Archive | May, 2012

Political oddity of the day so far

I don’t even know what this means. But I do know that it’s very odd, and that until recently it was State Representative Jim Landtroop’s Facebook timeline photo.

Feel free in the comments section to share your thoughts on Mr. Landtroop’s symbolism, and/or your opinion of which controlled substances were involved at the time.

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Notes on the Texas primary elections

Texas politicos waited so long to have a primary election that it seems completely anti-climatic now that it’s over. But at least for the truly-addicted like me (wipe that smug look off your face – like you too), we now begin the 9-week primary run-off period.

Some interesting doings from last night:

– while I’m not yet convinced that House Speaker Joe Straus is in trouble, last night’s results at the least put some air under the wings of those who hope to cause him trouble. Several of his House BFFs were defeated, and several more got the bejesus scared out of ‘em.

– it will never be enough for the right-wing conservatives. Do you see the pattern emerging? Here it is: conservative Republican defeats incumbent Democrat. In the following election, second way-conservative Republican beats first conservative Republican, since the first conservative now has an actual voting record. Will it soon be that the new-and-improved definition of “conservative” is “non-incumbent nobody”?

– wow, what a bad night for Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Yep, they won some. But they themselves staked out the marque race they wanted as the latest proxy war with their enemies, the challenge to Senate district 25 incumbent Jeff Wentworth, they picked their candidate, and they gave her bajillions. She didn’t make the run-off.

– Party switching is SO 2008.  Four formerly-Democratic state House members had switched parties over the last couple of years. As of today, only one is sure to survive. Aaron Pena wasn’t even on the ballot. Chuck Hopson, who looked like a goner most of the night, is on life support in a run-off election. Same situation with J.M. Lozano. Only Allan Ritter seems to have survived quite nicely from his ordeal. In the case of Hopson and Ritter, had they not switched parties, they almost surely would have been defeated as Democrats anyway. But in future elections, I’m guessing incumbents will think longer and harder when the other Party comes knocking, because the switcharoo has proven to be a tough deal as well.

– Good news: the AFL-CIO endorsement is still powerful medicine around these parts, as witnessed by the Democratic primary for US Senate. Bad news: so it mistaken identity. There were four candidates in the Senate race, and none of them raised any money to speak of. That means virtually no meaningful communications with voters happened. Thus, in the run-up to last night, there were only two things that happened in that race in which any of them had any hope of getting voters’ attention: the televised debate in which all the credible candidates of both parties were invited to participate, and the AFL-CIO endorsement. Of the four Democrats, only Sean Hubbard and Paul Sadler were invited to debate. When the smoke cleared last night, it was clear that not only did the debate mean nothing, it meant less-than-nothing, and Sean Hubbard (who had impressed me so much in the debate that I voted for him) came up a little short was dead last. In the good news department, Paul Sadler, the one with the AFL-CIO endorsement, led voting, and it wasn’t even close. In the bad news department, Democrats have apparently now traded in their long-standing habit of voting for a guy mistaken for dead dancer Gene Kelly, in favor of voting for a guy mistaken for legendary dead Senator Ralph Yarborough – Sadler will face Grady Yarbrough in the run-off. Meanwhile, when was the last time a candidate whom media didn’t even invite to a debate end up placing in the money? Congratulations to Paul Sadler, and congratulations to the AFL-CIO, in a clear demonstration that the good guys’ support still means a lot.

– Speaking of celebrity mistaken identities, things must not be that bad, since a guy named Daniel Boone running in a Democratic Congressional primary lost handily.

– God help the guy who told David Dewhurst that if he just pulled that extra few million out of his pocket, he’d win without a runoff. Similarly, God help Dewhurst if, after his peeps telling him that a few more million would be necessary, he replied that he thought he already had it in the bag. I bet the U.S. Senate run-off between The Dew and Ted Cruz ends up being a $15 million investment for Dewhurst, at least. Also, since neither one of these guys has uttered a true word about the other one in at least two weeks, how bad will the lies get over the next nine? I’m sure both were on the phone with Tom Leppert late last night, trying to get Leppert’s endorsement, and presumably his 13-ish percent of the vote. Also, big congrats to Craig James for becoming the Republican Sean Hubbard – lots of motion, ultimately little progress.

– Go look at the current membership of the House Public Education Committee. Between retirements and defeats last night, things sure are getting lonesome.

What tidbits did I miss?

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Buzz from the TV show: Travis County Democrats will lose Doggett if they don’t start voting

On this week’s episode of Capital Tonight, Congressman Lloyd Doggett said in an extended interview that he won’t be going back to Congress if Austin area Democrats don’t start voting.

