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.
Lord have mercy. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson thinks we can prevent tragedies like today's school shooting in Connecticut if we place armed guards in schools:
"The common denominator for the school shootings in Aurora, Columbine and Virginia Tech is that we have a target-rich environment," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. "You have a shooter that is completely free to go about his sick fantasy. We need to do what it takes to change that."
One game changer, Patterson said, would be to arm more police officers, security guards and responsible citizens on campuses to confront a mass shooter.
"Had there been (armed security guard and citizens) in Colorado, at Virginia Tech or now in Connecticut - someone that could have changed the dynamic and to do so by having a firearm - there would be fewer lives lost."
As a state senator from 1993-99, Patterson discussed the idea of armed schools, but to date, the idea has not gained statewide traction.
Conversely we could pursue policies to prevent people from going on shooting rampages in the first place, from pragmatic gun control laws to expanded access to mental health services.
Patterson seemingly pays no mind to the Virginia Tech Review Panel Report that recommended more gun control measures including background checks, and supported banning guns on campus.
In related and horrific news, a man in China brought a knife into a school and stabbed 22 children today. Because he used a knife and not a gun, all 22 children are expected to survive.
Something to think about as our so-called leaders call for more guns in schools.
Feeling beloved today after getting a standing ovation from the Texas delegation at the RNC, David Dewhurst made a big announcement: he's running for re-election in 2014. This ends months of speculation about Dewhurst's future that was amplified when he lost what seemed to be a locked-in primary for the GOP Senate nomination.
Watch Dewhurst very close-up:
Is this an ego trip? Does Dewhurst really think he's "serving Texans" by selling out state government to massive corporations? Doesn't matter. He's running again.
And so are a bunch of other big-name Texas Republicans. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has already said he's running whether Dewhurst is in or out. Today, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said he's still planning to run for the seat. State Comptroller Susan Combs has also said she will run in 2014.
Looks like a brawl is brewing in 2014. Dewhurst has a lot of ground to gain back after the Perry-Dewhurst machine failed epically last month to persuade Texas Republicans. If Dewhurst loses out in another primary and exits government a twice-loser, it would be a great embarrassment for him. At least he has potential company in Rick Perry, who may himself be heading for his second, and final, primary loss in 2014.
Land Commissioner Wants To Steal Money From Children To Fund His Nifty New Desal Plant
Though Texas schools lost over $4 billion from their budgets over the last legislative session, Texas Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson, has come up with a devious plan to take even more money from them. His plan is to use funds from the Permanent School Fund to build a desalinization plant on General Land Office land somewhere between Austin and San Antonio. “Desal” (as those in the know like to call it) is the talk of Texas these days, with supporters imagining it to be a sort of silver bullet to end all our water woes. While Texas has a huge supply of brackish water stored deep in aquifers, the process of turning it into drinkable, lawn water-able water is hugely expensive. If similar Texas plants are any guide, this plant would cost around $100 million, and would produce water at 3-6 times the price of water gained thorugh conservation efforts.
Enron Apparently Still Exists, And Its Trying To Poison North Texans
Everyone’s favorite disgraced energy giant, Enron Oil and Gas (EOG) is up to its neck in complaints from residents living near a proposed sand mine in Cooke County, along the Oklahoma border. Residents expressed concerns about respiratory diseases and cancer to a TCEQ hearing on the subject in Gainesville. “The real problems begin when they start operating. We’re gonna have air pollution, that’s our major concern, we’re gonna have water problems, that’s another major concern, we’re gonna have truck traffic, emissions from those trucks,” said a concerned citizen, Ozlem Altiok. A TCEQ contested case hearing will begin on Thursday to determine who will be affected by the mine, and whether construction can continue.
Remember To Visit The Beach While It’s Still There
Climate Central released this nifty map which allows you to see exactly where flooding will occur as sea levels begin to rise due to global climate change. The map coincides with a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report which predicts that by 2070 sea level changes will effect 120 million people and cost around $35 trillion in damages. Galveston, for instance, sees little flooding from a moderate 2 foot flood surge, but is nearly wiped off the map in the event of a 6 foot surge.
Tar Sands Spill The Result Of Sloppy Management And Regulation
Federal investigators reported on Tuesday that the 2010 spill of 843,000 gallons of toxic tar sands diluted bitumen oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan was the result preventable safety measures. The report faults both Enbridge, the Canadian operator of the pipeline, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal agency tasked with regulating pipeline operators. Enbridge (which is currently building a tar sands pipeline to the Texas coast from Oklahoma) was blamed for not incorporating readily available knowledge in its safety evaluations, and the PHMSA was blamed for “weak and ambiguous regulations.”
Though Texas has more than enough pollution to go around, we’ve got nothing on Guandong province, China.
