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Michael Williams

January finance reports: Congress and Senate

The last batch of finance reports to come in are the federal reports, which for the most part don’t get posted till a full month after they’re due, which in this case was February 1. I’ve created a Google spreadsheet of the Texas FEC reports, taken by querying on Texas from this page, then culling the chaff. You can compare my report to this one at Kos, which focuses on the more interesting race. Note that in my spreadsheet you will find links to each candidates’ report so you can see for yourself what they’ve been up to. You can see all the finance report links on my 2012 Harris and 2012 Texas primary pages. A few highlights:

– Still no report yet from David Dewhurst and Paul Sadler. I can’t say I’m expecting much from Sadler, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. As for Dewhurst, it’ll be interesting to see how his contributions from others compare to his self-funding – he would surely like to do better than Tom Leppert in that regard – and to the contribution totals Ted Cruz puts up.

– There’s Jim Turner in East Texas, who ran his last race in 2002 before being DeLayed into retirement, still sitting on a million bucks in his campaign treasury. Why it is that he hasn’t ever used any of that money to help the Democratic cause, and why it is that we rank and file Democrats tolerate that sort of behavior from so many current and former officeholders is a mystery to me.

– Nick Lampson’s late entry into the CD14 race produces a small fundraising total so far. Given his presence on the early DCCC watch list, I expect much bigger things in the March report.

– Joaquin Castro continues to hit it out of the park. Assuming the courts cooperate, you can see why the DCCC is expecting big things from him.

– A couple of Democratic primaries just got more interesting, as challengers outraised incumbents in both of them. In CD16, former El Paso Council member Beto O’Rourke took in $211K to Rep. Silvestre Reyes’ $177K. There’s a third candidate in this race, but he has no report listed. The Lion Star blog discusses what this means.

– Meanwhile, in CD30, challenger Taj Clayton raised $212K to Rep. Eddie Berniece Johnson’s $95K. State Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway took in $16K. Clayton’s accomplishment is more impressive given his late entry into the race – he did it all in just ten weeks.

– Other Democratic races of interest: David Alameel wrote himself a $245K check for his challenge to Smokey Joe Barton in D06. His co-challenger Don Jacquess had no report. New dad Dan Grant raised $37K in CD10. State Rep. Pete Gallego took in another $137K in CD23 to bump his total to $288K for the cycle. Rep. Lloyd Doggett has over $3.3 million on hand after raising another $150K. Armando Villalobos led the pack in CD27 with $134K raised, followed by Ramiro Garza with $70K and Rose Meza Harrison with $15K. However, Villalobos spent $116K to Garza’s $3K, leaving him with only $16K on hand to Garza’s $67K. State Rep. Mark Veasey collected $46K for CD33, putting him ahead of Kathleen Hicks, who had $5800. Finally, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez was actually out-raised by Sylvia Romo in CD35, with her getting $35K to his $27K, but he maintained $99K in cash to her $30K.

– On the Republican side, there’s a lot of money flowing into CD14. I don’t know who James Old is, but he’s taken in $433K for the cycle and has $310K on hand. Following him are State Rep. Randy Weber ($313K for the cycle, $206K on hand); Michael Truncale ($269K for the cycle and $149K on hand); and Felicia Harris ($161K for the cycle and $103K on hand). State Sen. Mike Jackson has a surprisingly paltry $61K on hand for CD36, having raised $130K for the cycle. No one else has as much as $10K on hand in that race, however. The Williams non-brothers, Michael and Roger, have plenty of money available to them but as yet not district in which they would want to use any of it. I’m sure they’re burning candles in hope of a favorable map from the judges.

That’s about all I have for now. The good news for me is that with the delayed primary, the next reports won’t be out till April.

First thoughts on the new Congressional map

OK, down to business. Here’s a map of the new plan, which was unanimously approved by the three judges, the 2008 election data, and here’s 2010 election data. Going by the 2012 data, I break it down as follows:

Strong R


Dist  Obama Pct  Houston Pct
============================
01         30.5         36.4
02         34.4         35.6
03         37.4         36.8
04         29.4         37.6
05         36.5         41.2
08         25.6         29.3
11         23.0         28.4
12         34.1         35.5
13         22.2         27.4
17         33.2         38.2
19         28.0         32.4
21         33.0         31.5
24         38.0         37.5
26         35.4         35.5
31         39.8         41.3
34         32.9         37.1
36         31.1         39.8

Likely R


Dist    Obama Pct    Houston Pct
============================
07         42.5         40.8
14         41.9         47.3
22         40.6         41.2
32         43.0         43.1

Lean R


Dist  Obama Pct  Houston Pct
============================
06         44.8         47.5
10         46.5         45.5

Strong D


Dist  Obama Pct  Houston Pct
============================
09         77.3         77.6
15         61.9         65.8
16         66.6         68.8
18         77.4         77.5
25         68.4         65.2
27         58.3         62.1
28         58.6         63.0
29         62.0         67.6
30         81.5         81.3
33         62.5         63.1

Likely D


Dist  Obama Pct  Houston Pct
============================
20         58.5         58.8

Lean D


Dist  Obama Pct  Houston Pct
============================
23         51.4         53.1
35         54.4         55.9
 

Barring any surprises, that’s a 23-13 split, which means (contra the Chron and its funny math once again) a four-seat gain from the current 23-9 split. The Dems have more upside than downside, and it’s not crazy to think that over the course of the decade some districts could move into a different classification, such as currently solid R seats 05, 24, and 31. I was just on a conference call with Matt Angle and Gerry Hebert about the new map, and Angle suggested CDs 06 and 14 as ones that will trend Democratic. I asked him about CD10, which has a similar electoral profile right now to those two, and while he agreed it can be competitive, he didn’t think the demographics will change as much as in the others.

Note that CD33 is now a majority-minority seat in Tarrant County – BOR notes that State Rep. Marc Veasey, one of the plaintiffs and strong fighters in these suits, has already indicated his interest in running for it. He’s already got an opponent if so – a press release from Fort Worth City Council member Kathleen Hicks that announced her entry into the CD33 sweepstakes, hit my inbox about ten minutes after the publication of the new map. PoliTex confirms both of these. One way or another, though, it sounds like sayonara to Roger Williams.

CD34 stretches from the Gulf Coast into the Hill Country, taking a chunk out of the southern edge of the old CD10. CD36 is more or less as it was before, in the eastern/southeastern part of Harris County and points east from there. CD35 is no longer in Travis County, so the Doggett/Castro death match is no more – Rep. Lloyd Doggett gets his Travis-anchored CD25 back, and Rep. Joaquin Castro gets a new Bexar-anchored district to run in. I don’t know if freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold can run in CD34 – I suspect he’d face a challenge from some Republican State Reps if he tried. Perhaps State Rep. Geanie Morrison, based in Victoria and now paired with State Rep. Todd Hunter, might take a crack at it, or maybe Hunter will. I presume State Sen. Mike Jackson will continue to pursue CD36. All of the Republican contenders for the Lege-drawn CD25 are also now out of luck, so bye-bye to former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams as well. Not a good day for Williamses who wanted to run for Congress.

Comments and objections are due on Friday, and one presumes it, along with the other two, will be finalized by Monday the 28th, which is the opening of filing season, though I hear that could possibly get pushed back a day. Greg, Stace, the Lone Star Project, Postcards, the Trib, and Trail Blazers have more.

At long last, HCC campaign finance statements

As you know, I had sent an Open Records request to the HCC General Counsel to get copies of July campaign finance reports for all HCC Trustees and candidates. I sent that in on August 10, and the reply I got said I would have a reply within 10 business days. Sure enough, exactly two weeks later on the 24th, I got another email saying they were ready. They were collectively too big to email, so I had three choices to get them. From the email I was sent:

1) I can place them all on a CD at a cost of $1, and they will be available for pick up this afternoon. If you would like the information mailed to you, please see the instructions below.

