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Joe Madden

Three primary stories

TX Trib: 4 Democrats Vying to Replace Hochberg in HD-137

Observers say the winner of the contest for HD-137 is likely to be decided in the Democratic primary, whose four candidates are former Capitol staffers Joseph Carlos Madden and Jamaal Smith, Harris County prosecutor Gene Wu and Alief Independent School District board member Sarah Winkler.

“It’s a [minority-opportunity] district,” [HCDP Chair Lane] Lewis said. “People from all around the world are attracted to the district when they move to Houston. I’ve heard some people refer to it as the United Nations of Harris County.”

Only one Republican candidate, former Houston City Councilman M.J. Khan, is running for the seat. Several Democratic candidates said Khan’s name recognition could make him an opponent to be reckoned with in the general election. Khan has not filed any campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Khan and the Harris County Republican Party did not return interview requests.

The Trib has done a number of stories about races like this, and they’ve done a good job of it. As they have done in other such articles, they manage to talk to all of the candidates and actually tell you something about them. It’s the mention of Republican candidate Khan that piqued my interest. As the story notes, he could be a formidable candidate in this Democratic-leaning but not rock solid district; in addition to the other factors cited, Khan could write his own check for the race and easily outspend whichever Dem wins the nomination. Yet so far at least he’s been completely disengaged. Maybe he’s just biding his time on the not-unreasonable theory that no one is really paying any attention right now, but I can’t escape the feeling that being a state legislator is not something MJ Khan has a burning desire to do. I understood his candidacy for City Controller – for sure, if he has it in his head to be Mayor some day, that’s a good way to go about it – but I never got the impression that state issues were a driving force for him. I could be wrong, and if someone out there knows better I’d love to hear from you, but I get kind of a Joe Agris 2008 vibe from him.

TX Trib: Two SBOE Rivals Each Facing Tough Primaries

Two influential incumbents on the State Board of Education — who are often at odds with each other — are both facing primary challenges that could result in a power shift on the fractious board.

Thomas Ratliff won a spot on the board after a 402-vote victory in the 2010 GOP primary over Don McLeroy, who brought international attention to the state with his spirited defense of creationism. Ratliff, a Mount Pleasant native who campaigned on a platform of taking politics out of education, has become one of the Republican-controlled board’s reliably moderate voices.

He has also been a thorn in the side of David Bradley, widely considered the ringleader of the strictly allied social conservatives who led the board to adopt science standards that required educators to teach “all sides” of evolution in 2009 and pushed for ideologically driven revisions to social studies standards in 2010.

During their time on the board, the two have been on opposing sides of issues like withdrawing money from the $25 billion Permanent School Fund to bridge the state-funding gap for public schools, requiring amendments to curriculum to be laid out at least 24 hours before a vote, and handing more authority to school districts for textbook purchases.

Now they both find themselves entangled in what are likely the board’s two most closely watched primary races.

Another Trib story, which I see as being what that lame Chron story should have been. It’s also a reminder that while the potential is there for the SBOE to become less crazy if the likes of Bradley and Cargill get defenestrated, the potential is also there for the pendulum to swing back hard towards Wackytown if Ratliff loses. TFN Insider has a handy list of the candidates to watch out for. It’s a bit unnerving to have to rely on the sanity of GOP primary voters, but for the SBOE there’s not much choice.

TX Observer: House District 26 – As Fort Bend Goes

HD26 under current interim map

Fort Bend has been called a bellwether county so often that it’s easy to become skeptical about the use of the term—even if the description is accurate.

Fort Bend, which sits just southwest of Houston, is among the most diverse and fast-growing counties in Texas, part of the “Big Five” fast-growing suburban counties along with Collin, Montgomery, Denton and Williamson. It has pleasant subdivisions with genteel names like First Colony and Sugar Creek and an abundance of retail outlets along Highway 6, which barrels through Sugar Land, the heart of state House District 26.

After 16 years, Republican incumbent Charlie Howard is leaving the legislative seat once held by Tom DeLay, long before he became U.S. House majority leader. Four Republicans, including two women of color, are running for the open seat.

[…]

HD26 under original interim map

Democrats hope to claim the county through building coalitions among its United Nations assembly of residents. Republicans are also courting the melting pot. Of the four competitors for the District 26 seat, the people of color are—Sonal Bhuchar, a trustee and former board president of the Fort Bend Independent School District, and Jacquie Chaumette, mayor pro tem of Sugar Land. Bhuchar is originally from India. Chaumette is from St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands. The other candidates are Rick Miller, former chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County, and Diana Miller (no relation to Rick Miller), a real estate agent.

