09.19.14

Statesman Endorses Democrats Bucy and Osborn over GOP Incumbents

Posted in Election 2014, HD-136, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 8:15 am by wcnews

In two Williamson County  house races the Austin American Statesman has endorsed Democratic challengers Chris Osborn (HD-52) and John Bucy (HD-136) over the GOP incumbents.  One big reason is the incumbents votes against public education, and continuing to neglect the needs of Texas, Change needed in some districts.

As the 28th fastest-growing county in the country, according to the latest census report, Williamson County faces significant challenges: from transportation to affordable energy; from education to job creation; and from financing infrastructure to maintaining a quality of life. Addressing those challenges takes strong leadership, and on Nov. 4, voters will have to determine whether the three incumbent state representatives in Districts 20, 52 and 136 have done enough for the area, or if it’s time for a change. In two of the three races, we believe a change is needed for Williamson County.

Both the GOP incumbents in these races voted for a voucher plan last session that ultimately failed.  Larry Gonzales (HD-52) went along with the extremists in the GOP in 2011 and “supported the massive education budget cuts”. They endorse Osborn stating:

Osborn, an attorney, wants to not only make public education a priority but also wants to help our state and local governments be more efficient and transparent, if he is elected. Though he is the underdog, Osborn understands planning for the future is the best way to address the issues of a fast-growing district. His willingness to work with both sides of the aisle should serve him well if elected.

In HD-136 they mainly take issue with Dale’s vote for a voucher program while leaving out his lying about his opponent. They endorse Bucy this way.

…Bucy has a vision to help fight for quality public education for all Texas children if he is elected. He has a multi-faceted approach for traffic solutions and understands that Williamson County needs to bring in more professional jobs to the area. He is a refreshingly strong candidate in a county that has struggled to mount a significant Democratic presence with viable candidates.

In the other district that includes Williamson County HD-20, (the reddest of the three districts), they endorse the incumbent Republican Marsha Farney over Democratic candidate Steve Wyman.  Farney may be the most sensible Republican of the three.

All three races include a Libertarian candidate.

05.06.14

Few Texas House Races Up For Grabs In 2014

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014, HD-136, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 11:28 am by wcnews

Kuff links to the latest from Ross Ramsey on the few competitive races in the Texas House in 2014, The small number of competitive legislative races in November.

The 36-member congressional ballot is just as imbalanced, with three runoffs (all Republican) next month and only one obviously competitive November race, in the 23rd Congressional District, where freshman Democrat Pete Gallego of Alpine is the incumbent. Democrats are starting to talk hopefully about the chances for Wesley Craig Reed, the challenger to U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. That district, CD-27, was drawn to favor Republicans, however, and part of Reed’s challenge will be to overcome that advantage in a midterm election year with an unpopular Democratic president in office.

That’s the problem for challengers with these maps: Barring the unexpected — scandal, death, resignations that come too late for candidates to be replaced — most races will be over by the end of next month, if they aren’t over already.

Those are most of the caveats, along with the usual one: It’s early, and things will change. All that said, here is an early list of House races to watch in November, mostly because they are in the handful of swing districts that remain on the map.

  • HD-105: Republican state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown of Irving lost her primary to former Rep. Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie in March. He’ll face Libertarian W. Carl Spiller and the winner of a Democratic runoff in a district where both major parties think a win is possible.
  • HD-107: Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, is being challenged by Democrat Carol Donovan.
  • HD-113: Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, is being challenged by Democrat Milton Whitley.
  • HD-43: Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, will face Democrat Kim Gonzalez.
  • HD-23: Democratic Rep. Craig Eiland of Galveston isn’t seeking another term, leaving this open seat to either Republican Wayne Faircloth or Democrat Susan Criss.
  • HD-117: Democratic Rep. Philip Cortez of San Antonio will face Republican Rick Galindo.
  • HD-144: Rep. Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston, is being challenged by Republican Gilbert Peña.
  • HD-41: Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-Mission, will face Elijah Israel Casas in this marginally Democratic district.
  • HD-149: Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, is being challenged by Republican Al Hoang in a district that Vo has managed to defend — narrowly — several times.

Keeping score? That list includes four seats currently held by Republicans that the Democrats would like to take away, and five Democratic seats that the Republicans hope to grab. At the extremes, that would mean the Texas House would convene with 91 to 100 Republicans and 50 to 59 Democrats in January 2015 — about where it is today.

