is a straight-shooter who would function well managing a legislative body such as the Senate.

She would be an effective advocate for the state’s public schools and higher education, which are a key focus of her platform.

In the same piece, they also recommend Hank Gilbert for Ag Commish, though in a rather lukewarm fashion, and Hector Uribe for Land Commish.

Endorsement watch: DMN for Uribe

The Dallas Morning News keeps chugging along on the endorsements front.

Hector Uribe has a refreshingly straightforward approach to politics that helps drive our recommendation of him in the Democratic primary for land commissioner. Ask him why he’s running, for example, and he doesn’t claim to be answering some lifelong passion to oversee the Texas General Land Office. Democratic Party notables recruited him, he says.

But in the short time he’s been running, Uribe has proven himself a quick study, having acquired an impressive grasp of many politically charged issues confronting the land office. He understands the pressing need to find new income sources for the dwindling petroleum royalties that supply the Permanent School Fund, a major land office challenge. Without that income, Texans could see their property taxes increase to fund public schools.

Uribe, 64, is a South Texas attorney and lobbyist who served in the state Senate and House from 1978 to 1990. His only opponent, real estate instructor Bill Burton, 54, lacks the depth of knowledge to be a viable challenger in November to the incumbent land commissioner, Republican Jerry Patterson, and Libertarian candidate James Holder.

Uribe has sent out some witty press releases, which endeared him to me pretty quickly, but it was also clear that he’s a sharp guy who’ll be an asset for the ticket as a whole. He’s got my vote, and I hope he’ll have yours.

Hector Uribe may be my favorite candidate for this cycle

Anyone who can send out a press release like this is someone who can make the election season just a little more enjoyable.

In Stunning Move, Land Commissioner Candidate Hector Uribe Already up on Statewide TV

(Austin) Democratic candidate for Texas Land Commissioner Hector Uribe announced today that he’s already on TV state-wide, when the USA cable network aired “No Country For Old Men” on January 6, and twice during their programming yesterday. Uribe had a speaking role in the film, which garnered four Academy Awards…for other actors. Uribe, for his part, managed to become one of only a few actors in the film to achieve the vaulted status of not being violently murdered by the end of it.

This surprise move makes Uribe the first candidate for Land Commissioner to be up on TV state-wide this election season.

“This is the kind of publicity that makes people. Things are going to start happening to me now,” said Uribe, shamelessly pilfering a line from another movie, “The Jerk.”

Uribe’s campaign will focus on maximizing revenue from state lands to help fund neighborhood schools, while also concentrating on how the state can best promote renewable energy.

Meanwhile, Uribe’s Republican opponent threatened to shoot him last week. Uribe said he isn’t at all disturbed by the empty threat, explaining that if he can survive a Coen Brothers script, he can survive Jerry Patterson.

I presume it helps when you have Harold Cook writing those releases.

Hector Uribe files for Land Commish

We have one more contested statewide primary on the Democratic side as former State Sen. Hector Uribe has filed for Land Commissioner. (Bill Burton of Athens is already in.) Here’s Uribe’s press release:

Former state Senator Hector Uribe filed to be a Democratic candidate for Texas Land Commissioner today. Uribe returns to state politics after a 14 year hiatus, when he was the Democratic nominee for Texas Railroad Commissioner.

“The current Republican leadership is short-sighted. Texans want our state leaders to help address the real threats to our environment, but many of our current state leaders continue to minimize the importance of having clean water to drink and clean air to breathe,” Uribe said.

“National and international environmental policies on global warming have serious impacts on long-term state education funding. The Republican leadership should be concerned about any negative impact on education funding. Instead, they deny the existence of global warming, deny the science that CO2 emissions contribute to global warming, and instead they fan the fires of secession. That’s not responsible leadership, that’s failed leadership. They claim that pro-environment policies will negatively impact our economy and education funding. That’s not an answer, that’s a cop out,” he added.

“We don’t have to choose between a clean environment, and maximizing the return on state lands to fund our neighborhood schools. We can do both, and as Land Commissioner, I intend to do both,” Uribe said. “Our campaign will focus on how best to serve both objectives.”

Uribe served as a Texas state Senator from Brownsville from 1981 until 1990, and represented the counties of Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo and Jim Wells. Prior to serving in the Senate Uribe served in the Texas House of representatives for about three years.

As a state Senator he wrote the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, designed to create new businesses and jobs in economically distressed areas. He also wrote the Protective Services for the Elderly Act to guard against elder neglect and abuse as well as legislation establishing the University of Texas at Pan American in Edinburg and Brownsville.

During his final session in the Texas Senate he served as Chair of the Natural Resources Standing Subcommittee on Water that wrote the first colonias legislation and created a bond package to assure clean water and sewer facilities for colonia residents. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee he voted to create a super fund to clean up contamination left by leaking underground gasoline storage tanks. As Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, he authored legislation to regulate and require indoor air quality in public buildings and to regulate asbestos removers.

The release also contained a bio of Uribe, which you can see in this Google doc. It all sounds pretty good, and I look forward to hearing more about him, but Texas was quite a different place when he last ran for office, in 1996 for Railroad Commissioner against Carole Keeton then-Rylander, who defeated him by a 58-39 margin for her first full term in office; she had ousted Mary Scott Nabers, who was appointed in 1993 as a replacement for Bob Krueger when he was tapped as Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s successor, in 1994. I hope that after all this time he has a good feel for what the lay of the land is like now, and that he has the ability to raise the funds he’ll need to run a competitive race. PDiddie, BOR, Trail Blazers, and The Trib, which notes that Uribe is also a movie actor, have more. I’ll have a full roundup of filings later once all the info is available.