2) You may bring a jump drive to 3100 Main St., 12th floor, Houston, TX 77002, and I will be happy to place them on your drive free of charge.

3) I can print all the documents out at .10 cents a page. There is approximately 100 to 200 pages regarding this request, and they would be available for pick up this afternoon.

The instructions noted that I would have to pay by check, credit card, or debit card, as they didn’t take cash any more. I was not about to pay money for something that should be freely available, and as it happened I had some business to take care of in the vicinity of 3100 Main, so I brought my thumb drive and got my files. Here they are, for your perusal:

Bruce Austin

Carroll Robinson

Christopher Oliver

Eva Loredo

Mary Ann Perez

Michael Williams

Neeta Sane

Richard Schechter

Sandie Mullins

Yolanda Navarro Flores

Some of these files are as big as 200 MB, so Google Docs may not give you a preview of them – you’ll have to download them and view in Acrobat. Sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

By the way, according to the grapevine Michael Williams is officially no longer a candidate for City Council. I’ve heard that from multiple sources now. One possible reason for this is in his finance report, which says he raised $58K but spent $54K and has only $4K on hand. By my count, $37,545 went to Bethel Nathan Communications for “Consulting”, $5,500 went to Portia Matthews for “Campaign services”, and $5,050 went to radio ads on KCOH. That’s a lot of money to have spent on a campaign that ultimately went nowhere. The grapevine also says that Andrew Burks will switch from District D to At Large #2. I’ll have to check, but having Burks and Griff Griffin in the same race may violate one of the laws of thermodynamics. Be prepared to brace yourselves just in case.

Boney to run for HCC Trustee

We have our first contested race for a non-city of Houston office as former Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jew Don Boney has announced his candidacy for the HCC Trustee District IV seat. You can see his press release here. This is the seat currently held by Michael P. Williams, who is as far as we know still running for At Large #2, for which Carroll Robinson had previously announced his candidacy. Interestingly, a day before this press release was sent out to Carl Whitmarsh’s mailing list, a parody version of it that was nearly identical in wording was sent out announcing that Boney would not run for HCC Trustee. I don’t know if that was someone’s idea of a joke or something else, but it was weird to see. Anyway, we now have a contested race for an open seat, which is how it should be. This Chron story has more on what ought to be an interesting race.

One item to add to this: Last week, I took another crack at getting my hands on campaign finance reports for HCC Trustee candidates. I had originally been advised to send an email to the HCCS General Counsel requesting them, but she was on vacation when I did that, and she never responded. This time, after a couple of calls to the General Counsel’s office, I was directed to the HCCS webpage and told to do a search for “Public information”, which yielded this link, and from there this public information request form. Which, being a scanned document, I could not edit. As I did not want to print it and mail or fax it into the General Counsel’s office, I just borrowed the language and sent an email to recordsrequest@hccs.edu, asking for all of the July finance reports. I subsequently received a reply saying I “will receive notice regarding the status of the document(s) you’ve requested within 10 business days after the date you filed your request”. All this for documents that are easily findable for other government entities on their websites. I will update you when I hear back from them. The good news is that I also had some correspondence with HCC Trustee Richard Schechter, who told me that he has asked the appropriate board committee to approve putting these reports on the Trustees’ webpage. He hopes to have this done for the next reporting deadline. That would be great if it can happen. My thanks to Schechter for taking up this long overdue issue.

Third time’s a charm

We won’t have any Williams on Williams action in the new CD33 after all, as former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams has changed races again.

Michael Williams, who jumped from the U.S. Senate race to the congressional race in the new CD-33 in North Texas, says he’ll jump again: He’s running for congress in CD-25, a district that stretches from Tarrant County all the way south to Hays County.

He said in a press release that people have been urging him to make the switch. In CD-33, he would have faced car dealer and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams. He could face a crowd in the new race, possibly including state Rep. Sid Miller, political consultant-turned-candidate Chad Wilbanks (website here), and Dave Garrison, a former Halliburton and USAA exec who’s making his first foray into electoral politics. Garrison’s campaign website is up and running.

Not totally clear to me why this is a more winnable primary for Williams than a straight up race against the other Williams, but whatever. I will note that at least one of his potential foes in March thinks this district
is his.

State Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, has been talking about it, but CD-25 includes only 17,534 people from Erath County, his home base. He’d be running without a strong geographic base and against a statewide elected official.

“He called me about a week ago and said he was being encouraged by congressional members to look at it,” Miller says. “I think that translates into Roger Williams calling on some congressmen to give him a call and see if they can get him out of his way.

“I don’t think it’s a secret my colleagues drew it for me to run in,” he says.

I don’t know about that. If you go to the District Viewer and compare the Congressional and State House plans, you see that only Coryell, Hamilton, Somwevell, and parts of Erath Counties are in CD25. That’s about 2/3 the total population of Miller’s SD59, a bit more than 100,000 total people out of a Congressional district of 698,000. Over 240,000 of CD25’s residents live in Travis County. If I had to guess, I’d say someone from that area would be the favorite in a primary.

Also of interest is that Michael Williams was urged to switch by some Congressional Republicans, who presumably think that having both Williamses on the ballot in November is preferable to them fighting it out in March. One wonders at what point any of Lloyd Doggett’s colleagues will reach a similar conclusion about his decision to switch to CD35 and engage in a primary against Joaquin Castro instead of staying and fighting in the admittedly much less friendly CD25. I have to say, if Sid Miller and Michael Williams and a couple of first-timers are the contenders for the GOP nomination there, I’m not so sure I’d bet against Lloyd Doggett in November, if he were to change his mind and stay put instead. I know a lot of people would prefer to see that, as it would be better to have both Doggett and Castro on the ballot in November instead of just one of them, and having Doggett in CD25 gives us a chance to hold that district. Easy for me to say, I know, but still. As I said before with CD23, we’re never going to gain any ground if no one is willing to run a race they might lose. I hope Doggett thinks long and hard about which race really is the bigger risk for him.

The non-filers

We are now more than a week beyond the deadline to file campaign finance reports for City of Houston elections. The following candidates for city office have not yet filed a campaign finance report for July:

Michael Williams, At Large #2

Griff Griffin, At Large #2

Joe Edmonds, At Large #5

Kenneth Perkins, District B

Randy Locke, District C

Edmonds sent out a press release announcing his intent to run in May. That’s the last I’ve heard from him. He has no website or Facebook page that I can find. If he’s since decided not to run, he wouldn’t be the first person to follow that path.

Edmonds is a first time candidate. Everyone else on that list has run for office before; Griff, Perkins, and Locke all ran for Council in 2009, while Williams is an incumbent HCC Trustee. Griff managed to file all three finance forms last time, while Locke filed his 30 day and 8 day reports (he may not have been officially in the race as of July 15, 2009), and Perkins never filed anything. At this point, I doubt any of them will file anything for July. I don’t know why this is – with the possible exception of Edmonds, it’s not because they have not engaged in any campaign activity. I’m not a stickler for certain things in candidates. You don’t have to live in the district (unless the law requires it), and you don’t have to have a spotless voting record for me to consider your candidacy. I’ll break a tie against you if it comes down to that, but I won’t disqualify you. But I have to say, anyone who wants to have some say in the city’s finances had better damn well be able to explain why they were unable or unwilling to file this form on time. I really don’t think that’s asking for much.

The other races

In addition to the city of Houston races, I am trying to follow the HISD and HCC Trustee elections as well. I say “trying” because there’s just no information out there that I can find. For one thing, though there are seven such races this year – four in HISD, three in HCC, including one open seat – I am unaware of a second candidate in any race. HISD Trustees Paula Harris, Carol Mims Galloway, Manuel Rodriguez, and Juliet Stipeche are up for election. None have opponents that I know of, though there’s a group calling itself “Educators For A Better District IV” that has been attacking Harris and claimed to have a candidate for that race at one point, though that fell through. As for HCC, it’s not at all easy to figure out who’s doing what. You just can’t easily tell from the biographies or from the past election results on Harris Votes whose terms are up. I know Richard Schechter will be on the ballot, and I know that Carroll Robinson is running to fill the slot that Michael P. Williams is leaving behind in his run for City Council, and somewhere along the line I managed to determine that Christopher Oliver was the third one in. At least, I think so – I was unable to duplicate whatever method I used back then to draw that conclusion. There’s got to be a better way than this.

