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!
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the EPA’s landmark pollution standards which were issued earlier this year and would limit the emission of greenhouse gasses by large industrial facilities, would establish fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, and would find that greenhouse pollution endangers human health and well being. The ruling followed the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which found that carbon emissions, and other greenhouse gasses, could be regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1990.
The judges emphatically denied lawsuits brought by Texas’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott, and an industry group called the Coalition For Responsible Regulation (which does not have a website and has apparently strong ties to the Belgian chemical giant Solvay) stating:
We conclude, [that] 1) the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA's interpretation of the governing [Clean Air Act] provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules.
The judges expressed exasperation with the various lawsuits, saying “[t]his is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
Many primary night losers have remained tight-lipped in their runoff support, but there have been some potentially decisive endorsements in the past week.
CD-23: In an interesting twist, former candidate for CD-23 John Bustamante has enthusiastically endorsed former rival Ciro Rodriguez over Pete Gallego. In the first time around, Bustamante finished a distant third, earning 13.22% of the vote. Still, the Gallego campaign believes they have a genuine shot at winning over Bustamante's supporters. They argue that those who supported Bustamante know Rodriguez well and went with an alternative, making it unlikely they would support him the second time. Many saw Gallego as the favorite in the race as he earned the support of much of the Democratic establishment including Rep. Joaquin Castro. Additionally, Gallego outspent Rodriguez nine to one. But it was Rodriguez who emerged as the top vote-getter on Primary night, and he seems to be picking up significant steam in his fight to return to Congress.
Railroad Commissioner: In the race to replace Elizabeth Ames Jones as Texas Railroad Commissioner, State Rep. Warren Chisum has won over the endorsements of former challengers Becky Berger and Roland Sledge. Both candidates touted Chisum's qualifications as motivating their decisions. Chisum finished second on Primary night, trailing Christi Craddick by just over eight percentage points. Each candidate ran on being the most conservative and competed rigorously to prove how much they hated the Environmental Protection Agency. Craddick is an oil and gas attorney and Chisum is a state Rep. from Pampa. With the dismal turnout expected for the runoff, the winner of this race is difficult to predict, but endorsements like these serve to help remind voters that the election hasn't ended yet.
HD-117: Democrats have a pick-up opportunity in HD-117 in San Antonio. In the first round, voters failed to to coalesce behind a single candidate given the strengths of former councilman Phillip Cortez, Annie's List candidate and President of the Mexican-American Bar Association Tina Torres, and businessman Ken Mireles. Mireles, who missed the runoff, has given a huge boost to Torres' campaign as he has enthusiastically endorsed her over Cortez. Torres responded to the news exclaiming, "Together we garnered 65% of the vote in the primary and by combining forces I know we will win the run-off."
Below the jump, check out Burnt Orange Report's Texas primary endorsement tracker, and keep on top of who's picked whom so far.
(Attorney General Greg Abbott has signaled to donors that he will run for governor in 2014, setting up a potential challenge to Rick Perry. We polled that hypothetical match-up back in May 2012. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
As part of our year-long statewide polling series, BOR PAC and People Calling People conducted a survey of likely Republican primary voters to determine their sentiments on Mitt Romney's de facto Republican nomination, the Republican primary races for US Senate and Railroad Commissioner, and a hypothetical 2014 Republican primary match-up for Governor. We defined "likely voter" to mean a registered voter who had voted in at least two of the last three Republican Primaries (2006, 2008, 2010). Calls were placed to a random subset of those voters May 15-16, 2012.
Here are the results.
"In the Republican primary for US Senate, the candidates are Glenn Addison, Joe Agris, Kurt Cleaver, Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Ben Gambini, Craig James, Tom Leppert, and Lela Pittinger. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for US Senate?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.2%, 557 responses)
The poll confirms what political chatterers had surmised for months: Dewhurst and Cruz look poised to head to a late-July run-off for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. That has to give Cruz hope that he can prevail in a low-turnout hyper-partisan electorate, since the solicitor general has enjoyed more Tea Party and activist support than Dewhurst, whose main constituency seems to be Rick Perry's corporate sugar daddies. A Senate run-off pitting Cruz' grassroots hordes vs. Dewhurst's fat cats has to give serious pause to any moderate Republicans who may be headed to a run-off in down-ballot races, and could play a role in the inevitable run-offs in various Republican Congressional primaries (namely CD-14, CD-25, and CD-36). The only real question is if Dewhurst can spend his way to avoid a run-off, but given the margin he needs to make up to clear 50%, it looks unlikely.
Notably, the results also look a lot like the UT/TT poll released today. Dewhurst is in the low 40's and looks likely to go into a run-off with Cruz. That "internal Dewhurst campaign memo" circulated last week and leaked to Politico claiming that Leppert had pushed past Cruz into second place does indeed appear to be smoke and mirrors.
"In the primary for a full term on the Texas Railroad Commission, the candidates are Becky Berger, Beryl Burgess, Warren Chisum, Joe Cotten, Christi Craddick, and Roland Sledge. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for Texas Railroad Commissioner?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.5%, 479 responses)
In the race to fill the seat vacated by Michael Williams, it's clear that no candidate has managed to break through the crowded field, despite their ridiculous TV ads and escalating anti-EPA rhetoric. Over one third of the electorate is undecided, while Chisum and Craddick are the leaders here, the latter doing well likely based on sheer last-name ID alone. Unfortunately for Roland Sledge, despite his shocking TV ad in which Sledge vows not to pee on an electric fence, he's not making a splash with voters. The Republican electorate isn't trickling down from the undecided column into Sledge's camp. Unless his campaign is willing to leak any more-favorable internal polling, it's unlikely that on May 29th anyone will say to Sledge, "urine a run-off."
