| With the runoff less than a week away, here's a run-down of endorsements in some of our Texas races.
HD-11: Rick Perry has announced his fervent support of State Rep. Chuck Hopson. Governor good hair joins Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Texas Alliance for Life, and the NRA in supporting Hopson over runoff opponent Travis Clardy. In his endorsement, Perry described Hopson as a "proven conservative" whose experience as a pharmacist means he has "been on the front line fighting Obamacare." This "proven Conservative" was a Democrat from 2001-2009. Hopson switched parties after he almost lost his seat in a race that was decided by 120 votes. Indeed, Hopson is the kind of self-serving political hack that our governor can relate to. Hopson once again finds himself in a nail-biter, beating the relatively unknown Travis Clardy by only 166 votes. In the right wing dominated HD-11, Hopson's loyalties are being questioned, and Clardy's victory would bring justice to Democrats who placed their trust in Hopson for a decade, only to see him throw principle aside.
HD-114: Attorney Jason Villalba has the GOP elite drooling. He has earned the enthusiastic endorsements of retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback and businessman Roger Staubach, and even the Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney. Romney praised Villalba as a "capable and effective leader" who "will make an outstanding member of the Texas Legislature." It may seem odd that a presidential candidate from Massachusetts would endorse in a state legislative race in Texas, but Villalba and Romney have a past. In Romney's failed 2008 run for President, Villalba served on Romney's National Hispanic Steering Committee. Hutchinson hosted a fundraiser with Villalba, where she told about 50 people gathered, "Not one other person in the state of Texas have I endorsed in the primary, even though I've been asked a lot...The reason is he's the future." Republicans like Hutchinson are hoping that conservative Hispanics will make the Latino community forget about the hostile policies the GOP has fought for. However, unlike Hutchinson, Villalba has expressed support for the Dream Act and has shown to be relatively pragmatic in his views. Although this more compassionate approach to Latino issues will help the Republican Party in the future, they might be destructive for Villalba in the short term. In the first round of Primary elections, he lost to opponent Bill Keffler by over 6 points. HD-114 is a solidly conservative district and Keffler has received the backing of right wing Tea Party groups and die hard partisans. In a runoff these are the people who show up. Although Villalba's watered down conservatism is an appealing change of pace in Texas politics, his embracing of reason may be too much for Republican faithful to swallow.
Railroad Commissioner: State Rep. Wayne Christian endorsed Christi Craddick in her battle with Warren Chisum to replace Elizabeth Ames Jones on the Texas Railroad commission. Christian, who recently lost re-election to the Legislature in the Republican primary, wrote in a statement, "I have had the pleasure of knowing Christi for many years, and she is a sharp, articulate, and conservative small businesswoman who has been able to make tough decisions throughout her life and has always stood for what is right." In a race for a position most Texans don't know exists, there has been mudslinging from both sides. Chisum, an oil and gas businessman, has accused Craddick of riding her father's coattails. Craddick is the daughter of former Texas House Speaker, Tom Craddick, who is also an old ally of Chisum. Chisum whined about the challenges of running against a Craddick, saying in an article by the Dallas Morning News , "It's like if you were in Boston and you were running against a Kennedy." To combat running against a Craddick, Chisum has challenged Craddick's lack of energy experience. Craddick, in turn, has challenged Chisum's honesty. It is clear that Craddick is positioning herself for future opportunities, as she has relatively little experience in the field. But her valuable last name and endorsements like those of State Rep. Christian, railroad commissioner David Porter, and former railroad commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones are proving valuable in fulfilling her dream of walking in daddy's footsteps. She won the first time around by over eight points.
Check out Burnt Orange Report's updated Runoff Endorsement Tracker below the jump!