And campaign finance reports, forget it. Google “HISD Trustee Campaign Finance Reports” and you’ll find this page, which contains exactly two reports, Juliet Stipeche’s from January and July. Google “HCCS Trustee Campaign Finance Reports” and you get a Carroll Robinson press release from January and a few links about Jay Aiyer. In other words, a whole lot of nothing.

So I’ll ask you. What do you know about any of these elections? Are there candidates out there, even rumors of candidates, that I’m not hearing about? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.

It’s Williams versus Williams in CD33

Another Williams switches from Senate to Congress for 2012.

Weatherford car dealer Roger Williams switched from the U.S. Senate race to a race for Congress this morning, finishing up a swap that began last week with calls to supporters in and around the new CD-33.

He’s the second candidate to jump. Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams switched to the congressional race last week, opting out of the crowded GOP pack seeking to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate.

Roger Williams is a former Texas Secretary of State and has been a successful fundraiser for other candidates while never seeking office himself. The new district includes all of Parker County and part of Wise County, but the biggest part of the population is in the portion of Tarrant County that’s included. It’s one of four new seats in Congress coming to Texas because of its population growth over the last decade. Williams started with endorsements from Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, Arlington City Councilman Robert Rivera and state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford.

Trail Blazers and Jason Embry both noted this as well. Michael Williams was the first Williams in and still seems to me to be the stronger candidate, though his lackluster Senate candidacy took some of his shine off. CD33 was certainly drawn to be won by a Republican, but it’s by no means hopeless for the Democrats. It would help if a candidate were to enter the race, though.

Williams in, Lucio out for Congress

Now that the Lege has finished its job with Congressional redistricting, expect to hear a lot more stories about the hopefuls and the not-hopefuls and their plans. For instance, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams.

With the race for Senate getting crowded, Republican Michael Williams figured the new North Texas congressional seat might just be the ticket to Washington. The former Railroad Commissioner has changed his campaign web site and refiled his papers with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for Congressional District 33. The district is one of four new seats that Texas gets as a result of population growth. The Legislature passed the new congressional map last week and sent to the governor. The map likely faces legal challenges and has to win federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. But Williams’ campaign consultant Corbin Casteel says the new Arlington-based Republican district is a perfect fit for Williams.

“Michael knows if he gets to Washington as a senator or a congressman, it doesn’t matter which, he’s going to be a conservative leader,” Casteel said. “This is a much more direct path. The Senate race is crowded. It’s not going to be clear for several months who’s going to break out of that, so he said this congressional seat is in my home town, it makes plenty of sense.”

Williams first talked about this a couple of weeks ago, not long after the first map came out. Despite his lackluster Senate campaign, you’d have to make him a frontrunner for this seat, assuming it survives a Justice Department review.

Meanwhile, a more surprising announcement is that State Sen. Eddie Lucio will not run for Congress in CD34.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio says he will not run for Congress, even though a new heavily Democratic open district has been created that is anchored in Brownsville.

[…]

Lucio first talked publicly about running for Congress in an exclusive interview with the Guardian at a legislative event at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen in September 2009. The 2010 Census was just around the corner and Lucio felt sure that the huge population growth in the Rio Grande Valley over the last decade would result in a new congressional seat being awarded to South Texas.

Here are his comments to the Guardian in September 2009:

“We deserve to have at least three congressional districts anchored in the Valley and going north. I will work to that affect next session and I will seriously look at running for one of those seats.

“If I lose another 15 pounds and continue to have the energy I have today I would very seriously like to cap my political career… not so much my political career but I would love to address and tackle the issues that are important to us internationally, immigration, health care, water, the environment.

“I think there are a lot of wonderful things we could do at the federal level that would benefit the Valley and South Texas.”

This is surprising because the conventional wisdom was that Lucio, who is on the Senate Redistricting Committee that produced the initial map, was said to have drawn CD34 for himself. There were rumors that he’d vote for the final map, though that turned out to be untrue. He made his announcement on Twitter last Friday; his full statement about why he chose not to run is here.

Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos has expressed an interest in running in District 34. However, as Lucio points out, it has yet to win pre-clearance from the Department of Justice. The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force has said the new map leaves more than 200,000 Latinos in Nueces County “stranded” in a congressional seat (District 27) where they cannot elect their preferred candidate of choice. On Friday, the Task Force announced it had filed a voting rights lawsuit in federal court in San Antonio.

Stories about that lawsuit are here and here. There was already a lawsuit filed by LULAC in the same U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, and LULAC is listed as a member of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, so it’s not clear to me if these are separate lawsuits or not. If they are, I’d say the odds are good they eventually get combined. As for Armando Villalobos, he had announced his interest in running for Congress back in May, well before a map made an appearance. As with CD33, we’ll see how the legal reviews shake out.

Who’s running for what where?

Chris Cillizza notes an old familiar face who’s back on the scene.

Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) is running again after losing his seat to businessman Francisco Canseco (R) last fall. Rodriguez won the seat in an 2006 special election, after the Supreme Court found that new lines drawn in 2003 violated the Voting Rights Act. Other Democrats have expressed interest in the seat, including state Rep. Joaquin Castro, state Rep. Pete Gallego, and state Sen. Carlos Uresti.

DavidNYC also noted this, as he had come across Rodriguez’s FEC Form 2 declaring his candidacy. As for the other Dems that may be interested in this race, the linked article is pre-Seliger-Solomons and thus may well be obsolete. To wit:

Congressional redistricting is under way at the Capitol, and a map proposed by key Republican legislators splits Democrat-heavy Travis County into five congressional districts, up from the current three-district split. The map puts U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, into a Republican-friendly district that stretches north from western Travis County up to the Fort Worth suburbs.

If the map becomes law — and that’s a long ways off from happening — Doggett may move into the newly created District 35, which stretches from southeastern Travis County, down through eastern Hays and Caldwell counties and into San Antonio.

Doggett would vie for the support of tens of thousands of voters whom he has never represented in Congress before. And that creates an opening for a San Antonio Democrat to try to beat him in the March 2012 primary.

“That district as drawn is probably attractive to no less than half of the Bexar County delegation from the (state) House,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. “It takes in some of the most Hispanic and Democratic neighborhoods in San Antonio.”

Martinez Fischer said the district is tempting to him but that it’s too early to decide whether to run.

A more likely candidate is probably state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who said he would not be deterred by a Doggett candidacy. “I’m interested in taking a very close look at it,” said Castro, a 36-year-old lawyer who has been in the Legislature since 2003 and whose brother is San Antonio’s mayor.

Other San Antonio Democrats who might give the race a look include Reps. Mike Villarreal and Roland Gutierrez, plus state Sen. Carlos Uresti.

I can say with certainty that Pete Gallego does not live in the proposed CD35, though I’m sure if the GOP could have figured out a way to extend it as far as Alpine, they would have. As for the others, I’d have to do some digging to see who actually lives where. Suffice it to say that this is a one or the other proposition for all involved.

Meanwhile, in a district that has nothing to do with any state legislators from San Antonio, another potential candidate for a new seat has emerged.

Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, who announced his intention back in January to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, is likely to drop out of that race and instead run for a newly created congressional seat in House District 33, which contains his hometown of Arlington, sources tell the Tribune.

[…]

According to the latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, Michael Williams’s Senate campaign raised just $418,000 in the first quarter of 2011, less than Cruz, Leppert and Roger Williams but more than Jones.

Williams’ campaign consultant Corbin Casteel, confirmed the switch was impending. “Commissioner Williams has lived in Arlington since the early 90s when he returned to Texas after working for Presidents Reagan and Bush,” Casteel said in a statement to the Tribune. “His home has been drawn into a newly created Congressional district. He has received a great deal of encouragement to transition from the Senate race to run for Congress. Provided the new district does not change significantly, he will pursue the new congressional seat.”

