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

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Blogger difficulties
I can't get Blogger to work, so posting may be light today.

Another news cycle
Ratcliffe -- Chron:
Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday no one should be surprised that he videotaped potential GOP challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in an appearance with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, someone who is an "anathema" to Republicans.

Perry said Hutchison's recent personal appearance with Clinton is different from when he wrote the then-first lady in 1993 praising her efforts to reform the national health care system. Clinton, the wife of former President Clinton, now is a Democratic senator from New York.

"Don't get confused that I'm for Hillary Clinton," Perry said. "She is not someone I support and certainly not going to support her when she starts running for president of the United States."

Perry's campaign last week admitted having a camera crew shoot video of Hutchison with Clinton on March 3 at a ceremony in the nation's capital on the preservation of the Sewall-Belmont House, a historic building where suffragists fought a century ago for women's right to vote.

In the short video, the pair embrace briefly and Clinton describes Hutchison as "my partner on so many important fronts."

Perry said his video showed Hutchison is "supporting her (Clinton's) principles there. It speaks for itself."

Hutchison campaign manager Terry Sullivan asked, "What principles? Historic preservation or women's right to vote?"

Sullivan said Perry is being "hypocritical" by criticizing Hutchison for a public appearance when he wrote her a letter commending Clinton for her work on what Sullivan calls "socialized medicine."

He said Perry's campaign also has lied about the role it played in distributing the video to Republican activists.

"No one should be shocked about the stalking, about following someone around with a camera. It's that the governor's campaign lied," Sullivan said.

Perry said campaigns routinely shoot such video of potential opponents. He said that he had crews take such pictures of Democrat John Sharp in their 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor and that Sharp had crews take video of him.

Perry said average Texans will see this as a routine part of politics.

"I don't think average people are surprised at all when, in the political arena, when you're hanging around with a person who is absolutely anathema to the philosophical position of the Republican Party that it's not brought to the Republicans' attention," Perry said. "I think they'd consider that to be part of the process."

Perry said the letter he wrote to Clinton in 1993 as Texas agriculture commissioner calling her work on health care reform "commendable" and "worthy" was nothing more than an effort to get her to pay more attention to rural health care needs.

"I will continue to write letters to people and that content, which I'm sure you were going to tell the entire content, is to help the people of rural Texas," Perry said.

Sullivan said, after hearing Perry's statements, "the governor is a far bigger hypocrite than I could have imagined."

Sullivan said Perry said with a "straight face ... in what seemed like one long, rambling, run-on sentence" that anyone who appears on stage with Clinton is not a good Republican but that he is "commending her for the biggest socialist policy this county has seen."
I've written before that I think the issue helps Perry more than Hutchison. No Republican facing a primary wants Hillary Clinton to say that they are "partners on many important issues" after acting friendly and hugging.

Perry obviously thinks the issue plays well for him, because he's keeping the issue alive for another news cycle. It appears that he made an effort to talk to the Chronicle -- so far, no one else has the story -- which gives the impression that Perry wants to keep the story alive.

UPDATE: The AP picked up the story.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
The letter
The text of the letter then Ag Commish Rick Perry wrote to First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Strayhorn announces her consultants
AP Wire:
Strayhorn has hired pollster and consultant John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates and media consultant Alex Castellanos of National Media Inc.

McLaughlin worked on the campaign of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Castellanos has worked as a consultant to President Bush.

"I have had three successful statewide campaigns with Alex, and in two of those I was the top vote-getter in the state," Strayhorn said. "I am honored they are joining me on this mission."

Hutchison camp fires back
Ratcliffe in the Chron:
A week after Gov. Rick Perry's campaign tried to link one of his potential GOP primary rivals to U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a 1993 letter emerged in which Perry called Clinton's efforts at health care reform "commendable."

Perry's Republican allies circulated a videotape last week that has a shot of Clinton with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, at a nonpartisan event on historic preservation.

The videotape played up a brief hug and air kiss between the women and featured then-first lady Clinton, now the Democratic senator from New York, saying she is "delighted that Kay is my partner on so many fronts."

On Monday, Hutchison's campaign aides said the Perry letter to Clinton showed he was a hypocrite in making the videotape.

"It's a double standard. It's the ultimate in hypocrisy," said Hutchison campaign manger Terry Sullivan.

"I'm glad to see in at least some instances the governor is willing to reach across party lines," he said. "Unfortunately, it's for Hillary Clinton's socialized medicine plan."

Perry campaign manager Luis Saenz said there is no comparison between Perry writing a letter on behalf of his constituents in 1993 and Hutchison accepting praise in person from "a rather liberal New York senator."

Perry's letter falls far short of actually being an endorsement of Clinton's health care proposal. But it was written at a time when some commentators already were describing her plan of government-sponsored HMOs and health care cooperatives as "socialism."

Perry was state agriculture commissioner at the time, a position he had won in 1990 after switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

"I think your efforts in trying to reform the nation's health care system are most commendable," Perry wrote.

Perry asked Clinton to take special notice of the health care needs of farmers, ranchers and people in rural areas as she worked on trying to overhaul national health care.
This made the very top of The Hotline:
A week after his camp circulated a video of Clinton praising Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Gov. Rick Perry (R) has to answer for a letter in which he called Clinton's '93 health care efforts "commendable." Shocking, we know. What this little back-n-forth teaches: 1) Hutchison is still very serious about running for TX GOV. 2) Rank-n-file GOPers are incredibly obsessed with Hillary
Apparently there were inside-the-Beltway rumors that Hutchison wasn't running for guv.

Monday, March 28, 2005
The message grid
Campaigns often make a grid of what they intend to say. Here's how I see the message grid in a Perry vs Hutchison race.
Perry on Perry:
I'm a real conservative.
I've gotten things done -- TTC, balanced budget, tort reform, school finance.
I'm for tax cuts.
I'm pro-life.

Perry on Hutchison:
She's moderate
She's pro-choice
She's more effective with her seniority in DC (a subtle pre-announcement message)

Hutchison on Hutchison:
I'm conservative.
I will show real leadership.
I'll fix school finance.
I'm anti-gambling.

Hutchison on Perry:
He hasn't led.
He failed on school finance.
He's a former Dem; chaired Al Gore's 1988 presidential bid in Texas.
He's pro-gambling.

Kay gets in the news
It's generally considered easier to get in the media when you're a governor than a Senator. However, even Senators can get free media sometimes:
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's swing through Central Texas last week lacked the trappings of a campaign -- no red "Kay" signs, no balloons, no banners, seemingly all business.

Yet there were moments that felt campaign-like.

Here and in Bastrop and San Marcos, rapt groups learned that Hutchison's great-great-great-grandfather was among the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

"We all appreciate how wonderful our state is," she said Tuesday at the refurbished Lee County Courthouse.

And as she, her husband, Ray, and their two children traced the historic El Camino Real de Tejas in a motor home, she couldn't dodge hints of the possible donnybrook to come if she challenges Gov. Rick Perry for re-election next year.


A Hutchison aide said her tour, which started Monday near the Sabine River in East Texas and ended Wednesday in Eagle Pass, was no place for "political questions."

Hutchison said: "I don't think we ought to be talking about politics during the (state) legislative session. I am avoiding doing that. I want the Legislature to focus on so many important issues facing our state. And I am not doing political things."
The rest of the article is mostly quotes about KBH running for guv.

Keep it alive?
Keeping the story alive?
When does a nonstory become a news story?

If you ask a political operative, the answer is: "When it helps my side."

Case in point: The camp of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison made a mighty attempt last week to pooh-pooh video footage from Washington, showing Texas' senior senator being buddy-buddy at an event with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat.

The Hutchison camp insisted that the exchange of kind words and a couple of hugs was just common courtesy among senators, regardless of party affiliation. But they also knew that such footage could be lethal in a Republican primary against the Texas governor next year.

