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BOR Elections Weekly Round Up, September 12 - 22: Sen. Davis Sets a Date, Rep. Lewis Retires

by: Joseph Vogas

Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM CDT

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.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 773 words in story)

Burnt Orange to Blue: Support Donna Howard

by: Burnt Orange Report

Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 01:00 PM CDT

This cycle, Texas Democrats face a number of crucial races that we consider must-win for the future of our state. To help these great candidates raise the funds they need to compete and win, Burnt Orange Report encourages you to donate to our "Burnt Orange to Blue" fundraising page on ActBlue.

Donna Howard is an incumbent Democrat and champion of education and healthcare who survived a squeaker of an election in 2010. Up only 16 votes on Election Night, she ultimately prevailed by only 4 votes after three recounts that depleted her campaign resources. This year she faces a Republican and a Libertarian in a dramatically redrawn district with 60% new voters.

In the 2011 session, Howard offered an amendment that would have provided funding for our public schools' enrollment growth without dipping into the money already in the Rainy Day Fund. Unfortunately, anti-education Republicans blocked the amendment, and for the first time Texas did not fund enrollment growth in our bursting public schools.

A former school board member, Howard is recognized as an expert on education and healthcare issues across Texas. As a member of both the Higher Education and Technology Committees, she understands the importance of strong education from Pre-K to postgraduate for a healthy economy.

Donna is a champion of education and health care in the Legislature, and we need her to keep fighting for our values at the Capitol.

Support Donna Howard and all of our Burnt Orange to Blue candidates today!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

HD-48: Dan Neil Forced to Leave Job at Local ESPN Radio Station

by: David Mauro

Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 09:41 PM CDT

Earlier today Dan Neil, the former UT and Denver Bronco football player with an otherwise thin resume challenging Rep. Donna Howard, was removed from his on-air job at ESPN's Austin affiliate 104.9 The Horn. Neil will remain away from his radio job until after Election Day.

In a press release, Neil, who was fined $15,000 by the NFL for a dirty chop block that broke another play's leg in 2001, accused Howard of "harming his ability to make a living." Neil, who was paid over $3 million per season near the end of his football career, is the owner of the Neil Management Health Company and lives in a home appraised at over $1.9 million. 

Neil alleged, with little or no supporting evidence, that Howard had "essentially asked a corporation to subsidize her advertising budget as a caveat to allowing me to continue making a living as a sports commentator." In an Austin American-Statesman blog post by Corrie MacLaggan, Howard responded to Neil's press release.

“We came with some suggestions,” Howard said. “No demand was made. They were merely discussions. (Radio officials) got back to us to say, ‘Never mind, we’re going to keep him off the air.’”

Bob Proud, senior vice president and market manager for Border Media, which owns the station, said Neil has been off the air since May.

“Discussions were held to try to find a way to keep Dan on the air, but Border Media’s legal counsel decided it would be best that he stay off until after the election,” Proud said.

If you listen to the people that made the actual decision, it appears that Neil's story is either completely fabricated or greatly exaggerated for political gain. Either way, it is a clear sign that, after a rather silent beginning to his campaign, Neil is probably not ready to mount a serious challenge to Howard.

If Neil has been off the air since May, as his boss says, there is a good chance Neil has timed this story to pre-empt what could be underwhelming fundraising numbers later this week. We'll know Thursday. The Statesman also noted that, despite the millionaire Neil's claims, he does have alternative sources of income.

A commenter on the Statesman post may have summed it up best:

By AmelieWannabe

July 12, 2010 4:43 PM | 

This reminds [me] of when Marc Katz ran for mayor of Austin and couldn’t appear in any Katz’s Deli commercials and when Fred Thompson didn’t appear on “Law and Order” during his presidential bid. Surely Mr. Neil had to be aware that it’s common for this to happen to political candidates who hold positions in television and/or radio.