Bhuchar and Chaumette have big fundraising hauls and are considered strong contenders in the four-way race. [County GOP Chair Mike] Gibson, not surprisingly, downplays the candidates’ race. “We don’t look at Sonal as South East Asian or Jacquie as Caribbean, but as Americans with strong skill sets that we feel good about running as Republicans,’’ he says.

One thing this article doesn’t talk about is the fact that HD26 is one of the disputed districts in the ongoing redistricting litigation. Plaintiffs claim that districts such as HD26 are protected under the Voting Rights Act as minority coalition districts. In that fashion, a district that is more than 50% minority cannot be retrogressed even if no single racial group has more than a plurality of the population. The state argues that only districts in which a single protected minority is 50% or more does the VRA apply and as such there is no such thing as a protected coalition district; mapmakers are free to slice and dice as they see fit. That was how the Lege treated HD26, which is why it has that bizarre mutant Tetris piece shape, which it retained in the current interim map and which allows it to be a solid red 65% GOP district. In the original interim map, the judges drew a much more compact district that was also near partisan parity – both President Obama and Supreme Court candidate Sam Houston scored a bit over 48% in it. This is one of the questions that the DC court will address in the preclearance lawsuit, whether districts like HD26, SD10, CD25, and CD33 are covered by Section 5. If they rule for the plaintiffs, and if SCOTUS doesn’t come along behind them and gut the VRA, we could see a very different HD26 in two years’ time.

Endorsement watch: Madden in HD137

The Chron picks Joe Madden as their preferred candidate to succeed Rep. Scott Hochberg in HD137.

Joseph Carlos Madden

In the Democratic primary on May 29, an impressive slate of candidates has come forward to run for Hochberg’s seat representing the 137th District in the Texas House. But one would be hard pressed to find a first-time candidate more knowledgeable about how Austin works than Joseph Carlos Madden.

If elected in the fall (the Democratic primary winner will face Republican M.J. Khan), Madden would be a freshman representative, but one with years of legislative know-how in his portfolio. Currently serving as chief of staff for Rep. Garnet Coleman and as executive director of the Texas Legislative Study Group, Madden has a thorough familiarity with the bills that end up on the House floor, and the often byzantine methods by which they get there.

During an interview with the Chronicle editorial board, Madden described in intricate detail the process of working with both the Perry and Obama administrations to improve managed health care in Texas. Anyone who can successfully help build bridges between camps as diverse as Gov. Perry’s and the White House demonstrates a talent much needed in Austin.

They specifically cite Jamaal Smith as one of that impressive slate of candidates. I certainly agree it’s a strong field and a tough choice. Bloggers were divided on this one – BOR went with Madden, but Stace endorsed Smith and Greg is on Gene Wo’s team. Carl Whitmarsh announced his support of Madden to his email list on Thursday. With four quality candidates, this race is highly likely to go to a runoff. We’ll see how supporters reorganize themselves after the first round. My interview with Madden is here, with Smith is here, with Wu is here, and with Sarah Winkler is here.

Completely unrelated to this except that it also appeared in yesterday’s paper, the Chron also endorsed Leslie Johnson in the GOP primary for Harris County Attorney.

We recommend a vote for Johnson in the GOP primary.

Her experience in the County Attorney’s Office, serving under both Michael Fleming and Mike Stafford, and her private practice experience as a litigator, are impressive credentials that tip our endorsement in this primary in her favor.

Talton, her opponent, practices in the Woodfill Pressler law firm headed by GOP County Chairman Jared Woodfill. Interestingly, he is one of three attorneys from that relatively small firm running for office in the GOP primary. It seems to us that Harris County voters deserve a choice of candidates and officeholders from a wider political and intellectual circle than that.

They don’t say who else is connected to Woodfill like that and I’m too lazy to look it up. I just thought it was interesting that they’d go out of their way to mention that. Obviously, I have no dog in this fight, and I’ll be pushing the button for Vince Ryan in the fall, but I will once again note that Johnson was a late filer in this race and that it interests me that someone who might not have been a candidate at all has gotten so much establishment support. I can’t think of another such candidate in a race that wasn’t affected by redistricting.