Once word leaked out that the Perry camp had used political funds to hire the camera crew to capture the camraderie, Hutchison's handlers wasted no time making sure the story had legs strong enough to run at least one more day.
Were I Luis Saenz, I would be thinking, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!"

Hutchison's camp thinks that Perry looks bad because Perry's campaign sent a videotape of Kay and Hillary and then was less than truthful about it. Thus, they want to keep the story alive.

Color me skeptical.

Keeping the story alive another day just strengthens the impression that Kay and Hillary are friends.

Why? Perry has a layer of protection -- his campaign staff. Even if he's directing everything that the campaign does, he's only indirectly linked to the story. KBH is directly in the story -- she's the one in the video.

Moreover, the story hits at a potential KBH weakness: that primary voters might think she isn't conservative enough. What Perry weakness does the story hit? That he wants to be re-elected? That he's mean? That he's political?

If I were KBH's camp, I would have let the story die.

1. Saturday I noted that though Wayne Slater claimed 34 of 62 State Republican Exec Cmte members had endorsed Perry's re-election, I counted only 30.

I re-counted, and I still get 30 (based on Perry's steering cmte, and SREC leadership). Perhaps Perry has since added to his steering committee or the TexasGOP SREC membership isn't current, but I doubt it. I emailed Slater, so hopefully he'll respond.

2. In the same article, Slater called KBH finance co-chair Pat Oxford a "Dallas lawyer." In fact, Oxford works in Houston.

Saturday, March 26, 2005
FWST on the videotape kerfuffle
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ed board doesn't like Carole. And it doesn't look like they're happy with Rick either:
The pettiness of party politics has never been so evident as in the feigned outcry from some state Republican leaders about a recent joint appearance by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.


What is more disturbing and alarming is that these party leaders find it objectionable that two members of the U.S. Senate can show respect and common courtesy for each other. These are traits that are becoming more and more rare among our nation's top elected officials. Rather than rue such behavior we ought to rejoice in it.

It is also regrettable that the Perry campaign finds it necessary to hire camera crews to tail the senior senator from Texas, and then use the video footage to try to paint her as a demon.

Although Hutchison may one day become a political challenger, Perry and all other candidates should know that Texans expect better from those they elect to represent them.

Hutchison and Clinton should be applauded for working together, for they are proving what others in Congress must learn: Common decency and cooperation should be the norm on Capitol Hill, not the exception.

Those of either political party who don't understand that should be put on notice that it is they who should be declared obsolete and, therefore, unfit to serve us.

Videotape brouhaha aftermath, part 2
Todd Gillman, DMN
The video of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison air-kissing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton struck a nerve. For Texas conservatives, the footage -- obtained and spread by Gov. Rick Perry's camp -- underscored doubts about Ms. Hutchison's conservative bona fides.

Bad timing for Ms. Hutchison, who's worked hard lately to signal to core GOP voters that she really is a conservative.

She's filed a bill aimed at curbing indecency on television, spoken out for congressional action to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube and pushed for more Border Patrol agents. And that's just in the last two weeks. Earlier this year, she stepped out front on a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum, said the senator "absolutely" has been making a play for the right lately, and the Clinton video underscored the artifice.

"Her record is not good," said Ms. Adams, who has endorsed the governor as he girds for a challenge from the senator.

To Ms. Adams, votes long ago say more than recent press releases. She cited a Hutchison vote five years ago against condemning China's one-child-per-couple policy and others to finance the National Endowment for the Arts, which had been accused of funding sacrilegious art.

Yet the national Eagle Forum gives Ms. Hutchison high marks: 80 percent on last year's scorecard, 90 percent the year before that. The American Conservative Union gave her an 84 last year, and a 91 lifetime. The National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, rated her 100 for the last Congress and 90 for the previous two years.

The nonpartisan National Journal deems her the 31st most conservative senator, roughly middle of the GOP pack.


He cited votes she cast on nearly identical Senate resolutions affirming Roe vs. Wade as "appropriate" and saying it secured an important constitutional right. She voted no in 1999 and yes in 2003. The newer version omitted a claim that before Roe, women were "forced" to undergo dangerous illegal procedures, a change she called key.


Tim Lambert, head of the Texas Home School Coalition and a former GOP national committeeman, said many conservatives are angry that Ms. Hutchison supports stem cell research and opposed an appeals court nominee who publicly embraced the biblical view that wives should be subservient to husbands.

"She was there with Hillary Rodham Clinton and other liberal senators" on that nominee, he said. "I think she's a moderate."


"There's always going to be detractors with a cynical mindset," Mr. Paulitz said, "but Senator Hutchison is voting and speaking her heart, as she always has. It's just that now, some people are finally paying attention."

Brouhaha aftermath
Jay Root, FWST:
A secretly recorded video. An alleged political threat to a state senator. A faked phone call to a talk radio program.

And the race, if there is one, is still a year away.

As if any evidence of it were needed, the potential contest between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is on the verge of becoming a Republican Party blood bath.


Hutchison campaign manager Terry Sullivan called the Perry tactics a "Nixonian kind of bullying."

"Is this the Gestapo?" he said. "You can't disagree with the governor on issues without them sending camera crews halfway across the country? Obviously, they're desperate."

For the record, the camera crew was based in the Washington area and received $2,100 from the Perry campaign to film the event, officials said.

Sullivan characterized Hutchison as very reluctant to engage Perry head-to-head despite their differences on key issues such as taxes and gambling.

She "bit her tongue on the payroll tax, bit her tongue on the gambling coming back up," said Sullivan, referring to tax and slot-machine proposals that state legislators are debating.

"She's gone out of her way not to start a feud," Sullivan said.

But Perry operatives say Hutchison political consultant Chad Wilbanks did little to stop the feuding when he pretended to be "Charles from Flower Mound" during a phone call to the radio talk show of conservative moderator Mark Davis on WBAP/820 AM this month.

The Hutchison campaign, after remaining silent on the issue, acknowledged this week that Wilbanks was, in fact, "Charles."

"It was certainly not anything planned by the campaign," said Sullivan, adding that the fake call was "absolutely" a mistake.

Saenz, the Perry campaign director, said the flap showed "the character of whatever campaign they're going to run."


It's too early to say whether the intraparty tit-for-tat has scarred either Hutchison or Perry. Harvey Kronberg, editor of the online political newsletter Quorum Report, said the surreptitious filming of Hutchison with Clinton shows the Perry campaign is trying to bring down the senator's approval ratings and frighten her.

"I think this is all just chest-beating to send a message to Kay that it's going to be an ugly fight and to try to scare her out of the race," Kronberg said. Hutchison officials say they're "embarrassed" for Perry, not frightened by him.

Friday, March 25, 2005
Newsflash: Perry wants Hutchison to remain in Senate
Wayne Slater in the Dallas Morning News files a sympathetic report that many folks in the TexasGOP are asking Hutchison to stay in the Senate and not challenge Perry.

As Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison eyes a possible race against Gov. Rick Perry, a network of key Republican activists and power players is moving to send her a clear message: Don't do it.

In letters, e-mails and direct conversations, nervous Republicans have told Ms. Hutchison they want her to seek re-election and abandon thoughts of targeting the incumbent governor in what they expect would be a fractious GOP primary.

Aides to Ms. Hutchison, who will spend next week on a fund-raising tour of the state, dismiss the effort. They say that the opposition is being orchestrated by the Perry political camp and that Ms. Hutchison has widespread support.

But the prospects of an expensive, intra-party battle between the two has rattled many of the GOP faithful, according to interviews with top Republicans and supporters on both sides.

"It would be like throwing a hand grenade in a chicken yard," said former Texas Republican Party chairman George Strake, a Perry supporter.

In a March 12 letter, 34 members of the 62-person State Republican Executive Committee urged Ms. Hutchison "to stay the course as our United States senator from Texas." Some blue-chip GOP contributors have cautioned Ms. Hutchison in face-to-face meetings, allies of both candidates acknowledge.
Well, I counted 30 out of 62. I don't quite understand the discrepancy.
Dallas lawyer Pat Oxford, co-chairman of the senator's statewide finance committee, said Ms. Hutchison is attractive to many in the party hierarchy and grass-roots Republicans -- but not everybody is free to talk about it.

