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The FUBAR Report: Republican Governors

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Rick Perry debate stunt double

As Democrat Bill White, Libertarian Kathie Glass, and Greenie-weenie Deb Shafto each accept their invitation to debate, Rick Perry still refuses to face his opponents.

Note to debate organizers: I suggest that you add a projector screen to the stage set-up, call on Rick Perry to make his opening statement, then play this scene from “Blazing Saddles.” It’s close enough.

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Political movies on parade

Yeah yeah yeah, so the Perry campaign is trying to make something out of Bill White encouraging film makers to parody Perry through short films.

The joke’s on you, Perry. We here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters have been secretly shooting a high-budget feature film all along.

We’re in the final editing stages now, but we can tell you that it stars high-profile Texas Democrats including White, Judith Zaffirini, Leticia Van de Putte, Rodney Ellis, Aaron Pena, Ana Hernandez, Eddie Lucio, III, Hector Uribe, and Trey Martinez Fischer.

 Watch the movie trailer.

(h/t: Mean Rachel)

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The debate over Governors race debates

Where we are: Rick Perry insisted that he would talk about debates only after Bill White released tax returns which Bill White has now released. Now Perry has issued a new set of hoops which he wants Bill White to jump through before Perry will agree to debate.

How many days ago this blog precisely predicted this would happen: 49

You thought I was kidding?

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Political dirty tricks may bite ‘em on the butt

Kudos to the Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater for staying on top of the mystery money Republicans used to attempt to put Green Party candidates on the Texas ballot. It’s amazing that Rick Perry’s camp thought nobody would notice this obvious attempt to syphon votes from White – using the votes of the very people who most disagree with Rick Perry’s environmental record, and who would most benefit from Bill White’s environmental policies.

What isn’t amazing, however, is this solid evidence that Perry must indeed be worried about the race being that close.

It would probably surprise and dismay casual observers that there are people around the country who specialize in getting seemingly-unrelated stuff on the ballot they don’t care anything about, or even things they oppose, to artificially manipulate voters and turn-out patterns to benefit that which they really do care about. In this Texas example, they hope to skim about two percentage points off of Bill White’s totals, to help Rick Perry squeak by in a close race.

Nobody faults the Green Party for wanting ballot access, although it’s hard to see how they sleep at night these days, given who’s in bed with ‘em on this particular effort.

But when the end result is that some of the voters who care most about the environment will get duped into voting for a candidate who won’t get more than 5% of the total vote, helping the guy who calls the BP oil spill disaster an “act of God” win? That just plain dirty pool, played at voters’ expense.

Most troubling is the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to accomplish this is secret, and quite possibly illegal, money, which nobody will admit to contributing. Since the obvious beneficiary is Rick Perry, well, you figure it out.

Meanwhile, back to the folks who do this sort of thing for a living in various states.

Apparently, the Republican operative who organized the Green Party petition effort intends to list “Take Initiative America” as the donor of the in-kind contribution to the Green Party. That entity was organized in Missouri by a guy named Charles Hurth.

Who’s Charles Hurth? I’m glad you asked. Meet Charles Hurth:

Despite numerous attempts, the victim’s butt was unavailable for comment.

That news story appeared in the Weekly World News, and the butt-biting incident was also covered in the San Francisco Chronicle, which also takes an in-depth look at the shady business of manipulating election outcomes without changing a single heart or mind – which is exactly what’s going on here in Texas right now.

And with this bit of butt-biting news, I once again renew my request to Comedy Central: in the interest of saving money on Daily Show and Colbert Report segment budgets, please open up a permanent Austin bureau. You will never run out of material. I’ll even offer my services at your Austin correspondent, and I’ll work for tips. Just sayin’.

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Races to watch on election night

Here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, War Room Division, it occurred to us that you, members of the crap-reading public, would be torn as to how to divide your attentions on election night as the returns come in. On one hand, there are races you care about. On the other hand, one shouldn’t let that get in the way of the massive amounts of alcohol you intend to consume, probably on some poor hapless candidate’s tab.

Thus, we herein present this handy guide on which races in Austin and around the state are worth watching as election returns come in tomorrow night. Hopefully this will save you enough time so that your political activism can remain balanced with your alcoholism.

And if this isn’t enough to whet your appetite for politics, if you’re in the Austin area on election night you can tune into News8Austin, where I’ll be joining Republican Ted Delisi, Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg, and news anchor Paul Brown for news and analysis on the election returns throughout the evening.

