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BOR Elections Weekly Round Up, September 23 - 29: Supreme Court Gets a New Justice, Rep. Callegari

by: Joseph Vogas

Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:00 AM CDT

Another week has passed, so it is once again time to recap the news in elections from the past seven days. Sen. Wendy Davis dominated the news once more in the last week as she continues to prepare for a campaign announcement on Thursday of this week. Some media reports have already concluded that she will announce a run for governor, but Burnt Orange Report will not make such a hopeful call until an announcement is official. But besides this story, there have been plenty of news.

Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson had announced he would resign at the end of September. This meant Governor Perry would need to elevate a new Chief Justice, which he did with Nathan Hecht, but he would need to fill Judge Hecht's place on the Supreme Court. Governor Perry has chosen Judge Jeff Brown, who currently serves on Texas' 14th Court of Appeals to be elevated to Texas' highest court. With the appointment, a special election for Supreme Court, Place 6 will be on the November ballot along with the Chief Justice, Place 7 and Place 8. The Chief Justice and Place 7 elections are technically special elections as well, but were scheduled to be up in November 2014 regardless.

Another House Chairman announced he would be leaving the Texas Legislature. Rep. Bill Callegari (R - 132) of Katy announced last Monday he would not seek re-election. Rep. Callegari is an engineer by trade and brought that kind of logic and decision-making to the Texas legislature. He served as Chairman of the Pensions Committee in the last session. District 132 can be found in Harris County's southwest corner. In 2012, President Obama got 39.75% in District 132, slightly better than the 39.59% he received in 2008. No candidates are yet to announce for this seat.

Burnt Orange Report has been able to confirm six other elected officials will be seeking re-election, and ten new candidates have emerged. Click below the jump to find out who!

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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.

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SD-25: Donna Campbell (R) Draws Primary Challenger

by: Joseph Vogas

Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

In 2012, then-primary challenger Donna Campbell beat seven-term incumbent Texas Senator Jeff Wentworth by a nearly two to one margin.

In her campaign, Donna Campbell ran on a TEA Party platform against the long-time incumbent, a message which was supported with over $2 million from the conservative Texans for Lawsuit Reform. During her time in the Texas Senate, Sen. Campbell became the most extreme voice to join the Chamber since Dan Patrick in 2006. She sponsored bills to expand carrying firearms on college campuses, limit the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Texas, sponsored a bill to limit access to fair elections, and worked to limit women's access to health clinics.

Her ramblings have finally caught up with her because the Republican party in her home district has decided to stand up to her and a primary challenger has finally, and unexpectedly, stepped forward.

According to My San Antonio, former County Commissioner Mike Novak will be the person who tries to restore sanity to Senate District 25 (SD-25).

Click below the jump to read more about about Commissioner Novak and the race for SD-25.

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The Implications of State Senate Terms on 2014 Statewide Races

by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM CST

The State Senate drew straws yesterday to determine if each has a 2 or 4 year term before running for re-election. This is customary after an election following a redistricting year in which all Senators must run.

The draw has some major implications for our 2014 statewide races here in Texas on both sides of the aisle, starting, of course, with State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, a tireless campaigner who drew a 2-year term.

Many Democrats were eyeing Davis as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014 owing to her fundraising prowess and staunch support of education. Had Davis drawn a 4-year term, thus giving her a "free pass" to run statewide in 2014 without giving up her senate seat, she would have had tremendous encouragement to take the leap and run for governor. Now, her decision becomes somewhat more complicated.

Here are the results from SD-10 in the 2010 and 2008 statewide elections, courtesy of the Texas Legislative Council:

2010 Results in SD-10
38.9% Turnout

Rick Perry: 52.7%
Bill White: 44.6%
Margin: R+8.1%

Lieutenant Governor
David Dewhurst: 58.2%
Linda Chavez-Thompson: 38.8%
Margin: R+19.4%

2008 Results in SD-10
66.4% Turnout

John McCain: 52.1%
Barack Obama: 47.1%
Margin: R+5%

US Senate
John Cornyn: 52.1%
Rick Noriega: 46%
Margin: R+6.1%

Davis won election in 2008 by 2.4% over a Republican incumbent, and won re-election in 2012 by 2.3% over a former State Representative.

