December 01, 2004
Recent news roundup

So what happened while I was out of town?

There are now three contested House races.

They have been filed by state Rep. Talmadge Heflin, R-Houston, state Rep. Jack Stick, R-Austin, and attorney Eric Opiela, R-Karnes City, who ran for an open seat in South Texas.

Circumstances are different in each case, but all the Republicans say illegal votes were cast, and they are asking the GOP-controlled House to investigate and possibly overturn the Election Day results.

All three are being supported in their challenges by state Republican Party Chairwoman Tina Benkiser.

"Voter fraud undermines the faith of the people and, as a result, we support Opiela, Heflin and Stick in combating the effects of possible voter fraud in their districts," she said.

I have one question: If the Democrats are so darned good at stealing elections like these, then why are they still losing so many? I mean, the least they could have done was steal back the State House.

Note also that Talmadge Heflin has the full support of the State GOP. He's not just some disgruntled loser making trouble for poor ol' Tom Craddick, despite Craddick's gosh-darned best efforts to warn him off. At what point do you think "By any means necessary" will be written into the official party platform?

The BOR guys speculate (here and here) that the most recent challenge, by outgoing Rep. Jack Stick, is nothing more than cover for the real target, which is Heflin's seat. Hotshot Casey is thinking along the same lines. Meanwhile, Greg does the math and sees blaming the voters as Heflin's only viable strategy.

More on the Stick challenge in this Statesman article.

Stick's allegations of problems "reconciling" voter information from Election Day has Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir stumped.

"It's a false accusation," she said. "I just did a recount (for White)."

Stick could not be reached for comment late Monday. But he wrote in his five-page filing with the secretary of state that he was protesting the result pending the release of election data that would show whether any voters cast more than one ballot, lived outside the district or were ineligible to vote. Stick wrote that it would be another two weeks before the election data would be available.

DeBeauvoir said she also saw a follow-up letter from Stick to the secretary of state claiming she had not released voter registration information to Stick.

The county clerk said she's not the voter registrar but that Travis County is probably current on all information related to the election.

"I have never received any kind of written or oral request from Jack Stick for information," she said. "We're done and up-to-date. I don't know why Jack Stick would accuse me."

Convenience, I'm sure.

While the Heflin-Vo recount is underway and expected to finish later today, the recount in the third challenged race has ended with no change in the result.

Republican Eric Opiela gained four votes Monday in a recount for State Representative District 35, but still lost to Democrat Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles by more than 800 votes.

In the recount Monday, Opiela gained 31 votes in Bee County and one in Karnes County. But he lost 28 in Jim Wells County.

Gonzalez Toureilles gained 17 votes in Jim Wells County, had no change in her total in Karnes County, but lost 9 votes in Bee County.

The final tally in the district, which also includes Goliad, McMullen, Atascosa and Live Oak counties, was 23,146 for Gonzalez Toureilles and 22,288 for Opiela. Only the votes in Karnes, Bee and Jim Wells counties were contested.


Opiela said the challenge brought out what he called irregularities in Bee, Karnes and Jim Wells counties.

"In Bee and Jim Wells, the high number of irregularities during Election Day contributed to the decision," Opiela said. "We want to make sure every vote was counted and that illegal votes are not counted and that's why we filed an election challenge."

Gonzalez Toureilles was in Austin for a legislative orientation and could not be reached for comment.

Opiela said he received several calls from voters in Jim Wells and Bee counties who were concerned about the race's outcome.

"We noticed in this county (Jim Wells) one of the boxes had a different serial number and that concerned us with the security of the boxes," he said.

Jim Wells County Clerk Ruben Sandoval said one election judge didn't completely fill out the combination form or sign-in sheet for voters in Precinct 14.

Finally, on an unrelated matter, the Corpus Christi Caller Times ponders the sad fate of unloved Craddick disciple Vilma Luna.

House Speaker Tom Craddick missed a wonderful opportunity to reward a Democrat who has, at great political risk, stuck with him during tough times. His failure to tap State Rep. Vilma Luna as chairwoman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee had to have stung.

Instead, Craddick named Jim Pitts, a Republican from Waxahachie, as chairmanof what is perhaps the most important committee in Austin, particularly in a session when public school finance will be job one.


Craddick, the top Republican in a GOP-dominated chamber, could have shown true bipartisanship by naming Luna, the Corpus Christi Democrat who was among the few in her party not to participate in the two walkouts during last summer's special sessions on redistricting. The walkouts denied the GOP leadership the quorum necessary to push through the redrawing of congressional lines that eventually resulted in ousting four of five targeted Texas Democratic congressmen.

