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.
When we say run everywhere, we are talking about great candidates like Bill Dingus.
Bill Dingus has the courage to challenge Tom Craddick in House District 82. The dynamics of this race are clear. Dingus is running as an independent voice for Texans. Craddick is running as an entrenched politician who has received $6 million from special interests. Craddick has declared, and honestly believes, he has absolute power. He continues to contribute to the culture of corruption and actively encourages a "pay to play" game of politics.
That's why Bill Dingus' new ad -- "Pledge" -- is so important.
Tom Craddick has been bad for Texas. Unless you are a special interest lobbyist, you are not better off now than you were in 2003. The economy is in the tank. Property taxes are on the rise despite the highly touted and uniquely irresponsible school finance plan Republicans passed two years ago. Mom and pop businesses are failing left and right. College tuition and electricity bills continue to rise since deregulation. Texas is worse off because Craddick has been bought by special interests, leaving the people of Texas to pay on their own.
Bill Dingus' second ad makes the case clear:
As the spot says, "Who said bad government was cheap?"
Dingus hammers the point home with this brand new site, "Craddick Special Interest Millions". The site has one goal: to tell you which special interest groups have given what to Tom Craddick. In other words, who has paid what to play in Austin.
Since becoming Speaker of the Texas House, Tom Craddick has taken more than $6 million from special interests - lobbyists, utilities, contractors, insurance companies and more.
They paid millions to get what they want--and we get what's left.
Brushing aside the Republican Party of Texas's arguments, Travis County District Judge Margaret Cooper ruled today that Bill Dingus is eligible to run for State Representative against Speaker Tom Craddick.
"It's a victory for democracy in West Texas," Dingus said. "Now that the leaders of the Republican Party have failed to knock me off the ballot, we can focus on answering a fundamental question: Which candidate will bring change to the Texas House?"
Because Dingus resigned from the council in April and his replacement will be elected in July, the two terms will not overlap, Hicks said.
"I'm ecstatic that the legal sparring is behind us and we can start talking about supporting our local public schools, making health care more accessible and affordable, getting rid of the new taxes on small businesses, and stopping the Trans-Texas Corridor," Dingus said. "It's time for practical solutions, not partisan politics."
Chairman Boyd Richie had this to add:
"Today's District Court ruling is a victory for all Texans who believe voters should not be denied the right to choose their Representatives. Throughout this process, the Texas Democratic Party has sought to make sure Mr. Dingus was eligible to run and to make certain the voters of HD 82 have a clear choice for Texas State Representative. The TDP is pleased by today's ruling and remains committed to protecting the rights of all Texas voters."
It is exciting to see a Democrat challenge Craddick and force him to spend some time and money in his own backyard.
This race typifies why we need Democrats up and down the ballot. With Dingus in the race Craddick is required to filed TEC reports, spend time and the district, and answer to the press. In addition, Dingus is a former elected and stellar candidate. This is a year for change, and maybe the stars will align perfectly and Dingus becomes the first Democrat to represent HD-82 in over three decades.
Come by, talk change, and join us in meeting one of the most courageous candidates for the Texas House.