That’s what Ramsey had to say, here’s and excerpt from Kuff.

I’ll stipulate that once the runoffs are settled, so too are the vast majority of legislative races. There’s always the possibility of a surprise, as the story notes, but barring anything unforeseen, all the action this year will be statewide and in the counties. That’s just not what the pattern has been over the past decade, but it’s a testament to the power of the 2011 redistricting. I suspect it’s one part access to more accurate data and more powerful computers, and one part more rapid demographic change in various districts last decade, but right now these maps have the feel of permanence, barring court-mandated changes, until 2021.

That’s a pretty sad reality if this is what our “democracy” has become.  And it most certainly has.  The end of the primary season is pretty much the end of the election.  And thus far very few Texans have taken the opportunity to vote.

It’s sad locally because in Williamson County we have two great candidates for Texas House in Chris Osborn in HD-52 and John Bucy in HD-136.  After 2010 the GOP made HD-52, where Democrat Diana Maldonado won in 2008, more GOP-friendly.  And it was hoped that HD-136 might be a friendly district for Democrats.  They both ran in the 55R – 42D range.  One interesting element is that both races have a Libertarian, that will likely garner 4-6% of the vote.  (There’s a Democrat, Steve Wyman, running in HD-20, but that district is drawn to heavily favor the GOP).

Obama ran better then the state and county average in 2012, in both HD-52 and HD-136, but not by much.  It will be interesting to see how the candidates, the WCDP, BGTX and the Davis campaign can move the needle in these districts.  It would certainly be nice to see the TDP put some money into these two races in Williamson County.

Of course it would be great to win these races in 2014.  The numbers need to start reflecting what many on the left think – that Texas is a non-voting state. The most important thing is to see the gap between Democrats and Republicans shrink in many of these races.  This election will be one part of a years-long struggle to get Democrats back in office in Williamson County.

04.30.13

Williamson County legislators on the Tribune’s “Hot Seat”

Posted in 83rd Legislature, HD-20, SD 5, Williamson County at 1:07 pm by wcnews

I would encourage all of those who live in House District 20 and Senate District 5 to watch the video of GOP state legislators Marsha Farney and Charles Schwertner talking with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. Farney, for a Republican from Williamson County sounds almost liberal when talking about public education, and the sense she speaks when discussing the voucher question, that Schwertner dodges. But Schwertner is way out there. It really showed when he started talking about Medicaid expansion. He refers our Federal Government as being broke, which is completely false, regularly refers (falsely) to it as insolvent, which is decades old BS. He regurgitated tired GOP talking points like “golden hand cuffs”, spoke about vague “solutions”, and spouted debunked statements about the “expansion group being a group of able-bodied, single, chilldless adults”.  As if poor people who are able-bodied, single, and without children doen’t deserve health care.  His indifference highlights the change that has occurred in our country over the last 40 or so years.

Click here for a the list of those Who Support Medicaid Expansion in Texas.

09.22.11

The changing election landscape in Williamson County, creating opportunities

Posted in 2012 Primary, Around The State, Election 2012, HD-20, HD-52, SBOE District 10, SD 5, Williamson County at 11:19 am by wcnews

With state Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) announcing his retirement earlier in the week it has had a domino effect throughout Williamson County.  Freshman tea party state in HD-20 Rep. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) is throwing his hat, and a lot of money, into the race.  The other Williamson County freshman tea party state in HD-52 Rep. Larry Gonzalez (R-Round Rock) is going to stay put.

With Schwertner stepping down that leaves 2 open state House seats in Williamson County in 2010, (with the new HD 149 being an open seat as well).  First-term State Board of Education (SBOE) District 10 member Marsha Farney will be running to replace Schwertner in HD-20, along with Jeff Fleece (who ran against Mark Strama in 2006).  With Farney moving on that leaves SBOE District 10 as an open seat, it includes Williamson, part of Travis and several other counties.

Ogden’s retirement, and the resultant dominoes, creates several opportunities for getting some fresh faces elected in and around Williamson County.  This past session saw the GOP dominated Texas legislature again put the burden of the budget shortfall on the backs of poor, working, and middle class Texans, while the GOP and their rich donors got off scot-free.  Little will change in Texas and Williamson County if these races are allowed to be treated as if they were regal successions.