"The truth is, Senator Hutchison is not in a position to muscle up on anybody. The governor is, because of appointments and legislative initiatives," he said.


In a bid to boost her campaign treasury and show off some support from some of the party's marquee names, Ms. Hutchison has scheduled four fund-raisers next week in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The events are for her Senate account, but under a recently enacted federal law, she could transfer the money for a governor's race.

Invitations boast a number of prominent Republicans as sponsors. The Dallas event on March 31, for example, includes Mr. Oxford, former Republican state chairman Fred Meyer, long-time GOP financier Charles Wyly, former Secretary of State George Bayoud and Dallas lawyer Mike Boone.

"I don't see a major pushback against Kay," Mr. Boone said.

"People believe she's a great leader. They believe we're lacking leadership in Austin and she can fill that void," he said. "While people are asking the question, 'Kay don't run,' isn't it more justified to ask the question, 'Rick, should you really be running?' "

While her fund-raising invitations suggest prominent Republican support, not everyone remained publicly committed if she decides to run for governor.

San Antonio construction executive Bartell Zachry said through a spokeswoman that his support is for a Senate race.

"She's not running for governor. This is a Senate re-election finance event, and that's why Bartell is on the host committee," said Vicky Waddy.

Dallas County Republican chairman Nate Crain, who backs Mr. Perry, said a contested primary would be destructive.

"If that primary battle occurs, we're going to lose a great senator or we're going to lose a great governor. Nobody wants this contest," he said.

Dallas energy executive and longtime Republican activist Jim Neal agreed.

"The grassroots supporters here in Dallas and across the state are totally against this," he said.

One such veteran activist Ms. Hutchison has personally visited in an unsuccessful bid for support is Annette Hopkins of San Angelo.

"I want her to stay a senator," she said. "I told her I'd work hard for her again as senator, but I've committed to Governor Perry for governor."

In December, a meeting between Ms. Hutchison and prominent El Paso business leaders turned testy when they served notice they intended to raise money for Mr. Perry's re-election.

"Loyalty is the issue," said El Paso businessman Ted Houghton, who confronted Ms. Hutchison at the meeting. "There's a lot of good things happening for us, and we really don't want to rock the boat."

The Hutchison camp sees the hand of the Perry political team in the Republican network pressing the senator to stay put. But Mr. Sullivan challenged the strength of Mr. Perry's support, noting that the governor mustered only a slim majority of the party's state executive committee.

"If the governor was doing an even halfway good job in the eyes of the Republican Party," he said, "every one of them would have signed."

Term limits made her do it?
R.G. Ratcliffe in the Chron:
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's decision on whether to challenge Gov. Rick Perry in the GOP primary next year may rest heavily on whether she keeps a promise she made 13 years ago: to serve no more than two full terms in the Senate.


Hutchison made her promise in television ads and personal statements in 1994, and on election night she said:

"I've always said that I would serve no more than two full terms. This may be my last term, or I could run for one more. But no more after that. I firmly believe in term limitations and I plan to adhere to that."

Paulitz said Hutchison has not wanted to say anything before the current session of the Texas Legislature ends May 30.

"She has made every effort to avoid discussing policy differences during the legislative session because she wants the session to be successful," Paulitz said.

Hutchison has been making numerous public appearances around Texas in recent weeks. Her official federal campaign committee has a series of fund-raisers scheduled, including one Wednesday in Houston. Hutchison could transfer money from her federal account to a state race for governor.


She made term limits a major promise of her 1994 re-election campaign and included it in television commercials produced by David Weeks of Austin. Weeks now works for Perry's campaign.

Term limits were a popular Republican campaign issue in 1994, serving as a centerpiece of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. Term limits also were one of the first agenda items dropped by Republicans once they gained control of the U.S. House.

The issue remains popular with voters, though, said Houston term limits activist Clymer Wright.

Wright noted that in 1994, San Antonio voters rejected an effort to relax term limit restrictions on their city council.

"If she ends up running for re-election just because she doesn't believe she can beat an incumbent governor — which I don't believe she can — then that's bad on both fronts," Wright said.
I don't know if I'd say term limits are "popular" with voters. There may be a plurality who favor term limits, but it's hardly the proximal factor in a voter's decision. In fact, this was the first I'd heard that KBH had taken a term limits pledge.

UPDATE: The Ratcliffe story is fortuitous for KBH. It's something that
would come out eventually, so why not now? It's a win-win for the
Senator either way. If she runs for guv against Perry, then she's keeping her word.
If she runs for Senate, the term limits pledge won't matter. She'll be easily re-elected.

Carole finds a friend
FWST staff editorial:
Here's another surprise that's no surprise at all: Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has found another opportunity to use her office for political grandstanding and took full advantage of it -- even if it meant stabbing legislators in the back.

Here's the lesson for the Legislature: Don't trust her.

This time it was the House that was the victim of Strayhorn's insatiable appetite for attention. Next time it will be anyone else who provides her an opening.

When the House passed a tax bill earlier this month, its leaders worked with Strayhorn's staff each step of the way to see that the bill achieved its goal: a "revenue neutral" way to cut local school property taxes while adopting a new business tax and boosting other taxes to make up for the financial loss. (Don't get us wrong here. This Editorial Board opposed House Bill 3 and still considers it to be bad policy.)


She achieved what seems to be her one-and-only goal: drawing attention to Carole.

Thursday, March 24, 2005
Perry sends out email supporting appraisalcap.com
This afternoon Perry's campaign sent out an email supporting Dwayne Bohac's bill to cap appraisal increases.
Are you tired of skyrocketing property taxes? Next week, the Texas House of Representatives will vote on an appraisal cap measure that will decide whether or not the property tax cut recently passed by the House will last or be eaten up by appraisal creep.

Please visit the all-new AppraisalCap.com (http://www.AppraisalCap.com/) to learn how you can help lower our property taxes.
The bill is currently stalled in the house.

Hillary Clinton and videotape...
Gardner Selby reported in the Statesman that a video of KBH being chummy with Hillary Clinton is being disseminated via email to GOP activists. I didn't get the clip, so I have to read about it in the Statesman. Guess that means I'm not very well connected, eh?

Watch the video here. It basically consists of Clinton saying that KBH is "[her] partner on so many important fronts" before showing the two hugging and posing for a few pictures together.

In short,it's rather silly and not to be taken seriously. But it's also not the sort of thing a Republican candidate wants to be circulated widely. [Incidentally, Clinton was also in Austin for a fundraiser.]

Hutchison spokesman Chris Paulitz accused aides of Perry of sending the video to state GOP leaders. Perry campaign manager Luis Saenz denied the charges.

Jay Root in the FWST also got a few quotes from some Republican activists calling the video "alarming" and "disturbing." Read his take here.

That was all yesterday. Today, Perry's campaign admits that it videotaped the clips. A Hutchison spokesman said it was "stalking" while Saenz replied that "Potential opponents trashing my governor are not going to get a free ride." (Statesman link -- Gardner Selby, Mike Ward) (FWST link -- Jay Root)

Saenz claims to have shared the tape -- which they paid $2000 to tape -- with supporters for its humor value, but he claims not to be reponsible for the clip currently circulating. Not surprisingly, the KBH campaign shot back that Perry's campaign had been "caught in a lie."

Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Bob Deuell claims that Hutchison spokesman David Beckwith (formerly of the Cornyn campaign, among others) told him that KBH was running, and that if he supported Perry, Deuell might get a primary challenge.

Remember "Charlie from Flower Mound"? The KBH campaign has confirmed that it was indeed Chad Wilbanks.

To quote Saenz, "We're being very aggressive in everything we do. And you ain't seen nothing yet."

This is gonna be a fun campaign. Especially for Democrats.

It's coming, most likely. Most perceptive observers have realized that there is a fairly high likelihood.