Well, he wouldn’t significantly change the craziness ratio of the Republican delegation, I’ll say that much. He’d fit right in, in fact. And he’d no doubt raise the spirits of bow tie wearers everywhere. Beyond that, I will hope that my assessment of CD33’s partisan potential is too pessimistic.

Ames Jones jumps in, Williams to follow

I don’t really think Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones has much of a chance in the race to replace KBH in the Senate. She was a fairly nondescript State Rep who got appointed to the RRC by Rick Perry then won a full term in the low-turnout 2006 election, and off the top of my head I have no idea what besides that she can claim as accomplishments. But I will give her props for this.

She said she would not resign her seat on the Railroad Commission to pursue the Senate seat, although she does not plan to seek re-election. Her term is up in 2012. Michael Williams, her fellow commissioner and a likely candidate for the Senate himself, has said he will resign from the commission April 2.

“I would never leave my post,” Jones said.

At least it’s a way to differentiate herself from the other Railroad Commish that’s seeking a promotion. And it’s one less appointment Perry gets to make, assuming the RRC doesn’t get reconstituted between now and then. There’s also the fact that she’s campaigning on a promise to do absolutely nothing constructive if elected, which is almost refreshing in a nihilistic sort of way. It might help explain why I can’t think of anything she’s done while in office, anyway. Big Jolly has more.

As for Williams, now that he’s fixing to have a lot of free time on his hands, he’s ready to jump in as well. Boy, two Railroad Commissioners in the same race – can you feel the excitement?

Williams will step down from the RRC

Michael Williams makes it official.

Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams says he has sent Gov. Rick Perry a letter telling him he will be leaving the commission on April 2 to concentrate on a race for the U.S. Senate.

Williams described the campaign as a “long cycle and a long race” that will, perhaps, have as many as nine candidates vying for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Williams said he thought he could do a better job of concentrating on the race as a private citizen than as an office-holder.

Also, he said by giving Perry such advance notice, it will allow the governor to consider whether to replace him on the commission. There is discussion in the Legislature with taking the three-member panel down to one commissioner or possibly combining it with other agencies.

I’m more interested in the fate of the RRC than I am with Williams’ campaign, which I daresay will be as unoriginal and undistinguished as all of the other contenders’, with the possible exception of Ron Paul. It’s not at all clear to me that a one-person RRC, or whatever it might be renamed to, would be any less corrupt or more accountable than what we have now. But at least it might mean fewer people biding their time while plotting to run for something else.

RRC Commish Williams to leave his post

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, a ten-year incumbent who has nonetheless managed to claim the mantel of “outsider/insurgent” in the race for the 2012 GOP Senate nomination, will reportedly resign his post so as to actually be an outsider of some kind.

Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams likely will announced Wednesday that he will resign his seat to concentrate on a 2012 run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Williams has been a candidate for the seat for more than a year, along with fellow Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Secretary of State Roger Williams.

The main bits of interest for me in this is that it means Governor Perry gets to appoint Williams’ replacement on the RRC; that person would then have to be on the ballot in 2012 to finish out Williams’ term, which expires in 2014. If fellow Commissioner and Senate candidate Elizabeth Ames Jones, whose term on the RRC is up in 2012, stays in the Senate race, there would be two seats on the Commission up for election, with neither one having a candidate who had been previously voted in to that position. Assuming, of course, that the RRC is not disbanded as a result of its Sunset review.

Speaking of which, the Trib fills in the picture a bit more:

[The Sunset Advisory Commission] has recommended several changes at the agency, including one that would replace the three elected commissioners with just one. Williams praised that idea when it was proposed; now he’s leaving before the legislative debate on that and other changes can begin.

The resignation will let him focus on the Senate race. State officeholders are barred from raising money for state races while the Legislature is in session. They can raise money for federal races, but it creates an awkward situation where they are asking people who have a stake in what the Legislature is doing to give money to the politicians who might have some influence over that process.

This move gets Williams out of that trap, frees him to campaign, and lets him avoid any turmoil that might come out of the Sunset bill.

Gotta admit, it’s a slick move. One wonders if Ames Jones will follow suit. If not, one wonders if she’s rethinking her entry into the Senate race. There’s only so much room, and it’s crowded already. Greg and Burka have more.

It’s always tease, tease, tease

I refer of course to the ongoing Waiting for KBH saga.

Hutchison hasn’t said whether she’ll retire or seek re-election in 2012, but several prominent Texans — including Republicans such as former Secretary of State Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones, along with Democratic former Comptroller John Sharp — have long said they plan to run.

And now there’s talk of perhaps a half-dozen or more Tea Party-affiliated candidates joining the race if Hutchison seeks re-election.
“If [she] runs for Senate again, I feel she will be met with the same results that she received when she ran for governor,” said Angela Cox, who heads the Johnson County Tea Party. “Hard feelings are there, not necessarily because she challenged Perry, but [because] she didn’t remain put as a senior Republican senator from Texas in Washington when we needed her to.”

[…]

Now the question is whether Hutchison, in office since 1993, will seek a full fourth term. A statement from her office said Hutchison “is not thinking about this right now” but instead is focused on congressional work.

“A number of ambitious politicians have been waiting a long time for a way to move up, and if she chooses to run there will likely be a large field in the race,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist and former aide to Hutchison. “But her decision will determine the shape of the race because everyone else is secondary. She’s done a lot for the state over her term in office and it won’t be easily forgotten.”

Roger Williams, a Weatherford car dealer, has said he’s in the Senate race no matter what, and in recent weeks he has sent out campaign cards reminding voters of his 2012 candidacy. “We feel that our campaign has a lot of the Tea Party support and would not be at all surprised to be backed by them,” said Colby Hale, his campaign manager. Jones is also in the Senate race. “Mrs. Jones has been crystal clear that when her term ends on the Railroad Commission in 2012 she will not file for another term, but will instead file to run in the Republican primary for the United States Senate,” said Steve Dutton, her campaign manager.

Michael Williams maintains a “Williams for United States Senate” website and has attended several Tea Party events. “I have said from the beginning, I will be a candidate for this seat whenever it comes up,” Williams said in a posting on his site. He could not be reached for comment.

Sharp, who did not return a call from the Star-Telegram, has indicated that he would like to run for the Senate in 2012, but his campaign website has been disabled and his campaign telephone number has been disconnected.

So as always, no one knows what KBH will do, teabaggers hate her, and the line of Republicans wanting to run to replace her is already out the door. Tell me something I don’t know, right? The one bit of interest here is John Sharp not being easily reachable for comment, given that he’s not particularly shy and has been out there telling people he’s in it for 2012. Probably doesn’t mean anything, but we’ll see if there are any further signs of waffling the next time this article gets written.

And if anyone is wondering what the title of this post to, you should surely know the lyrics to KBH’s theme song by now:

There may come a day when that video gets old, but that day is still a long way off. Thanks to BOR for the link.

More on KBH 2012

The Fix on our senior Senator and her next electoral challenge.

Hutchison, who previously broke a term-limit pledge when she ran for reelection in 2006, had been saying since 2007 that she would not seek another term in the Senate. Everyone now agrees that no longer applies, and many expect her to run again.

When contacted by The Fix about her decision-making process, a Hutchison spokeswoman said only that “the senator has not yet announced her plans.”

But that doesn’t mean people are waiting around to see what she does.

State Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Secretary of State Roger Williams are both actively campaigning for the seat, and several other candidates are threatening to run regardless of Hutchison’s announcement.

Among the undecideds are a number of well-known candidates, including wealthy Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and, potentially, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.

Dewhurst would be formidable because he would instantly be financially competitive due to his personal wealth and already has a cultivated statewide profile (he was just elected to his third term as lieutenant governor with 63 percent of the vote). He also has the luxury of taking his time to make a decision because of his high name identification and money.