Governor

Republican Primary: Perry vs Hutchison vs Medina. Perry will lead. Will it be a run-off or a clear Perry win? Perry clearly thinks he can win it out-right, or he would have pulled down much of his TV traffic in recent days and instead saved it for the run-off. If he’s wrong, that means that more Republicans will have voted against Perry than for him.

Democratic Primary: White vs Shami vs a whole bunch of folks nobody ever heard of, including two Hispanics. White will lead heavily. Run-off or clear White win? Even with so many candidates on the ballot – seven in fact – the smart money’s on a clean win for White.

Lt. Governor

Democratic primary: Linda Chavez-Thompson is favored to win. Does Ronnie Earl’s history as the man who brought down Tom DeLay have any impact? If so, does Marc Katz become the spoiler that creates the run-off?

Agriculture Commissioner

Democratic Primary: Hank Gilbert versus Kinky Friedman. This is similar to situations such as when a car dealer or newscaster runs for office: Gilbert has the substance, but Friedman has the name I.D. Which wins?

State Senate Races

(both are Republican primaries)

SD5 (College Station to North Austin suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Steve Ogden, the chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, should be ok. But challenger Ben Bius has been very aggressive, and this could be a test case for whether the “anti-insider” teabagger sentiment runs deep, or if they’re just messin’ around.

SD22 (Waco to Southern D/FW suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Kip Averitt is on the ballot whether he likes it or not (hint: he doesn’t like it. He quit campaigning a couple of weeks after the filing deadline), and many if not most folks in Waco are going to vote for him anyway. Will a popular incumbent who didn’t suit up for the game win it anyway, against fringe nobody Darren Yancy?

State House races

HD83 (Panhandle) Republican primary. They’ve written Republican Delwin Jones’ political obituary many times, and he’s survived them all – the only legislative race he ever lost was to Pete Laney, but that was in a Democratic primary back when the earth cooled. Jones later came back as a Republican, with Laney’s goodwill and friendship. Jones is in a big fight this time against challengers Zach Brady and Charles Perry. Will he survive this time or is he done?

HD11 (East Texas) Republican primary. Democrat Chuck Hopson switched to the Republican Party, for fear that he couldn’t win the general election. But now he’s in the fight for his life in the Republican primary instead, against 2 challengers – Michael Banks and Allan Cain. Does Chuck go or does Chuck stay?

HD76 (El Paso) Democratic primary. Incumbent Norma Chavez was previously thought to be doing well in her re-election bid against two challengers, until the El Paso Times released a poll over the weekend showing her neck-in-neck with one of her challengers, Naomi Gonzalez. Has the home town newspaper’s dislike for Norma gotten the best of their editorial judgment, or might Norma’s challenger get the best of her?

HD92 (Tarrant County) Republican primary. No-holds-barred cage fight pits incumbent Todd Smith against Jeff Cason. Some Republicans blame Smith for the death of voter ID, and have used the issue effectively. Then he got caught calling Republican women in his district “too stupid” on an answering machine message. We’ll see what Republican primary voters call Smith.

HD146 (Houston) Democratic primary. This is the re-re-match between (this time) incumbent Al Edwards and (this time) challenger Boris Miles. Both candidates have had their issues, but which one can convince voters that he’ll get it right this time?

HD43 (South Texas and Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is geo-politics at its best. Tara Rios Ybarra won the district 2 years ago because her base, the south end of the district, out-voted the incumbent’s base, the north end of the district. J.M. Lozano is challenging her this time, and similar to Rios’ last race, his base is in the north end of the district. Early voting this time suggests that last election’s voting trend hasn’t continued – the north end is out-voting the south end. Has she made in-roads in the north end or not?

HD36 (Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is the open seat that Kino Flores vacated following his indictment, and the race to take his seat got dicey in a hurry, featuring an abortion TV spot so rough I’m surprised the local stations didn’t reject it. Sandra Rodriguez is running against Sergio Muñoz Jr., with the bulk of the Flores organization apparently backing Muñoz. Money is pouring in from all quarters, and the race totals are nearing $1 million.

Local Travis County races

(all Democratic primary races)

County Commissioner Precinct 4: Margaret Gomez vs Raul Alvarez. Gomez supporters are happy as clams because they say she’s solid. Alvarez supporters aren’t happy as clams, because they say she’s not proactive enough. Both candidates are spending a lot of clams.

Judge, 201st District. This is a race defining which candidate has Democratic Party cred. Amy Clark Meachum, the challenger of sorts, is said to be leading against Jan Patterson, who has held a different judgeship for a decade. But Patterson was caught playing footsie with Rick Perry, which would have resulted in handing a Democratic-leaning court of appeals to the Republicans. Patterson has been explaining herself for the entire primary election, and you know what they say about candidates – if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Judge, 299th District. This is a toss-up race with 4 candidates, but it’s likely to result in a runoff between Mindy Montford and Karen Sage. Who will lead going into a likely runoff?

