With runoff elections just over a month away, endorsements are playing an intriguing role in several races across the state. To what extent these endorsements translate into votes is debatable. The schisms in support however shed light on the divides within the parties and the enormity of the stakes in these runoffs.
CD-14: In Congressional District 14, we are graced with a contest between city councilwoman Felicia Harris and Rick Perry lapdog and small businessman, State Rep. Randy Weber. They have each earned prominent GOP support. Ms. Harris was endorsed by Congressmen Ted Poe, Pete Olsen, Bill Flores, and Quico Canseco. To his own credit, Weber has earned the support of Governor Rick Perry, Arizona's nut-job Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Todd Staples, and the current occupant of the seat, sort-of Presidential candidate Ron Paul. In Congressman Poe's enthusiastic endorsement of Harris, he emphasized "I normally do not endorse candidates in a Republican Primary," but stated that he believed she is "the most committed conservative and best candidate to take on Nick Lampson in the November Election. Lampson formerly represented the 22nd Congressional district and will face off with either Harris or Weber in the general election. In Perry's endorsement of Weber he declared, "If anyone can fight to repeal Obamacare, stand up to the Obama agenda, defend state's rights, and turn Washington around, it's a rock solid conservative like Randy Weber." Paul was quoted on Weber's site saying, "I am pleased to endorse Randy Weber." So it's Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and Sheriff Joe versus four prominent Texas Republican Congressmen. Clearly Weber gets the edge here. Paul is hugely popular in the district and his endorsement will go a long way in widening the almost nine point victory he achieved the first time.
CD-25: The race between Roger Williams and Wes Riddle is characterized by the back and fourth challenges over who is actually a Republican. Williams has received the support of former opponents Chad Wilbanks, Bill Burch, and Ernie Beltz Jr, while Riddle has been endorsed by Dave Garrison and Brian Matthews. Dianne Costa, who also ran in CD-25 before her sixth place finish, has refused to endorse in the runoff because she does not live in the district. It is odd that someone who ran for a seat doesn't feel qualified to offer an endorsement in the same race. Regardless of the endorsements or lack thereof, the crazy meter is off the charts in this race. Riddle has called for the impeachment of President Obama for "giving away" seven Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea islands near Siberia to Russia that were actually "given away" under George Bush in 1991. Yeah, that crazy. Not to be outdone, Williams has waged war with the Austin American-Statesman over comments Williams made about the President being a "socialist." The endorsements will not prevail as the deciding factor in CD-25. Any future and current endorsements will be overshadowed by the outrageous rhetoric and inflammatory charges that has characterized the race so far.
CD-33: State Rep. Marc Veasey has received another set of valuable endorsements in his runoff against former State Rep. Domingo Garcia for this newly created seat. Veasey announced the endorsements of the Texas State Teachers Association and the National Education Association on his website. Rita Haecker, President of the Texas State Teachers Association said in their endorsement, "Representative Veasey has been an outstanding advocate for public education, educators and students in Austin, and we know he will continue to work for us effectively in Washington." These important endorsements add to Veasey's already impressive list of supporters that includes State Senator Wendy Davis, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and State Reps. Rafael Anchia and Robert Alonso.
SD-25: Former Railroad commissioner and candidate in SD-25 Elizabeth Ames Jones has bizarrely remained tight lipped about her support in the runoff. After engaging in a vicious Primary battle with incumbent Jeff Wentworth in the first round, it seemed inevitable that she would be quick to endorse rival Donna Campbell in the runoff. After all, Tea Party favorite Dr. Donna would certainly be an improvement over the corrupt big government liberal Jeff Wentworth, right? Jones's silence proves that her attacks (as valid as some were) of Wentworth were only valuable in the form of votes on election day.
Below the jump, check out Burnt Orange Report's Updated Texas primary endorsement tracker, and keep on top of who's picked whom so far.
(Attorney General Greg Abbott has signaled to donors that he will run for governor in 2014, setting up a potential challenge to Rick Perry. We polled that hypothetical match-up back in May 2012. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
As part of our year-long statewide polling series, BOR PAC and People Calling People conducted a survey of likely Republican primary voters to determine their sentiments on Mitt Romney's de facto Republican nomination, the Republican primary races for US Senate and Railroad Commissioner, and a hypothetical 2014 Republican primary match-up for Governor. We defined "likely voter" to mean a registered voter who had voted in at least two of the last three Republican Primaries (2006, 2008, 2010). Calls were placed to a random subset of those voters May 15-16, 2012.
Here are the results.
