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HD 97: Democrat Barrett to Runoff Against Craddick Supporter

by: Phillip Martin

Tue Nov 06, 2007 at 10:33 PM CST

Democrat Dan Barrett led in all voting for the race to replace Rep. Anna Mowery in House District 97. You can see the full numbers from my post on the race, and I've reproduced the important results below:

Candidate                     Early Vote    

Total Votes   


Dan Barrett (D) 

1918 32.48%
Mark M. Shelton (R)
Bob Leonard (R)1287

Craig Goldman (R)

956 16.19% 294716.67%
Total Votes Cast 5905  17678 

Given those results, let's look at the "price per vote" based on the 8-day out report -- therefore not even counting the cash-on-hand that was spent in the final days, the $25,000 contribution to Leonard in the final days, or the $50,000 Shelton loaned to his own campaign:

Candidate Total Votes
Average "Price-per-vote"
Dan Barrett (D)
5575 $35,877 $6.44
Mark M. Shelton (R) 4047 $37,096 $9.17 
Bob Leonard (R) 3294 $83,096 $25.23 
Craig Goldman (R) 2947 $107,327
Totals 15368$263,396

Democrat Dan Barrett got almost twice as many votes as Craddick's top candidate, Craig Goldman, and he did so by only spending 17.7% as much per vote. IMAGINE what can be done with a well-funded campaign!

Barrett leads going into the runoff, and that's with spending the least amount of cash of any competitor. Now that he's proved he can compete, Barrett is sure to get the attention of Democrats across the state. And who knows what will happen in the run-off, especially given the stakes.

Barrett is on the right side of many of the issues, too. He's an unquestionable supporter of CHIP, and is opposed to the expanding boondoggle that is the Trans-Texas Corridor. And, perhaps most importantly, he is clearly opposed to Speaker Craddick -- successfully using Craddick in the "6 pawns" direct mail piece. And running against Craddick, as the numbers showed us tonight, is a successfuly strategy.

Craig Goldman, who finished fourth, was strongly backed by Speaker Craddick and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. Craddick even showed up and hosted a fundraiser for Goldman in Austin. And what did Craddick's support earn him? Fourth place. Craddick's support automatically taints any candidate it touches -- actually harming candidates in the process.

This very well could prove the different for Barrett, and allow him to win the special election. Shelton, who is heading for the run-off, is also a strong supporter of Craddick. Is he just as doomed to meet his fate? Only time will tell, but a year out from one of the most important election cycles in the history of the Texas House, the Republican Speaker is performing terribly.

Meanwhile, donate to Barrett's campaign, and let's add another Democrat to our numbers in the Texas House.


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Great analysis, Phil! (0.00 / 0)
One funny anecdote: Among the six Goldman mailers that arrived Friday and Saturday, one warned Republicans about Barrett's growing support and urged them to go vote.

One problem: the Goldman campaign sent the mailer to Democrats, too.  Judging from the results, I guess they got the message -- and voted for Barrett!

Thanks (0.00 / 0)
And great story!

Unfortunately, I now need to go finish my philosophy paper on the ethics of fair trade. But it's pretty cool that I can stay this plugged into Texas politics while living up here in Boston.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Yea yea (0.00 / 0)
But wait long enough and you'll end up like me. Back in Texas lol.

[ Parent ]
I'm a bit removed from this race (0.00 / 0)
but a big thank you to everyone working, blockwalking, mailing, giving money and supporting Barrett in this race.  Reading the media accounts of this race that all but wrote off the race to Craddick's Goldenboy Goldman was disappointing.

There's one candidate for change in this race.  One candidate that put partisan posturing aside and came out for children's health insurance, for lower utility rates and against a state-sanctioned land grab.

Shelton is standing by himself promising more Craddick and more of the same status quo.  5 pawns down, 1 to go!

Sorry, I just don't see it (0.00 / 0)
Barrett pulled less than 33% against a field on know-nothings.  There was nobody there to syphon off votes from him and Shelton is not far enough back to not make up the difference, especially in a special runoff.

Maybe things could have been different in a general election, but unless Shelton comes down here and makes a complete ass of himself, Barrett has no chance of ascending to this seat this decade.