County Court-at-Law #3. The race features John Lipscomb versus Olga Seelig. Lipscomb has most of the club endorsements, but Seelig got the Statesman. Both candidates are qualified, either though judicial experience or longstanding Democratic activism. This, along with the race for the 201st district court above, could be an indicator of whether the institutional strength of the local Democratic clubs remains solid.

J.P. Precinct 1. This is a toss-up race (if only in my mind) between Yvonne Williams and Daniel Bradford. Will voters see this generically as two qualified Democrats running, or at an Anglo gay Democrat (Bradford)  against an African-American Democrat (Williams), in what is largely an African-American district? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What races are we missing? Sheila Jackson-Lee? Ralph Hall? Terri Hodge? Some random incumbent nobody knew was in trouble who suddenly looks retired by 8:30 pm? Throw in your two cents.

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Dear Bill White:

I’m very glad you’re doing something constructive as the former Houston Mayor, such as running for Governor. Thank goodness you’re not like some other former mayors.

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Fact-checking the candidates: Farouk Shami

Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Political Affairs Division, is strongly committed to keeping you, the crap-reading public, fully informed on what the candidates are saying, and whether they’re telling the truth.

Our first fact-check of the political season: Farouk Shami, who startled reporters yesterday with this stunning claim:

“I’m not a flip-flop. I ran for the governor. I’m running for the governor, and I will be the governor.”

Not so fast, bucko.

Our crack team (yes, our team is, unfortunately, on crack, so we’re in the market for a new team) quickly sprang into action to determine whether Mr. Shami’s claim that he is not a flip-flop is accurate.

Here are the facts. According to experts, this is a flip-flop:

On the other hand, our experts claim that this is Farouk Shami:

There you have it: Farouk Shami is clearly not a flip flop. Thus, this seemingly-outlandish claim by a politician turns out to be accurate. Further, it also appears that Mr. Shami has terrible taste in sports jackets.
Tune in next week, when we’ll will look into whether Bill White is actually a Q-Tip. The answer might surprise you.
This has been “Fact Checking the Candidates,” an exclusive service brought to you by Letters From Texas.

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FUBAR in the News (AKA “desperate cries for help”)

A conversation with Texas Tribune Managing Editor Ross Ramsey before the Thanksgiving break resulted in him asked me to write an opinion piece for them, which appears in the Trib today. Jump over to read it, then jump back and let me know what you think.

Speaking of el Tribune de Tejas, Reeve Hamilton wrote a piece last week on the importance, or lack thereof, of candidate endorsements. I was included in the article, and everybody Reeve interviewed agreed that endorsements don’t mean squat. We all then returned to desperately trying to get more endorsements for our favorite candidates.

Meanwhile, on Sunday I appeared on “Inside Texas Politics” on WFAA-TV in Dallas. Here’s the tape of the show, which opens with a very good interview with Mayor Bill White. Fast forward down to the -6:35 mark for the beginning of the segment in which I appear.

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White-in Candidate, Part II

This Wednesday, a post on Houston Mayor Bill White prompted a request to play “Lets Inappropriately Photoshop Bill White,” and urged readers to send in their submissions.

And let me tell you, if Letters From Texas readers know anything, we know impropriety! Here are my favorites. Click on any image to enlarge it.

From Mean Rachel:

From Anonymous:

From Concerned Citizen:

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White-in Candidate

Houston Mayor (and friend) Bill White has stirred up a bit of controversy with a recent ad in a Houston newspaper. The origin of the ad’s design, which has been discussed here, here, and here, is in dispute. Whatever its origin, it has certainly generated some interesting dialog.

As interesting as this is, in the big scheme of things, this is small potatoes. For example, I’m not sure Mayor White’s participation was ever more crucial than at the Yalta Conference, when Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin joined Mayor White to discuss plans for a post-World War II Europe. Yet, not a peep from bloggers or reporters.

Similarly, I don’t recall any big ordeal when Mayor White attended The Last Supper – it’s natural that during this difficult time, Saint Paul may have been looking for some encouraging words. Plus, the Mayor was undoubtedly hungry, and, well, it was supper.

And if anybody else wants to play “Lets Inappropriately Photoshop Bill White Into a Famous Photo,” please feel free to do so – just email me the result in the next couple of days, and I’ll post the best ones. But please – no porn. Really. I can’t even imagine.

(Thanks to Vince for knowing how to drive Photoshop!)

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