While Ogden was no moderate in the Senate, replacing him with Schwertner, would be like being represented by the likes of Michelle Bachmann, or worse, in the state Senate.  He recently told the Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce hat if it was up to him he would eliminate ALL social programs.  He likely sees public education as a social program as well.

What we need in Williamson County and across the state are candidates that will stand up for most Texans whose taxes have been going up year after year, as those who benefit from our hard work have been getting off without contributing their fair share.  While our governor is prancing around the country, the  poverty rate and the number of working uninsured continues to rise.  It’s not likely that continuing to elect tea party ideologues will change anything for the better for most Texans.

We need candidates to run that will put those of us who been left out of the debate for to long –  poor, working and middle class Texans – first again.  Candidates that will truly make education financing fair and the number one priority in Texas, because education is the best economic development ever created.  Candidates that will vow to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – programs that keep the elderly and most vulnerable among us out of poverty – at all costs.  We must have candidates that will show a contrast to the current crop of wealthy elected officials in Williamson County.   This would be a good platform to run on, Rebuild the American Dream.

Further Reading:
Meant to link this yesterday. A good list of the changes in legislative seats across the state, Update on Texas Legislative Races.

06.09.11

Rural vs. Urban, Rich vs. Poor – lines drawn as House is set to debate school finance

Posted in 82nd Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Education, Had Enough Yet?, HD-20, HD-52, Public Schools, SD 5, Special Session, Teachers at 10:21 am by wcnews

As the members of the Texas GOP in the House begin debating their new scheme to gut public education in Texas it’s important we understand why this must be done.  Here’s the GOP’s line in the sand.

“I would love to give more money to schools, but the bottom line is we can’t spend money we don’t have, and we can’t raise taxes,” said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford.

That summarizes the GOP’s priorities. They will do anything – gut public education, take away children’s health care (as they did in 2003), vote to end Medicare – to keep from making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. That line is taken from this article in the Star-Telegram, Teacher groups say Texas GOP will pay price in 2012 for budget cuts.

Education is shaping up to be a dominant issue in the 2012 legislative elections as teachers and their allies begin seeking political retaliation for deep reductions in school financing and other measures perceived as unfriendly to educators.

“Cuts in education are going to be one of the biggest issues to be considered in the next election cycle,” said Lonnie Hollingsworth, director of governmental relations for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

His group will examine voting records and plan strategy to “get some teacher-friendly folks” elected, he said.

We used to have a teacher-friendly representative in Williamson County, but tea party hysteria took care of that. And now we are represented by folks (Gonzales, Schwertner & Ogden) who voted to cut over $100 million from ISD’s in Williamson County.

There is an alternative plan for how to enact a responsible budget in Texas.  Here’s the crux of a plan put forward by three Democratic state Senators, Ellis, Davis, Lucio File Legislation to Enact Responsible Budget Roadmap.

The Roadmap to a More Responsible Budget:

  • Ends huge giveaways to business, like the early filer tax break. Texas gave retailers a tax break of over $200M last year simply to file their sales tax on time. We gave them another $200M to file them early, and we gave another $65 million to businesses who pay their fuel taxes on time. There shouldn’t be such a huge reward for doing what you are supposed to do.
  • Eliminates the so-called “high cost” natural gas tax loophole. Texas gave away over $7.4 Billion in tax giveaways from 2004-09 to Natural gas producers who already profit in the billions, because their lobbyists have been able to maintain an antiquated definition of “high cost” gas in the code. From new drills established in 2009 alone, we will lose another $7.9B over the next 10 years.
  • This ‘tax incentive’ was created in 1989 to help companies with the costs of drilling high cost wells, which made sense then, but now virtually every new well produced is a so-called ‘high cost’ well. Mom and Pop producers are not getting this tax break, major oil companies are. One huge oil company saved $113.8 million in FY 2010, while reporting net profits of $4.6 billion. A subsidiary of another of the world’s largest oil companies saved $113.2 million.
  • Uses the Rainy Day Fund to spare cuts our kids, our seniors and our schools. Ellis’ SJR 2 allows for a majority vote to tap the Rainy Day Fund for education. The Rainy Day Fund was created for budget challenges exactly like we face today. And, because of rising oil and gas prices, the Rainy Day Fund balance is at least $6.3 billion; and growing. Even if the Texas economy does slow in future years, soaring oil and gas prices virtually guarantee the Rainy Day Fund will continue to grow. For instance, even as the Texas economy slumped, the Rainy Day Fund grew by 40 percent, from $6.7 billion in FY 2008 to $9.4 billion in FY 2012.
  • Addresses the structural deficit resulting from how the legislature paid for property tax cuts during the 2006 school finance debate. The business, or “margins tax,” simply did not raise enough revenue to offset property tax cuts and, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public accounts, will lead to a $10 billion shortfall every two years if we do not fix the tax. More businesses — not fewer — need to pay their fair share for Texas schools.

