Welcome to our first weekly round up of election news in the state of Texas! It has been a big week, with the launch of our candidate trackers. Burnt Orange Report is currently watching 223 of the partisan races that will appear on the November 2014 general election ballots throughout the state of Texas. Every Monday morning, this column will recap all the changes made to our elections charts and other significant elections news we covered in the previous week.
The big news last week: Sen. Wendy Davis announced October 3rd will be the date when we find out what office she will seek in 2014. Previously, Sen. Davis had said she had limited her options to Governor or re-election to the Texas Senate. In ten short days, we will finally know!
On Friday afternoon, State Rep. Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa)announced he would retire from the Texas House at the end of his current term. Rep. Lewis will have only served three terms in the Texas House and currently serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence. Before his election in 2008, Rep. Lewis was a State District Judge for over twenty years. This means, House District 81, where President Obama got 24.18% in 2014, will be open in next year's general election.
Click after the jump to see the 44 other changes made on the ratings charts this week, including the 23 lawmakers Burnt Orange Report confirmed are seeking re-election in 2014.
Paul Workman is almost a complete unknown in his bid to defeat Democrat Valinda Bolton. Bolton is a great candidate and solid Democrat and has been for two full sessions. However, the district leans to the right and was drawn to elect Republicans. Regardless of the fact it is entirely inside Travis County, Republicans had advantage in HD-47 until they broke their brand and kicked everyone out from under the tent.
Now Paul Workman is trying to do what Donna Keel couldn't last cycle, defeat Valinda Bolton.
So what form of Republican is Workman (an important question, considering the nationwide orthodoxy test seemingly underway)? Aside from making his money in building as the CEO of, Workman spent eight years on the RECA board, and is now secretary of arch-tort reformists Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse-Central Texas. He's now director of development for commercial leasing and development firm T. Stacy & Associates (which, considering his CALA-TX link, makes it interesting to note that his new employers acted as development advisors for the Texas Trial Lawyers Building).
If actions speak louder than words, then Republicans and Democrats should be very cautious about who else Workman will sell out in order to make a quick buck (or millions of quick bucks as the case may be).
1. a campaign technique in which a fake poll is used to alter the views of respondents. Push polls are generally viewed as form of negative campaigning. The term is also sometimes used incorrectly to refer to actual polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative.
In other words, a deceptive way to spread rumors, lies, and conjecture, without getting dirt on your hands or having to say that the Donna Keel campaign has paid money for a negative campaign tactic.
Austin has been a buzz today with rumors that Donna Keel has been push polling House District 47 voters. Valinda Bolton's campaign manager was quick to respond.
I believe in running a tough, hard hitting campaign. But, I draw the line at calling voters under the guise of legitimate polling and planting lies about our opponent. Reports are coming in that a push poll against Valinda was running last night.
For those unfamiliar with a push poll, it's when you receive a call from a "pollster" and the "questions" they ask have false or misleading information about a candidate embedded within the question. These polls are designed to shape public opinion and are tactics straight out of Karl Rove's playbook.
If the reports are true, we must be ready to defend Valinda against the next attack. Please make a generous donation today.
The story has some legs. According to a site, McCarthyAustin.com, the writer actually received the call. The call had only nice things to say about Keel and negative, false things to say about incumbent Valinda Bolton.
This shows the stark difference between the two candidates.
In Valinda's 2006 campaign she spoke of her readiness to tackle tough issues, build bridges, and find solutions that work for all of us. Since her election, Valinda has reached across the aisle and built a broad coalition that stands ready to tackle the REAL issues facing Texas families. She's worked to strengthen our public schools, resolve our traffic nightmares, reduce our property tax burden, and negotiate affordable healthcare for our families and small businesses. Please donate now and send Valinda back for a second term.
The Austin Chronicle summed up Valinda's opponent, Donna Keel, by saying,
"If that last name sounds a little familiar, it should. She's the wife of Thornton Keel, who is brother to Terry Keel, who is Tom Craddick's parliamentarian and the former incumbent of District 47. So, to recap, the sister-in-law of one of the chief consiglieres to the massively unpopular speaker is trying to knock down the winner of the prestigious, Legislative Study Group's Freshman of the Year award."