This should not have been a surprise to Neil. His dismissal from radio during the campaign has precedent. It is not a "liberal Democrat" conspiracy, as Neil claimed in his press release, but actually just how things work.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Busting the Myth Republican's Do Better in Low Turnout Elections

by: Matt Glazer

Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM CST

It's official.  I am tired of reading that Republicans have an advantage in low turnout or special elections.  

The facts simply do not support the bold claim.

Since 2005, Democrats have won or over performed in nearly every special election in Texas.  
The obvious and best example of this is House District 97. In the December, "low turnout" special election, Dan Barrett won. In the November general election, Dan Barrett lost.  Barrett saw a 10 point erosion in his numbers while Shelton saw a nearly 8 point gain.  

House District 97 Special Election
Dan Barrett (D) - 52.18%
Mark M. Shelton (R) - 47.81%

House District 97 General Election
Mark M. Shelton (R) - 55.33%
Dan Barrett (D) - 42.75%

Nothing changed.  Barrett was out spent in both elections.  Shelton was cozy to Craddick in both elections.  The only major difference is the turnout numbers.  Barrett won the low turnout election, Shelton won the high turnout election.

It may seem like an overstatement, but looking back to 2005 the Republican special election not only appears to be a fallacy, it appears to be nonexistent.

2006 was a very good year for Democrats who ran in supposedly Republican favored special elections.

U. S. Representative District 23
Henry Bonilla (R) - 45.71%
Ciro D. Rodriguez (D)  - 54.28%

State Representative District 48
Ben Bentzin (R) - 42.38%
Donna Howard (D) - 57.61%

In 2006, Democrats won every special election they ran in with the exception of House District 29. House District 29 hasn't elected a Democrat since 2000 and no Democrat has received more than Tom Uher did in 2002 when he got 42.59% of the vote after 9/11.  Before that, Uher represented a totally different district than what is now HD-29.  Before the census and redistricting, Uher's district was a democratically favorable district, and since, it has been carved in a way to help elect over 100 Republicans in Texas (as was Tom DeLay's goal at the time).

You have to go back to February 2005  to see a special election contest where a Republican had a definitive win.

State Representative District 121
Paul Silbert (I) - 3.09%
Rose Spector (D) - 33.58%
Glen S. Starnes (R) - 1.38%
Joe Straus (R) - 61.93%

As Kuff wrote in 2005, House District 121 was and continues to be a Republican district.  House District 121 in northeast San Antonio and stretched from Olmos Park northeast to Windcrest and north past Loop 1604.

Although Spector lost, she still did better than the Democratic challenger did against Elizabeth Ames Jones in 2000.

State Representative District 121
Elizabeth Ames Jones (R) - 68.24%
Michael G. Zapper (D) - 28.68%
J. (Jay) Moore (L) - 3.07%

While it didn't win us the seat, Democrats saw a nearly 5 point increase during the 2005 special election.  In a competitive race, a 5 point swing would be the difference between victory and defeat.

In fact this phenomenon extends beyond urban districts.  On February 17, 2004, Democrats were only 3.5 points away from winning the rural Senate District 1 in a special election.

State Senator, District 1 (Unexpired)
Kevin Eltife (R) - 51.86%
Paul Sadler (D) - 48.13%

The truth is, Democrats do well in special elections.  The reasons differ.  The politics and finances differ from year to year and campaign to campaign, but the empirical data remains consistent.

As we move rapidly towards December 16, it is more important than ever for us to elect Congressman Chris Bell.  The data shows it will only get harder.  

(for more information about the Senate District 17 special election click here.)

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Sneak Peek of Donna Howard Ad

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:00 PM CDT

She annunciates Texas so well!

On the web: www.votedonna.com

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Donna Howard Announces Re-Election Bid

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 00:26 AM CST

Granted, this is not unexpected, but I would be lacking in giving Rep. Howard her due in making her re-election bid official.

