Another week has passed, so it is once again time to recap the news in elections from the past seven days. Sen. Wendy Davis dominated the news once more in the last week as she continues to prepare for a campaign announcement on Thursday of this week. Some media reports have already concluded that she will announce a run for governor, but Burnt Orange Report will not make such a hopeful call until an announcement is official. But besides this story, there have been plenty of news.
Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson had announced he would resign at the end of September. This meant Governor Perry would need to elevate a new Chief Justice, which he did with Nathan Hecht, but he would need to fill Judge Hecht's place on the Supreme Court. Governor Perry has chosenJudge Jeff Brown, who currently serves on Texas' 14th Court of Appeals to be elevated to Texas' highest court. With the appointment, a special election for Supreme Court, Place 6 will be on the November ballot along with the Chief Justice, Place 7 and Place 8. The Chief Justice and Place 7 elections are technically special elections as well, but were scheduled to be up in November 2014 regardless.
Another House Chairman announced he would be leaving the Texas Legislature. Rep. Bill Callegari (R - 132) of Katy announced last Monday he would not seek re-election. Rep. Callegari is an engineer by trade and brought that kind of logic and decision-making to the Texas legislature. He served as Chairman of the Pensions Committee in the last session. District 132 can be found in Harris County's southwest corner. In 2012, President Obama got 39.75% in District 132, slightly better than the 39.59% he received in 2008. No candidates are yet to announce for this seat.
Burnt Orange Report has been able to confirm six other elected officials will be seeking re-election, and ten new candidates have emerged. Click below the jump to find out who!
In 2012, then-primary challenger Donna Campbell beat seven-term incumbent Texas Senator Jeff Wentworth by a nearly two to one margin.
In her campaign, Donna Campbell ran on a TEA Party platform against the long-time incumbent, a message which was supported with over $2 million from the conservative Texans for Lawsuit Reform. During her time in the Texas Senate, Sen. Campbell became the most extreme voice to join the Chamber since Dan Patrick in 2006. She sponsored bills to expand carrying firearms on college campuses, limit the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Texas, sponsored a bill to limit access to fair elections, and worked to limit women's access to health clinics.
Her ramblings have finally caught up with her because the Republican party in her home district has decided to stand up to her and a primary challenger has finally, and unexpectedly, stepped forward.
According to My San Antonio, former County Commissioner Mike Novak will be the person who tries to restore sanity to Senate District 25 (SD-25).
Click below the jump to read more about about Commissioner Novak and the race for SD-25.
This post-session the Texas Tribune has published an interactive list allowing its readers to rank their personal "Best and Worst" legislators of the 83rd session. It may come as no surprize to those who have been watching closely that the top of the "Best" list is dominated by outspoken Democrats and moderate Republicans, while the "Worst" list is topped by Freshmen and Tea Party Republicans.
At the time of this post the top 10 Best legislator's included Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), Speaker Joe Straus and 2 of his Republican Chairman, Jim Pitts (Appropriations) and Jimmie Don Aycock (Public Education). In fact these "moderates" were the only Republicans to top the list. The top scores generally reflect the sentiment of the session - more money for public education. Though Straus balked at including the full sum of money Democrats requested for public education, he was a voice of reason that neutralized some of worst ideas coming from his right-wing colleagues.
Topping the list of Worst legislators are 2 Republican freshmen, Senator Donna Campbell and Jonathan Stickland. This session saw a particularly high number incoming first time legislators, so making this list was about a lot more than just being a novice legislator. In the case of Stickland he carries the Conservative at all cost mentality, oh and a .40 caliber pistol. The member, a high school dropout who later got his GED, should have taken more time to study the traditions of the House and the purpose of government instead of setting the arbitrary goal of "having the most conservative voting record in the entire House of Representatives.", as he was quoted in the Statesman. Earlier this session it was reported by the Burnt Orange Report that his chief of staff ran a blog with racists entries, which quickly disappeared after the story made its rounds...
We do our best, but we can't cover everything. To fill in the gaps, please enjoy Texas Lunch Links: a lunchtime buffet of links to Texas-related news and views.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Despite a show of organized support by proponents of private schools and charter schools at yesterday's Senate Eduction Committee hearing, the future looks bleak for separate bills by Republican state senators Dan Patrick (Houston) and Donna Campbell (New Braunfels) that would have paid for private school educations with money from Texas taxpayers.