At the same time, he’s not regarded as a great candidate, and because he is part of the establishment, he wouldn’t bring the tea party, insurgent-type profile that was so successful in the 2010 Senate primary season.

The candidate that fits that bill the best would appear to be Michael Williams. But Williams, like other tea party candidates, could face a funding problem, which is even more deadly in such a big state.

Three things:

1. Dan Patrick. I don’t see how this doesn’t happen.

2. Michael Williams has been in statewide office nearly as long as Dewhurst has, having been appointed to fill out the unexpired Railroad Commissioner term of Carole Keeton then-Rylander in 1999, and winning her unexpired term in 2000. I guess if all you do in office is make rabble-rousing speeches to conservative organizations and play around with social networking you can appear to be an outsider even after a decade as part of the establishment.

3. Who knows what the political landscape will look like in 2012? All of us, myself included, who are ready to write KBH off have no way of knowing what will happen over the next year or so. The teabaggers have to govern now, which is a lot harder than lobbing spitballs from the back of the room. The kind of intensity they have now will burn out, it’s just a question of when. Circumstances may wind up being a lot more favorable to KBH in 2012 than they were this year. We just can’t know how it will play out.

Don’t forget Kay!

Salon looks at recent GOP history to preview the 2012 Senate primaries:

As it is, though, the Tea Party is out of Republican targets for 2010. But 2012 is just around the corner, and the Tea Party may pick up right where it left off when the next round of Senate primaries convenes..

This, at least, is what history suggests. The last time there was this much upheaval within the GOP was in the late 1970s, in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s challenge to President Gerald Ford in the 1976 primaries. While Reagan fell just inches short in that race, the writing was on the wall: The GOP’s demographics were changing and the conservative wing that Reagan represented would soon dominate; Ford’s win would be the Rockefeller crowd’s last stand.

After ’76, New Right activists set out to purge the remaining liberal Republicans from the party — a task that only took on more urgency when liberal Republican senators provided critical votes for Jimmy Carter’s Panama Canal treaty in 1977. To the right, this represented a blatant sellout of American sovereignty. In the 1978 midterms, the right organized several high-profile primary challenges. In New Jersey, they united behind a Reagan aide named Jeffrey Bell and took out an icon of liberal Republicanism, four-term Sen. Clifford Case. In Massachusetts, they rallied around a radio talk-show host and anti-busing crusader named Avi Nelson and nearly knocked off Sen. Ed Brooke, the only black Republican ever elected to the Senate. There was no collective name for the movement that did this, but in spirit and style, it was very much the Tea Party’s precursor.

And the movement didn’t stop in ’78 — not with Reagan running again in 1980, and not with liberal Republicans still roaming the halls of Congress. Down went Sen. Jacob Javits, Herbert Lehman’s literal and ideological Senate heir, in New York’s ’80 GOP primary, felled by a then-obscure Al D’Amato. Only after Reagan’s election did the purge mentality cease.

If that model holds, the Tea Party will be just as thirsty for GOP blood in ’12 as it is today — still enraged by TARP votes the way the New Right was still infuriated by the Panama Canal treaty in ’80.

Because only 10 GOP-held Senate seats will be up in ’12 — a consequence of the party’s drubbing in 2006 and weak showing in 2000 — only three incumbents seem at obvious risk of becoming the next Bennett or Murkowski: Olympia Snowe, Orrin Hatch and Richard Lugar.

You know who else is up in 2012? Our own Kay Bailey Hutchison, that’s who. And there’s already trouble on the horizon for her.

It’s not that Texas Republicans don’t like her. Despite her primary loss earlier this year she still has a positive 56/28 approval spread with them. It’s not even necessarily that they think she’s too liberal- 38% of them do, but 44% think that ideologically she’s ‘about right.’

But if you give them the choice of a more conservative alternative to Hutchison Texas Republicans are ready to ditch her in a minute. Only 25% of them generally say they’d vote for Hutchison if she faced a challenger from the right, while 62% say they’d pick the insurgent option.

PPP tested a hypothetical matchup between KBH and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, and while she led him by 21 points, she only garnered 34%. That doesn’t sound too secure to me. And that’s just one possible opponent for her. Anyone want to bet against Dan Patrick deciding he wants to trade up? You can write her obituary now if that happens.

Now maybe they overlooked KBH because they think she’s not running again in 2012. Clearly, they need to ask around a bit if that’s what they thought. She has time to try to mode to the right, though I doubt it would help. It’ll be interesting to see what she does. Who knows, maybe this time she really will step down. Stranger things have happened.

And since we can’t reasonably claim we didn’t see this coming, it’s not too early for Democrats to start thinking about who we’d like to have on the ballot that year. There are the candidates who are running statewide this year, all of whom I hope are unavailable due to incumbency, and there are the mandatory possibilities, but if I had to name my first round draft choice for this race, it’d be San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. You got a better choice? Go ahead and leave it in the comments.

Michael Williams followup

Vote who for what?

Now I know which one you are

Between some comments I got on my previous post and some emails I received as well, I can say with confidence that the Michael Williams in question is the HCCS Trustee. In addition, it is my understanding that he intends to run for the City Council At Large #2 seat that will be open after Sue Lovell is term-limited out. Jenifer Pool, the former chair of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and former District H candidate Maverick Welsh are also reportedly interested in that race. I still think it’s a little crazy to be campaigning for a 2011 election when the 2010 races are still not on most people’s radar yet, but at least now my other questions have been answered. My thanks to everyone who provided feedback.

Vote for me for something

I’ve now seen four of these signs near where I live, one on I-10 westbound just before the Taylor exit, two on 20th Street between Studewood and Heights, and this one on Durham just south of Washington.

Vote who for what?

Vote who for what?

I have three questions:

1. Which Michael Williams are we talking about? The Railroad Commissioner? The HCCS Trustee, who had considered running for Council in 2007? The guy who ran for HISD Trustee last year? Some other Michael Williams? The name is not exactly a unique identifier.

2. What office is he running for? Given the odd-numbered year, a City Council seat seems most likely, and since I’m pretty sure the two locations where I’ve seen his signs are in different districts, I’d say we’re talking an At Large seat. But trustees for HISD and HCCS are on the ballot, too, and maybe there’s something else I’m not thinking of. HCCS Trustee Michael Williams appears to be up for re-election next year, but none of these signs are in his district. That strikes me as a bit of a flaw.

Maybe this isn’t about a political campaign. Maybe it’s more of a personal branding thing. Maybe we’ll see more signs with further information soon. Who knows?

3. Assuming it is in fact about a political campaign, why in the world would you be campaigning for a 2011 race when the 2010 election is still five months out? If the answer is “To generate some early buzz”, then I guess mission accomplished. If only I knew who was getting the buzz.

Vasquez and Carrillo

Newly-unelected Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez makes the same complaint about why he is headed for the unemployment line as Victor Carrillo did.

Carrillo started the ethnic angst with an e-mail to supporters indicating racial bias had cost him re-election. That was followed up by Vasquez’s campaign manager and girlfriend, SuZanne Feather, sending out an e-mail saying there were “many similarities” between Carrillo and Vasquez’s loss on Tuesday to tea party activist Don Sumners. Vasquez joined in during an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

“It is perplexing that someone could basically spend no money whatsoever and mount no campaign and win as handily as he did,” Vasquez said. “The same thing happened in the Victor Carrillo race as well.”

But Vasquez’s predecessor in office, Paul Bettencourt said Vasquez lost because he had issues in his personal life that cost him the support of social conservative organizations.

Consultant Allen Blakemore, speaking for social conservative leader Steve Hotze, said Republicans were upset with Vasquez for settling a voter-registration lawsuit with Democrats and for not being as vocal on property tax increases as Bettencourt. Blakemore said the “final blow” came when social conservative leaders learned Vasquez lives with a woman married to another man.

Vasquez admitted social conservative leaders Hotze and Terry Lowry “probably got him (Sumners) another 10,000 votes and maybe even made the full difference between us.”

