Tag Archives: 2014 campaign

Dan Patrick to take office flush with campaign cash

Dan Patrick is a cash-raising machine.

The new Texas lieutenant governor is going to take office next week with about $4 million in leftover campaign money. He’ll put it away, sit on it for, oh, the next three years or so.

Then he’ll get to decide whether he (a) wants to seek re-election or (b) go for the next highest office in the state, governor, the one that will be occupied by his fellow Republican Greg Abbott.


As the Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka has noted, there can be no other reason than a possible governor’s race in 2018 to explain why Patrick raised so much money to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

Gov. Abbott had better watch his back.

Patrick’s presence as presiding officer of the Texas Senate is going to put a lot of pressure on Abbott to ensure that he remains faithful to the TEA party principles on which he ran in 2014. He’ll have to persist in suing President Obama every chance he gets at least until Obama leaves office in January 2017. He’ll have to keep the lid on Medicaid expansion. He’ll have to promote tax cuts — even if they damage the state’s ability to provide essential government services.

All this is essential to the TEA party wing’s platform. Lt. Gov. Patrick is the TEA partyer in chief, so he’ll be watching with a keen eye to ensure that the governor toes the line.

As the saying goes, money does talk.


Davis's political future is clouded … at best

This is tough for a Texas liberal such as yours truly to acknowledge, but a well-known political observer is likely correct about Wendy Davis’s future in state politics.

She doesn’t appear to have one.


Texas Monthly blogger Paul Burka notes in a brief post that Davis, a Democrat, managed to parlay a thought-to-be-competitive governor’s race in 2014 into a rout — for the Republican, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott.

Her loss in the governor’s race was worse than the percentage Tony Sanchez rang up against Rick Perry in 2002. Hey, whatever happened to Sanchez?

Burka said Davis is making some noise about seeking another public office. Where? Doing what?

I’m not prone to piling on here, but Davis ought to take a bit of a break from seeking to serve in some public capacity. She is a lawyer, after all, and she can kick-start a private practice in Tarrant County.

I was one of those Texans who had hope that Davis at least could make a race of the contest for governor. She entered the campaign with the wind at her back. She then managed to do a 180 and turned a tailwind into a headwind. Her campaign never got traction.

She lost the contest by 20-some percentage points.

Should she run again? No, Wendy. No!

At least not for a while.



Simple questions need simple answers

Greg Abbott apparently fielded a question that didn’t require a lot of verbal nimbleness.

However, the Republican nominee for Texas governor tried to get cute with his response and in the process had some folks scratching their heads over what he really meant.


The question came from the San Antonio Express-News editorial board, according to Dallas Morning News blogger Jim Mitchell: Would the state attorney general have defended a state ban against interracial marriage?

Abbott has said that as AG, it is his duty to defend state laws, such as the law that bans same-sex marriage. So the Express-News sought to broaden the context just a little by posing a hypothetical question about interracial marriage.

Abbott fluffed the answer, according to Mitchell. Here’s how Mitchell reported it: “Rather than say ‘no I would not defend a ban on interracial marriage,’  he slipped into an accurate, but weak response: ‘And all I can do is deal with the issues that are before me… the job of attorney general is to represent and defend in court the laws of their client, which is  the state Legislature, unless and until, a court strikes it down.’”

The result, said Mitchell, was to create questions about whether Abbott somehow believes such a ban is worth defending, that he’s might actual favor such a prohibition.

Abbott’s arguments against same-sex marriage also pose some problems for the GOP nominee. He said something recently about marriage needing to produce children. Obviously, two people of the same gender cannot do such a thing. Here’s Mitchell’s take: “I’ve taken Abbott to task for his defense of the same-sex ban and the prime reason cited in court filings — the supposed state interest in procreation. Regardless of his personal thoughts, the procreation argument is just amazingly weak.”

Come on, Mr. Attorney General. When you get asked a straightforward question, respond with a straightforward answer.

Keep it simple.

'Hypocrisy' becomes focus of campaign

Wendy Davis is attacking the “hypocrisy” of her opponent.

That is fair game. The question now is the tactic she has used. Was it a “disgrace” that she posted a picture of an empty wheelchair while criticizing Greg Abbott, who also happens to be wheelchair-bound?

I wouldn’t use that kind of term to describe the ad in question. This campaign for Texas governor is now heading into some seriously rough terrain.


Davis is the Democratic nominee; Abbott is her Republican opponent. Abbott remains the favorite to become the state’s next governor, but Davis isn’t going to give up without fighting hard.