TORT REFORM: Challenging the veracity of claims in an opinion piece authored by Brooke Rollins of Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank (...), a forthcoming article finds "no evidence that physicians fled Texas in great numbers prior to tort reform or returned in droves thereafter. To the contrary, by comparison to other states, Texas had a below-average physician-to-population ratio before tort reform and has a slightly worse ratio today."
PRISONS: A bill that would form a committee providing, "continuing inspection and oversight" for TDCJ correctional facilities is stalled in the House Corrections Committee.
AUSTIN ENERGY: A proposal by Austin's Electric Utility Commission to shift control over many Austin Energy matters from Austin City Council to a standalone board of "public-power experts" will get a hearing at Austin City Council's Thursday meeting.
EQUALITY: Democratic state Senator John Whitmire's bill that would give gay and lesbian teens over age 14 the same ability to escape prosecution for consensual sexual conduct as straight teens, dubbed the "Romey and Romeo" bill, won committee approval yesterday.
It's time for the Friday Wrap, where your Burnt Orange Reporters comment on all the news that fits in a blockquote.
It was a great week for consumers as Senator Elizabeth Warren attended her first Senate Banking Committee hearing. The gentlewoman from Massachusetts had a few questions for regulators that were long overdue. Upworthy has the video:
Senator Elizabeth Warren, y'all!
Below the jump, get caught up on Ted Cruz, Jerry Patterson, Annise Parker, Steve Munisteri, and religious fervor in Texas.
The State Senate drew straws yesterday to determine if each has a 2 or 4 year term before running for re-election. This is customary after an election following a redistricting year in which all Senators must run.
The draw has some major implications for our 2014 statewide races here in Texas on both sides of the aisle, starting, of course, with State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, a tireless campaigner who drew a 2-year term.
Many Democrats were eyeing Davis as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014 owing to her fundraising prowess and staunch support of education. Had Davis drawn a 4-year term, thus giving her a "free pass" to run statewide in 2014 without giving up her senate seat, she would have had tremendous encouragement to take the leap and run for governor. Now, her decision becomes somewhat more complicated.
Here are the results from SD-10 in the 2010 and 2008 statewide elections, courtesy of the Texas Legislative Council:
2010 Results in SD-10 38.9% Turnout
Governor Rick Perry: 52.7%
Bill White: 44.6%
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst: 58.2%
Linda Chavez-Thompson: 38.8%
2008 Results in SD-10 66.4% Turnout
President John McCain: 52.1%
Barack Obama: 47.1%
US Senate John Cornyn: 52.1%
Rick Noriega: 46%
Davis won election in 2008 by 2.4% over a Republican incumbent, and won re-election in 2012 by 2.3% over a former State Representative.
Below the jump, find out why Democrats should still be optimistic about Davis in 2014, and what the implications are for the Republicans.
In the race to replace Senator Jeff Wentworth in SD-25, the San Antonio Express-News has enthusiastically endorsed Democrat John Courage over Tea Party Darling Donna Campbell. In their endorsement, the editorial board cited Courage's commitment to improving public education and superior grasp of the issues facing Texans.
"We recommend that voters cast their ballots for Courage, an Air Force veteran and a teacher. Courage has deep roots in the district and demonstrates a more comprehensive knowledge of the issues facing Texas", the board wrote. They go on to assert, "Courage is a strong advocate of public education, who is critical of education funding cuts enacted by lawmakers in 2011. Courage said he would work to restore adequate education funding."
Props to the Express-News for throwing their hat behind the underdog in this race. They clearly grasp the importance in electing pro education lawmakers to Austin this session. Tea Party lawmakers are plotting radical changes to education that include school vouchers. Vouchers will do nothing but serve as a discount for wealthy families that can already afford to send their children to private schools, while doing nothing to help struggling families. The Express-News understands that vouchers are surrendering to the dream of equal opportunity and Courage's victory is essential in assuring that doesn't happen.