“The Republican Party, especially in Harris County, has been, unfortunately, overly controlled and influenced by a small, but vocal group on the religious right, and we need to get back to the core principles of fiscal conservative issues rather than these social issues that are being perpetuated by that small, but vocal, minority,” Vasquez said.

You’re just figuring that out now, Leo? What color is the sky on your planet?

As for the justifications Bettencourt and Blakemore give, I’ll say this much. I had heard about Vasquez’ relationship to Feather, and can say with confidence that it would have come up in the general election had Vasquez been the nominee. I have no idea how well known it was among the people who actually voted in that race – Big Jolly mentions it, while also acknowledging Vasquez’ complaint and noting that “there is still a lot of resentment around the county in the wake of Paul Bettencourt’s sudden resignation and Vasquez’ appointment” – but my suspicion is that it wasn’t particularly well known. Had Don Sumners made it a campaign issue, I expect it would have been news, and there was no such news reported. A Google search of “leo vasquez suzanne feather” yields nothing relevant. Similarly, I can’t really evaluate the claim about Vasquez’s settlement of the HCDP lawsuit. Big Jolly didn’t mention it, and a Google search turns up mostly Democratic links. Maybe more people knew about it than I might think, but if it was a campaign issue and not just something that a handful of connected folks were grumbling about, it was a mighty quiet one.

I don’t doubt that the issues Bettencourt and Blakemore cite affected how some people voted. The question is how many of the 120,000+ people who cast a vote in that race were affected by those particular factors. Unlike David Porter, Don Sumners was at least someone who had been an elected official before, and presumably started out with some kind of base. That in and of itself may have been enough for him to win.

One thing I am sure of is that Vasquez is now officially dead to the Republican establishment. Look at what they’re doing to poor Victor Carrillo:

Republican consultant Ted Delisi said Carrillo spent far less than Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones or Michael Williams did on their re-election campaigns and said Carrillo did little personal campaigning.

“In the end, a bad campaign is just a bad campaign,” Delisi said.

That’s a pretty remarkable piece of disinformation. First, it appears to be comparing Williams’ and Ames Jones’ general election efforts to Carrillo’s primary campaign. I say that in part because Michael Williams had no primary opponent in 2008, so however much money he spent in that race, his renomination was never in doubt. As for Ames Jones, she did have a primary opponent in 2006. Her eight days out report for that race shows that she spent $580,116. Carrillo’s eight days out report, by comparison, had expenditures of $525,666. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t meet my definition of “far less”. Finally, since Porter ran no campaign at all, Delisi is implying that Carrillo’s campaign was not merely inadequate but that it must have actively persuaded people to vote against him. Even by the standards of Republican consultants, that’s a pretty damn brazen thing to say. But it’s the sort of thing they’re going to be saying about you now, Leo. I hope you’re prepared for that.

Trustee Marshall endorsed by former opponents

In the runoff for HISD Trustee in District IX, incumbent Trustee Larry Marshall received the endorsement of the third and fourth-place finishers, George Davis and Michael Williams. I find that a little odd, since one presumes when they ran to unseat Marshall they thought a change was needed, but I guess they decided they didn’t want Adrian Collins to be that change. Marshall has also been endorsed by the HISD Parent Visionaries group, who backed Trustee-elect Mike Lunceford and runoff candidate Anna Eastman. You can read their runoff analysis and recommendation here. Note the difference between Marshall and Collins’ positions on paying prevailing wages for capital improvement projects in HISD. Labor unions are upset with Marshall for breaking promises made to them about prevailing wages in return for their support of the 2007 bond referendum, which is why they are strongly backing Collins. We’ll see if that can be a difference-maker here.

(more…)

Senate fundraising numbers are in

We know that Bill White raised $1.5 million this quarter for his Senate campaign. Now the other candidates’ totals have come in.

White’s take of $1.5 million over the 90-day period ending Oct. 1 — including his personal donation of $414,398 — helped push the two-term mayor’s accumulated Senate campaign fundraising to more than $6 million. White garnered donations from nearly 2,000 new, first-time contributors, said campaign spokeswoman Katy Bacon.

[John] Sharp raised $615,110 during the same period, pushing his total to $3.8 million.

The third quarter numbers are not on the FEC page yet, so we’ll have to see how much of Sharp’s $600K raised is really just another check to himself. Given that 80% of the $3.1 million he’s reported so far is his own money, I wouldn’t be too optimistic, but maybe he’ll prove me wrong this time.

As for the others, here’s a chart:

Candidate Q3 raised Total raised Loans ============================================================ Bill White 1,500,000 6,000,000 500,000 John Sharp 600,000 3,800,000 2,600,000 * Florence Shapiro 354,000 1,000,000 110,000 Roger Williams 336,000 1,300,000 150,000 * Elizabeth Ames Jones 208,000 770,000 0 * Michael Williams 142,000 473,000 150,000

I’ve rounded the numbers off for simplicity. The asterisks indicate that we don’t know for sure how much, if any, loans the candidates made to themselves this quarter. White’s $1.5 million is a bit less than all the other candidates’ totals combined. If you take out everybody’s loans, he’s easily outraised them all overall. I don’t think there’s anything to add to that.

The HISD Trustee candidates speak

These are short videos – I think Art Rascon’s intros of the candidates take as much time as they get to speak for themselves – but if you’ve not met the HISD Trustee candidates or listened to any of my interviews, here’s a chance to see and hear them from KTRK. First, in District I:

District V:

District IX, where three candidates are challenging incumbent Larry Marshall:

According to School Zone, there will be a full length candidate forum aired on KTRK on Sunday at 11 AM. The forum was sponsored by Parents for Public Schools, and you can read a few highlights at that link. Check ’em out.

More on the HISD candidates

The Bellaire Examiner looks at the contested HISD Trustee races, two of which weren’t hadn’t been contested before the day of the filing deadline.

HISD Board President Lawrence Marshall appeared to be one of three incumbent trustees unopposed in the upcoming board election. Instead, three last-minute entries will make Marshall’s attempt to retain his District IX seat more difficult than he expected.

George Davis, Adrian Collins and Michael Williams filed for candidacy Wednesday, the last day for election filing.

Marshall, who has been at the center of the superintendent transition and who has recently been target of some internal board unrest, expected late challengers.

“It’s amazing how certain communities of interest work,” said Marshall. “Some communities of interest see incumbency as an asset, that it represents leadership that they don’t want to replace. Other communities sometimes respond differently.”

“I run year-round,” added Marshall. “That’s the way I’ve been doing it for twelve years. I wasn’t worried about any element of surprise, because we’ve already geared up our campaign.”

[…]

Davis has received backing from the advocacy group HISD Parent Visionaries. Davis, who oversees business programs for continuing education at Houston Community College, is a Lanier High School graduate who has extensive experience with Workforce Solutions.

“I just think it’s time for a new generation of leadership,” said Davis. “People have shared with me their desire for a need for new leadership and a fresh perspective.”

Collins, a community liaison for State Sen. Rodney Ellis, has also been a consultant to the White House and President Barack Obama on community and education issues.

“Over the last decade we have seen a decline in the quality of education the students of District IX have received compared to other parts of the districts,” Collins wrote in a prepared statement.

Williams, a 1980 graduate of Worthing High School, is a businessman in auto sales. Williams has a fourth-grader in private school, though he has been a member of the Worthing PTO.

“There’s no school in our area I can think of sending my kids to,” said Williams, who is a resident of Sunnyside.

“As of late we haven’t seen any changes in our area.” said Williams. “Money seems to come up missing in our area and nobody can tell us where it is. I just think it’s time for a change.”

That’s some pretty serious competition for Marshall, who has certainly drawn the ire of the HISD Parent Visionaries group. Marshall is no stranger to tough races – he was forced into a runoff in 2005, and won a runoff in 1997 after finishing second on Election Day. In other words, don’t count him out. Just so we’re clear, I’m a member of the HISD Visionaries group, though all I’ve done is receive their messages. (I don’t remember who invited me to join the group, for what it’s worth.) I don’t know George Davis, but I do know Adrian Collins.