In 2006, then-Comptroller of Public Accounts Carole Keeton Strayhorn warned the legislature that the swap was completely out of balance. She called it “the largest hot check in Texas history:

“As the state’s chief fiscal officer, it is my responsibility to spell out exactly what the Perry Tax Plan means to our state’s fiscal integrity. As you have known since it was made public, your plan simply does not pay for itself. As of this moment, this legislation is a staggering $23 billion short of the funds needed to pay for the promised property tax cuts over the next five years.”

“It is far more important for us to get the budget done right than just get it done right now, said Ellis. “We’re ready to get to work and to work with the governor and those in charge.”

While the GOP’s scheme for school finance is horrible and all will get cut it hurts rural and poor school districts much harder then it does urban and rich school districts. Bill Grusendorf Executive Director of the Texas Association of Rural Schools had this to say about SB 1, the bill to be debated today (Via QR).

SB 1 in its current form would make uniform cuts to school districts regardless of whether that district is funded by the state at a very high or very low level. It could underfund schools in years when the state’s estimates of enrollment growth or property values are inaccurate – something school districts have no control over. And it will establish a Regular Program Adjustment Factor that would, for the first time, set school funding levels in the appropriations bill conference committee rather than going through the more transparent and publicly accessible legislative process.

[...]

SB 1 in its current form is a threat to rural Texas, and that endangers us all.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the GOP is again using class warfare, that’s what they do. Let’s hope that dome of the rural Republicans wake up before it’s too late. Via Harvey Kronberg at the Quorum Report on the injustices in the current bill.

To state it more bluntly, schools are at the center of most rural communities and are often the largest employers.. Friday night football is a metaphor for the glue that public schools offer in holding folks together.

Its not all rural communities that get dinged. Nor are all urban and suburban communities exempted from the worst of the pain.

The point of the conversations we hear is that the distribution of the pain is too unevenly distributed—the difference between winners and losers too stark. Absent a compelling amendment, enough votes may be drifting away to put the outcome on the floor in question.

Here’s what the TCTA is saying about SB 1 and several other bills on today’s House calendar.

Although TCTA has focused heavily on the deregulation bills that are scheduled for House consideration Thursday (HBs 18, 19, 20 and 21), SB 1, which is also on Thursday’s House calendar, is crucial legislation. SB 1 contains the school finance reform necessary to accommodate the significant per-student reductions in school funding, but as legislators have viewed the individual impact on the school districts they represent, concern has grown. Some House members are unhappy about the overall loss of funding, and will likely not vote for any school finance bill unless more money is put into the system. Others, particularly in rural areas, believe that the cuts are unequally distributed and have a particularly strong impact on their districts. Passage of SB 1, or similar legislation, during this 30-day special session is a “must”; failure would almost certainly force another special session. Because SB 1 is comprehensive legislation (it addresses many fiscal issues aside from school funding), we expect to see a large number of amendments attempted on the floor, resulting in hours of deliberation on this bill. We will update this page throughout Thursday as developments on SB 1 and the deregulation bills warrant.

Texas AFT has all the information on how to get in touch with your elected officials.

The latest word is that SB 1 is far from a done deal. Call your state rep on Texas AFT’s toll-free line:  1-888-836-8368.

Not sure who represents you in the Texas House? You can find out quickly at this state Web site:  www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us.

You can do more! Send an e-mail letter to your state rep from the Texas AFT Web site.Click here to find the already-prepared letter and send it. The whole process takes less than a minute. That’s a minute worth spending to save Texas schools, don’t you think?

Education is the great equalizer in a democracy. In Texas it is a right. It’s time our elected representatives stood up for the rights of Texans. And if the rich and corporations have to pay more taxes because of that then so be it. Democracy has a price.