State Representative Donna Howard today announced that she will run for re-election to the Texas House seat she won early last year in a special election and then won again 12 months ago, saying that she hopes the community will help her continue to make progress on establishing fair property taxes, getting more resources into public schools, expanding access to quality health care, and addressing our region's growth and infrastructure needs while preserving our natural resources.

"We've come a long way in a short time," Howard said. "But there's still more to do to find common ground for positive change."

There is no word of any confirmed Republican challengers for either Donna Howard or her neighbor to the south, Valinda Bolton at this time. Same goes for Mark Strama and the rest of the delegation. Of course, who can blame the GOP in Travis County- their bench has been effectively obliterated in the past two cycles.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Donna Howard Swearing In Set

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 08:00 PM CST

State Representative-elect Donna Howard today announced that she will be sworn into office on Texas Independence Day, (yes, another holiday of note!) to be followed by her first official work session with superintendents of the six public school districts she now represents.

"Voters cast their ballots for an independent voice at the State Capitol, and it's appropriate to take the oath of office in that building on that day when all Texans celebrate our spirit of independence," Howard said.

Howard invited her supporters and the general public to join her for the swearing-in.

The ceremony is scheduled for:

Thursday, March 2
11:30 AM
Texas House Chamber
State Capitol

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Caption This Picture(s)

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 11:06 PM CST

Ok, we are still on a bit of a Donna Howard high in Travis County.  The next state representative from HD-48 came by our University Democrats meeting tonight, greeted by a standing ovation and raucus applause after the group had spent over 200 hours collectively volunteering on her campaign.

So with that I ask you, can you caption these two photographs?



Discuss :: (6 Comments)

UDems in Precint 218 for Donna

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 03:55 PM CST

I just got this from a wonderful Precinct Chair that I had the pleasure of working with a couple weeks ago in some blockwalking of apartments for Donna Howard with University Democrats. I think what impressed me most was the chair contacting all of us with how we affected the election.  Now if only we had that in every precinct in Texas!

January 17 Election results for Precinct 218

Kathy Rider  13
Donna Howard  61
Ben Easton  8
Ben Bentzin  63
Vote Total  145

February 14 Election results for Precinct 218

Donna Howard  140
Ben Bentzin  102
Vote Total  242

Notice that voter turnout improved by 97 and that Donna got 79 more votes than in the previous election.

You are proof positive that dedicated people do change voting results even in the face of a barrage of negative advertising.

Gary Allmon
Precinct 218
Democratic Chair

Some pictures on the flip.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 12 words in story)

Rep. Elect Donna Howard Moves Forward

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 01:35 PM CST

Continued congratulations to Donna Howard.  One day and she's already suggesting ways we can get some revenue.

Howard said her top priorities include working to reverse the ratio of state-to-local public school funding.  The state currently pays only 36 percent of the costs of public schools, the lowest share since before World War II.

"Reverse that ratio, and we will achieve significant property tax relief and eliminate the need for caps," Howard said.

In addition, Howard said she will continue to work with the Texas Tax Reform Commission to suggest ways in which the state can draw down as much as $1.5 billion in available federal revenue that is currently going unclaimed.

"Before we ask taxpayers to dig any deeper into their own pockets, let's make sure we're bringing home every dollar we deserve from Washington, D.C.," Howard said.

According to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas forfeits an estimated $600 million a year in federal matching funs by not enrolling all eligible children of working parents in the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Howard said untold millions also go unclaimed for school-based Medicaid services and a wide range of health-related programs for which federal funds are available.

This is one of those areas where I've never understood the Texas Lege.  They cut state funding for programs where we get federal matching funds.  Now we're at 86-64 Republican to Democratic tilt in the Texas House.

But our work is not done. Katy Hubener in HD-106 (vacated by Rep. Ray Allen (R-Lobbyist)) is in Early Voting up in Dallas right now.  Let's make that 85-65 going into the session.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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