Moving over to the open District V race, in which Mike Lunceford picked up an opponent, Ray Reiner:

The race between Lunceford and Reiner represents a surprising and intriguing challenge. Lunceford submitted his candidate paperwork with the district immediately when the filing period opened; Reiner declared his candidacy Wednesday.

Reiner, highly regarded for his 40-year tenure as an administrator with the district, retired in 2005 and has remained active in various consultancy and mediation roles. Reiner was mentioned by various HISD sources when the school board began the search to replace former superintendent Dr. Abelardo Saavedra.

“I look at this as a really golden opportunity to come back into communities and help students, help parents, and help their communities,” said Reiner. “Over the last four or five years there’s been a lack of sensitivity in various communities within the larger community itself. I think I can not only address those concerns but also be an advocate for change.”

“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve,” added Reiner.

Lunceford, a petroleum engineer, has had longtime committee involvement in District V under former trustee Don McAdams, and has served on HISD bond committees. Lunceford has drawn praise from Johnson and his candidacy has been backed by various HISD parent groups.

“Everybody’s been very supportive,” said Lunceford. “It’s a very interesting time with a new superintendent coming in, with the views that he has.”

Lunceford added: “If you look at the history of District V, people who run for the board or become trustees rarely have any aspirations of higher office, and that’s kind of what I’ve focused on. I have no further aspirations after this—my goal is to get our schools going.”

According to HISD Parent Visionaries founder Mary Nesbitt, that group is supporting Davis, Lunceford, and Anna Eastman in District I. Should be interesting to see what kind of an effect they can have, especially in what may be a low-turnout election. I will have interviews from all three District I candidates on the blog the week after Labor Day.

Senate fundraising scorecard

We’ve seen campaign fundraising for city of Houston races and for state of Texas races, now let’s take a look at the Senate race, whenever that will be. Here’s what I’ve got for the major candidates via the FEC webpage:

Elizabeth Ames Jones

Total Receipts: $405,661
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $404,411
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $1,250
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $0
Candidate Loans: $0
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $107,682
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $2,000
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $145,232
Latest Cash On Hand: $443,211
Debts Owed By: $0

Florence Shapiro

Total Receipts: $134,880
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $124,880
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $0
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $0
Candidate Loans: $10,000
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $214,076
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $0
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $375,556
Latest Cash On Hand: $296,361
Debts Owed By: $10,000

John Sharp

Total Receipts: $3,173,249
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $532,880
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $5,000
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $23,000
Candidate Loans: $2,612,369
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $264,968
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $90,400
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $1,678
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $0
Latest Cash On Hand: $2,908,280
Debts Owed By: $2,610,691

Bill White

Total Receipts: $3,735,773
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $2,816,284
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $38,550
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $879,031
Candidate Loans: $0
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $1,125,311
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $79,460
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $5,000
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $392
Beginning Cash: $727,595
Latest Cash On Hand: $3,340,105
Debts Owed By: $36,678

Michael Williams

Total Receipts: $431,848
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $330,748
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $1,100
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $0
Candidate Loans: $100,000
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $263,703
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $2,600
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $0
Latest Cash On Hand: $168,144
Debts Owed By: $107,659

Roger Williams

Total Receipts: $870,502
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $716,585
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $3,300
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Candidate Contribution: $0
Candidate Loans: $150,000
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $273,931
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $0
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $131,027
Latest Cash On Hand: $727,597
Debts Owed By: $251,830

Basically, Bill White is in a league of his own, though Roger Williams did have a decent quarter. Depending on how things go with the FEC, things may get even better for White on the fundraising trail. I don’t know what to say about John Sharp – raising $45K for the entire quarter? That’s incredible, and not in the good way. Note that counting refunds, he was actually in negative territory before you factor in the loans. That money’s as good as any to spend, but he can’t maintain that kind of pace and hope to remain competitive. If he can’t do better this quarter, he really ought to consider his options.

Cillizza on White

The WaPo’s Chris Cilizza surveys the Senate campaign scene, and makes an interesting comment about Texas:

Democrats’ best opportunities to broaden the current playing field are in Louisiana and Texas.

[…]

Texas is a bit more of a longshot although a special election race, which would be triggered by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) resignation to focus full time for governor, would create an unpredictable dynamic where Democrats might have a chance. The party’s preferred candidate is Houston Mayor Bill White although former state Comptroller John Sharp is running too. In truth, for Democrats to have a pickup opportunity, Sharp would probably need to step aside.

Cillizza’s suggestion that a Sharp departure makes the seat a more likely Democratic pickup stands in contrast to the Rick Casey scenario, in which White and Sharp finish ahead of a larger field of Republican wannabees and face each other in the runoff. In favor of this possibility is the fact that no big-name Republicans have entered as yet, and the ones who are in lag far behind the two Democrats in fundraising. On the other hand, there’s nothing really stopping a Dewhurst or an Abbott, both of whom are rumored to want in, from getting in, and this was always a thread-the-needle shot to begin with. I’d just about put money on one of the Williamses – Roger the multi-millionaire potential self-funder, or Michael the grassroots and Twitter hero – to make it into the top two if the field we have today is the field we get in the end. Besides, Sharp claims he isn’t going anywhere, though of course as with any race it ain’t over till the filing deadline passes. So who knows?

The Senate fundraising scorecard so far

Here’s what you see for candidates for the US Senate in Texas for the 2009-10 election cycle. I’ve removed the two incumbents plus candidates from previous cycles who are sitll filing finance reports.

Republicans Name Raised Spent Net Cash Debts ======================================================= Ames Jones 49,800 30,369 164,662 0 Shapiro 34,077 99,226 310,407 16,500 Williams, M 206,335 92,377 113,957 51,426 Williams, R 348,081 90,479 388,628 200,501 Total 628,293 412,451 977,654 268,427 Democrats Name Raised Spent Net Cash Debts ======================================================= White 1,867,163 472,119 2,131,638 32,890 Sharp ??? ??? ??? ???

Putting it another way, Bill White raised three times as much as the four Republican candidates combined. Take out the loans, and it’s more like five times as much. He also has more than twice the cash on hand.

So, yeah, I think you can say the Democratic candidates have the early financial lead. Admittedly, Florence Shapiro is hamstrung by the current legislative session; her second quarter numbers will likely be weak as well, especially if there’s a special session. I don’t think it would have made that much difference, however.

And of course all this is before we take into account what John Sharp did. The FEC still doesn’t have Sharp’s details, but BOR’s David Mauro has the scoop:

$515,155.00 – Total contributions other than loans
$514,955.00 – Net contributions other than loans
$2,001,678.10 – Loans made or guaranteed by the candidate

I was sent PDFs with this info shortly thereafter, so I’m sure the FEC page will be updated to reflect this information. The good news for Sharp is that if you subtract the loan money he still outraised the four Republicans. Needless to say, though, that’s nowhere near as impressive as the huge haul he said he had at the deadline. No wonder he clammed up completely after that.

Now this is just the first quarter of a cycle that I believe will go on for at least two full years; more if KBH loses in either race in 2010 and decides to stick it out in DC. Maybe White can’t maintain this pace, maybe Sharp can pick it up; for sure the Republicans, especially Shapiro, can do better than this. As Joe Sheehan likes to say at the Baseball Prospectus, you can’t judge a team’s season by the first few weeks. We’ll know soon enough who will have the funds they need to compete.

White rakes it in for his Senate bid

Among other things, today is the deadline for federal candidates to report their campaign finance status. Of the many contenders for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat, whenever that becomes available, I think it’s safe to say that Bill White had the best start to the year. From his press release:

Mayor Bill White reported contributions totaling more than $2.6 million in just over 100 days since launching his U.S. Senate campaign, according to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission today.