03.31.11

Thoughts as the budget debate moves to the next phase

Posted in 82nd Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, HD-20, HD-52, jobs, Taxes, The Budget, The Lege at 10:51 am by wcnews

The Show goes on.  Today the Texas House is set to begin the 82nd Legislatures first serious debate, out in the open, debate of the budget for th 2012-2013 biennium.  It’s likely to last into, if not through, the weekend.  Kuff asks a question that was the impetus for the post below this one, What was this past election about? The last election was for many people, who did and did not vote, about jobs. But, unfortunately, for most that did vote it was about something else.

I don’t know how the campaigns actually went in most House districts. There wasn’t a competitive race in mine, so the vast majority of what I saw that an average voter would have seen came from the Governor’s race, where the Republican message was basically “Texas rulz, Obama droolz”. Rick Perry certainly didn’t campaign on the need to slash the budget in Texas. Sure, he talked at length about out of control spending, but that was always clearly in the context of talking about Washington and Obama and the Democratic Congress. I realize I’m Monday morning quarterbacking to an extent here, but does anyone disagree with the claim that Rick Perry has basically been running a nonstop anti-Washington campaign for about two years now? Does anyone disagree that the 2010 election was all about the anti-Obama vote coming out in force, abetted by a weak economy and a heaping measure of anti-immigrant sentiment?

Looking over the two candidate issue pages for the two current state representatives in Williamson County, (Larry Gonzales and Charles Schwertner), there were some similarities and differences.  The biggest similarity was that neither one of them spoke of gutting funding for public education, nursing homes, health care, and mental health – the least among us. Gonzalez being in a more competitive race, where dispirited Obama voters stayed home, did little to rile them up and largely left Obama out of it. Mostly he just blew the GOP’s “liberal” dog whistle as often as possible which was paid for by Bob Perry. Why he even had this to say about education back then, going so far as to quote the father of the Democratic Party.

Larry knows that education is not only the ticket to a successful future but — as Jefferson believed — the only true way to preserve our democracy. A great public education is a critical first step to a successful career in our modern economy. More and more, a college degree is also required. That’s why Larry is dedicated to providing a world-class education to our K-12 children, but also to finding ways to expand the opportunity for a college education to as many Texans as possible.

Schwertner, on the other hand, not having an opponent was able to go full wing-nut.   His campaign was all about Obama, cutting taxes, and protecting tax loopholes for businesses. Neither on of them campaigned on the morally bankrupt policies that Schwertner voted to pass out of the Appropriations Committee.  Nor did they campaign on the budget that’s likely pass through the House that will cause massive job loss in Texas.  The last election was about national discontent, trickling-down to the local level.  But Texas’ budget this session, unlike 2009, will have to be balanced without the help of the federal government.

Much of what you will see over the next several days will be more of what EOW calls The Show.  It is at the heart an attempt to bring political cover to the GOP leadership in the Lege for what they will eventually have to be done.

Once The Show is over, the RDF will be used.  Fees and taxes, will be raised.   Cuts will have been made too.  But before this can be agreed upon, we must sit through The Show.

[...]

Political cover is what The Show is all about.  What Ogden said in that recent talk show appearance likely still holds for the coming budget.  All Perry and the wing nuts need is several months of Op-Eds, blog posts, TV and newspaper stories, etc… to highlight how bad things will be if a “cuts only” budget is passed.  Then, and only then, will Perry and the wing nuts begrudgingly accept “reality” and do what they knew they were going to to months before.

It’s unlikely the budget will be resolved in the regular session. What is likely to happen is that the shortfall number will be reduced even further, it currently stands at $23 billion, down from $27 billion. Money will be added from new taxes and fees, ending unfair tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations, and likely an increased revenue estimate from the Comptroller by the Summer.

This is just the next step in a process that will last for a few more months.

03.04.10

Postmortem on the GOP house races in Williamson County

Posted in 2010 Primary, Commentary, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 5:04 pm by wcnews

In HD-20 of the three viable candidates – Dr. Charles Schwertner, Milton Rister, and Stephen Thomas – Schwertner was the only one who didn’t receive large contributions from GOP Sugar Daddy Bob Perry.  He self-financed his campaign.  And for that reason he was probably the best of the bunch.  At least he’s not beholden to a fat cat donor or special interest.