The ad in question lasts 30 seconds. It shows an empty wheelchair. The narrator mentions Abbott’s accident that left him paralyzed and how he sued successfully and won millions of dollars in a settlement. It then mentions how he has fought against provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act and how he has opposed large settlements for plaintiffs who have filed suit — just as he did.

Is that hypocritical? Yes.

Davis defended the ad the other day. “This ad is about one thing and one thing only — it is about Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy,” she said.

I remain uncomfortable with the use of the wheelchair in the ad. However, I do not view it as a “historic low,” as Abbott’s campaign has called it. The attorney general has not hidden his use of the wheelchair from the public, which in this era would be impossible. I still believe Davis could have made her point without the wheelchair image, although it could have been a whole lot worse had the ad shown Abbott sitting in his very own wheelchair.

The campaign will trudge on.

Texas politics being what it is — a “contact sport,” as the late Lloyd Bentsen would say — don’t bet the farm that the road doesn’t get a whole lot bumpier.

Bill Clinton helps more than Michelle Obama? Umm, yes

The headline over Dallas Morning News blogger Rodger Jones’s post asks: Does Bill Clinton help Van de Putte more than Michelle Obama helps Wendy Davis?

Well, duh? Do ya think?


The 42nd president has endorsed Democratic lieutenant nominee Leticia Van de Putte. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama has recorded a radio ad for another Democrat, the nominee for governor, Wendy Davis.

With all due respect to the first lady, who I consider to be profoundly successful in her role, she ain’t no Bill Clinton.

President Clinton is a genuine political rock star. He’s the 800-pound gorilla in any political setting imaginable. He can walk into deeply red Republican regions — as he did in 2008 when he campaigned in Amarillo for his wife’s bid to become president — and pack ’em in.

Jones refers to Clinton as “Bubba,” and his endorsement amounts to a “seal of approval.”

Van de Putte will need all the help she can get in her uphill fight against Republican nominee — and fellow state senator — Dan Patrick. Clinton’s standing as the leading Democrat in the nation — yes, even more than the man who now occupies his old office in the White House — gives any candidate who receives his blessing maximum oomph.

It’s an astonishing comeback for the second president ever to be impeached. The Senate acquitted him of those politically motivated charges relating to his misbehavior in the White House. It didn’t take long at all for the president to regain his standing among many Americans.

And in the 13 years since his leaving office, that standing has grown almost beyond all recognition.

Will his endorsement put Van de Putte over the top? I doubt it. Still, she isn’t going to erase this “seal of approval.”

A single vote causes confusion

Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to be the next U.S. senator from Kentucky.

She’s taking on a heavyweight, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Grimes has much to commend her for the job. However, there’s a strangely awkward reticence that is getting in the way. She declines to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2012.


This is a strange distraction. Come on, Ms. Grimes. What’s the story? Did you or did you not support the president, a member of your very own Democratic Party?

Politics creates such a fickle environment. Little things like this become big things in a heartbeat.

In a way, I understand Grimes’s reticence. Our votes, after all, are supposed to be done in secret. We cast our ballots with no obligation to tell anyone how we vote. Where I come from, that’s a sure sign of liberty. Voters become “liberated” by their votes, giving them more than ample justification to speak their minds on policy issues and the people who carry them out.

However, Grimes is running for a public office. That means her life essentially is an open book. The public is entitled to know to what level they endorse another public figure’s public policy stances.

Thus, her vote becomes grist for comment. It also becomes a target for inquiring minds.

Her reluctance might have something to do with the president’s low standing among Kentuckians. His approval rating is about 30 percent. Grimes has told at least two newspaper editorial boards — in Louisville and Lexington — that she’s a “Clinton Democrat.” She has declined on several occasions to say whether she voted for the president.

This kind of clumsiness angers her base, which she’ll need if she intends to defeat McConnell on Nov. 4.

It’s such a petty matter in the grand scheme. It has become a bigger matter than it deserves to be.

Political ads starting to fly

Here we go.

Three weeks until Election Day and Texans are starting to get a gut full of TV ads — mostly of the negative variety.

It’s going to get nasty, ladies and gents.


Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis has just released a brutal ad attacking Republican opponent Greg Abbott over his work against others seeking assistance in the wake of catastrophic illness and injury. The ad, though, makes specific mention of the crippling injury Abbott suffered as a young man when a tree fell on him, leaving him paralyzed. It notes that Abbott sued and won millions of dollars, but has worked to deny others the same sort of award.