Below the jump, find out why Democrats should still be optimistic about Davis in 2014, and what the implications are for the Republicans.

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Dr. Donna is Afraid of Columnists

by: David Feigen

Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 02:00 PM CDT

In her continued quest to replace Jeff Wentworth as the state senator from Senate District 25, Dr. Donna Campbell is unveiling a new interview policy.

In an email to San Antonio Express-News metro columnist, Brian Chasnoff, a spokesman for Campbell denied a request for an interview because "it is the campaign's policy not to accept interview requests with opinion columnists." The spokesman continued, "I am sure you can understand the value in this distinction." Yes, we can all see how valuable this distinction is, at least to Donna Campbell's campaign.

The Campbell campaign understands that the best way for her to end up in the legislature is for her to never leave her house before November. The last thing Donna Campbell needs is an interview with somebody who is allowed to express an opinion on her radical views, including her staunch opposition to abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.

Interestingly, there appears to be a caveat in the campaign policy saying that opinion columnists would be denied requests "in most cases." It is clear that Campbell's policy basically amounts to avoiding tough interviews where the doctor might accidently show how emphatically unqualified she is to represent SD-25.

Defeating Jeff Wentworth in the Republican Primary was a pretty straightforward task. Campbell simply had to employ the Ted Cruz strategy: run as far to the right as possible and declare your opponent a "moderate" by comparison.

This strategy won't work on general election opponent John Courage, but unfortunately she is hiding from him as well.  Democrat John Courage wrote a letter to Campbell requesting they participate in a series of 12 forums- two in each of the counties that make up Senate District 25. To nobody's shock, Campbell declined.

Donna Campbell is hiding from her opponent, from columnists, and from the voters of San Antonio and Austin that make up SD-25. Courage will likely continue to put the pressure on Campbell to engage in a thoughtful discourse on the issues, but until she sees a political advantage in doing so, she will continue her campaign strategy: duck and hide.  

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SD-25 Republican Primary Runoff Preview: Jeff Wentworth vs. Donna Campbell

by: Katherine Haenschen

Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM CDT

Wither the hairy legged moderate man of the State Senate? Jeff Wentworth, who hasn't always kowtowed the Republican Party line, may be at the end of his two-decade career in the Senate, which spans 7 terms and began in 1993 when Ann Richards was still Governor. Wentworth, loathed by this publication for his staunch support for the Guns on Campus legislation, has been moderate on choice and environmental issues, which has made him something of a pariah in this Republican primary. He voted against the sonogram bill in the Senate, the lone Republican to do so. It may be his undoing in the runoff, where he faces run-off challenger and right-wing extremist Dr. Donna Campbell, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Furthering Wentworth's potential demise is a volley of outside money from Texans for Lawsuit reform, owing to his lack of orthodoxy on tort reform. TLR spent heavily on Elizabeth Ames Jones, third place finisher, and in so doing helped bruise Wentworth in the first round. Now the group is lining up behind Campbell.

Campbell gained traction in the grassroots Tea Party community with her 2010 run against Lloyd Doggett in 2010 in CD-25. She then moved into SD-25 to challenge Wentworth, arguably in electoral conditions and a district even more favorable to her than CD-25 in a general election. Fittingly, in the first round of the primary, she won in the Travis and Hays portions of the district, which overlapped with the old CD-25. She also ran strong in staunchly conservative Comal, where she moved when she announced her bid. Campbell's second-place finish surprised many, due in part to the great gobs of money TLR shelled out to back EAJ, who stepped down from the Railroad Commission to run for the seat and placed 3rd in a very close primary.

Wentworth has been on the receiving end of attacks from all sides in this race, and it's tough to see how he prevails, especially since EAJ and TLR have moved over to back Campbell in a desperate effort to oust the incumbent. Wentworth runs strongest in his home turf of San Antonio, but with 36% of the Bexar vote going to EAJ in the first round, it's not clear if those voters will gravitate back to Wentworth or go with the challenger. Redistricting is also a factor here, as Wentworth loses much of his Travis County turf -- the district used to stretch up through central south Austin, where possibly some remaining moderate Republicans turning out for Dewhurst could have pulled the lever for Wentworth.