Harvey Kronberg reports for News8 -- though he hasn't reported in on Quorum Report, as far as I can tell -- that Perry, Craddick and Dewhurst have "all quietly signed off on gambling as the solution to the state's financial difficulties."

Kronberg claims that their tactical solution will be to offer Democrats a choice: if they want money for social welfare programs, then they'll have to vote for gambling. That way, Kronberg claims, Democrats will be to blame for gambling, while Republicans can claim a balanced budget. If it's in the form of a constitutional amendment, Perry won't even have to sign a gambling bill.

The troika of Craddick, Dewhurst, and Perry all oppose raising taxes. Cutting spending isn't easy, even for Republicans -- perhaps even more so, as the media is possibly more likely to give Democrats a pass when they propose less spending (see Bill Clinton, welfare reform).

Hutchison's camp claims that this is an abdication of leadership, particularly by Perry. They may be right, but I'm not sure how Hutchison would do it better. KBH is not known as a budget hawk in DC. For example, she's on the Appropriations Committee. So perhaps she'd be able cut spending more effectively than Perry, but cutting spending is pretty hard for politicians. I'm sure she won't offer that she's going to raise taxes, and she's come out against gambling.

Failure to lead will certainly be a theme of KBH's challenge to Perry. Will it stick? It probably depends on how well the school finance and tax bills turn out.

Note: I have a mild suggestion, though I don't generally do policy on this blog: California legalized poker sometime around the late 60's and early 70's. Would can't Texas do the same? Poker is currently undergoing a boom, with lots of folks (that is, pretty much all my friends) playing socially. It seems to me that this is a relatively mild form of gambling, as it is ultimately a game of skill. Moreover, the state could bring in billions over the long-term.

Poker is much better than VLTs -- like Perry originally proposed -- if gambling is to be legalized. Letting folks voluntarily choose to gamble seems better to me than involuntary taxes.

Strayhorn, HB3, and the numbers may not add up
I haven't covered the fact that Comptroller Strayhorn says the numbers don't add up on HB3 (the House tax portion of school finance).

The reason is two-fold.

1. I don't think HB3 is going to resemble what the Senate passes or what becomes law. There'll probably be gambling in there somewhere.

2. I don't think Strayhorn is running for guv. There's almost no way she can win versus Perry and Hutchison. Given that Hutchison is about 95-98% chance to run (my estimations), I assume that Strayhorn will be running for re-election or to the Senate (though I doubt she'd beat Bonilla, Dewhurst and company).

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
23 of 38
Chuck Todd, editor of The Hotline, compiles a ranking of the most vulnerable governors in the nation for his weekly column. Today's edition lists Perry 23rd out of 38. Here's his analysis:
Perry has decent poll numbers, but he's just not the favorite of the Austin crowd, which is why GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would be welcomed into a primary with open arms. Lately, there's been whispers she's having second thoughts about running. We'll see. Texas is an early primary state (March 2006), so expect some real decisions soon. If Hutchison gets in, expect many of the key Democratic constituencies to focus less on finding a candidate and more on helping Hutchison.
Personally, while I enjoy reading the DC political insider analysts -- Todd, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg -- I usually find their analysis too inside-the-beltway.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Tacking right and KBH news
1. Hutchison sponsored an amendment to add funding for 2000 agents on the US-Mexico border. Bush had only asked for 210 additional agents. Whether immigration will be an issue in a state office primary is questionable, of course, but many conservatives are upset over illegal immigration.

2. Gillman in the DMN:
Last week, Ms. Hutchison introduced a bill aimed at curbing violence and indecency on television - an issue dear to the hearts of social conservatives. The bill would require an assessment of how well the V-chip protects children from "excessive violence and sex," boost fines for airing obscenity, and make broadcasters double the amount of children's programming they offer.
Again, not a state issue. But it doesn't really matter.

3. Hutchison supports Schiavo resolution: "To starve a person to a slow death is inhumane."

It doesn't look like Hutchison is going to try to run to the right of Perry. She's just going to say that they're both conservative. I'll write more thoughts on this later.

Meanwhile, the Sherman Herald Democrat reports on the Senator's speech to the Grayson County GOP Lincoln Day dinner.

She's also getting some favorable coverage in East Texas, where she's riding the trail she helped procure funding for.

UPDATE: the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung carries a story on Hutch's remarks, as does the San Antonio Express-News. I can identify with this:
"As longs as I've been in Texas and as many time as I've visited the counties in Texas, I've learned more about the state in the past two days," [KBH] said. "We have such a diversity in the topography and the ethnicity of our state."
There's always a few more places in Texas to go see.

Terry Sullivan, KBH manager
Wayne Slater profiles Terry Sullivan, Hutchison's campaign manager:
If U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison challenges Gov. Rick Perry in a bare-knuckle Republican primary, her new campaign manager will bring a valuable lesson from his last job: "Don't take a knife to a gunfight."

Terry Sullivan steered the winning side in last year's fractious U.S. Senate race in South Carolina, a state where hardball Republican strategist Lee Atwater got his start. Campaigns there can be "all-out brawls," Mr. Sullivan said.

Ms. Hutchison has not said whether she will seek re-election to the Senate or try to unseat Mr. Perry. But a flurry of Texas fund-raisers beginning this month and the formation of a battle-tested political team suggest she's preparing to take on the incumbent next year, analysts say.


Mr. Sullivan said he is not deterred by the possibility of strong Perry support among the GOP grass roots.

"When was his last real primary on a high level?" he said. "It's one thing to go after a Democrat in Texas. But primary battles are very different than a general election. Personality has much more to do with it."

Mr. Sullivan's task would be to present Ms. Hutchison as a conservative – opposed to gambling, higher taxes and Mr. Perry's multi-billion toll-road project – and as a leader able to expand the party's appeal.
He did a pretty good job for his last boss.

Friday, March 18, 2005
No news is good news...?
I haven't found much to blog about in the past day or two.

I am working on two longer posts though. One will be on turnout in the GOP primary, while the other will be a prediction of what the message grid will be for the campaigns.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
AP wire on possible Senate school finance changes
What we can expect to see in the Senate:
But, the two chambers could clash over a payroll tax as a new option for businesses in the House plan. The upper chamber also could object to House plans to increase the sales tax to 7.25 percent and an additional 3 percent tax on snack food and cosmetic surgery.

The Senate would likely raise money from a combination of a higher sales tax, motor vehicle tax, cigarette tax - all in the House plan - and an alcohol tax, though details on how much of each were fluid.
What happened to the stripper tax?

Early warning
Gov. Rick Perry gives about 500 supporters 24 hours' notice of his appointments, his campaign director said Tuesday.

Luis Saenz said the practice is "not a big deal" when a reporter asked about an e-mail sent by Perry's campaign Monday identifying the governor's next appointee to the Texas Supreme Court. Perry publicly announced the nomination of Phil Johnson, a member of the 7th Court of Appeals in Amarillo, on Tuesday.

The e-mail, sent by Teresa Spears, Perry's campaign director of organization, states, "Just as a reminder, these 24-hour notices are intended for our Rick Perry Chairs and Steering Committee."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Perry, process, HB3, and the dustup in El Paso
Remember the dustup in El Paso where Senator Hutchison and some El Paso leaders had a bit of a spat when they told her to stay in the Senate?

According to El Paso News' Gary Scharrer's column, the same folks lobbied El Paso legislators to support the school finance bills, HB2 and HB3. Those folks support Perry -- who needs to results on the school finance front -- and they also don't want El Paso's legislators to do anything that endangers appropriations for a medical school in El Paso.

Perry is playing an interesting game with the school finance bills. Generally in the past Perry has avoided discussing the legislative "process." With the school finance bills, Perry is suddenly very interested in talking process. He acknowledged that the House bills were imperfect, but he sent out an email urging his supporters to help the process along.

