With early voting over and the regular voting to take place on Tuesday, we'll finally get a better picture of who's in and who's out in all of these hotly contested primaries. Among others, we ought to know who'll carry the flag in the ninth district, where I think the end of the race will be a boon to everyone.
A group of African-American ministers supporting Al Green for Congress demanded Friday that Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting withdraw his endorsement of U.S. Rep. Chris Bell.
The demand came on the heels of a claim by Bell that Green has violated federal campaign laws in a week of heightened rhetoric in the Democratic primary for the new 9th U.S. Congressional District.
Bell is white and Green, a former justice of the peace and former head of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is black.
Friday, the Rev. Bill Lawson of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and several other black ministers said the Soechting endorsement creates a double standard.
Soechting endorsed Bell earlier in the week because Green took a $2,000 campaign contribution from former Harris County GOP Chairman Gary Polland. Soechting said Polland has worked to oppose affirmative action and other interests supported by blacks.
Lawson echoed Green's original complaint that state party officials didn't complain when Bell received Republican money or when he got the Political Courage Award from Polland and the local GOP for opposing a city tax hike in 2001. At the time, Bell was a City Council member running for mayor.
Texas Democratic Party spokesman Mike Lavigne said Soechting stands by the endorsement because "Gary Poland and the Republican Party aren't going to pick our candidates."
Over in HD 131, the race between Ron Wilson and Alma Allen is largely being funded by competing PACs.
Allen's latest campaign report shows she raised $152,000 between Feb. 10 and March 1 -- $136,000 of it from the Texas Democratic Party and two groups of trial lawyers.
Texans for Insurance Reform, a new political action committee formed by a dozen state law firms focused on personal injury cases, poured $116,000 into Allen's campaign.
Wilson is one of seven Democratic legislators who were members of Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick's leadership team and are now caught in the new PAC's cross hairs. The biggest contributor to the PAC has been the Houston law firm of Williams and Bailey, which gave $125,000. The PAC's treasurer is Austin plaintiffs' attorney Mike Slack, past president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
That association's PAC gave Allen $10,000 during the reporting period. Another $10,000 came from the Texas Democratic Party.
These three sources accounted for all but $16,000 of Allen's contributions during the period.
Of the $206,250 Wilson raised during the Feb. 10-March 1 period, the largest contribution was $22,500 from the Hillco PAC; Hillco is a major Austin lobbying firm with close ties to Craddick. Other contributors include big-name Republicans like Austin consultant Reggie Bashur and Houstonians Richard Weekly and Bob Perry. Weekly heads Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which advocates limitations on lawsuits and damages, and Perry is a homebuilder and major GOP contributor.
Craddick also has held two fund-raisers for Wilson, one in Austin earlier this year and a recent one in Houston. Spencer Newman, a Republican political consultant who worked for former mayoral candidate Orlando Sanchez, also is working for Wilson.
And speaking of the other team, I confess to finding a certain amount of amusement in this.
Justice of the Peace Russ Ridgway appears to have picked up another endorsement this week -- from his opponent.
That's the way it looked Friday from the street in front of a house leased by City Councilman Mark Goldberg, who is challenging Ridgway in Tuesday's Republican primary for Harris County JP Precinct 5 Place 1.
Right there in the front yard of the house in the 6100 block of Dumfries were two Ridgway campaign signs.
Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, who backs Ridgway, admitted putting the signs in the yard Thursday to support his contention that Goldberg doesn't really live in the JP precinct as required by law.
Repeated attempts to reach Goldberg on Friday were unsuccessful.
"He's either for Ridgway or he doesn't live where he says he lives. Anybody can pretty much figure that out," Radack said.
Goldberg leased the house in December, right before he filed against Ridgway.