But Luna stayed in Austin, one of a few Democrats to do so. Several of those Democrats later paid the price, such as high-profile State Rep. Ron Wilson of Houston whose loss was attributed to his support for Craddick's legislation.

Like Luna, Wilson gave Republicans bipartisan weight by voting for an appropriations measure that met the GOP leadership's requirements of producing a state budget that had no new taxes, even at the cost of cutting the Children's Health Insurance Program.

My heart bleeds for you, Vilma. Maybe now you'll understand how things work with this crew.

Thanks to KF for several links.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 01, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Rick Casey may have nailed the whole thing at the end of his column this morning. Stick's challenge in Austin is designed to make Heflin's challenge in Houston look reasonable.

Posted by: Marty Jackson on December 1, 2004 9:09 AM


You could not have been more on the the money!
Stick & Opiela were just covers for Heflin. Unfortunatatly my wife and I had to pay the price for the complete lunacy of Eric Opiela. After she beat him he filed a contest for time line purposes; I guess? Then announces he wants a recount in the counties he lost inculding his own "just to be fair". Not odd, if you ever met him. It wasn't to be fair it's that he didn't realize how many people in his own county wouldn't vote for him. Because they know him and his family. He chose Atascosa as his base. His choice so don"t be suprised. The numbers are there but not the loyalty of growing up there. To this day he still is a harassment & stigma for my family and I.
We played by the rules and fought his cazy allegations through the process with the Texas State House. But not Mr. Opiela he went out and tried to destroy my wife's excellent reputation via the Repulican countrolled newspapers. Most of the other papers just wrote the story and moved on. (Kind of like what he should have done.) Either way he cost the (3) counties $$$ and my family for his recount that he must have known he could not possibly win.
Then when it comes to proving his case he withdrals under the EXCUSE of POLITICAL PRESSURE and HIGH COST OF LITIGATION. (By the way he instigated the LITIGATION!)
I'm sorry but correct me if I'm wrong but as far as Political Pressure doesn't the entire Repulican party control the State of Texas; i.e. Govenor, U.S. Senators and Reps., Texas Senate & the Texas House of State Reps. Who applied the pressure? His own party or the Democrats? The head of the Repulican Party said she or her Party never applied any pressure on Mr. Opiela. In fact she was going to make an example of South Texas with his rock proof evidence. So in fact the Democrats despite the fact they have no control over the Attorney Generals Office or Secrectary of State which are also Republican controlled we are expected to beleive that the presuure came from? In all honesty the real pressure came from GOD. Well THANK GOD!!! What happened, was the rock sandstone? As far as the HIGH COST of LITIGATION, why would you instigate a lawsuit/contest if you were not prepared to pay for the cost of process. He should know this. He claims to be an attorney, in fact for Rep. Bob Talton as general council.(Scary) My wife and I had to take out loans, borrow money, put up signs ourselves; while also contributing to each and every county. It's because of people like Mr. Opiela who cared more about winning the seat than the people of District 35 that makes getting good politicians in office. He will RUN AGAIN! AND AGAIN!! AND AGAIN!! (He is Obsessed with being a carrier Politcian!!!!! He ran 2002, 2004, he will be runing for 2006 and who knows just how long. IN MY OPINION IF IT'S NOT HIS WAY IT'S WRONG!!

He needs to get over it he has spent the last 5 1/2 months in Austin as a wannabee! Tring to convince people he was robbed not just by Democrats but by his own party as well.
You should read the letter he (Opiela /Delgado) sent to the Master of Discovery Rep. Will Harrnett extremely disrepectful even after Rep. Keel convinced Hartnett to cut the contest fine in 1/2 from $4,000 to $2,000. He was cc a copy of the letter which probably made him wish he had let Hartnett's origanal fine stand. And it gets even better he still wants to get his $2,000. He really is living in his own world. He's a squirl in a nuts world. I'd love to go on about everything he has done to my family and I including showing up at our house in Alice also in Austin during orientation and so on but I'm sure you understand my frustration when I see my family suffer needlessly. Thanks for reading and watch out for those nuts out there. (FYI--WHEN PREVIOUS STATE REP. GABI CANALES IS ENDORSING! YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK TWICE ABOUT THE CANIDATE SHE IS SUPPORTING! REMEBER SHE WAS ONE OF THE TEN WORST REPRESENTATIVES IN TEXAS MONTHLY WHICH IS WHY SHE ONLY SERVERD ONE TERM!)
Marc Toureilles

Posted by: Marc Toureilles on May 17, 2005 1:26 PM