"In the Republican primary for US Senate, the candidates are Glenn Addison, Joe Agris, Kurt Cleaver, Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Ben Gambini, Craig James, Tom Leppert, and Lela Pittinger. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for US Senate?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.2%, 557 responses)
The poll confirms what political chatterers had surmised for months: Dewhurst and Cruz look poised to head to a late-July run-off for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. That has to give Cruz hope that he can prevail in a low-turnout hyper-partisan electorate, since the solicitor general has enjoyed more Tea Party and activist support than Dewhurst, whose main constituency seems to be Rick Perry's corporate sugar daddies. A Senate run-off pitting Cruz' grassroots hordes vs. Dewhurst's fat cats has to give serious pause to any moderate Republicans who may be headed to a run-off in down-ballot races, and could play a role in the inevitable run-offs in various Republican Congressional primaries (namely CD-14, CD-25, and CD-36). The only real question is if Dewhurst can spend his way to avoid a run-off, but given the margin he needs to make up to clear 50%, it looks unlikely.
Notably, the results also look a lot like the UT/TT poll released today. Dewhurst is in the low 40's and looks likely to go into a run-off with Cruz. That "internal Dewhurst campaign memo" circulated last week and leaked to Politico claiming that Leppert had pushed past Cruz into second place does indeed appear to be smoke and mirrors.
"In the primary for a full term on the Texas Railroad Commission, the candidates are Becky Berger, Beryl Burgess, Warren Chisum, Joe Cotten, Christi Craddick, and Roland Sledge. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for Texas Railroad Commissioner?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.5%, 479 responses)
In the race to fill the seat vacated by Michael Williams, it's clear that no candidate has managed to break through the crowded field, despite their ridiculous TV ads and escalating anti-EPA rhetoric. Over one third of the electorate is undecided, while Chisum and Craddick are the leaders here, the latter doing well likely based on sheer last-name ID alone. Unfortunately for Roland Sledge, despite his shocking TV ad in which Sledge vows not to pee on an electric fence, he's not making a splash with voters. The Republican electorate isn't trickling down from the undecided column into Sledge's camp. Unless his campaign is willing to leak any more-favorable internal polling, it's unlikely that on May 29th anyone will say to Sledge, "urine a run-off."
"In the 2014 Republican primary for Governor, if Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to challenge Governor Rick Perry, who would you support? "
TOTAL (MOE 4.6%, 462 responses)
It's clear that Abbott is quietly angling to be the next Governor of Texas, what with his sue-the-Feds this and his down-with-women's-rights that. However, Governor Perry is claiming that he plans to run for re-election, either to prevent being the lamest duck next session or because he thinks it will better position him for another failed Presidential bid in 2016. Regardless, the Republican primary voters we polled have Abbott within 10% of Perry in this hypothetical match-up, which bodes well for the hard-charging Attorney General should he tilt at the incumbent Governor.
"How satisfied are you with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee?"
TOTAL (MOE 3.7%, 718 responses)
We also asked Republican primary voters how they felt about presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. Only two thirds of Republicans are satisfied with the flip-flopping Massachusetts governor, whose healthcare plan was part of the foundation of Obamacare. One third of Republicans surveyed seem unwilling to go along with Romney, and 17% self-report as Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied. One wonders about the remaining third of the Republican primary electorate -- are they Ron Paul supporters? Do they want a more conservative candidate? Would a third-party conservative candidate like Rick Santorum or a legitimate Tea Partier like Debra Medina appeal to the 33% of Republican primary voters who are not satisfied with Romney? Most importantly, will they be too dismayed about their Presidential pick that they'll stay home this November?
Oh dear Lord. When Railroad Commissioner candidate Roland Sledge saw Warren Chisum's B-movie style campaign ad featuring shotguns and hard-hats, I guess Sledge figured he needed to really up the ante to catch voters' attention. Here's his entry in the 5-way Republican primary for Railroad Commish:
Now, to be fair, the Texas Railroad Commission probably has more to do with peeing on fences than the actual railroad. Slagle' experience in the actual oil and gas industry may make him legitimately qualified for the job (arguably a risk in Republican primaries). But in reality, serving on the Railroad Commission is about refusing to regulate our oil and gas industries and threatening the EPA.
The Texas Tribune reports that at a forum in Wichita Falls, candidates were tripping over each other to diss the EPA and President Obama:
"Let me tell you, these people can ruin your life," state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said last week at a forum in Wichita Falls that was organized by the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. "If they ever require an EPA permit before you drill a well, your lease will expire."
Roland Sledge, a Houston lawyer who has specialized in oil and gas for 35 years, spoke repeatedly of the "relentless assault" by the EPA on the oil and gas industry.
Christi Craddick, another candidate, went up another level. "Let's get rid of [President] Obama if we do nothing else," said Craddick, a lawyer specializing in oil, gas and water and who is the daughter of state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland. "This man hates the state. ... I want to make sure he gets on a solar-powered airplane and flies someplace else," like China.