30 day reports, Harris County candidates for state office

We’re now 26 days out from the May 29 primary, which means more campaign finance reports from candidates for state and county offices who are in contested primaries. I’m going to post about all of these, starting today with reports from Harris County candidates for state offices. Here are the Democrats, whose reports are linked from my 2012 Democratic primary election page:

Candidate Office Raised Spent Loans Cash ==================================================== Nilsson SBOE6 1,100 1,267 0 1,092 Jensen SBOE6 8,105 9,462 0 4,699 Scott SBOE6 200 474 0 346 Allen HD131 103,451 52,965 0 60,002 Adams HD131 17,930 70,768 411 24,110 Madden HD137 15,968 12,232 0 13,987 Smith HD137 29,352 24,993 0 6,255 Winkler HD137 15,575 4,170 20,000 35,914 Wu HD137 35,579 30,539 0 73,468 Perez HD144 48,120 20,238 0 40,729 Risner HD144 9,315 15,158 0 4,156 Ybarra HD144 4,650 7,586 0 27 Miles HD146 16,600 27,776 730,000 58,573 Edwards HD146 14,449 13,685 0 764 Coleman HD147 41,525 39,052 0 84,433 Hill HD147

My post on the January reports is here. Some thoughts about these reports:

I think we can say that Rep. Alma Allen has eradicated the early lead Wanda Adams had in cash on hand. The establishment has rallied to Rep. Allen’s side, as is usually the case with an incumbent in good standing. A lot of money has already been spent in this race, and I don’t expect that to change over the next four weeks.

Usually, establishment support and fundraising prowess go hand in hand, but not always. HD137 is one of the exceptions, as Gene Wu has been the strongest fundraiser despite garnering only one endorsement (that I’m aware of) so far – HAR, which is certainly a nice get but not a core Democratic group. Joe Madden and Jamaal Smith have racked up the endorsements but don’t have the financial support to match. Other than there will be a runoff, I have no idea what will happen in this race.

For a variety of reasons, many organizations have not endorsed in HD144. The candidates got off to a late start thanks to the changes made to the district in the second interim map, and no one had much to show in their January finance reports. HCC Trustee Mary Ann Perez, who has the backing of Annie’s List, clearly distinguished herself this cycle, which will undoubtedly help her in a part of town that’s not used to having competitive D primaries for State Rep. The other news of interest in this race has nothing to do with fundraising. Robert Miller reported on candidate Kevin Risner having had three arrests for DUI, a fact that I’m sure was going to come out sooner or later. Miller, who’s a Perez supporter, thinks Risner is in a good position to win the primary. I’m not sure I agree with his analysis, but we’ll see.

Poor Al Edwards. It’s hard running a race without Tom Craddick’s buddies, isn’t it? I think Rep. Miles is going to break the pattern of alternating victories this year. On a side note, the Observer’s Forrest Wilder listened to my interview with Rep. Miles, even if he didn’t link to it. I guess he’s not much of a fan of either candidate in this race.

As of this writing, Ray Hill had not filed a 30 Day report. He finally did file a January report that listed no money raised or spent.

Here are the Republicans:

Candidate Office Raised Spent Loans Cash ==================================================== Cargill SBOE8 4,474 10,059 0 18,626 Ellis SBOE8 6,614 2,795 0 5,224 McCool SD11 5,957 4,959 0 997 Norman SD11 6,200 44,086 30,000 1,007 Taylor SD11 344,708 330,586 0 169,468 Huberty HD127 77,536 44,423 0 64,691 Jordan HD127 791 1,731 0 0 Davis HD129 49,816 42,193 0 70,317 Huls HD129 1,482 1,314 0 167 Callegari HD132 67,385 27,632 0 258,286 Brown HD132 2,275 2,380 0 93 Murphy HD133 110,665 89,167 0 211,004 Witt HD133 9,043 139,943 240,100 34,207 Bohac HD138 38,975 18,931 0 44,094 Smith HD138 22,998 13,562 100,000 105,504 Salazar HD143 Weiskopf HD143 Pineda HD144 28,100 6,591 0 19,613 Pena HD144 3,968 1,368 0 0 Lee HD149 Williams HD149 Mullins HD149 Riddle HD150 8,175 24,461 0 92,216 Wilson HD150 11,900 8,520 1,100 4,272

Note that there are differences from the last time. In January, there was a four-way race for HD136, which was eliminated by the San Antonio court in each of the interim maps. Ann Witt, who had been one of the candidates in HD136, moved over to HD133 and replaced the previous challenger, who apparently un-filed during the second period. In that second period, HD144 incumbent Ken Legler decided to drop out, and incumbent Dwayne Bohac picked up an opponent, and multiple people filed in HDs 143, 144, and 149.