Here are both Republican Ted Delisi and I echoing Doggett’s concerns about turn-out in the North end of Congressional District 35:

Later in the show, Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report was even more blunt: he believes Congressman Doggett is in deep trouble.

You can watch the show in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 am, or watch it any time online.

Also, you can join the whole Capital Tonight crew, plus other special guests, on our extended election night coverage Tuesday night, beginning at 7 pm and continuing either until all the returns are in, or you can’t stand the sight of us any more, whichever comes first.

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FINALLY. The Houston Chronicle reports – you decide.

I’m irritating. Well, duh.

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You think Texas politics is fun?

Me too. But we apparently ain’t got nothin’ on politics in Mexico.

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Truth in advertising: J.M. Lozano director’s cut

Last week, State Representative J.M. Lozano (D R-Kingsville) released a campaign ad in which he’s talking to his adorable son, hating on Obama, and spouting the typical campaign rhetoric people spout when they’re desperately trying to win a Republican primary election. According to the ad, J.M. needs to be re-elected to protect his son from the diabolical Barack Obama, who is “ruining the country.”

We here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters decided a bit of political parody was in order. Here’s what we think J.M. really meant to tell his son:

[thanks to Greg Beatty]

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Buzz from the TV show: Sadler vs. Hubbard for U.S. Senate

Recently I endorsed Sean Hubbard in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, and was happy to vote for him on the first day of early voting.

But that doesn’t mean I think he’s got the inside track to win the primary. In fact, while nobody knows who has the edge in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, I’m guessing Hubbard’s opponent Paul Sadler does.

I explain why in this week’s edition of YNN’s Capital Tonight:

Also discussed on this week’s show: the public school finance mess, what to make of Ron Paul’s latest moves, the latest comedy stylings of David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, and more.

You can watch this episode of Capital Tonight in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 on YNN Austin, or at any time on the interwebz.

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Headline of the day so far

It’s also your sports update!

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Anti-social media and the race for Democratic Party chair

With the retirement of Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie, there’s a race on for state Party Chairman. Most people think the race is a lock, and that former Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa is set to win.

And, fair enough. Of those running, there’s no question in my mind he’s the best choice to provide leadership for the Democrats. It isn’t even a close call. His opponents are Rachel Van Os and Fidel Acevedo.

But isn’t one of the biggest challenges ahead for Democrats to communicate Democratic values to potential supporters? And isn’t social media among the best affordable opportunities to communicate with people on a continuing basis?

If all that is true, whoever the next Democratic leader will be has a big learning curve ahead, if either candidate’s commitment to Twitter is any indication.

Here’s the situation with Rachel Van Os on Twitter:

Click on the photo to enlarge

I would have loved to contrast that to Gilberto Hinojosa’s twitter account stats. It’s just that I can’t find him on Twitter. There’s no indication he has a twitter account at all.

To be fair, current Chairman Boyd Richie (who won his election before Twitter was widely-used) doesn’t seem to be on Twitter either, but under his leadership the Democratic Party has built a significant presence there, and they have hundreds more following them than the Republican Party of Texas.

Clearly Twitter isn’t everything, but nobody could credibly argue that it isn’t an important communications tool to many segments of an electorate. One would think that candidates for Party Chairman attempting to convince Democrats of their commitment to communicating to Texas voters might have noticed that.

I shot an email to Judge Hinojosa’s campaign to ask if he’s hiding a Twitter account somewhere; I’ll update this piece if I hear back (UPDATE: I heard back – he doesn’t have one). But meanwhile, sheesh.

Update #2: I am informed via the comments section (thanks, comments section!) that there is a third candidate in the race: Fidel Acevedo. I’d seen in earlier news that he had filed, but had also read that there had been questions about whether his was a valid filing, and incorrectly assumed that his candidacy had gone away. Apparently wrong about that, I present his Twitter stats as well:

Click on the photo to enlarge
So there you have it: all candidates for Democratic Party Chair have a combined grand total of 20 followers. What could possibly go wrong?

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Ron Paul’s problem

After Congressman Ron Paul essentially suspended campaigning yesterday, I defaulted to the theory that it was probably a pre-consession prior to the May 22nd primary in Kentucky, where his son Rand is apparently some sort of BFD. Embarrassing Rand is probably not high on Ron Paul’s list of things to do. It would make Thanksgiving at the Paul household really awkward.

Ron Paul: Asylum Warden?