Perhaps Perry is learning from the unsuccessful special session he called on school finance last year:
Perry blew apart last year's special session when he called a news conference and declared a key House revenue proposal -- a tax on employee compensation -- to be an unacceptable hindrance to job creation. Then Craddick and the House simply gave up.

When the House re-introduced the same idea this year, Perry refrained from criticizing it. An employee compensation tax is part of House Bill 3, the revenue bill that is intended to cut local school property taxes and balance that loss with money from new taxes.

Perry even met privately with the House Republican Caucus on Thursday, helping members to refine HB 3. When asked in recent weeks for his thoughts on the House proposals, he has said only that initial bills usually change as the legislative session moves forward.
(Cite: Mike Norman in FWST)
Last year Perry labelled as deal breakers such things as the payroll tax included in HB3.

Rumor is that Perry is telling Capitol insiders that the payroll tax will be removed in the Senate. Perhaps some gambling will make it into the bill at some point to cover a revenue gap.

Unlike last year, Perry is trying to move the process and get people voting for school finance changes. Eventually, Perry hopes that he, Lt Gov Dewhurst and Speaker Craddick can stike a deal when both the Senate and House have passed different school finance bills. Perry's hope is that legislators will feel obliged to vote for the school finance compromise, since they voted for their chamber's original version.

If there's gambling in the bill, it'll be tough to get through the House, where the GOP caucus isn't fond of any sort of gambling. Meanwhile, Perry has to be careful because Hutchison has outflanked him to the right on gambling. He doesn't want to lose his conservative support in a primary against KBH.

It'll be fun to see the campaign to cajole hesitant legislators into supporting the final school finance bill. When the compromise comes down between the House and Senate bills with something that Governor Perry finds palatable, there will be things to like and dislike from everyone's perspective. Dewhurst, Craddick and particularly Perry (who needs it most politically) will be playing power politics in order to get the bill passed. For example, Perry's aide strongly denied that they were behind the pressure applied to the El Paso legislators over the medical school. They probably weren't, at this stage of the game. But all cards will be on the table when they're trying to pass the final school finance package.

Friedman on O'Reilly
The transcript of Friedman on O'Reilly. A few excerpts and then the end of the interview:
Kinky Friedman joins us now. He's the author of the brand-new book "10 Little New Yorkers." his 17th book novel.

O'REILLY: So you want to run on -- are you conservative? Are you liberal? What are you?

FRIEDMAN: No, I wouldn't say I was either one of those. I think that's the problem. The Democrats got a good idea, the Republicans shoot it down. The Republicans have an idea, the Democrats kill it. I mean, I'm not for the parties. I'm for Texas.

FRIEDMAN: This is called "spiritual lifting." It's not heavy lifting. The governor of Texas should not be confused with Arnold Schwarzenegger. That's a powerful position. The governor of Texas can't do any heavy lifting really. It's not that powerful a position.

O'REILLY: So you're going to devote your governorship, should you win, to raising the morale and trying to...

FRIEDMAN: and the spiritual. Bring back the glory of Texas.

O'REILLY: OK. Then that means you're going to travel everywhere, go to all the high schools, speak and all of that.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. We're going to make that Lone Star shine again.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, this sounds good. I mean, I like this. I don't know how realistic it is because, number one, the powers that be are going to try to tear you to pieces.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Have you got any skeletons in the closet there or...

FRIEDMAN: No, but I think Texans will see that as the bull kicking the rodeo clown. I mean, they'll know what that is.


FRIEDMAN: It's going to happen.

O'REILLY: The bull kicking the rodeo clown.

FRIEDMAN: Bill, they spent $100 million in negative campaign advertising in the last gubernatorial race.

O'REILLY: And you're going to do spiritual advertising?

FRIEDMAN: The coin of the spirit. That's right. I mean...

O'REILLY: OK. Are you a religious man, by the way?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I'm a Judeo-Christian. Jesus and Moses are in my heart, and...

O'REILLY: Both of them there?

FRIEDMAN: And both of them were independents, by the way.

O'REILLY: They were, indeed.


O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Friedman. We're going to follow your campaign, and we -- don't get a big head, though. If you get -- we can't get Schwarzenegger on this program anymore. You know, when he was running, he was kicking our door, and now we can't talk to him. So you promise if you get elected, you'll come back on "The Factor".

FRIEDMAN: Definitely, and people can help through the Web site right now if they want.


FRIEDMAN: They can volunteer, contribute and...

O'REILLY: The Web site is up. Kinky Friedman for governor. And, also, the new book.

FRIEDMAN: kinkyfriedman.com. Yes, "10 Little New Yorkers."

O'REILLY: "10 Little New Yorkers."
I don't take Friedman very seriously, but O'Reilly is the highest-rated cable news talker. If Friedman wants to be taken seriously, he's going to have to stop flacking his latest book and he'll need to take down the store from his campaign website.

And he'll need to answer the burning question: why did he once move from Texas to New York?

Gubernatorial news for the past few days
Apologize for the slow posting over the past few days. Some of my old roommates from Rice came back to town.

1. Robert Rivard, editor of the SAEN writes a column about the traffic on I-35 and the Trans-Texas Corridor. Inasmuch as the column dwells on the need to ameliorate traffic, it's good for Perry. As Rivard notes, this could be the "enduring legacy" of Perry's governorship. That's often true of huge public works projects.

I wrote before that I thought the TTC would be a net loser politically for Perry, before updating the post to change my mind (link). Since Perry's opponents are likely to attack Perry for lack of accomplishments in the last 4 years, Perry really wants the TTC built.

2. Todd Gillman in the DMN divines the tea leaves:
An occasional search for clues to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's political future:

•One day last week, the senator was seen outside the Senate chamber chatting and posing for photos with Texas members of the Alliance for I-69, a network of elected officials and civic leaders pushing for a new trade route linking Mexico to Canada, via Houston and East Texas.

Lots of votes in that corridor.

•A couple of days later, she announced that she'll take a three-day tour later this month tracing the route of El Camino Real de los Tejas – a 2,600-mile trail once used by settlers, American Indians and heroes of Texas independence. Ms. Hutchison spent three years securing a historic designation, which Mr. Bush signed into law last fall. Lots of vote-rich settlements along that route, from Nacogdoches to San Antonio to Eagle Pass, and she'll stop at a dozen of them.

•Then there was the meeting she hosted last week, where half the Texas congressional delegation lobbied four high-level Pentagon officials to protect Texas military bases from the next round of closures.

Television cameras were on hand.

•And she offered tough talk when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice finalized a deal Thursday for Mexico to repay its water debt to Texas. The pact ended one feud but fueled another – the one between the senator and Gov. Rick Perry.

He lauded the deal and played up his role in the breakthrough, when he encouraged Mexico to tap sources beyond the region covered by a 1944 treaty to repay Texas farmers and utilities.

She emphasized that the deal forgives 155,000 of the 1.5 million acre-feet Mexico once owed – enough to flood almost a half-acre of land with water 1 foot deep. She wanted it all back, plus interest.

"This agreement is long overdue, and it may well be the best deal available," the senator said. "But the debt should have been paid in full."

3. Perry press release:
Gov. Rick Perry today named Philip Johnson, chief justice of the 7th District Court of Appeals, to the Supreme Court of Texas.

"I looked across Texas for an individual who could add to the High Court's depth of experience, who is committed to interpreting the law in accordance with the will of the legislature and our founding fathers, and who has demonstrated the high level of integrity demanded by the people of Texas," Perry said. "One extraordinary West Texan fit the bill and that is the Chief Justice of the 7th District Court of Appeals, Phil Johnson."
Here is the Statesman's take.

Monday, March 14, 2005
Kinky on Bill O'Reilly tonight
Indie candidate Kinky Friedman is scheduled to appear on The O'Reilly Factor tonight.

Friday, March 11, 2005
Hutch opens Austin office
Via Quorum Report, I see that Senator Hutchison has opened her first campaign office for this cycle. Campaign manager Terry Sullivan is at the helm in Austin.

