Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World

Monday, January 24, 2005
Strayhorn's dilemma
Run for governor or sit tight at Comptroller?

Sitting tight, of course, is not something that Strayhorn has done frequently. She's been president of the Austin school board, mayor of Austin, Railroad Commissioner, and run for Congress.

Ag Commisioner Susan Combs has been saying that Strayhorn told her she could run for Comptroller. Today, however, Strayhorn spokesman said:
The people of Texas are certainly asking her (Strayhorn) to run for Governor and she is listening. But the Comptroller never told Commissioner Combs she is not running for Comptroller again. And Commissioner Combs knows it.
(via HK)

As a side note, things had piled up so much that I'd wanted to do a comprehensive post when I came back. That proved too daunting, so I'll just pick up here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005
Posting will resume imminently.

Friday, January 14, 2005
Last post for a few days
I'll be moving to Houston today, and may be without internet access for a few days.

I doubt much will be happening anyway. The legislature is taking off to go to the Inauguration, so things should be quiet.

More inside baseball
Rick Perry announced his finance committee for the upcoming campaign.

I'm not familiar enough with the moneyraisers in Texas Republican politics to know whether there is anything noteworthy here.

Comptroller Strayhorn announced her finance chairman: Ken Banks of Schulenburg, the president of International Muffler Co.

Senator Hutchison and abortion
After the recent post about my friend's dilemma, several folks wrote in saying that Kay Bailey Hutchison is pro-life.

In fact, several noted that Hutchison has a near-perfect mark from the National Right to Life Committee. In her entire Senate tenure, she has only voted against the NRLC once.

In modern political parlance, pro-Roe v. Wade connotes pro-choice. Anti-Roe means pro-life. [Granted, there are some (including Beldar) who think Roe was incorrectly decided as a matter of constitutional law, yet support legal abortion to some degree.]

Here's how USA Today describes Hutchison's position on abortion:
On abortion, Hutchison has said she opposes a constitutional amendment banning Roe vs. Wade. But she supports abortion restrictions such as parental consent for minors, bans on late-term abortions and federal funding. In October 1999 she voted against a non-binding resolution supporting Roe vs. Wade, saying she disagreed with language in the resolution, which read: "It is the sense of the Congress that Roe vs. Wade was an appropriate decision and secures an important constitutional right and such a decision should not be overturned."
Every article I've ever read labels KBH as pro-choice, not pro-life. I'm not going to defy convention.

One interesting note: Hutchison's only vote against the NRLC is a non-binding resolution to support Roe v. Wade. She had voted against the resolution before, but supported it the last time it came up.

My friend wasn't paying close attention, and neither was I
Reader Chris McGeehan notes that if Hutchison runs for guv, she'll give up her Senate seat. Thus, my friend's dilemma (four posts down) is moot.

I should've caught that. Duh. My apologies, I must have been tired.

The money chase
As it stands now:
Comptroller Strayhorn $5.7 million
Governor Rick Perry $8 million
Senator Hutchison $6.7 million

Greg Abbott has $1.8 million in his state account. I didn't see a new report for David Dewhurst online. Henry Bonilla had 1.2 million in his federal account as of late November.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
KBH and East Texas
The Deep East Texas Council of Governments named KBH its 2005 Legislator of the Year.

Not quite as good as when she won South Texas Man of the Year.

The fun gets underway
The Texas Legislature kicks off its 79th regular session today.

As Bob Bullock might say, "God bless Texas."

Rick Perry has declared three pieces of emergency legislation: Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, and education. The gubernatorial imprimatur allows the legislature to hold immediate hearings on these issues.

I don't particularly intend to cover the general session, other than what relates to the campaign.

Sunday, January 09, 2005
Pro-life perspectives
I received an email from a friend the other day who always votes for pro-life candidates over pro-choice candidates in GOP primaries. Yet he is unsure whether he will vote for Hutchison or Perry.

