Archive | July, 2011

Handicapping the Republican primary for U.S. Senate

David Dewhurst

Nothing new: I’ve said from the start that the nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison is Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s to lose.

New: Dewhurst might just lose it.

Ted Cruz

Also running is former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who has shown what some have termed surprising spunk and strength in a race against the seasoned campaign winner and self-funding Dewhurst.

I’m not surprised. I first encountered Ted Cruz in Laredo in 2003. As the state Senate Democrats’ 46-day Albuquerque quorum break ended, they boarded a plane and went to Laredo to attend a hearing on the matter in Federal court. I accompanied them on the plane, and attended the hearing in the Laredo courtroom. Ted Cruz, then the Solicitor General, was the state’s lawyer in court that day. In other words – ironically – he was Dewhurst’s lawyer in the suit.

I have never seen a better courtroom performance, before or since. He was articulate, passionate, and flat-out out-lawyered the Democrats’ legal team. By the end of that hearing, not only was I convinced that Cruz had won the day (which he did), but he was so utterly great that I myself had serious doubts as to the merits of the Democrats’ suit. I’ve been a begrudging admirer of Cruz’ skills ever since.

Based on my observations in 2003 on a hot September day in Laredo, I know Cruz will be an articulate and passionate candidate. If and when the U.S. Senate candidates debate, Cruz will mop up the floor with ’em all. And there’s little doubt that he will outwork Dewhurst in the campaign.

The Williams un-brothers – former Railroad Commission Michael, and former Secretary of State Roger – each started out in the U.S. Senate race, but quickly discovered that between Dewhurst and Cruz, there would be no oxygen left for either of them. They both jumped into a U.S. House race instead. State Senator Dan Patrick is a non-starter who won’t, and shouldn’t, run.

Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones remains in the race, but I don’t know why. She’s catching nobody on fire with her candidacy, and I expect that she will either quickly figure out that the air is thin and get out, or that she will stay, hoping that being the only woman in the race will mean something. In her case, it won’t translate to any support, and in this field she’ll come in last.

Tom Leppert

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who also has the ability to self-fund, is the odd man out – seemingly a solid candidate in any other race, or at any other time. My guess is that he’ll stay in the race and end up being somebody’s spoiler.

But the real story will be Dewhurst versus Cruz. Dewhurst’s strength is his personal wealth, with which everybody expects him to self-fund the race. Cruz’ strength is…everything else.

Here’s why Cruz will win the nomination: there’s only so much love Dewhurst can buy with all his money, among a Republican primary electorate increasingly uncomfortable with him, for many reasons. Cruz’ passion and key endorsements will create enough funding for Cruz to stay in the game, and as long as a candidate that good is suited up and on the field, he’ll make the big plays and ultimately rack up the highest score.

Here’s why Cruz won’t win the nomination: nobody ever loved David Dewhurst in a political race, except all the voters. Dewhurst has never run a race in which he was taken very seriously by the press or by political insiders, and he’s never managed to over-work himself in a campaign. Yet, he always ends up winning his races anyway, overwhelming opposition with a blockade of paid TV ads which nobody can match, silencing his opposition.

I still think Dewhurst is the front-runner. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he ultimately came in third, behind both Cruz and Leppert. Because whoever invented the pedestal probably invented it for the purpose of knocking candidates like David Dewhurst off of one.

With Cruz at his heels, Dewhurst is more vulnerable than many believe. What am I missing?

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Perry’s Presidential pause perplexes

I have long been perplexed, and continue to be, regarding Rick Perry’s lingering concern about the Presidential contest fundraising situation. Those close to the Perry camp claim that the unknowns about fundraising remain the biggest hold-up in Perry making a final decision on whether to run for President. I believe that they’re sincere. I just don’t know why they’re obsessed with it.