China Daily Newspaper reported that about 9.5 billion tons of raw sewage (or about 3/4s of the province of 104 million people’s annual waste) is discharged, untreated into the Pearl River which supplies Hong Kong. That news of this sort is even reported is a sign that China’s government is beginning to get serious about the rampant air and water pollution that has followed China’s remarkable economic growth since 1976.
Always one of the more humorous elected Republican officials in Texas, Jerry Patterson has issued a request for opponents.
CANDIDATE SEEKING CANDIDATE
DWM, DIVORCED WHITE MALE WITH KIDS, 63, REPUBLICAN LAND COMMISSIONER SEEKS DEMOCRAT OPPONENT FOR 11 MONTH RELATIONSHIP. MUST ENJOY TRAVELING AROUND TEXAS, LONG WALKS ON THE BEACH DISCUSSING COASTAL EROSION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING, AND SHARING STORIES WITH VETERANS. MUST BE EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR DEFEAT. MILLIONAIRES NEED NOT APPLY.
"There's a lot of democrat office-seekers jumping races out there," said Patterson, "I wanted to let them know I'm available."
This week humorist and former candidate Kinky Friedman announced he would have an announcement about his political future soon. Many speculate he may end his campaign for Governor to seek another unspecified office.
Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is going to be teaching at Texas Tech this fall. You better study because a) he'll know if you're not due to the wiretap on your phone and b) if you don't, you're not going to like the torture you'll receive for failing.
Republican incumbent Todd Staples says he's going to try to stay put as Ag Commissioner and not run elsewhere on the ballot. The then underfunded Hank Gilbert scared Staples into draining his coffers last cycle and that race looks to be headed to a re-match with what I hear will be a better funded, supported, and organized Hank Gilbert campaign. He'll also benefit from what will likely be a better funded and filled in ticket in 2010 compared to 2006.
Over in the Land Railroad Commissioner's race, where GOP incumbent Jerry PattersonVictor Carrillo is up for re-election, there is a Democratic candidate who has surfaced, Jeff Weems. I'll post more on him soon, as he just filed paperwork and was out in my hometown July 4th parade with the Gillespie County Democrats this past weekend.
This is Part I of an ongoing series that will take a look at the prospective candidates for the 2010 statewide races.
Two-term incumbent Jerry Pattersonhas publicly said that he may run for Lieutenant Governor. However, if Attorney General Greg Abbott (who has the biggest campaign warchest among statewide office holders) enters the Lt. Governor's race or David Dewhurst runs for re-election, he would probably opt for re-election instead of waging what would be uphill battles in both potential matchips. In the end, I expect Patterson to run for re-election.
If Patterson does not seek re-election, state Sen. Dan Patrick could enter the race. It is well known that Patrick has ambitions to run statewide in 2010 and this could be where he ends up.
While stranger things have certainly happened, it is hard to take the Friedman rumors too seriously. Rose may run for statewide office someday, but at 30 years old he is likely a cycle or two away. I could certainly be wrong, but neither Friedman or Rose seem likely to enter this race.
Ronnie McDonald would make a very interesting candidate and I'd like to hear what our readers from Bastrop have to say about him.
McDonald considered running for Robby Cook's old seat, House District 17, before Donnie Dippel got in the race.
Kuff quoted Capitol Inside's take on McDonald, who was first elected county judge in 1999, back when he was considering running for state rep.
Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald is one of the first names to emerge in Democratic circles as a potential replacement for Cook on the ballot next year. McDonald, who's been county judge for almost nine years, considered a race for the House four years ago when Cook appeared to be on the verge of switching parties while being wooed by Governor Rick Perry and other high-level Republicans. But McDonald decided to stay in his current position after Cook spurned the GOP and filed for re-election as a Democrat.
McDonald has been a political trailblazer as Bastrop County's first African-American county judge. He was the first African-American yell leader in Aggieland before graduating from Texas A&M University and pursuing a career in government. McDonald worked for John Sharp in the Comptroller's Office before deciding to enter politics himself.
McDonald is a potential candidate for land commissioner to keep your eye on. Another name that has come up is VaLinda Hathcox, the 2006 Democratic nominee for land commissioner. Hathcox most recently lost the Democratic primary in the TX-04 congressional district.
These are not meant to be comprehensive lists and we invite you to suggest other possible candidates in the comments.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson contacted Lenard Nelson, a Libertarian candidate for State Representative in the hotly contested House District 32 race and broached the subject of abandoning the race.
According to Nelson (L-Rockport), Patterson called him and the two had a conversation in which he says Patterson, whom he knew casually through the Republican Liberty Caucus, didn't directly ask him to abandon the race, but did broach the subject.
"We talked about hunting and fishing, and then the conversation turned to politics and I told him how I was really into the race, really committed--it's my second time to run--and to giving the Republicans and the Democrats a hard time," Nelson said.