I'll quote his email:
While Hutchison is pro-choice, abortion is a federal issue, not a state one (though it should be a state issue, of course). If Hutchison is elected governor, then her Senate successor would almost certainly be pro-life. So as long as Hutchison supports the usual state restrictions on abortion, I may vote for her. But on the other hand, I'm not sure I want a Hutchison victory portrayed as a victory for the abortion movement. So I'm undecided at the moment.
I have no idea whether any substantial amount of primary voters consider the implications as thoroughly as my friend.

Still, it was interesting enough to note.

Saturday, January 08, 2005
Amusing enough to note...
In a Google search for Texas governor, Kinky Friedman's campaign site comes up right before Rick Perry's campaign site.

Friday, January 07, 2005
Perry releases statewide endorsements
Rick Perry today released a list of statewide officeholder endorsements.

The names include:
David Dewhurst, Lieutenant Governor of Texas; Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General; Susan Combs, Commissioner of Agriculture; Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the General Land Office; Victor Carrillo, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission; Michael Williams, Texas Railroad Commissioner; and Charles Matthews, Texas Railroad Commissioner. Texans for Rick Perry did not seek the endorsement of statewide elected judges.
Via Harvey Kronberg, who incorrectly notes that Combs is not on the endorsement list.

An impressive list. The only missing statewide officeholders are Comptroller Strayhorn, Senator Hutchison, and Senator Cornyn. Strayhorn and Hutchison are still considering a primary challenge, and Cornyn doesn't want to antagonize Hutchison or Perry.

UPDATE: Kronberg also notes rumors that Perry will attempt to use the upcoming legislative session to prevent the transfer of federal campaign accounts to state campaign accounts. The legislation would be aimed at preventing Hutchison from using her $7 million in federal accounts.

The hired guns
Texas Weekly reports that several of the campaign politicos have picked their side:
Add two names to the Kay Bailey Hutchison political squad: Chad Wilbanks, former political director for the Republican Party of Texas and a veteran of previous Hutchison campaigns, and Keats Norfleet, who most recently helped Louis Gohmert, R-Tyler, unseat U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall, in Congress, and who worked for Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, in the state Legislature. The two have signed on a political operativess for the senior U.S. senator from Texas (Wilbanks as a consultant, and Norfleet as a staffer). Hutchison is flirting with a run for governor next year against Rick Perry, the incumbent fellow Republican now in that spot, while also keeping open the option of running for reelection. Several of Wilbanks' former colleagues at the Texas GOP would be on the Perry side of the race, if such a thing comes to pass, including former chairwoman Susan Weddington, who heads a nonprofit started by Perry, Wayne Hamilton, former executive director of the Party, and Robert Black, flack for the GOP then and for Perry now.

News coverage while I was gone
Much of the pertinent news while I was gone focused on a report released by the governor on Child Protective Services and school finance.

Perry announced a $329 million restructuring of CPS. He'd been taking fire from Comptroller Strayhorn, so the announcement helps neutralize some of the headlines from Strayhorn's attacks. Different headlines included "Perry helps to act children" (El Paso Times), "Gov. Perry announces $329 million reform plan for children" (SAEN), "Perry proposes $329 million overhaul of CPS" (AAS), "Massive CPS fixes sought" (Hou Chron).

What happens on school finance (or fails to happen) during this upcoming session will undoubtedly be an issue in the upcoming gubernatorial primary and general elections. School finance deals with perhaps the two items of greatest importance to voters: taxes and education. No one seems to like the current system (commonly called Robin Hood), so the status quo is dangerous. Yet no one can agree on how to fix Robin Hood.

It's a complex issue. The stakes are high. What happens on school finance will set the course of the campaign.

Austin Chronicle
The Austin Chronicle has their own blurb on the 2006 gov race:
The undeclared war for the next gubernatorial election – thus far an entirely Republican affair – features an incumbent fixated on tax cuts and poured concrete, a senator considered simultaneously more popular than the incumbent and too "moderate" for hard-core GOP voters, and a comptroller whose ability to ride the political waves rivals that of a porpoise. No one has established a definitive advantage, but the new year promises wrestling, posturing, and mud-throwing galore amongst Perry vs. Hutchison vs. Strayhorn. We can only hope the political maneuvering brings some policy windfalls to ordinary Texans.