A group called Texans for Greg Abbott has released a radio ad alleging that Davis has used her position as a legislator and, before that, as a Fort Worth city councilwoman for personal gain.

The Davis ad attacking Abbott has drawn some serious criticism. Politico reports: “‘It is challenging to find language strong enough to condemn Sen. Davis’ disgusting television ad, which represents a historic low for someone seeking to represent Texans,’ said Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse. ‘Sen. Davis’ ad shows a disturbing lack of judgment from a desperate politician and completely disqualifies her from seeking higher office in Texas.’”

I’m left to ask: Is the ad false? I cannot find a falsehood in the information presented.

Same for the anti-Davis ad I heard this morning on the radio.

People keep saying how much they detest negative advertising. I have said it myself from time to time. However, the political gurus who manage these campaigns know what works. They craft these ads because voters respond to them.

So it will be for the rest of this campaign in Texas. The state ballot is full of contested races that are bound to produce more than their share of negativity.

Get ready for it.

Visit the Panhandle? Not on this tour, Leticia


OK, kids. Take a good look at the picture attached here.

It lines out Democratic Texas lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte’s upcoming tour of Texas.

I noticed a major Texas city is missing from that itinerary. It’s Amarillo.

But in a message to supporters, Van de Putte, a Democratic state senator from San Antonio, said this: “It’s a big responsibility in a big state, and I know I’m up to the challenge. I’ll travel more than 2,500 miles – from the vibrant Rio Grande Valley and border region to the vast high plains of the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast before ending up in the shadow of our state capitol dome – to see, hear, and experience firsthand all the things that make Texas so exceptional.”

“To the vast high plains of the Panhandle,” she writes.

Well, as I look at the itinerary posted on the picture, the closest city to the Panhandle is Lubbock, which is 120 miles south of Amarillo in what’s called the “South Plains” region.


The blog posted on mysanantonio.com notes that Van de Putte is going to see virtually the entire state on her bus tour. “Virtually” is the key word here. She ain’t coming to the Panhandle.

I do hope the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee can find her way here … eventually.

For now, she needs to re-learn to locate region that comprises the “vast high plains of the Panhandle.”

Sen. Davis almost comes clean on ’14 plans

Evan Smith gave it the old college try as he tried to wheedle a statement from state Sen. Wendy Davis about whether she is running for Texas governor.

The Fort Worth Democrat didn’t take the bait at the TribFest, saying only that she plans to make her announcement on Thursday.


Still, it is interesting to see the interest beginning to swirl about Davis’s plans.

She took the state — and the nation — by storm when she filibustered an anti-abortion bill into temporary oblivion during the first special session of the Texas Legislature earlier this summer. She gabbed for 13 hours until the clock ran out. Gov. Rick Perry called legislators back into another special session and Republicans managed to get the bill approved.

Davis’s star, though, still shines brightly. National Democrats have collected lots of money for her campaign. She’s actually beginning to energize a moribund state Democratic Party, which has been pounded senseless for the past two decades. Democrats won their latest statewide race in Texas in 1994. It’s been slim pickings ever since.

I’m not sure Davis is going to break the Democrat’s losing streak.

She certainly is going to brighten the political landscape Thursday when she announces her race for Texas governor.

Lt. gov. debate takes load road

State Sen. Dan Patrick got under Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s skin the other day at a debate that featured the four leading candidates for Dewhurst’s job as head of the Texas Senate.

Patrick, R-Houston, chastised Dewhurst for appointing too many Democrats to Senate committee chairmanships. Dewhurst’s response? He said he’s been reducing the bipartisan leadership ratio since becoming lieutenant governor and besides, he said, the Democrats who chair committees lead panels that aren’t “critical.”


That drew a sharp response from one of those inconsequential committee chairs, Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installation.

She wrote Dewhurst a blistering note criticizing the demeaning tone of his response to Patrick’s barb.

I guess my own view is that Patrick is wrong to lambaste the bipartisanship that still exists to some — but a shrinking — degree in the Senate. I’ve long thought of the Texas Senate as a place where Democrats and Republicans could work together and could share leadership roles on key committees.

Isn’t a panel that deals with veterans and military installations ostensibly a non-partisan group? Doesn’t it deal with issues that should wipe away partisan differences?

For the lieutenant governor, though, to try to outflank the loudmouth Patrick is equally shameful. I would have much preferred Dewhurst defending the bipartisanship that is demonstrated by handing out committee chairmanships to senators from the other party.

But no. He tacked far to the right to appeal to that right-wing GOP fringe that likely is going to determine who gets nominated next spring.

Very disappointing, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.