Candidates Frank Salazar in HD143 and Jack Lee in HD149 did not have reports filed as of posting time. Their opponents did have reports filed, but those reports are not viewable until each candidate in the race has filed.

Witt had loaned herself $100K as of January; she has since more than doubled that amount. Whet Smith dropped $100K on himself in his challenge against Bohac. Why he’d do that and not have spent any of it as of the reporting deadline is a question I can’t answer. His $23K raised is a decent amount for the time period, but having more cash on hand with 30 days to go than the amount you loaned yourself makes no sense to me.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more money raised in HD144. That’s a key pickup opportunity for Dems. Gilbert Pena has run for office twice before – HD143 in 2010, and SD06 in 2008 – and I had assumed he’d be the frontrunner in this primary because of that. Am I missing something here?

That’s all I’ve got. I’ll work on the other Dem primaries in Texas and the Harris County races next.

Interview with Joseph Carlos Madden

Joseph Carlos Madden

There’s one open Democratic seat in Harris County for the State House: HD137, in which State Rep. Scott Hochberg decided not to run for re-election. There are four Democrats vying to succeed Rep. Hochberg, and I will be presenting their interviews this week. First up is Joseph Carlos Madden, who currently serves as the Chief of Staff for Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) and the Executive Director of the Texas Legislative Study Group (LSG), a public policy caucus of the Texas House of Representatives. I’ve definitely taken advantage of the LSG’s research in past sessions. My conversation with Madden is below, and you can read a brief interview he did with NewsTaco here:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

Hochberg bows out, Gallego makes it official

I am totally bummed out by this.

The Legislature’s foremost expert on school finance and one of its top public education advocates, state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, confirmed this afternoon that he won’t seek re-election next year.

Hochberg, who took office in 1993 and is now the vice chairman of the House Education Committee and the chairman of the education subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, said the time had come for him to pursue something new.

“Being in this job and trying to do it well is a continual thing, as any member will tell you, after a certain amount of time, I think the grind just wears people down,” he said, “I love working on all the problems we work on, but it’s 24/7 and it makes it hard to focus on anything in specific.” He brushed off any suggestion that his absence would leave an void of leadership on school finance issues.

“Nobody’s indispensable,” he said. “The state survived a lot of years before I was in the Legislature, and will continue to after I’m not.”

That’s true, and it’s completely in chacter for Rep. Hochberg to say something like that, but let’s face it: The Lege will miss him, especially in a year where school finance will be once again near the top of the list. So far I’m aware of two people who have expressed an interest in running to succeed him. One is Joe Madden, currently the chief of staff for Rep. Garnet Coleman and the executive director of the Legislative Study Group, the other is Jamaal Smith, former Execuitve Director, Deputy Campaign Manager, and Campaign Manager for the Harris County Democratic Party and Coordinated Campaign. Both would be good candidates; we’ll see if one steps aside or if they both file. I join many others in thanking Rep. Scott Hochberg for his service in the Lege, I wish him the very best for the future, and I look forward to supporting his successor. Greg has more.

Also leaving the Lege, in this case seeking a promotion, is Rep. Pete Gallego, who made his official filing for CD23 yesterday.

Gallego will formally become a candidate on his 50th birthday. He spent Thursday in San Antonio raising money for his congressional bid.

“I run every race as if it’s a tough race. This is no different — except that my opponent this time self-funds his campaign,” said Gallego, a 20-year veteran of the Texas House.

Canseco, R-San Antonio, has bankrolled $460,641 for his campaign, nearly four times the $133,233 Gallego reported in his war chest, according to the Federal Election Commission.

However, Canseco also has nearly $700,000 in campaign debt from a $1 million loan from a previous election cycle.

Democrat John Bustamante, a San Antonio lawyer, has $260, according to the FEC, and is expected to challenge Gallego in the March 6 primary.

The national parties have targeted District 23, redrawn by a federal court after Democratic challenges to a Republican redistricting plan passed by the Legislature.

The Lege’s loss would be Congress’ gain if he wins. I feel pretty confident that this one will be on the national radar. Stace has more.