Barbara Radnofsky and more gossip
Democratic County Chair Vince Leibowitz reports that Houston lawyer Barbara Radnofsky will officially enter the race for KBH's Senate seat. Leibowitz claims:
Aside from Hutchison staying where she is in the Senate, one scinario favored by many Republicans has Hutchison retiring and not running against Perry, and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is also considering a run against Perry, dropping out of that race to seek the Lt. Governor's position held by David Dewhurst. Dewhurst would in turn run for Senate, the position he reportedly favored in 2002 over the one he holds now. Still others favor Dewhurst staying where he is and the outspoken Strayhorn or AG Greg Abbott making a run for Senate.
I don't think Senator Hutchison is retiring, but stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Off to Houston
I'm off to Houston for a day or so, and I won't have internet access there. This means no posting. When I get back, I'll update the state of the race, which I plan to do monthly.

On a personal note, I read Black Hawk Down last night. I haven't seen the movie, but the book was intensely moving. Our military is amazing, and the world owes a great debt to the American military, even in tragic missions like Black Hawk Down. It made me consider joining the military and trying to go special forces.

Rolando Garcia of the Beaumont Enterprise takes a look at the state of the shadow primary in Southeast Texas.
The Republican primary for governor still is 15 months away and Gov. Rick Perry is thus far unopposed, but don't tell that to Susan Welsh.
She and other leading volunteer coordinators for Perry's re-election effort were in Austin earlier this month, huddling with high-powered political strategists and media consultants who will direct the campaign.

"The Perry machine is in full swing," said Welsh, who is spearheading the Perry campaign in Jefferson County.

The shadow primary between Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is considering a run for governor, has been a mostly under-the-radar affair closely watched by political reporters and, more importantly, grass-roots GOP activists.

As the foot soldiers who stuff the envelopes, canvass the precincts and man the phone banks, volunteers are crucial to winning a typically low-turnout party primary.

And in Southeast Texas, many of the die-hard GOP activists have sided with Perry in the anticipated clash of Texas political titans.

. . .

"Perry is the most conservative governor we've had, and I can't imagine why the Republican base wouldn't support him," Teuscher said.
It's worth noting that Garcia doesn't quote a single person supporting a potential Hutchison run.

Sunday, January 02, 2005
Fundraisers picking a horse
The New York Times profiles Jeanne Phillips for her role as chairwoman of the Inauguration.

Jeanne Phillips, Fred Meyer, Jim Francis, and Don Evans were the four credited with putting together the Pioneers fundraising program that helped George W. Bush smash fundraising records in 2000.

I'm told that Phillips, Meyer and Francis will all likely be a part of KBH's 2006 campaign, whether it be for Senator or Governor.

KBH has closed her state account, so if she chooses to raise money for her federal account, there will be a $2000 individual cap. As soon as she opens a state account, she can raise money in unlimited chunks. Thus, it is likely that KBH will telegraph her intentions in the next few months by opening a state account, although she will probably only commit to "exploring her options" at that time. If she opens a state account, she can still convert much of the state money into federal money.

Don Evans is still considering his campaign options as far as I know.

KBH in the Houston Chron
The Houston Chronicle prints a full-length editorial from Senator Hutchison on CHIP. It's notable that she frames the issue as a tax issue.
Anyone who is taxed in Texas -- particularly overburdened property taxpayers -- should be concerned about our state's health care system.

The system is steadily deteriorating. The fallout affects all of us, even those of us with health insurance or the ability to pay for quality health coverage.

Texas ranks last in the nation in percentage of citizens with health insurance, and we have the highest percentage of uninsured children. As a practical matter, and under our state constitution, every county offers health care to those who need it regardless of ability to pay -- through public hospitals. These public hospitals are financed by taxpayers, and they are picking up the burden when the uninsured seek medical care.

. . .