What also could have influenced the board's decision was her cowardly media strategy to ignore any opinion media, including The Express News' own, Brian Chasnoff. Campbell refused to talk with Chasnoff because her campaign elected to hide her from any media that might ask her tough questions that the campaign hasn't screened. In addition, she has hidden from Courage, refusing to participate in a single debate in spite of his repeated requests. Even Ted Cruz agreed to two debates with Paul Sadler. When Ted Cruz shows more courage than you, Dr. Campbell, it is time to look in the mirror and make some changes. Campbell owes the he people of San Antonio a discussion on the future of the state, and she has refused to do that.
The San Antonio Express-News has chosen principle over name recognition. They have chosen progress over regression. They have chosen a candidate that understands the problems of his community, who is fighting for equal opportunity and a better education system for all Texans. They rejected a candidate who believes that party ID alone can bring her to Austin, and hopefully the Express-News has reminded Dr. Campbell that she has not been appointed. Hopefully their endorsement of Courage pushes her to face the voters of San Antonio and tell them why she deserves to be their senator, unless she still has not answered that question herself.
Donna Campbell is on the stump saying all the ‘right’ things; using all the ‘right’ talking points. If you listen to Donna, she talks a good game to Pro-Life Christians. The problem lies with her stance on other matters that she and her corporate backers refuse to acknowledge as right to life issues.
During pregnancy, the mother and fetus need health care. New born infants need neo-natal care. Children need pediatric care. One would presume the moral imperative for a professed Christian would be affordable care for our Children. But apparently it is not for Doctor Donna. She wants to slash care for millions of Texas infants and their mothers. Why? Is it because the deep pocket donors to her Astroturf campaign refuse to render their fair share unto Washington?
Of course, they claim a moral objection to tax money being spent on medically accurate sex education, pre-conception birth control and of, course, abortions. Donna and her cronies are willing to deny medical care to infants all the while preaching: Abortion, NO!
In virtually the same breath, she vilifies the EPA’s endeavor to reduce environmental Mercury levels as “arbitrary rules and regulations hindering business and industry” (From Dr. Donna Campbell Facebook page; if it has not been scrubbed). Dr. Campbell, if you believe these rules to be arbitrary, what safe levels you would establish? If you believe in-utero exposure to increasing levels of Mercury is not detrimental to embryonic development, please share your research. What is the safe level of Mercury for a second trimester fetus? Please tell us. You are quick to dismiss solutions proposed by others, but slow on offering anything in their stead.
Doctor Campbell, why are you willing to subject unborn children to a greater risk of Mercury poisoning?
Every voter in Texas Senate District 25 deserves an answer to this question before they vote. They deserve an honest answer. After all, honesty is on God’s top-ten list.
My guess: Thirty pieces of silver means more to Donna Campbell than protecting God’s creation.
In her continued quest to replace Jeff Wentworth as the state senator from Senate District 25, Dr. Donna Campbell is unveiling a new interview policy.
In an email to San Antonio Express-News metro columnist, Brian Chasnoff, a spokesman for Campbell denied a request for an interview because "it is the campaign's policy not to accept interview requests with opinion columnists." The spokesman continued, "I am sure you can understand the value in this distinction." Yes, we can all see how valuable this distinction is, at least to Donna Campbell's campaign.
The Campbell campaign understands that the best way for her to end up in the legislature is for her to never leave her house before November. The last thing Donna Campbell needs is an interview with somebody who is allowed to express an opinion on her radical views, including her staunch opposition to abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.
Interestingly, there appears to be a caveat in the campaign policy saying that opinion columnists would be denied requests "in most cases." It is clear that Campbell's policy basically amounts to avoiding tough interviews where the doctor might accidently show how emphatically unqualified she is to represent SD-25.
Defeating Jeff Wentworth in the Republican Primary was a pretty straightforward task. Campbell simply had to employ the Ted Cruz strategy: run as far to the right as possible and declare your opponent a "moderate" by comparison.
This strategy won't work on general election opponent John Courage, but unfortunately she is hiding from him as well. Democrat John Courage wrote a letter to Campbell requesting they participate in a series of 12 forums- two in each of the counties that make up Senate District 25. To nobody's shock, Campbell declined.
Donna Campbell is hiding from her opponent, from columnists, and from the voters of San Antonio and Austin that make up SD-25. Courage will likely continue to put the pressure on Campbell to engage in a thoughtful discourse on the issues, but until she sees a political advantage in doing so, she will continue her campaign strategy: duck and hide.