Things don't look good for Wentworth, and as a result the Texas Senate will likely shift even further to the far right. It's possible -- in the Dumb and Dumber one-in-a-million, "so you're telling me there's a chance" kind of possible -- that Democratic nominee John Courage could best Dr. Donna in November if moderate voters find out just how extreme she is on just about every issue possible. However, Courage would need substantial resources to communicate that to the voters. Last session, the Senate was able to stop much of the crazy legislation passed by the lower chamber. Now, with the additions of Kelly Hancock and Larry Taylor, the body shifts to the right. The loss of Wentworth for Dr. Donna will further this trend, all of which makes holding Democratic Senator Wendy Davis's seat this November all the more crucial in preventing the upper chamber from completely descending into anti-civilization madness.

County-by-county results below:

Thoughts on this race or predictions? Leave 'em in the comments.

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SD-25: Jeff Wentworth May Resign Within the Year: Reps. Rose & Bolton Not Interested

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 02:17 PM CDT

As noted by the Texas Tribune, Central Texas Republican State Senator Jeff Wentworth is exploring a vice chancellorship position at Texas A&M University. While not final, the talks are taking place and Sen. Wentworth was left without a standing committee assignment in the recent reshuffling announced by Lt. Governor Dewhurst.

Sen. Wentworth has stated that he will remain on the November ballot in any case, where he faced only Libertarian opposition.

Texas Tribune: Wentworth said he'll remain on the November ballot whether he takes the A&M job or not. Leaving early would leave the nomination in the hands of party officials, and he thinks that's undemocratic. He'd stay on the ballot, presumeably win (it's a Republican district, and his only opponent is a Libertarian) and then decline to take the seat. That would set up a special election where the candidates weren't chosen by party elders. "So the people could pick my successor," he said.

Besides the strategic reasons for how Wentworth might want to time this, it's understandable that he doesn't want to vacate his seat in such a way that leaves power in the hands of Republican precinct or county chairs. Wentworth is one of the more moderate Republicans with a pattern of fairer play in the upper chamber and a replacement picked by party officials (besides being an inside play) could result in a more conservative GOP nominee.  

Should Wentworth take the job at A&M and decline being seated after winning in November, that would force a special election to be held very close to or during the 2011 legislative session. With only 30 Senators, 16 votes would still be required for a majority to pass legislation, but with the drama surrounding the 2/3rds rule the timing of when the seat is actually filled will be worth keeping an eye on.

A special election would also give Democrats a chance to file a candidate and compete in a lower turnout election. The path to a Democratic majority in the Texas Senate is pretty rough if you don't include SD-25 but it's still a tough seat to win. Wentworth won 58-37 over Democrat Kathi Thomas in 2006. In addition, I just spoke with Rep. Patrick Rose's campaign who confirmed that Rep. Rose has no interest or plans to run for an SD-25 vacancy at any point.

SD-25 runs along the I-35 corridor including parts of South Austin, Hays, Kendall, Comal, Guadalupe, and northern Bexar County where the population is concentrated. I find it unlikely that someone in the Travis County delegation would run for the seat as Rep. Rodriguez has his eye on a different Senate seat and Rep. Bolton is focused on her re-election this fall. (I just got off the phone with Bolton's campaign leadership and they confirm that Valinda is focused on winning her re-election in November and serving her district throughout next spring's session).

John Courage, former Congressional candidate in TX-21 which overlaps much of the district had briefly considered running for SD-25 this cycle and could be a potential candidate. Whether or not he runs, a San Antonio Democrat would likely be our best chance in a special election.  

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An Endorsement for Maxey for Chair

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 07:49 PM CST

This came over the SD-25 e-mail list today from the Comal Democratic County Chair (which neighbor's outgoing Chairman Soechting's home county of Hays).

With today's announcement of Charles Soechting's resignation effective April 22 I would like to take this opportunity to personally endorse Glen Maxey for the State Chair of the Democratic Party.  I first met Glen Maxey while working for the Dean Campaign.  I was impressed with his endless energy, great enthusiasm and dedication to the Democratic Party of Texas.  Glen has a wide range of experience that allows him to work with the established Democratic Party as well as the Progressive who are becoming the new force in the party.  I encourage all to vote for and support Glen in the coming election.

Larry Horton
Democrat County Chair, Comal County

If you have any other info on the State Chair race, feel free to e-mail me.  Requests for anonymity will be respected as always.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

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