Know-nothings? (0.00 / 0)
I assume you mean no-names.  You're kidding right?  This was an incredible result and the product of Dan's hard work.

Good job Dan...he can very well take this runoff.  I will agree with you that the general will be tough but you can't write off an incumbent.

[ Parent ]
No, I meant know-nothings... there were some known names in there... (0.00 / 0)
Just like the know-nothings of the 19th c, the GOP today are single-mindedly focused on keeping out immigrants seeking to escape financial hardship in their own countries and who are shifting demographics in the US.

[ Parent ]
As far as being able to win the runoff... (0.00 / 0)
... Barrett was helped here by the fact that the special was on the same day as many other issues, both state and local.  He will not have that advantage in a special election runoff.  The voting is going to skew heavily GOP, even moreso than this district is already skewed.

I'll be surprised if Barrett pulls breaks 40% in the special -- pleasantly surprised but surprised nonetheless.

[ Parent ]
Based on what? (0.00 / 0)
I am just curious what you are basing this on?  Usually numbers go down in runoffs, but the past few years have shown that actually favors us (i.e Donna Howard).

Plain and simple, people are tired of Craddick's failed leadership and they voted against Tom Craddick last night.  This ill will towards Craddick bodes well for Barrett since he is the only person in this race who says he will not vote for Tom Craddick as speaker.

So while the district indicates a support for change, what makes you think Barrett will only get 40% of the vote?

[ Parent ]
Based on long line of history (0.00 / 0)
GOP turns out better for special elections and more so for special runoffs... and this special election was piggybacked so as to make it less special (but the runoff will be very much a special).

You bring up Donna Howard, so yeah, let's look at that:

Special election (January 2006):

49.46 Donna Howard (r)
37.80 Ben Bentzin (d)
10.44 Kathy Rider (d)
02.28 Ben Easton (lib)

Total R - 37.80
Total D - 59.90

Equalized to 100%:

Total R - 38.69
Total D - 61.31

RUNOFF (February 2006)
42.38 Ben Bentzin
57.61 Donna Howard

Notice that Bentzin's numbers in the runoff are higher than his normalized to 100% numbers in the primary.  You're probably thinking, what about those lib voters... what if they voted for Bentzin... well if they had, he would have only hit right at 40%.

Now you're going to want to chalk up that reduction in Democratic percentage to partisan compression, i.e. Kathy Rider's supporters who stayed home.  That would be incorrect too.  In fact turnout in this runoff was actually UP over turnout in the primary (probably due to how hot this race got plus the fact that most of the primary campaign occurred during the holidays while the runoff campaign occurred during January/Feb.

As far as the fact that Donna won a GOP seat... that would be a mistaken impression.  That seat was always a dem seat that the little tick-turd Baxter won on a fluke of running in the post Sept 11 elections of 2002.  He held onto the seat in 2004 (a Bush election year) by fewer than 150 votes.

Why do you think Baxter resigned when he did?  November 2005 was too late to be included in the November election but early enough that Perry could avoid using the March Primary date or the May standard election date.  This was done because the GOP knew they were up sh** creek on this seat and figured their best way to keep it was to run a special and then maybe they'd have an incumbent in November who the voters would then think "deserves a chance to serve in a regular session" thus re-electing him in the following general.

[ Parent ]
Howard was a true turnaround (5.00 / 1)
I was the TCDP executive director in 2002, and HD 48 was a Republican district, not a fluke.  What happen to Baxter was a combination of his poor job as a rep and a shift in the voting population that identified local Republicans with Bush who they were not happy with. Even with Kelly White's close run against Baxter, this seat was always considered to favor Republicans until the local GOP imploded. Donna Howard benefited from good name ID as a former Eanes ISD board member and running for State Board of Education twice. She also had a coordinated campaign by the local Party to turn out Democrats in the runoff as a vote against the state and national Republican leadership.

Special election runoffs are a funny animal where turnout means everything. I think if Dan Barrett can capitalize on similar discontent to turnout Democrats and IDed independents and Repubs, he's got a shot.

No one should be writing him off just yet. Having the financial support from Democrats statewide and support from the local Party will make this competitive. Let's make the GOP work to take this one back!