New hire for Perry campaign
Alfredo Rodriguez is the new political director for Rick Perry's campaign. Rodriguez was most recently at the NRCC, and has also worked for Henry Bonilla and Ramsay Farley (Chet Edwards' 2002 opponent).

Thursday, March 10, 2005
Bell thinks Perry will beat KBH
Chris Bell thinks Perry will beat KBH:
Bell, a Houston city councilman who lost a mayor's race before winning a seat in Congress, has set up an exploratory committee. He can't wait to see if former Comptroller John Sharp or the 2002 nominee, Tony Sanchez of Laredo, or former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, will chance running if they might wind up facing not Perry but Hutchison, or Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Neither woman can cut into Perry's support from "the far right wing" enough to beat Perry in a Republican primary, but can "bloody" him, Bell said.

"I just don't want to have Rick Perry come staggering out of a Republican primary with us standing there with no one ready to go," Bell said in an Austin interview. He thinks Perry's beatable.
Bell predicts a Perry victory, and says so publicly.

Of course, it should be noted that it is in Bell's self-interest to predict a Perry victory: Bell knows he can't beat KBH, but might have a shot at beating Perry after a vicious primary.

But Bell is probably being honest: if he believes Perry will be the Republican nominee, then he has a greater incentive to run for governor.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
USAToday looks at the Trans-Texas Corridor
USAToday: Texas is set to supersize highways

USAToday has a mostly positive profile of Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor. It notes that the goal is to relieve traffic in Texas' forever-booming cities and suburbs by building superhighways for long-distance traffic. It recounts the objections from environmentalists, farmers and ranchers, and small towns along interstates.

My question: how much of the current traffic on I-35 is long-distance and how much is commuter traffic? If we build it, can we be confident that it will reduce traffic? I checked the Trans-Texas Corridor website, and didn't find an answer. I'll send them an email and see if they respond.

That said, I think Perry deserves credit for trying to tackle a long-term problem that doesn't have any easy solutions. As I've said before, I think he loses votes for the program. Nobody is going to vote for Perry because he sells TTC as a traffic-reducing or economy-growing program. It's too abstract.

Those who oppose TTC are likely to be motivated to vote against Perry. Small towns along current interstates want to protect their monopoly on traffic. Building the TTC -- whether good policy or not -- hurts them. Similarly, those farmers and ranchers at risk of having their farms and ranches split in half, aren't likely to feel kindly towards Perry.

How many votes is this? Tough to say, since most of the primary vote is in the suburbs. It's not something that could swing a race unless it's very close. I'm thinking it's a couple thousand votes at best.

Of course, the timing should dampen folks' motivation to turnout against Perry. The GOP primary is in 12 months, and the general in 19. Most farmers and ranchers won't get exercised about the TTC until they see the actual route. Same with small towns. My guess is that we won't see a specific route proposal until after the general. [Strike this paragraph, see update]

Update: The HouChron also writes on the TTC. I should also note that maybe we will have a specific route proposal around election time, since federal approval is expected in spring 2006. I'm guessing that probably means we will have a specific route by the primary election.

And on second thought, Hutchison's main theme will probably be that Perry has failed to solve problems and accomplish big things (like school finance). So the TTC will be something concrete (pun intended) for Perry to point to.

Rick Perry backing HB2
Rick Perry's campaign sent out an email this evening urging Perry supporters to back HB2.
The Texas Legislature will begin debating reforms to Texas' education system this week. Please call your legislator and let them know that you support House Bill 2 and ask them to support the bill as well. Information on House Bill 2 is attached for your review.

Again, call your Legislator today and let them know you not only support more money for education, but you want more education for your money and House Bill 2 will provide those needed reforms.
The email goes on to include talking points, myths vs. facts, and statistics on HB2.

Monday, March 07, 2005
Austin American-Statesman on blogs
The Austin-American Statesman takes a look at the Governor's Cup brouhaha caused by this post by Eileen Smith at In the Pink Texas. Smith wrote:
The Texas Marketing Team (an arm of the Texas Economic Development Council and a partner in the Enterprise Fund ventures) is a gold-level sponsor of the Industrial Asset Management Council. Why does this matter? Well, guess who publishes Site Selection? The Industrial Asset Management Council.
Gardner Selby in the Statesman:
Did an arm of state government really give money to a publisher whose magazine last week gave Gov. Rick Perry a big gold cup, as reported in a local online blog?

Not exactly, though the explanation is knotty and gives some insight into the lively blogs tracking ups and downs around the Capitol.

"Blogs are certainly appropriate expressions of people's opinions," gubernatorial spokesman Robert Black said Monday. "The general public has to realize on blogs . . . there are no controls on accuracy or honesty. And there's no accountability.

"People need to be very careful with what they read in the blogs. Most blogs seem to be run with a pretty severe liberal bent."


The Texas Marketing Team, an arm of the nonprofit council, has committed $12,000 to $18,000 to sponsor an evening reception at a South Carolina conference to be hosted later this month by the Industrial Asset Management Council, which lists Site Selection as its official magazine..

But Ron Starner, the management council's interim executive director, said that the magazine is published by Conway Data and that the nonprofit association has no sway over editorial content, including the annual Governor's Cup designation, which started in 1978.

Starner, also director of publishing for Conway Data, said the fact that different economic development groups help pay for the council's twice-a-year meetings has "absolutely nothing" to do with the magazine.
The article also gives a short profile of BOR, Off the Kuff, Grits for Breakfast, and Greg Whythe.

A few things to note:
1. Could Mr. Selby really not locate a rightward-leaning blogger in Texas? He chooses to only highlight left-leaning blogs.

2. I'm skeptical that Site Selection magazine whores itself out for a mere $18,000. They've had this competition since 1978. Large states obviously have a big advantage in winning. A look at the winner's list shows that the winners are almost always Texas, Florida, Michigan or Ohio (21 out of 28 times, by my count). Moreover, the criteria for the winner is:
The Governor's Cup and other awards bestowed by the magazine are determined by the number of qualified projects logged into Conway Data's New Plant database. Qualifying projects involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, create 50 or more jobs or involve new floor space of at least 20,000 square feet (1,860 sq. m.).
Unless they changed the criteria specifically for this year -- and the fact that total projects are listed for each year's winner suggests that the criteria has always been the same -- then it appears that Texas legitimately won this year's Governor's Cup.

3. Despite that, given the advantage that big states have, it doesn't seem to me like winning the award is a big deal. It's worth a mention in the re-elect commercials -- jobs coming to Texas is good, after all -- but given the context it's not a huge deal.

4. I think it's pretty apparent that Rick Perry doesn't like blogs.

I guess that means he's not willing to do an interview with this blog. Heh.

Sunday, March 06, 2005
School finance
By far the most important issue in the gubernatorial race is school finance. It's a tough thing to cover; I don't have the resources to cover school finance properly.

It's worth noting that Grover Norquist, a very influential strategist, is firing a shot across the bow against HB2. Norquist has been close to Perry in the past, and if he doesn't like the plan, it provides an opening for KBH to outflank Perry to the right.

Perry wins governor's cup
AP wire in the FWST:
Republican Gov. Rick Perry was all smiles and thumbs-up Thursday when he accepted the "Gov.'s Cup" trophy from Site Selection magazine.

The publication gave the award to Texas for having secured the most job creation announcements in the nation in 2004.

Perry used the occasion to make another pitch for further funding of his Texas Enterprise Fund, which the magazine cited as a $295 million tool that was central to the state's ability to attract companies.

Perry has asked the Legislature to infuse an additional $300 million into the fund for the coming two years. He also wants lawmakers to spend another $300 million on a new program to nurture research and job creation in high-tech industries.

"The enterprise fund is the bright neon sign that is letting employers around the world know that Texas is wide open for business and job creation," Perry said.

Site Selection also ranked Dallas-Fort Worth as the top metropolitan area in the nation for securing job announcements, with 277 last year.
Anyone want to bet that this appears in a tv ad in the future?