In HD-52, the race to see who will face incumbent Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock), it has come down to  The “‘Ol Fart” vs.  The “Young Whippersnapper”.

Round Rock Democrat Diana Maldonado is going to have to wait a little while longer to see who her Republican opponent is going to be in the House District 52 race.

With all GOP primary votes counted by 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, John Gordon and Larry Gonzales are headed for an April 13 runoff.

[...]

Throughout the primary campaign [John] Gordon, 63, touted his long history of involvement with Williamson County and the Republican Party. On Tuesday night he said voters recognized that experience and it paid of for him at the ballot box.

[...]

[Larry] Gonzales, 39, is a Round Rock resident and owner of Lazarus Graphics. He’s making his first run at elected office but, like Gordon, has previously worked as a behind-the scenes political foot soldier.

Other than the age difference between the two candidates this race sets up a lot like the run off in 2008. Gordon, like Dee Hobbs in 2008, is a long time Williamson County resident with deep roots here.  He is also largely self-funding his campaign like Schwertner.  Gonzales, like Bryan Daniel, is the slick newcomer to the county who is favored by the statewide money – with ties to the Perry’s, Bob and Rick, and the deposed Craddick faction in the Texas House.

02.24.10

Bob Perry looms large in Williamson County GOP House races

Posted in 2010 Primary, HD-20, HD-52, Money In Politics, Williamson County at 6:05 am by wcnews

According to the eight day out reports, home builder and right-wing sugar daddy Bob Perry is making his presence known, contributing a total of $95,000 to his candidates in two local House GOP primary races. The largest single political donor in Texas tapped Larry Gonzales and Milton Rister for largess as they seek the Republican nominations for House districts 52 and 20.

In HD-52 it looks like a two candidate race between Larry Gonzales and John Gordon. Gonzales in the current filing raised over $83,000, $70,000 of that from Bob Perry ($40,000) and his wife Doylene ($30,000). Gordon is largely self-financing his campaign and spent just shy of $48,000 over the last filing period. The two other candidates, Alyssa Eacono (raised $7,000/spent $16,000) and Stephen Casey (raised $1,200/spent $2,300), are lagging behind in the money race.

In HD-20 there are three candidates spending and raising significant money – Milton Rister, Dr. Charles Schwertner, and Stephen Thomas.

Milton Rister raised just over $46,000 this filing period. Perry gave him $25,000 of that. Also giving to Rister were former GOP candidate for Governor Clayton Williams ($10,000), James Leininger ($2,500), and a variety of Oil interests – KOCHPAC ($1,000), Conoco Phillips ($1,500), and Chevron ($1,000).

AAS reports on HD-20 and that Dr. Charles Schwertner spent $123,000 on his campaign in the last month.

Charles Schwertner dished out more than $123,000 from Jan. 22 to Feb. 20, according to campaign finance reports.

The next highest spender, Milton Rister, spent about $34,000 in the same period.

Another candidate, Stephen Thomas, listed expenditures of about $32,000.

Patsy Williams, the final Republican in the race, had about $2,200 in expenses

This race is still likely to come down to a runoff. The question is, which two will make it?

[UPDATE]: Later this week it was reported that Stephen Thomas had received $25,000 from Bob Perry, which is the exact amount that Milton Rister received from Perry.  Thomas was also formerly the head of the now defunct TRCC, aka the home builder protection agency, that was setup to protect builders like Perry from lawsuits when they built sub-standard homes.

02.16.10

HD-20 GOP Primary – Sun City v. Cedar Park

Posted in 2010 Primary, HD-20, Williamson County at 12:37 pm by wcnews

Good report from the Texas Tribune’s Elise Hu on the race in HD 20, Primary Color: HD-20.

Looks like a race between Sun City and Cedar Park. Virtually no mention of other parts of the district by the candidates, Milam County in particular. With those being the two largest voting centers of HD-20 that’s where the candidates are focusing there attention.

11.30.09

SD-5 and HD-20 After Gattis

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, HD-20, SD 5, Williamson County at 3:27 pm by wcnews

It’s fun to speculate as to why Dan Gattis really decided not to run for the Texas Senate, and why, (or if), Steve Ogden will run again, and there is quite a bit to speculate about.  From Burka alone today we learn that Gattis, who once aspired to the Presidency of these United States of America, has dropped out of the SD 5 race because a wing-nut scared him out of the race.