Lest we forget, the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with protecting human health and the environment. They're making sure that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy land to farm, and as little hazardous waste in your backyard as possible. Evidently, these Republicans want to do away with all of those things. But that's cool, because we can privatize the air, right?
Now that Chisum and Sledge have made their mark on TV, I can only wonder what Christi "Daughter of Tom" Craddick has up her sleeve. Maybe she can turn her "Send Obama to China" comment into a TV spot. I'd encourage all remaining candidates to refer to the single best commissioner ad of all time ever, Dale Peterson's ad for Alabama Ag Commissioner.
Remember, Republicans, if the Democrats are laughing at your ads, that means they're working!
This is BOR's Video of the Day, or VOTD, our nightly video clip segment that hopefully provides you with a laugh or a chance to think at the end of the day.
OMG you guys! This ad for Railroad Commissioner is the campaign equivalent of what would happen if Michael Bay, There Will Be Blood, and that infamous "Big John" ad had a three-way while wearing hard-hats. Take a look:
Totally hilarious! I'm sorry, was this meant to be serious? Chisum looks so goofy in that hard hat. Can he give up his campaign and just make this into a B movie? It makes me giggle.
GOP Ad Checklist:
"Obamacare" -- No, but he does promise to stand up to the EPA.
Slamming the Feds -- See above.
Women's Health -- No; also, not relevant here.
Guns, God, Gays -- Total shotgun shell glamour shots.
Bonus points: "fighting the liberals," image of candidate atop a horse. After all, why explain what a railroad commissioner does when you can show yourself hunting and saying grace? Hilarious.
Check out all of our BOR videos of the day on the VOTD tag.
Jeff Weems received the backing of the Dallas Morning News in a strongly worded endorsement that makes it clear who the best candidate for the job is.
In a lower ballot race like RRC, where many voters are not familiar with either candidate, newspaper endorsements could take on more signifance. If that is true, Weems could ultimately be a significant advantage to his opponent, Republican David Porter, who upset incumbent Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo in the primary and since then has seldom been heard from. If other editorial boards have anywhere close to similar impressions of Weems and Porter that the DMN had it is easy to imagine Weems coming close to sweeping the state's newspaper endorsements.
Seldom do we run into a first-time candidate for any office and wonder why that person hasn't already been elected to the job. But that's how impressed this newspaper is withDemocratJeff Weems, who is seeking election to the Texas Railroad Commission.
The 52-year-old Houston attorney would be ready on Day One to make a significant contribution, which is why we strongly recommend him for the three-member panel.
Weems' familiarity with the oil industry began long ago, as his family has been involved in the business for three generations. In his own career, he started as an oil land-man and worked his way into an oil-and-gas law practice.
His understanding of the industry shows. He can talk chapter and verse about energy issues, which the oddly named Railroad Commission oversees. And he is a sharp contrast to some candidates who shoot for the commission on their way to a higher post.
If you have time, I encourage you to read the entire endorsement and pass it on to anyone who may be undecided (or uneducated) about this race.
On a Railroad Commission that votes lockstep in the interests of big oil and gas and where both remaining commissioners (after the exit of Carillo) have made their ambitions for higher office well-known during their U.S. Senate candidacies, Weems' expertise and true desire to do the job would be a real breath of fresh air.
Weems is the second statewide Democrat the DMN has endorsed, following Keith Hampton earlier this week.
(Art Hall is a BOR endorsed candidate. - promoted by Burnt Orange Report)
BOR endorsed Railroad Commissioner candidate Art Hall has now recieved the endorsements of four Texas State Senators. They are Sen. Rodney Ellis, Sen. Royce West, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, and Sen. Carlos Uresti.
Much has been said over the value of endorsements but I do know that these four Senators represent a large portion of our state. If they get out and help stump for Art Hall, it could make a big difference. At the very least, I hope more people will pay attention to who sits in this very important position.
I met Art Hall when he headed up the Academic Excellence office at St. Mary's School of Law. I believe him to be a thoughtful and intelligent person that will be getting my vote.
(Great news, great man. - promoted by Matt Glazer)
It's soon-to-be official, former San Antonio City Councilman Art Hall will run for Railroad Commissioner. From the Express-News:
Fresh off his four years as the District 8 city councilman, Art Hall will formally announce this month his intent to run for the Texas Railroad Commission in next year's election.
But until the time comes, Hall's lips are sealed.
"I'll make a formal announcement in mid-October, and then I'll give you the details," Hall said Tuesday.
His campaign Web site, however, is a different story.
According to arthallfortexas.com, Hall, a Democrat, wants to bring balance to the Republican-dominated three-member commission, noting that the current commissioners initially were appointed rather than elected.