"In the 2014 Republican primary for Governor, if Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to challenge Governor Rick Perry, who would you support? "
TOTAL (MOE 4.6%, 462 responses)
It's clear that Abbott is quietly angling to be the next Governor of Texas, what with his sue-the-Feds this and his down-with-women's-rights that. However, Governor Perry is claiming that he plans to run for re-election, either to prevent being the lamest duck next session or because he thinks it will better position him for another failed Presidential bid in 2016. Regardless, the Republican primary voters we polled have Abbott within 10% of Perry in this hypothetical match-up, which bodes well for the hard-charging Attorney General should he tilt at the incumbent Governor.
"How satisfied are you with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee?"
TOTAL (MOE 3.7%, 718 responses)
We also asked Republican primary voters how they felt about presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. Only two thirds of Republicans are satisfied with the flip-flopping Massachusetts governor, whose healthcare plan was part of the foundation of Obamacare. One third of Republicans surveyed seem unwilling to go along with Romney, and 17% self-report as Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied. One wonders about the remaining third of the Republican primary electorate -- are they Ron Paul supporters? Do they want a more conservative candidate? Would a third-party conservative candidate like Rick Santorum or a legitimate Tea Partier like Debra Medina appeal to the 33% of Republican primary voters who are not satisfied with Romney? Most importantly, will they be too dismayed about their Presidential pick that they'll stay home this November?
Oh dear Lord. When Railroad Commissioner candidate Roland Sledge saw Warren Chisum's B-movie style campaign ad featuring shotguns and hard-hats, I guess Sledge figured he needed to really up the ante to catch voters' attention. Here's his entry in the 5-way Republican primary for Railroad Commish:
Now, to be fair, the Texas Railroad Commission probably has more to do with peeing on fences than the actual railroad. Slagle' experience in the actual oil and gas industry may make him legitimately qualified for the job (arguably a risk in Republican primaries). But in reality, serving on the Railroad Commission is about refusing to regulate our oil and gas industries and threatening the EPA.
The Texas Tribune reports that at a forum in Wichita Falls, candidates were tripping over each other to diss the EPA and President Obama:
"Let me tell you, these people can ruin your life," state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said last week at a forum in Wichita Falls that was organized by the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. "If they ever require an EPA permit before you drill a well, your lease will expire."
Roland Sledge, a Houston lawyer who has specialized in oil and gas for 35 years, spoke repeatedly of the "relentless assault" by the EPA on the oil and gas industry.
Christi Craddick, another candidate, went up another level. "Let's get rid of [President] Obama if we do nothing else," said Craddick, a lawyer specializing in oil, gas and water and who is the daughter of state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland. "This man hates the state. ... I want to make sure he gets on a solar-powered airplane and flies someplace else," like China.
Lest we forget, the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with protecting human health and the environment. They're making sure that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy land to farm, and as little hazardous waste in your backyard as possible. Evidently, these Republicans want to do away with all of those things. But that's cool, because we can privatize the air, right?
Now that Chisum and Sledge have made their mark on TV, I can only wonder what Christi "Daughter of Tom" Craddick has up her sleeve. Maybe she can turn her "Send Obama to China" comment into a TV spot. I'd encourage all remaining candidates to refer to the single best commissioner ad of all time ever, Dale Peterson's ad for Alabama Ag Commissioner.
Remember, Republicans, if the Democrats are laughing at your ads, that means they're working!
The ghost of Tom Craddick lives on. The once tyrannical House Speaker is still making news. Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission today alleging that the Texas Jobs & Opportunity PAC served as an illegal conduit in 2008 for contributions from then-Speaker Tom Craddick to three Democratic House candidates.
The complaint specifically cites $150,000 in contributions from Tom Craddick to Democrats Kevin Bailey, Kino Flores and Aaron Pena. Rep. Bailey was defeated by Armando Walle in the 2008 primary, Kino Flores has recently resigned, making Pena the only active Representative to receive a $50,000 check from the Texas Jobs & Opportunity PAC.
According to TPJ, the timeline is clear.
Jobs PAC reported that it received $250,000 from Tom Craddick's campaign committee on January 10, 2008. According to news reports, around that time Craddick campaign employee Christi Craddick also provided Texas Jobs with written instructions to distribute the funds to Democratic Reps. Kevin Bailey, Dawnna Dukes, Kino Flores and Aaron Pena. All four incumbents previously supported Republican Speaker Craddick and faced challengers in the 2008 Democratic primary.2 According to its own reports, Jobs PAC wrote three checks of $50,000 apiece to the campaigns of Reps. Bailey, Flores and Pena on January 11, 2008. By its own accounting, at the time Texas Jobs wrote these checks its sole source of funding was the $250,000 that it received the day before from the Craddick campaign. Rep. Dukes, the fourth lawmaker, told the Austin American-Statesman that she rejected an offer to receive $50,000 from Texas Jobs because her opponent already was making her Craddick ties a campaign issue.
"Tom Craddick wanted to move tens of thousands of dollars to his favorite Democrats without letting voters know," said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. "Hiding the true source of campaign funds is illegal. Craddick could have contributed the money directly and openly. Instead, he used Texas Jobs to launder his money and keep Texans in dark."
TPJ alleges the Texas Jobs & Opportunity PAC violated Chapter 253.001 of the Texas Election Code which directly prohibits individuals or political committees from secretly acting as conduits for other donors. Because Craddick employee Christi Craddick gave Texas Jobs & Opportunity PAC with a letter detailing instructions on who and how to distribute the original $250,000 donation, the recipients were obligated to disclose the original source of the donations-- then-speaker Tom Craddick.
According to TPJ, "The Craddick campaign used Texas Jobs to try to keep its large campaign contributions anonymous."