An amazing development. Gattis has spoken openly of his desire to be president of the United States some day. Now he is out of politics, not even running for reelection to the House. It’s a double whammy, a talented member gone and the dreadful Milton Rister as a possible successor.

[...]

Gattis had a very active opponent in Ben Bius, of Walker County (Huntsville). The Bius camp contends that the real reason Gattis dropped out was that the race was not going well for him, that they had knocked on 15,000 doors in Williamson County, that they had been running radio spots for several weeks, that Gattis was having trouble raising money from business interests that didn’t like his support for legislation backed by trial lawyers. They were getting ready to send out a mailer slamming Gattis for offering what they claim is a state “public option” for health insurance, HB 2470, which established the Texas Mutual Health Benefit Plan Company.

That this is all Kay Bailey Hutchison’s fault:

This is more fallout from Hutchison’s decision not to resign her Senate seat. It is safe to conclude that Ogden would not run for the Senate again if he were not confident of retaining the chairmanship of Senate Finance. He can have that confidence only he knows that Dewhurst will remain as light gov and not run for Hutchison’s seat if and when she were to resign. Indeed, the purveyors of the conventional wisdom around the Capitol believe that she will serve out her term to the bitter end, December 31, 2012.

And the rift between Williamson County, and the rest of SD 5 is a big issue, (see EOW’s SD 5 and ideological purity):

Did Ogden get pressure from Brazos County leaders to run? There were indications that the folks in Bryan were none too happy at the prospect that the district would be represented by someone from Williamson County. Brazos County would be unlikely to get the seat back anytime soon. It is not growing relative to the state’s growth. Williamson County is.

In the comments there was also this:

If Ogden does not run, Williamson County will find someone else to do so. Rumors are swirling around that former Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell, who can self-finance, is being asked to consider it. Several other elected officials are also putting out feelers

Everyone in HD-20 should read the comments to the AAS blog post yesterday where some sniping between the Rister and Thomas “supporters” broke out.  Gattis’ move leaves many puzzled and rightfully so.  For such an up-and-coming politician to just quit is a surprise.  It’s equally surprising that Gattis won’t run in HD-20, and will be out of politics for now.  When I first saw that he was dropping out of the SD 5 race, I was almost certain he would go back to the HD-20 race.  No matter, it would be great to get a Democrat in this race,  to run against the winner of the ideological purity test/primary, on the GOP side in HD-20.

As far as Ogden goes, maybe he was looking to run for Lt. Gov., and once KBH didn’t resign he wanted his old office back? The AusChron calls Ogden’s so-called budget prowess into question.

The boildown is that Gattis regards Ogden as the only man with the financial know-how to fix the state budget with the anticipated 2011 deficit. Actually, there should probably be more probing of exactly how culpable the four-time Senate Finance chair is in creating that deficit. The Texas state budget is already in a structural deficit that Ogden et al papered over with federal stimulus money (thereby negating any stimulative effects). Ogden was Finance boss when the abortive business franchise tax reforms were passed in 2006. He’s also helped further institutionalize fund diversions (the legislative term for robbing Peter to pay Paul), which tax watchdogs like the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association oppose for disguising real need and real state spending, but that he has defended.

Ogden surely has some chinks in his armor and anyone running against him, in a primary or general election, can surely attack him as not wanting the job anymore.  It would take more than that to keep him from winning, but a good candidate with an adequate amount of money and who knows?  But what if Ogden doesn’t run?  It would then setup an interesting race without a clear front runner – a truly open seat.  While SD 5 is still a district that leans Republican, a Democrat in the mold of Hank Gilbert would have a fighting chance in SD-5.  Especially with the Texas GOP, and GOP throughout SD 5, looking more disorganized and disunited than it has in quite some time.

And that  disarray is one of the main problems facing the Texas GOP in the 2010 cycle.  Another issue they have, that’s not getting much notice, is that they will be running the same three candidates at the top of the ballot that for the third straight election cycle – Perry, Dewhurst, and Abbott.  When Texans ask themselves if they’re better off than they were 8 years ago, and come to the conclusion they aren’t, they won’t be comfortable voting for these three again.

[UPDATE]: There has still been no official word from Ogden that he will run again in SD 5.  Ben Bius has not dropped out.  So at this time, 5 PM Central, Bius is the only announced candidate in the SD 5 race.  Of course that can change very quickly.

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