Sometimes, I don't like to title posts
Maybe being a senator isn't a good stepping stone to other things? It's become a cliche that the Senate is a poor launching pad for presidential ambitions, but Todd Gillman writes in the DMN that just 3 senators have become governors in the last 15 years. Meanwhile, Perry squashes any notion that he'd be interested in being a Senator and John Cornyn sounds awfully sympathetic to a KBH primary challenge. In fact, most of his quotes have been fairly Hutchison sympathetic.
As for Mr. Perry, he says he's not interested in running for the Senate. Visiting Washington last week during a snowstorm, he said the weather alone was enough to keep him in Texas.

"That has never been on the radar screen," he said, laughing. "You can take that one to the bank."

Ms. Hutchison's husband, bond lawyer Ray Hutchison, ran for governor in 1978, and there's long been speculation that she wanted the job, too. The fact that their two young children are approaching school age adds urgency.

"There's an awful lot of traveling, going back and forth, associated with being in the Senate," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who so far is neutral on a Perry-Hutchison matchup. "She may want to turn the treadmill off."

Besides, he said, even though she's in the GOP leadership and could coast to re-election, "we all strive for security until we get it, and then we get bored with it and want to take a little risk. ... But she's the only one who can make that evaluation as to what's best for her and her family. Life's too short to do something you don't want to do."

Saturday, March 05, 2005
Chad Wilbanks
Quite a few folks have been finding this blog recently through searches related to Chad Wilbanks. The total volume seemed a little high. Wilbanks is currently a consultant to KBH as well as a former KBH campaign staffer and former political director for Republican Party of Texas.

Perhaps I know why: Texas Weekly reports that Chad Wilbanks phoned into a Dallas talk show under a pseudonym to talk up Senator Hutchison.

UPDATE: A little research brings up more from Gromer Jeffers in DMN:
"Charlie from Flower Mound" seemed to like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a little too much.

The man phoned a Dallas radio show this week to air complaints about host Mark Davis' newspaper column, which said Ms. Hutchison should not challenge Gov. Rick Perry next year. "Charlie" spent about five minutes criticizing the governor and extolling the senator.


Mr. Perry's campaign manager alleged Thursday that "Charlie" was really Chad Wilbanks, a top campaign organizer for Ms. Hutchison.

The senator's office would not confirm Thursday whether Flower Mound Charlie was indeed Mr. Wilbanks of Austin, recently hired to run Ms. Hutchison's grass-roots organization. Mr. Wilbanks did not return telephone calls. Nor did he respond to Mr. Davis' show on WBAP-AM (820), which replayed the call Thursday.


"Charlie" emerged Wednesday after Mr. Davis' opinion piece was published in The Dallas Morning News.

The caller took exception to the article and said Ms. Hutchison should run for governor if she were so moved.

"In almost any position she's tackled, she's been successful," he said. "Why not let her come back and run for governor?"

"Charlie" also lashed out at Mr. Perry.

"I would like to see a real proposal for workers' compensation and school finance," he said. "He's gotten no results in school finance ... he pushed his education package through [last year's special session] and lost 150-to-nothing."

"Charlie" also offered obscure details about Ms. Hutchison's record, including her precise approval ratings with the Christian Coalition and National Right to Life Committee.

Mr. Davis said that, in retrospect, such details should have tipped him off.
Pretty amusing. If you're an actual campaign staffer, it's embarassing to get caught doing this sort of thing. If Wilbanks is in charge of grassroots, he should be getting some real grassroots folks to call in.

Kay Bailey's campaign consultants obviously think she's running for governor.

Bumper sticker watch
I saw a Kinky Friedman for governor bumper sticker today. It was the one with the Texas Flag, the Jewish star and "Why not Kinky?". I wasn't close enough to read the writing, but the Jewish star on a Texas flag was a giveaway.

It will take much more before I would take Kinky's campaign seriously, but I do admire his political tact for being against the death penalty:
I'm not anti-death penalty, I'm against the wrong person getting executed. 2000 years ago, an innocent man, Jesus Christ was executed and I wonder what we've learned since then.
It's also worth noting that Kinky Friedman has a blog for campaign news.

Saint Arnold's seeks political connections
From the Saint Arnold's newsletter:

The Texas Legislature is in their biannual session right now which means if we want any changes to the laws, now is the time to act, and fast! We are looking for anybody that has any connections with any of our state legislatures. Perhaps you work for one, or your wife or husband does, or you have beers with one, or perhaps you have a compromising picture of one with a goat. If you do have any such connections and you would be willing to introduce us, please let us know. The specific law that we would like to see changed is to allow small breweries to have dock sales (the ability to sell packaged beer to go at the brewery). Texas wineries can do it, but breweries cannot. This would especially help with kegs.
I was going to post this, but Charles Kuffner beat me to it. You might notice that Saint Arnold's (technically, the brewery name is Saint Arnold, but I don't know anyone who calls it that) has been a link on my sidebar for awhile, so do help if you can (especially since changing the law is a good idea). All successful businesses eventually realize that they need a governmental relations strategy. I'm a big fan of their Kristallweizen, Elissa IPA, and all their seasonal beers (especially the Christmas Ale).

Kuffner also notes that St. Arnold's telephone number is 713-686-9494. Or, you might try brewery@saintarnold.com. If you read about this here or at Kuff's, feel free to mention us.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Texas Independence Day
Happy Texas Independence Day.

It might not be the gubernatorial campaign, but...
While wandering through the flooded parking lots of my alma mater today, I saw 3 Barbara Radnofsky bumper stickers. I was a little surprised, since those are the first Radnosky bumper stickers or yard signs I've seen anywhere.

So I did some research, and it turns out her daughter is a junior at Rice. Maybe it's not so surprising after all. So of course I looked her daughter up on thefacebook. She lists her political views as liberal, and is in the Rice Dems group. And we have 4 friends in common.

Thefacebook is fun.

Mark Davis op-ed in DMN
The emcee of the recent Collin County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner writes in the Dallas Morning News:
You know you're in for an interesting evening when you're talking politics with members of Congress beneath a huge painting of Jock Ewing.

Actor Jim Davis played the Ewing family patriarch on TV's Dallas until his death in 1981. Nearly a quarter-century later, the family home is host to the occasional high-toned political event.

Events don't get much bigger than Saturday night's Collin County Lincoln Day Dinner at Southfork. When county GOP chairman Rick Neudorff asked me to emcee the proceedings a few months ago, the main draw was the keynote address to be delivered by author and pundit Ann Coulter.

But when the speaker list grew to include Gov. Rick Perry and the vastly popular woman who might want his job, my enthusiasm grew, and so did the audience.


But in the only allusion she made to her plans, she finished a statement about President Bush's foreign and domestic challenges with an intriguing promise: "I will be there to help him."

Oh? And for how long?

A gubernatorial race means assembling an organization, plotting strategy and raising money. It will be a little harder to be everywhere a U.S. senator needs to be while running for another job. Ask John Kerry or Bob Dole.


The overwhelming impression I discern from Republicans who like both Mr. Perry and Ms. Hutchison is this: If she still has the fire in the belly for elected office, why not stay right where she is and continue her proud legacy of representing Texas under the U.S. Capitol dome?

"I like Kay in Washington and Rick in Austin, and I don't want to see one of them given the hook back into private life," an e-mailer wrote to me the day after the dinner.

To hear both of them speak is to have an appreciation for what they have done. Ms. Hutchison's combination of grace and toughness has made her an uncommon force in Washington. Mr. Perry's track record now includes the redistricting battle, which deservedly won him waves of new and more passionate fans in his party.

He has earned the right to be regarded as more than just Mr. Bush's lucky successor in Austin. Only the gods of political timing could conjure for him an ironic fate in which he rises to the ranks of the virtually unbeatable, only to face the lone opponent whose star power might bring him down.