I'm concerned that, despite the best efforts of our congressional delegation, Texas has not maximized its use of CHIP to support our state health care system. Since 2000, Texas has turned back about $700 million in unused federal funds to the U.S. Treasury, and those funds are now being used by other states, to help their working families pay for health insurance. In the recently ended fiscal year, the Congressional Research Service estimates Texas turned back more than $50 million in unused federal funds.

This money should be used to assist our county hospitals and the property taxpayers who fund them. Dr. Ray Perryman, an economist, has concluded that whenever Texas fails to take full advantage of Medicaid and CHIP, the state's economy is weakened. For every state dollar removed from these plans, he notes, local taxes must rise by 51 cents, insurance premiums on those with coverage must rise by about $1.33, and retail sales decline by almost two dollars. Perryman suggests the state treasury is also an ultimate loser, because the decreased economic activity causes a drop in state tax revenue.

As a matter of simple fiscal conservatism, I hope Texas will, in the future, take full advantage of available federal matching funds to bolster our state health care system, and relieve increasing pressure on taxpayers who fund county hospitals. CHIP, given the available federal match, makes sense for our children's health and economic sense for our taxpayers.

News wrapup
Something that should never be forgotten during a potential campaign: it's easier for a governor to make news than a senator. Two examples: 1) Rick Perry helps send off to Iraq a Texas National Guard unit. 2) Gov. Perry bets Ten. Gov. Bredesen that Aggies will beat UT (that is, the Tennessee Volunteers.)

The general session is almost here, and school finance is going to be "fun." The Amarillo Globe News previews the 2006 elections in light of the upcoming legislative session (including the first time that Greg Abbott has been called a "superstar.") The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram focuses on school finance and Robin Hood.

Dan Shelley -- Perry's legislative lobbyist -- once represented winning highway bidder Cintra as a lobbyist. The Dallas News then followed up indicating that some of Shelley's initial comments were incorrect.

The Houston Chronicle editorializes against Rick Perry's unannounced Supreme Court pick.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes up Kinky Friedman's attempt to get on the ballot. It includes this from Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith:
Evan Smith, the editor of Texas Monthly who hired Friedman as the magazine's back-page columnist in 2001 and occasionally uses his photo on the cover -- including the Queen Elizabeth spoof in July's edition, said he likens the prospect of a Kinky campaign in 2006 to the satirical presidential bid by comedian Pat Paulsen in 1968.

"At this moment, it's a joke candidacy," Smith said. "If and when it goes beyond a joke to an actual run for governor, I'll deal with it. It's very much on my mind. He can't a be a candidate for governor and a columnist for Texas Monthly at the same time."
The AP wire takes a page from Charles Kuffner and criticizes Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund. One of the Fund's recipients is the Texas Energy Center, which has received $1.6 million but has yet to creat jobs, according to the AP. Meanwhile, Mitch Schnurman at the FWST approves of the Texas Enterprise Fund.

Saturday, January 01, 2005
The Seniority Issue
When the new senators are sworn in this week, Kay Bailey Hutchison will rank 18th out of 55 GOP senators. She holds a spot on the most important of committees, the Appropriations Committee.

As recently as 2002, Texas had about 27 years of seniority between Phil Gramm and KBH. If KBH retires in 2002, Texas will have only John Cornyn's 4 years of Senatorial experience, ending a tradition of Texas power in the Senate.

There are 16 standing committees of the United States Senate. As many as four of those senators may retire in 2006. If KBH runs for re-election to the Senate, she will almost definitely become a committee chairman in her next term, likely of either Commerce or Veterans Affairs. She also would relinquish her chairmanship of an Appropriations subcommittee (currently, KBH chairs military construction).

If KBH chaired the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and eventually chaired the transportation subcommittee of Appropriations, then she would hold great sway over Texas' attempt for proportional parity between gas taxes paid and highway funds received.

This is the sort of thing that newspaper editorial boards and business leaders -- but not primary voters -- worry about. Undoubtedly this is an argument the Perry campaign is making behind the scenes.

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