"And after that he said, 'I guess there is no sense in me asking you to drop out then,'" Nelson said.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says he will either run for Lieutenant Governor or seek re-election in 2010, according to a story by the Statesman's Asher Price.
If Patterson is able to win the Lieutenant Governor nomination (which could be a big "if" considering Attorney General Greg Abbott is considering the race and David Dewhurst could possibly run for re-election), he could be a good target for Democrats.
The Statesman seems to think his recent behavior has created a "distinctive political presence" that serves him well. While it will ultimately be up to the voters to decide, some of the things he has done are clearly out of the mainstream and might turn off moderates. and independents.
Patterson, one of the most controversial figures in the state as the Christmas Mountains debate raged, says he will run again, and maybe for higher office, in 2010. Democrats say he is vulnerable, but others say the imbroglio, far from injuring him, may have enhanced his image as a plain-talking, property rights-supporting, gun-toting personality, which goes down easy in many parts of Texas. At the Republican state convention in Houston this month, a video composed of photographs of Patterson aiming a gun, boarding a plane in his Marine flight suit, marching through the Christmas Mountains and posing with his family was broadcast as the Tom Petty song "I Won't Back Down" played in the background.
But the man who packs a pistol in his boot (he says he owns about a hundred guns) and appears to shoot from the hip is actually deliberate in his aim. He has built a political career as a contrarian who uses contrariness to his advantage, crafting a distinctive political presence that serves him well in a bluster-prone state like Texas ...
Democrats suspect that voters want somebody to be part of the solution, not part of the problem," Democratic consultant Kelly Fero said. "They want someone who can get along with others, make government work, rather than deliver ideological statements."
In an action that embodies Patterson's ability to invite both admiration and notoriety, he hands out unofficial business cards that feature the Texas flag as it was under the Confederacy. (A native of Houston, he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans; his great-grandfather served.) The father of 4-year-old twins, as well as two adult children from a previous marriage, he says he has sworn off running for a seat in Congress because he can't stand being anywhere north of Fredericksburg, Va., on the East Coast.
The article also speculates about a few Democrats who may be eyeing the race for Land Commissioner.
If Patterson runs for re-election as land commissioner, he will be a favorite against opponents who could include Democratic state Rep. Patrick Rose of Dripping Springs, Kinky Friedman or Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald ...
I think Kinky Friedman's ego is too big and his experience too small to mount a serious bid for Land Commissioner. The other two mentioned candidates, however, are intriguing.
Rep. Patrick Rose is one of the rising stars of the party. He has made some votes that we probably don't all agree with, but he is extremely well-liked by his constituents and has turned what should be a Republican seat into a district where he received over 60 percent in 2006.
Rose is also one of the most prolific fund raisers in the House. If he is looking for a statewide office to run for in 2010, I think he would be wise to take a long look at the Land Commissioner's race. Rumors have also circulated about Rose and the attorney general's race for sometime. He would give Democrats a great chance in either race.
I don't know anything about Judge McDonald, but I'm hoping some of our readers, like Robert from Bastrop County, will be able to shed some light on his potential candidacy.
Texas is on pace to pick up as many as 4 new congressional districts. Booming growth in Texas cities and the conglomeration of the suburbs in addition to states like California, Ohio, Florida, and New York all seeing their growth stagnate or even decline means that Texas will have the largest increase in congressional strength.
It is likely these seats could lean Democratic looking at the 2000 census. According to those numbers, McAllen, Austin/San Marcos, and Laredo all ranked in the 10 fastest growing cities. With out having hard numbers, I would speculate the other area that may see an addition to the Congressional delegation would be in the DFW or San Antonio area, but that is total speculation.
In any case, these 4 seats could mean big gains for us if Democrats have a say in how the new map is drawn.
There is one way to have a say in the process and prevent another purely partisan map. A constitutional amendment in 1951 established the redistricting process and established the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB). The board is composed of the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner. Let's go through this really quickly; David Dewhurst, Tom Craddick, Greg Abbott, Susan Combs, and Jerry Patterson will determine the fate of these 4 new seats along with the 32.
This election cycle we can't do anything about the statewide candidates directly, but we can build the infrastructure necessary to secure one or more spots on the LRB.
We currently have 71 Democrats in the state house. If we can win back the House this cycle (pick up 5 more seats) we will have taken 1 of the 5 seats on the redistricting board. More importantly, we will have expanded our bench and trained more messengers.
Having Democratic elected officials lower down the ballot increases our strength at the top of the ballot. Having State Representatives, County Court at Law Judges, Constables, County Commissioners, and more we solidify our ability to win up and down the ballot by creating messengers and developing party infrastructure.
4 new congressional seats should serve as a wake up call and signal to focus our collective efforts on the Legislative Redistricting Board. That is one of the many reasons TexBlog PAC was formed, to take back the Texas House and secure a Democratic voice on the redistricting board.