Please make a donation to help combat these Tom Craddick, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay campaign tactics.
I thought there weren't any Keel's left to be defeated by Democrats in Travis County. Apparently, the Keel family has at least one more family member left willing to take an electoral plunge. From Laylan Copelin at the Statesman...
Donna Keel, the sister-in-law of former state Rep. Terry Keel, has filed as a Republican for House District 47.
Keel, who's married to Thornton Keel, Terry's brother, obviously hopes to use the family name to recapture the seat. District 47 includes southwestern Travis County.
Rep. Valinda Bolton, an Austin Democrat, won a long, expensive campaign in 2006 after Terry Keel retired from the Texas House. Terry Keel now serves as House parliamentarian.
Anyone want to guess whether the "Keel" name has the same sterling benefits that it once had in Travis County? I'm willing to guess that after the last legislative session- not so much.
I just made another contribution to Valinda's re-election campaign. You should, too.
So, to recap, the sister-in-law of one of the chief consiglieres to the massively unpopular speaker is trying to knock down the winner of the prestigious Legislative Study Group's Freshman of the Year award.
8 Day Finance Reports are now online and (prepare to be shocked) Bill Welch has taken rerouted money from James Leininger, Bob "Swiftboat" Perry, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, and Speaker Tom Craddick's "Stars over Texas" fund.
Bill Welch (R)
Cash on Hand: $ 175,153.59
The bulk of Welch's money comes from the following top 3 sources which when combined with money from HillCo and another source, makes for over half a million dollars in purely special interest money. Less than $80,000 of Welch's receipts are from individual contributors.
$235,600 - Texans for Lawsuit Reform
$185,000 - Speaker Craddick's Starts over Texas Leadership PAC
$20,000 - Bob "Swiftboat" Perry
Now who's giving to TLR and Stars Over Texas? You guessed it, none other than James "I Own Nathan Macias" Leininger. Between Sept 29th and Oct 28th, Leininger gave...
$365,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
$135,000 to Craddick's Stars Over Texas PAC
Who owns Bill Welch? Not the people of HD-47, that's for sure.
Filmed in the district, this is a great ad. I have to say that I also found it cool that it was shot at Akins High School who's principal is Mary Alice Dieke, my former principal from back home in Fredericksburg.
Bolton, 47, a professional in the field of assistance for victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence, wants to improve the public school system. Bolton wants Texas teachers to get another pay raise, and she would push for a cap on college tuitions. She has the endorsement of the Texas State Teacher Association.
Bolton, who has lived in Oak Hill for two years, is smart, plain-spoken and sincere. It is the sincerity of her Republican opponent, Bill Welch, on the issue of campaign contributions, that we question...
At an Oct. 11 voters forum, however, Welch could not recall the name of his top campaign donors. We are concerned that Welch, who told voters he would not be beholden to special interests, forgot the $35,000 given to him by Bob Perry, the power broker who finances much of the state's Republican leadership.
We picked Bolton in the Democratic primary, endorsed her again in the run-off, and we're sticking with her now for the same reasons, plus one more: Her grasp of the critical issues facing the Legislature is top-notch. Bolton's a natural for this line of work. She understands, for example, that when it comes to public education, "real reform" – a favorite buzzword of the pro-voucher crowd – requires real dollars and realistic goals.
Opponent Bill Welch supports state-funded vouchers for private schools, a risky stance for even a Republican to take in a swing district like southwest Travis Co. Has Welch talked to outgoing Rep. Terry Keel about this? Keel, a Republican, could be wildly unpredictable on the House floor, but you could count on him to break ranks to help kill a voucher bill. And like a bad penny, as already threatened by Gov. Perry, the voucher bill will find its way back to the floor next session. Our hope is that Bolton will be there to vote with her district.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
The HD 47 race is a top priority for the PPAFT. "It’s time for the tenor at the Texas Capitol to change," said Heather Paffe, PPAFT Political Director. "We need elected officials who will do more than feign an interest in finding common ground, we need elected officials who will actually do it."
Texas has the highest teen birth rate and percentage of uninsured women in the nation, yet women’s access to health care has been dealt some devastating blows by the Texas Legislature in the last few years. Valinda understands the need to reverse this trend.