While Perry criss-crosses the country seeking fundraising commitments prior to jumping into the race, here are the fundamentals about funding a Presidential race, whether you’re Rick Perry or any other candidate of either political party:

— after you get into the race, if you gain momentum, everybody who pledged to you will fulfill their pledge. Also, about half of those who refused to pledge to you will also start writing checks and helping you raise money.

— after you get into the race, if you fail to show momentum, few who pledged to you will end up fulfilling their pledge. Also, you will get little or no significant unexpected previously unpledged money.

From the start, Perry has been in a much better fundraising position than most, if only because he’s a longstanding Republican in Texas. He has a deep and wide fundraising base here, with people who owe him big, and who would continue to do business with him even if he cratered as a Presidential candidate – especially since he’ll still be Texas’ governor if he fails in the Presidential bid. And sure, the Federal contribution limits might serve to dampen that a bit, but big bundling would just take the place of big check-writing. With those assumptions, Perry’s first $10 million is probably easier to come by than most candidates’ first $10 million.

And after that initial $10 million? There’s no bandwagon like a Presidential nomination bandwagon. If Perry has momentum to show for his early efforts, the donors will be lining up. If Perry doesn’t show momentum, it won’t have mattered anyway.

So what’s the big hold-up? Either jump in, or don’t jump in. But nobody likes a tease.

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Radio Sessions

A couple of days ago, I poked fun at Congressman Pete Sessions over his separation from his wife, which prompted an off-line debate between me and Scott Braddock of CBS radio in Dallas-Fort Worth, over the relative propriety of having done so.

Scott and I were having so much fun bickering about it off-line that he decided to bring it online on the radio show today. Here’s how it went.

Attacks on Congressman Whose Marriage is Ending by Scott Braddock

What do you think? Did I go too far? Share it in the comments section.

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Business name of the day so far

Lots of people sell home insulation. But these guys might make you laugh while you buy it. Either that or they’ll be really depressed, right before breaking out into crazy laughter.

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Headline of the day so far

The story leaves some doubt as to the purpose of this corporate acquisition, unless of course it is to stiff the competition.

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Congressman Pete Sessions: standing tall for traditional family values

Actually, screw that – he and his wife are splitting up.

He may have another problem: in the event he becomes the latest Republican to be caught up in a scandal and needs to make a quick exit, who is he going to claim to be resigning to spend more time with?

Perhaps this had something to do with that little strip club oopsie. In any event, we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters wish soon-to-be-former Mrs. Sessions a hearty congratulations on her early parole.

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Headline of the day so far

Here’s the original headline as it appeared on the Washington Post‘s website.

Frankly, I don’t think any of this is the Washington Post‘s business.

Sadly, WaPo apparently snapped to their little boo-boo and edited the headline.

[h/t: Brian]

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Buzz from the TV show – Perry’s day of prayer

Last night on YNN’s Capital Tonight show, I was asked about Governor Rick Perry’s “Day of Prayer” event next month in Houston.

What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments section. Or perhaps you’d like to attend the competing “Day of Debauchery and Gluttony.”

Mostly what you should do is watch Capital Tonight in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 on Austin’s YNN, or watch it any time on the web.

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True Drivel

I have no idea how many of you are fans of HBO’s “True Blood.”

But for those who are, have you ever noticed, in the opening credits, the quick footage that goes by of the little kid in the KKK suit? Yeah, you know the one I mean – the shocking quick shot of the brainwashed little boy whose parents undoubtedly dressed him like that and took him to events until the snotty little rug rat believed every word of that garbage? Here he is:

Yeah, well, Sarah Palin’s kid Bristol is beginning to remind me of that little jerk.

Key quote: “[My mother’s] got God on her side.”

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Headline of the day so far

Strange things happen outside Verizon stores apparently.

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They let this guy vote too

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Family values.

They’re alive and well in the Republican Party. Go git ’em, tiger.

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Ironic arrest location of the day so far

What else did they expect people to be doing at a restaurant with this name?

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