Elliott McFadden
Ignite Consulting
Direct Mail, Design & Automated Calling Services for Political & Non-Profit Clients.

[ Parent ]
The cost analysis could be misleading (0.00 / 0)
since it assumes all money was spent in an effective way. Clearly sending out lots of flyers indiscriminantly--as one candidate did-- is not a good use of funds. As with everything else, it is not necessarily how much one spends, but HOW one spends.

That being said, yes--Barrett deserves our support financially and in other ways.

Well (0.00 / 0)
I disagree. It shows (1) just how much money Craddick's folks wasted, and (2) reinforces the pattern from last cycle that money isn't everything. Issues matter.

If you have any other analysis from down in Texas, by all means, do share. I did what I could from Boston, MA.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Also (0.00 / 0)
I don't think it assumes all money was spent effectively. It just shows how much folks spent, and what they got for their investment. If the average cost-per-vote was $17, then clearly someone like Goldman was highly inefficient, whereas Barrett and Shelton were much more efficient.

Again, that shows the story that Craddick wants to just throw money around, presuming that's all that needs to happen. These results -- whether you're a Barrett supporter or a Shelton supporter -- definitively demonstrate otherwise. Grassroots, home-grown support is what will turn the tide in this election cycle -- and not hundreds of thousands of dollars flung around recklessly by Craddick and his cronies.

If nothing else, it shows that investing in grassroots efforts are important.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
Barrett gets a certain percentage of votes just for being the only candidate with a D next to his name, while the R candidates are fighting each other for the default R percentage.

The runoff will have different dynamics, but it will also have lower turnout and that's where superior grassroots organization could have the most impact.

[ Parent ]
bad attitude (0.00 / 0)
Everything you say is negative.

How about a journal from you, Captain Know-It All??

$-per-vote is a standard measure applied to contested races to, in part, judge the grassroots support (the theory being that the more you have to spend, the weaker you/your message are).

Please refer to KT's signature.

[ Parent ]
Still a safe GOP district (2.00 / 1)
I won't deny the fact that this election showed that money is nothing without strong grassroots. However, f Craddick was such a big issue among the voters in this race, then Craddick can call this a win. Still, nothing convinces me that the voters were thinking of the speakers race when they went to the polls. You can break down the numbers all you want and spin this all you want but the numbers are very clear and come down to this simple fact - this is a Republican district that will reelect a pro-Craddick Republican.

Maybe (3.00 / 1)
But it's not a certainty. And big picture, the fact that Craddick's backed opponent finished 4th is important. This is the only measure of how well/poor Craddick can do -- as a political agent himself -- until the primaries. So now there's four months of, "his hand-picked guy can't win, why should we expect any of his hand-picked Republican primary challenges to do any better?"

Craddick's ultimate power in the Legislature supposedly lies in his power to successfully leverage election threats against his opponents. If that power is diminished -- which is what these numbers show -- he's that much less likely to get re-elected.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
remember the 90's (0.00 / 0)
The repubs killed us in races like this.

Don't you doubters remember how we lost the Senate???

The special elections to fill Montford's seat and Turner's seat (over the same holiday timeframe) doomed us in the Senate for what has been over 10 years now.

repubs got a good candidate in the race, rallied the troops, scrounged up money from across the state and beat us when most folks were at home eating turkey and watching football.

this race should be the only priority of Dems right now.

oh yeah, not every race is a slamdunk from the starting line. most mean grinding it out for days on end. this whole "throw up our hands" mentality because a race looks tough is horse hockey.

the current special election conditions may be the only atmosphere in which we can entrench a Dem into this district.

Please refer to KT's signature.

Agree (0.00 / 0)
Your analysis is right in line with my thoughts, Colin. 

This race should be the only priority of Democrats across Texas because the conditions do allow for us to get a Democrat elected in what, in the past, was a Republican district.  Trends were moving in Democrats favor before this election, but a combination of the right message, right messanger, good machine, and good money allow for anything to happen.

I believe we fight everywhere anyway simple because you never know when the next Mark Foley or Duke Cunningham scandal is right around the corner first of all, but second the ripple effect down ballot resulting from those scandals is a tremendous advantage. 


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
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