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The ballad of 2010

[thanks to Juanita Jean]

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Things candidates shouldn’t do

We here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters have previously told you about a Congressional candidate named Krystal Ball, because she has the best ballot name ever.

Yeah, well, here’s an update on how her race is going.

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Online voting pilot project update

Apparently, things are going swimmingly.

This has been your online voting pilot project update.

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It has never been more clear that my opponent’s father is a numb skull

Politics is rough, no doubt about it. I have more often counseled potential candidates for public office not to run, than to throw their hats into the ring.

One thing I tell them is that they should not run if they’re not fully prepared for their opponent to go after their family members.

But when I say it, I mean it figuratively.

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Democrats in big trouble? Not so fast, bucko

It is perfectly understandable why you, the crap-reading public, would want me, a paid professional with full understanding of things you could never hope to comprehend, to explain in highly technical terms why I believe Democrats in Texas and across the nation are in pretty good shape electorally, contrary to the frequent utterances of so-called “pundits.”

It is equally understandable that you might wish to complain about the previous run-on sentence. But I cannot be bothered with such trifles. I digress.

Without further delay, here is my highly technical explanation of why Democrats will hold their own in November.

It had previously been assumed that this election would be one of serious anti-Democratic sentiments among the electorate. This, some claim, is well-proven based on the fact that nation-wide, goobers with dumb signs have gathered to loudly say stupid stuff. These aforementioned goobers have been legitimized because they have been joined at their events by high-minded deep-thinking rocket surgeons such as Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry.

Governor Perry’s participation as such events has been particularly convincing, since he – a leading anti-government activist – has for a decade been in charge of the government.

However, over time, research has shown that the election is at least as much about anti-incumbency as anti-Democratic feelings among voters.

The Gallup Organization has measured this nation-wide all summer. They simply take a computer thingie, and plug in those random sample whachamacallits, then contacting voters through the telephone gizmo, they gather stuff called “data,” then plug them back into the computer contraption.

And what any highly-qualified professional would plainly see as a result of this…is a big fancy graph of a penis:

Remember how Republicans have been crowing all Summer long that it’s impossible for the Democrats to avoid being trounced this fall, because the generic balloting was -10 percent for Democrats? Turns out, by the measure Republicans have used to attempt to destroy Democratic voters’ spirit, the Republican lead has vanished.

This, however, does not take into account that Democrats don’t have spirits, since according to Republicans we are all going to Hell.

This has been your Letters From Texas highly technical explanation of why Democrats won’t be trounced.

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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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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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Scintillating stripper seeking Senate seat senses sordid shenanigans

One of the first posts ever on this blog was the story of a porn star running for public office in Italy, in a Rome city council race. Months later, we even did a follow-up post on it, complete with a campaign poster. At the time I thought Molly Ivins had been writing about politics in the wrong country. This stuff practically writes itself.

Apparently I was wrong about Molly’s geographical choices, because she needn’t have traveled very far from Texas. Meet Stormy Daniels, who has reportedly launched an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana, against David Vitter.

You remember Vitter, don’t you? He’s the family values guy who likes prostitutes. I know, I know – there are so many of those guys in D.C. these days that it’s hard to keep up. That’s why we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide H.Q. work so hard to keep you up-to-date on the seedy side of things. You can thank us later.

But, back to Stormy Daniels. See, the thing is, Ms. Daniels is also a porn star. And apparently, things are already a bit too stormy in Louisiana, because Ms. Daniels’ political consultant’s car was blown up last week. He thinks maybe it was somebody trying to send a message. It was either that, or he ignored that little warning light on his dashboard one too many times.

But also last week, Ms. Daniels was arrested, on a battery charge, thus making Ms. Daniels the only candidate for public office who can kill an advantageous news cycle faster than Kay Bailey Hutchison. It seems she (Daniels, not Hutchison, we think) may have hit her husband after some issues came up between them about unpaid bills and who was going to do the laundry.

I have questions. Many, many questions.

First: what exactly is it that qualifies her to be a United States Senator? I mean, I completely appreciate that her Wikipedia page lists many prestigious awards, including the 2003 Adam Film World “Contract Babe of the Year” award; the 2006 award from AVN for Best Supporting Actress for her amazing portrayal in Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre (which I can’t believe I missed – I NEVER get to see the movie before the nominations come out, damn it!); and as a two time winner of the F.A.M.E. Award for Favorite Breasts, in both 2007 and 2009. But still.

Second: who won that Favorite Breasts award in 2008, thus robbing Ms. Daniels of the triple crown? And what precisely did Ms. Daniels do to climb back on top in 2009?

Third: how do we know that her consultant’s car bombing was related to this political race? I mean, he could have just gotten some folks unrelated to this race P.O.’ed at him, you know? We are talking about Louisiana here.

Fourth: how did this so-called “political consultant” land the gig with Stormy Daniels (porn star), while I’m schlepping around Texas on behalf of people like Judith Zaffirini (honorary nun)? Does this seem fair to you?

Fifth: is the debate between Daniels and Vitter going to be televised nationally, or is there some website I have to join to make sure I don’t miss it? And will this site make it past my firewall?

Sixth: porn stars are married and do their own laundry??! Total buzz kill.

We will be hearing more about this. I’m sure of it.