I say "might" because I have no idea right now how their primary battle would end up. Ultimately, Ms. Hutchison is entitled to do whatever she likes, but a growing part of me hopes we don't have to find out which would triumph.
I've talked to a few folks (by no means a significant sample size) who will ultimately back KBH if/when she challenges Perry, and while their loyalty is to her, they're uncomfortable losing Sen. Hutchison's seniority in the Senate. Whether this issue resonates beyond a select few...

Perry gets a B from Cato
Don Jordan writes in the Houston Chronicle about the Cato Institute's Fiscal Report Card on the governors. Cato's report grades how well governors do at cutting taxes and cutting spending.

2 governors received A's: Schwarzenegger and Craig Benson, who lost his re-election in NH. 11 governors received B's; Perry's score was the lowest of those who received B's.

Here is the text of the Cato evaluation of Perry:
As George W. Bush's lieutenant governor, Rick Perry was a key player in getting Bush's tax cuts passed. When he succeeded Bush as governor, he decided to take things slow at first: Perry saw little room for tax cuts in the beginning. The state was still recovering from Bush's spending buildup - Census Bureau numbers show that real per capita spending went up a whopping 6.7 percent in Perry's first year in office. Perry was reelected in a 2002 landslide, pledging to oppose any new or increased taxes. With the state facing a $10 billion deficit in the 2004 - 05 biennium, Perry instituted a zerobased budget to force the state agencies to justify their continued existence and funding levels. In June 2003 the legislature passed a balanced budget that cut spending and raised various fees and charges but avoided any general tax increase. In 2004 Perry proposed a $6 billion property tax cut, along with a property tax limitation measure that would prevent property taxes from increasing by more than 3 percent a year. To pay for his property tax cut, Perry also proposed a massive cigarette tax hike of $1 per pack. Perry called the legislature into special session to consider his tax plan, but the legislature took no action. Tax reform and education financing are subjects of ongoing debates in Texas, and Perry has been outspoken in his opposition to an income tax. His plan is to cut property taxes, which are high in Texas, and perhaps institute a statewide business tax. He insists that any tax reform plan should be an overall tax cut. With a few exceptions, Perry's fiscal record so far indicates that Texas taxpayers are in good hands.

Performance Data
6.7% Average Annual Change in Real per Capita Direct General Spending through 2002
6.0% Average Annual Change in Direct General Spending per $1,000 Personal Income through 2002
-2.1% Average Annual Recommended Change in Real per Capita General Fund Spending through 2005
-3.2% Average Annual Change in General Fund Spending per $1,000 Personal Income, 2002–2005
1.8% Average Annual Change in Real per Capita Tax Revenue through 2002
-6.1% Average Annual Change in Tax Revenue per $1,000 Personal Income through 2002
-2.4% Average Annual Recommended Change in General Fund Revenue per $1,000 Personal
Income through 2005
-2.5% Average Annual Change in Real per Capita General Fund Revenue, 2002–2005
0.7% Average Annual Recommended Tax Changes as % of Prior Year's Spending through 2005
n/a Change in Top Personal Income Tax Rate, proposed and/or enacted (% points)
0.0 Change in Top Corporate Income Tax Rate, proposed and/or enacted (% points)
4.5 2004 Combined Top Income Tax Rates, personal plus corporate
0.5 Change in Sales Tax Rate, proposed and/or enacted (% points)
0.0 Change in Gas Tax Rate, proposed and/or enacted (cents per gallon)
100 Change in Cigarette Tax Rate, proposed and/or enacted (cents per gallon
Here's excerpts of Jordan's HouChron coverage:
Gov. Rick Perry's approach to property and income taxes earned him good marks in a report on 2004 fiscal policy issued Tuesday by a libertarian-oriented think tank.

The Cato Institute gave a "B" grade to Perry and five other governors who have served more than one term.

Two other such governors got an "A."


"The fact that he has not made any movement toward raising or instituting a wage or income tax has been one of the reasons he got a high grade in our report," said Stephen Moore, senior fellow with the institute. "He's been a real spectacular governor in my opinion."

Cato, which calls itself "market liberal" as it supports limited government and free market policies, publishes the report every two years.


Based on Perry's score, "Texas taxpayers are in good hands," the report stated.

Moore said Perry did a good job of finding government waste and cutting agency budgets, "and he did a wonderful job of weathering the fiscal storm."

Facing more financial problems, Perry last month said he would be open to increasing the state gas tax to match inflation. The tax will raise almost $3 billion this year, behind the pace of increasing costs of building and maintaining highways.

Some of Perry's critics claim the governor's earlier tax-limiting policies were enacted at the expense of important social programs.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, threw political jabs at Perry this year when she criticized Texas for giving up $104.6 million in federal funds for children's health insurance after the state refused to spend money that would make the funds available. She is considering a run for governor next year.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Perry's statewide steering cmte
Via Harvey Kronberg, Rick Perry announced his statewide steering committee.

I was curious as to how many SREC (State Republican Executive Committee) members agreed to serve on Perry's steering committee. If Perry is indeed stronger with the grassroots activists, one would think he'd have an impressive showing of SREC members willing to volunteer for him. By my count, 30 out of 62 (31, if you count SREC members' spouses serving on the steering committee) SREC members are on the committee. Perry is particularly strong among SREC members from the Houston area.

SREC members on the committee: Cook (SD2), McCarty (SD3), Fredricks (SD4), Teuscher (SD4), Lewis (SD5), Bowles (SD6), Gonzales (SD6), Martin (SD7), Moore (SD7), Tschoepe (SD8), Tucker (SD8), Armstrong (SD11), Haigler (SD11), Clements (SD13), Gailbraith (SD14), Flynn (SD15), Davis (SD16), Hotze (SD17), Raia (SD17), Posten (SD18), Bergsma (SD20), Lothringer (SD21), Tabor (SD22), Jenkins (SD24), Wallace (SD24), Hensz (SD25), Nelson (SD25), Solis (SD26), Thackston (SD29), Gear (SD30).

The El Paso News noted the 13 El Pasoans named.

A TV station in Waco briefly mentioned some area folks.

Isn't that supposed to be the Perry campaign's line?
San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza (a Democrat) in the SAEN:
Garza thinks the new mayor must position the city to react to decisions made in Washington. The most notable, of course, is the next round of base realignments. With concerns about Brooks City-Base, Fort Sam Houston and Wilford Hall, this will be high on the radar.

Other Washington-related issues include the ripple effect of President Bush's proposed budget on social services, housing and community infrastructure. Garza also is concerned about how a decision by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a friend of the city, to leave the Senate might affect San Antonio.

Summer announcement?
In a DMN story about the Collin County (north dallas suburbs) GOP dinner:
The senator didn't want to talk about the governor's race. "There'll be plenty of time for that later," she said. "I'll say something this summer."

Mr. Perry deflected questions about his rival but left no doubt about his preference.

"I don't blush about it. I tell people straight away, the best place for the senator is in Washington, D.C., helping us deliver for Texas," he said. "The grassroots, by and large, believe in the elected officials that they've got – in the positions that they're in."

In their speeches, both acknowledged the congressmen and the state lawmakers – everyone but each other.


Sen. John Cornyn, who is staying neutral, said Friday that "people are a little nervous" about a battle between the two.

Mr. Cornyn called it "pretty natural" for Republicans, now that they dominate state politics, to "start fighting each other for dominance. ... I do know a lot of people are very anxious about it. And it is a subject of conversation everywhere I go in the state."


Attendance at the Collin County event hit about 1,500 – a jump from the previous record of 950, set last year when Mr. Perry had the card to himself. As with any good plot line, the dinner took some twists. Planners initially invited only the governor and Ms. Coulter, the conservative pundit. Then Ms. Hutchison sent word that she wanted to come, too.

"You don't turn down a U.S. senator," said county GOP chairman Rick Neudorff.
It'll be interesting to see when KBH decides to announce her candidacy for governor. Will she announce immediately after the session, or wait a few months to gather supporters and raise money before an official announcement?

Copyright 2005 Perry Vs World.
All rights reserved. Online Event Registration