More than 1,400 Texans contributed through March 31st, the end of the filing period. The contributions for the filing period totaled more than $1.8 million.

Campaign Finance Chair Scott Atlas said, “The outpouring of support from donors and volunteers has been simply amazing. The energy around Mayor White’s campaign shows Texans believe in his ability to bring people together and get things done. People want their next senator to be a voice for our state’s future.”

So far, none of the Senate incumbents or hopefuls have their reports up on the FEC disclosure page, so I can’t give you the details yet. However, Gardner Selby has some information.

Democrat John Sharp topped five other candidates or prospective candidates for the U.S. Senate in cash on hand as of March 31, though his camp didn’t say this afternoon how much of the $2.4 million he piled up since Jan. 1 came from loans. His loan chunk—perhaps tapping Sharp’s personal wealth—may be left to show up when his report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, surfaces online.

Another Democrat, Houston Mayor Bill White, had $2.1 million cash on hand at the end of this year’s first quarter; he’d taken no loans.

Among Republicans, former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams had $388,628 cash on hand; a haul fueled by $200,000 in loans he gave his exploratory committee. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, had $310,407. She was trailed in her bank balance by two members of the Texas Railroad Commission, Elizabeth Ames Jones with $164,663 and Michael Williams with $113,957.

As Selby notes, we can’t fully judge Sharp’s total till we know how much of it was loaned by himself to the campaign. It’s possible he did better than any of the Republicans and yet still fell well short of White, and it’s possible he outraised White, though to be honest if he’d really taken in $2 million or so, I’d have expected him to be shouting that from the rooftops. We’ll know soon enough. In any case, as BOR notes, the two Dems are way out in from of the Rs – heck, all of them put together can’t match either Dem. That may change if a David Dewhurst or a Greg Abbott jumps in, but for now, it’s a nice position for the Dems to be in.

Other reports of interest, all Congressional:

Pete Sessions, who has been in the crosshairs of the DCCC lately and whose district is trending strongly Democratic, had a good quarter with over $200K raised and almost $900K on hand. Sessions has always been an able fundraiser, no doubt why he’s chairing the NRCC this go-round.

– Mike McCaul doesn’t have a report yet. He already has a well-heeled challenger and a DCCC bulls-eye on his back, but he’s also filthy rich and will not be outgunned financially.

John Culberson had a decent quarter, with $100K raised, though only a modest $70K on hand. He didn’t leave anything in reserve after his expensive re-election fight last year, and though I think he’s likely to skate this time around, I’ll bet he invests some time in restocking his coffers.

Sheila Jackson Lee didn’t raise much, and spent more than she raised, but she starts the year with over $400K on hand, which may give pause to anyone looking to primary her.

– The benefits of running for President, having a national following, and being stalked by Borat not having an opponent in the last cycle: Ron Paul has over two million dollars on hand, despite raising almost nothing and spending nearly $250K.

– Randy Neugebauer in CD19 doesn’t have a report up yet, either, but according to the CREW crew, he wants to use his campaign funds to pay for the use of his yacht to fundraise for his campaign. Just click over and see for yourself. The yacht is anchored in DC, in case you were wondering (as I was) what the heck one would do with a yacht in Lubbock.

– Former Congressman Jim Turner, who was drawn out of his seat in the 2004 Tom DeLay re-redistricting, still has over a million bucks on hand. Which in theory he eventually needs to dispose of in some fashion, either on another campaign of his own or by giving it to other candidates.

That’s all for now. I’ll add to this as I see more reports.

Kay and Rick on the money

Well, there was never any doubt that they’d be swimming in cash.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison moved nearly $8 million into her state campaign finance account last year — a high-stakes signal that she is committed to running for Texas governor in 2010.

In December she transferred most of that money from her U.S. Senate campaign account, according to campaign finance reports released Thursday. She started the year with $7.9 million in the bank.

Gov. Rick Perry, who intends to seek re-election, will prove a formidable foe with $6.6 million in the bank so far, according to the reports. A political battle between the two could cost each of them more than $20 million.

Remember how many ads there were on the TV this past fall, even though the Presidential campaigns didn’t do much? We got off way easy compared to what this might be. Be prepared to be very sick of this in another year or so.

So does this mean that KBH is for sure running for Governor? She thinks she is, and I think she is, too. But I still think you never really know with her, and you won’t know for sure till she files for the primary. And even if she does run, it still doesn’t mean she’ll resign from the Senate first. Go read that Politico article again and see just how much KBH and her decision are in the spotlight. If it were just a matter of her winning next November, that would be one thing. But she has to win a Republican primary first, and I don’t see how she can afford to give Rick Perry that kind of ammunition to use against her. I just cannot imagine her resigning any time before March of 2010, if at all.

Which brings us to the eventual election, special or otherwise, to fill her seat. This bit from that Politico story is worth considering:

If Hutchison gives up her seat, national Republicans would likely move quickly to recruit their candidate and help raise money to ensure the seat stays in the party’s hands. But doing that would divert precious resources that would otherwise be used to help the party recover from two disastrous elections and defend four open seats in 2010.

“It’s more than a casual interest that we at least maintain 41 senators,” said Texas’ junior senator, John Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He told reporters Wednesday that Hutchison might not resign if she pursues her governor’s bid.

Hutchison’s resignation likely would set off a primary battle between state and congressional lawmakers and state officials, according to local political operatives. A couple of prominent GOP names have also recently bubbled up as potential Hutchison successors, including state Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

And even though Democrats would have a tough climb to win the Senate seat, some already have their eyes on it, including Houston Mayor Bill White. The national party would undoubtedly put a huge amount of resources into the race if winning it would get Senate Democrats to the magic number of 60.

The prospect of national money changes things in a couple of ways. For one, I think it renders the Rick Casey scenario essentially moot. If the election were this May, with the current field of Bill White, John Sharp, Roger Williams, Michael Williams, Florence Shapiro, and Elizabeth Ames Jones, I could imagine the two Dems splitting 45% and the four GOPers splitting the rest, with none of them breaking 20% and thus yielding an all-Dem runoff. That’s because none of the GOPers has a particularly high profile, so none of them would be likely to break away from the pack. A few million dollars, plus some big endorsements and whatever help the NRSC – conveniently chaired by Texas’ junior Senator – can offer goes a long way towards distinguishing one of these contenders. Under those conditions, I can’t imagine whichever one of them drew the golden ticket would not do far better than 20%; he or she would probably lead the field, and then win the runoff comfortably.

It gets a bit more complicated if a Dewhurst or an Abbott, both of whom have statewide profiles as well as a boatload of their own money, jumps in. Most likely, either one of them gets in because he’s the chosen one, or they both stay out because it’s made clear to them that they’re not. Dewhurst could still run anyway if he got piqued about it, but I wouldn’t expect that. Bottom line is that someone on the Republican side is going to have a ton of resources available. That person will be a huge favorite to win. We can spin theories and possibilities and what-ifs all we want, but that strikes me as the most probably outcome.

So given that one Republican contender will almost surely have the near-full force of the national and state parties behind him or her, doesn’t this change the math for the two Democrats? For one thing, we come back to the same question we started off with, which is how do you win the inevitable runoff? I seriously doubt either of them has an answer to that question right now. Sure, the national Dems will be there to help as well, but in a war of statewide turnout with a motivated Republican electorate, how do you win? I don’t have an answer for that, either.

Which brings me back to the question I keep asking: Why not try for Governor instead? KBH hasn’t won that primary against Rick Perry yet. She may stay in her seat through November of 2010 – or at least through September of 2010, which would be good enough for special election purposes – which would give you a second bite at the statewide apple if she beats both Perry and you. The national GOP isn’t going to care about that race. The issues won’t get tied up nearly as much in the state of the nation and the Obama administration, so you’ll have hopes for crossovers. Just based on the non-trivial chance that Perry takes the primary, I don’t see how this race doesn’t offer better odds of a Democrat winning. And yet here we are. It’s still a little too early to be officially worried about 2010, but it’s certainly not irrational to be.