Add to that the embarrassing state Republican conventions recently in several states, in which unruly Ron Paul delegates took over the place, to the embarrassment of Mitt Romney’s supporters. Romney’s son Josh was even boo’ed off the stage by Paul delegates at the Arizona Republican State Convention last Saturday.

Now Politico has revealed a Paul campaign memo which bolsters the point: Ron Paul’s move to ratchet the campaign down a few notches is clearly designed to be a signal to his supporters that he wants his folks to be positive and constructive as Republicans head to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Ron Paul has an itty bitty problem: his supporters may well be in no mood to be constructive.

Paul has nobody to blame but himself if the Paulistas show up in Tampa ready to tear the place up. A successful insurgency campaign always gathers few supporters aside from the insurgents, and Paul’s move toward Republican unity may well be one his followers choose not to follow.

There may not be much tension or drama at the Democratic National Convention, set to re-nominate a sitting President, but hang onto your hats in Tampa – the Republicans may still be in for a bumpy ride. And it will be a serious test for Ron Paul to see if he can control the inmates, in the asylum he himself created.

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Buzz from the TV show: marriage equality

On this week’s episode of Capital Tonight, I was asked about the President’s announcement that he now supports marriage equality – does this issue now sit in the front seat, or do other issues like the economy trump?

This week’s episode also features a discussion on the status of UT President William Powers, a report on the big money U.S. Senate smack down, and an interview with Congressional candidate Sylvia Romo, in a primary battle with Austin’s Congressman Lloyd Doggett.


Capital Tonight airs live on Thursday evenings in our new time slot, 7 pm on YNN Austin, and the Texas Channel, channel 888 on Time-Warner systems in other Texas media markets. You can watch this week’s entire episode on YNN Austin this Sunday morning at 11 am, or you can watch any time online.

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Dan Patrick vs. John Carona cage match!

Interesting doings in the Texas Senate this week, which is unheard of unusual.

Out of the blue, Republican Senator Dan Patrick emailed the entire Senate membership, indignant that fellow Republican Senator John Carona had supposedly been spreading rumors that Patrick and his wife are separated.

It didn’t take long for Senator Carona to hit the “reply to all” button and double down on Patrick. Carona replied that while he’d heard rumors, he did not repeat that Patrick is having marital problems. Carona then added that he also did not repeat that Dan Patrick might be gay.

Of course it took less time for somebody in the Senate to leak the entire exchange to the Quorum Report than it does for Sheila Jackson-Lee to find an aisle seat at a State-Of-The-Union Address.

So, in the spirit of full enlightenment for you, the crap-reading public, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters proudly presents the…

Top Ten List Of Other Stuff John Carona Probably Didn’t Repeat About Dan Patrick

10. Contrary to previous claims, Dan Patrick did not, in fact, save a bunch of money by switching his car insurance to Geico.

9. Dan Patrick actually does not walk on water. It was really cold that day. It was ice. Really – just ice.

8. Dan Patrick totally cheats at rock-paper-scissors in the members’ lounge.

7. Dan Patrick has been seen in public with his epidermis showing. Also, he has a family member who is an acknowledged thespian.

6. Dan Patrick is actually a Sith Lord.

5. Every morning before the Senate goes into session, Dan Patrick places a whoopee cushion in John Carona’s chair, and Carona’s getting gosh darn sick of it.

4. Mom! Dan Patrick touched me first! Make him stop!

3. O.J. Simpson says Dan Patrick is the real killer he’s been looking for.

2. Dan Patrick has more than 300 google email alerts on himself.

1. Dan Patrick’s real motivation for running for Lt. Governor is to force the other Senators to run around saying, “Lieutenant Dan! Lieutenant Dan!” like Forrest Gump.

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Headline of the day so far

This one will be tough to beat.

[h/t @mustango13]

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Buzz from the TV show

On last week’s Capital Tonight on YNN Austin, which was a pre-game show of sorts for the U.S. Senate race debate last Thursday, I was asked to war game out what was at stake for the candidates. I said it was Ted Cruz’ “last best chance” to break through and force an error by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. If post-debate polling is to be believed, Cruz failed to do so. That said, the pollster has close ties to – you guessed it – Dewhurst.

Spoiler alert: when – not if but when – you watch this week’s Capital Tonight, you’ll be doing so in our brand new time slot: Thursday nights at 7 pm. We have magnanimously done this, of course, to give you enough time after work to avoid being completely sober by the time you tune in. We’re much better-looking that way.

The fun starts at 7 pm Thursday night, on YNN Austin, and on the Texas Channel in other Texas media markets, channel 888 on Time-Warner systems.

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Attention Texas hunters!

It’s a go. You know what to do.

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