(H/T to Karie Meltzer, who had the good sense to give me a heads up on this, and the bad sense to want credit for it)

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LFT Worldwide Headquarters Austin City Election Endorsements

I can’t count the number of times in recent days in which somebody has walked to up me and asked, “FUBAR, who are you voting for in the Austin city elections?” Well actually, yes I can: zero. But despite lack of demand, we herein present…

FUBAR’s Election Picks

Mayor

Lee Leffingwell. The choice is clear. Austin is not ready for a mayor named “Brewster.” Or, rather, Austin may have been ready 100 years ago, but not now. Similarly, Austin isn’t ready for a mayor who can’t even keep up with her last names or political party affiliations.

Place 1

Perla Cavazos. The other guy doesn’t even have a car, for Christ sake. This is Texas – get a car, then we’ll talk. Plus, Perla is f’ing HAWT, and that’s good enough for me. And oh yeah, she’s smart too, but apparently that’s not very important.

Place 2

Mike Martinez. Why are we even discussing this? Who the hell is that other guy? Get off my ballot, silly other guy.

Place 5

I remain firmly undecided in this race. There are rumors that Bill Spelman is favored by some.

Place 6

Sheryl Cole. She’s my neighbor, and that should be good enough for you. Vote for Sheryl, or the terrorists win.

This has been your Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters Austin City Election Endorsements. These are not suggestions – the choices are mandatory. You have been instructed.

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Yeah, about that Tom Schieffer guy.

A wealthy guy who has dabbled a bit in politics, who has long enjoyed perks afforded him by the Bush family, who was involved in the Texas Rangers ball club, and who now wants to run for Governor?

But enough about George W. Bush. Let’s talk about Tom Schieffer.

Schieffer, by all accounts a nice guy and a serious-minded man, very decisively declared yesterday that he might think about considering to commence to begin mulling over running for Governor, he thinks, maybe. In a rousing beginning to his efforts to attract Democratic primary voters, he proudly proclaimed that he doesn’t regret supporting George W. Bush all those years.

Ever-vigilant and on the lookout for wealthy Democrats who shave regularly and can accessorize properly, half the Democratic establishment immediately spread their prayer rugs, and facing the general direction of Dallas/Fort Worth, said a few prayerful and moving words.

Others rolled their eyes and pretended to be somewhat polite, like when that guy you never really liked shows up to the family reunion and very promptly reminds you of why you always hate going to family reunions.

The consultant class, for their part, quickly became sexually aroused, especially because their 2002 model year vehicles, which are named “Tony,” all have high mileage and need to be replaced soon.

But not so fast.

Schieffer is a serious guy who many seem to be welcoming to the fray, if only cautiously. He may not ultimately prove to be The Chosen One for the Democrats, but what the hell – the discussion ain’t a bad thing.

Democratic primaries are rough on Democrats. People take this stuff seriously, and they should. Primaries are a bit like family reunions – evolving and redefining what kind of family it is, or should be, and every bit as annoying sometimes. But it is an important process.

And you can’t have a real discussion unless there’s more than one person talking.

Does Schieffer’s resume disqualify him from the discussion before the discussion begins? Of course not. And I will note for the record that the entire time he spent in public service as Bush’s ambassador to Australia and Japan, we never once found ourselves in a war against either country, which is a much better deal than a lot of countries got under the Bush regime.

Schieffer has a lot to explain to Democratic voters over the coming months, starting with why Democrats should trust a man to share their collective values, after he spent so many years defending Bush’s positions around the world. Maybe he can explain it to Democratic voters, and maybe he can’t. But let’s at least welcome the discussion, while remembering past election cycles in Texas during which the lack of choices silenced all discussion. How did that turn out for us?

At the end of the day, I trust Democratic voters to make good choices from among their options. Sometimes the options haven’t been great, and sometimes the choices could have been better. But for the most part, Democratic primary voters have sorted it all out pretty well most of the time.

So those who aren’t crazy about a Schieffer candidacy shouldn’t feel threatened by the debate – the debate is what primary elections are supposed to be about.

I’ll have more to say about this, but I’m running late and it’s time to drive ol’ Tony to the Capitol for meetings.

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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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Weenie-In-Chief

The major Democrats running against each other for President earlier this year all seem to be doing quite well. Obviously, Barack Obama will become President on January 20th. So far, we know that Joe Biden will be the Vice President. Hillary Clinton will be the new Secretary of State. Bill Richardson is slated to become the next Commerce Secretary.

But what of John Edwards? Letters from Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Tabloid Sleaze Division, can now reveal exclusively that even John Edwards has employment opportunities available to him.

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Dear Voters of San Francisco:

Lost in the irrational exuberance of election night’s meaningless trivial matters, such as electing an inspiring new leader to repair the global damage done by The Worst President Ever, the truly important stuff has been ignored.

And of course when I say “truly important stuff,” I mean Proposition R in San Francisco, the crucially-important measure which would have re-named a local sewage treatment plant after George W. Bush. If Bush deserves to have anything named after him, this was certainly the thing.

Sadly, San Francisco voters were duped, and the referendum went down in flames. With all due respect, San Francisco voters, you’re a bunch of wusses. We were counting on you. You’re dead to me now.

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Do what Kirk Watson says, or he’ll take your ass out

First, watch this…

Now go here to contribute to Chris Bell to put him in the Texas Senate.

And finally, send an email today to 20 of your friends linking to this page so they can do the same thing.

If you don’t, Senator Watson will know. Really. Don’t take the chance.

(pol. ad. paid for by the committee to keep you safe and in one piece, Vinnie from The Bronx, Treasurer)

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