December 22, 2005
Filing news: There's more than one race?

Well, what do you know? The Chron actually printed a story about a Congressional race that affects a segment of its readership and has nothing to do with Tom DeLay. Who'da thunk it?

Lanier Middle School teacher Jim Henley gave a civics lesson Wednesday when he filed to seek the Democratic nomination in the 7th Congressional District.

Three-term incumbent Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, is seeking re-election in the district, a largely upper-income area in west Harris County that was represented by former President Bush early in his political career.

The district's boundaries were changed in 2003 to incorporate Bellaire, West University Place and parts of the Texas Medical Center.

If he wins the March Democratic primary, and so far he's the only candidate, Henley will be the underdog in November in a district that has voted about 2-1 Republican in recent elections.

His run is motivated partly by a desire to set an example for his students. "I just thought it would be a poor example for me to allow us to lose our voice in the House of Representatives and not fight back," said Henley, who lives in one of the new sections of the district.

More of this, please. And I mean that: Don't let this be the only story about this race until it's time for the mandatory Race Profile before the November general election. Give a little effort to covering what the candidates are talking about, in this race and elsewhere. It shouldn't be just up to us bloggers to do that.

One quibble here: While it is true that as of this minute, Jim Henley is the only Democrat to have filed for CD07, it's not really accurate to say he's the only candidate. David Murff has been actively campaigning for several months now, and barring anything highly unusual, I expect he'll file shortly as well. If we can get a story out of that, and a story about how these two gentlemen are competing to be the flag-bearer against Culberson in November, I'll be thrilled.

At least we can still count on smaller papers like the Baytown Sun, which brought word of Shane Sklar's filing.

Sklar, who announced his intentions in September, is an Edna resident and farmer and rancher who formerly served as executive director of the Independent Cattleman’s Association of Texas

Sklar recently gained an early endorsement from the Texas Farm Bureau’s political action committee and has been traveling heavy throughout the district, having made several stops in Chambers County, most recently making an appearance at a Baytown Chamber of Commerce event.

“We are working hard every day to build a grassroots network that’ll reach out to every citizen in the 14th district,” Sklar said on Monday. “If people in Chambers and others counties haven’t had an opportunity to meet me yet they soon will.”

Elsewhere, Mary Beth Harrell's filing got a nice writeup in the hometown Killeen Daily Herald. Alas, it's not online, but Eye on Williamson has a scan of it for you.

CD23 contender Rick Bolanos has an event planned for his official announcement. The Jeffersonian has the details. Given the late date of this event, I sure hope it will be in concert with paying the filing fee.

Mike Fjetland takes a potshot at Tom DeLay for his 1000-signatures-equals-strength claim, but in a press release that I received said he will not challenge their validity:

In 2002 the DeLay campaign contested Fjetland's petition to be on the ballot, trying to have valid signatures excluded for technical points like dates and abbreviations. Mike's campaign was put on hold for several weeks until the courts finally verified his right to against DeLay. Political shenanigans almost left voters with no choice of candidates in 2002. "I feel very strongly that voters deserve a choice of qualified candidates." says Fjetland "I see no need to add to the legal distractions already looming over this election."

Closing out the Congressional tour, expect to hear from David Harris shortly. And remember that all of these folks, indeed all of the people you can find on the sidebar here, can use a little help during the end of the quarter.

Finally, more reverbations from the Ken Armbrister retirement announcement. First, from CapInside:

The list of potential contenders for the Senate District 18 seat includes Ben Streusand, a Houston mortgage company owner who's contributed generously to Republican campaigns including the one he waged last year in an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Three other Republican candidates had filed to seek the Senate seat before Armbrister revealed that he doesn't plan to run again after 19 years in the upper chamber and four more in the House.

Republican State Rep. Glen Hegar of Katy is weighing a possible bid for the Senate seat - and State Rep. Charlie Howard of Sugar Land confirmed Wednesday that he's being encouraged to run for the opening in the upper chamber and plans to take a look at it as well. State Rep. Geanie Morrison, a Victoria Republican who's a member of the House GOP leadership team, has been mentioned prominently as a possible successor to Armbrister, a Democrat who lives in the same town.

State Rep. Robby Cook of Eagle Lake is also being urged to join the battle for SD 18 despite the fact that he's a Democrat who would be running in a district where two-thirds of the voters have been supporting Republicans at the top of recent tickets. The prevailing sentiment among most Republicans and many Democrats for years has been that the Senate seat would be moving to the GOP column as soon as Armbrister decided to step down.

As the story goes on to say, Streusand has been greedily eying SD18 for some time now, though that didn't stop him from letting three other hopefuls cut in line ahead of him. Aaron Pena has a pointer to this story about Morrison's decision.

"Geanie spent all day (Tuesday) on the phone, talking to people who were encouraging her to run for the Senate seat," Morrison spokesman Justin Unruh said Wednesday.

"She's spending today (Wednesday) talking to family and friends and weighing all the options that will go into her decision."


Should Morrison decide to run, her opponents, thus far, in the GOP Primary would be businessman/rancher Gary Gates of Richmond, who made a failed try last year for the Texas House; rancher/writer/radio show host Herman Brune of Colorado County, who also was defeated in a 2004 attempt to win a seat in the Texas House; and David Stall of Fayette County, an activist who is battling the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no Democrats had filed to run for the Senate seat.

Of course, Morrison could decide instead to seek a fourth term as representative for the Texas House's District 30, which serves Victoria, DeWitt, Lavaca, Refugio and Jackson counties.

No opponents - Republicans or Democrats - had filed as of Wednesday afternoon to challenger her in District 30.

Filing for both positions ends on Jan. 2.

"She's got some pretty big decisions to make," said Unruh. "She's looking at what's best for her district and what's best for her family."

I certainly wouldn't mind seeing some of those House seats coming open, even if all three of them are fairly solidly Republican - Hegar and Howard are a bit south of 65% red, while Morrison is a bit north of it. Of course, you have to have a candidate in place for it to matter, and so far all three of these folks are unchallenged. I will say this - if hair quality is a factor, then I give Hegar a big leg up in any race.

UPDATE: According to the Quorum Report, Morrison is staying put. Here's her statement:

"This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. There were many factors that I took into consideration - the two most important being my family and my constituents. I want to thank the many friends and supporters who have contacted me over past couple of days to encourage me to run for the Texas Senate. It has truly been a humbling experience. I have spent considerable time contemplating how to best balance my family commitments and my service to the people of Texas. In the end, I found that the balance I sought could only be achieved through my continued service in the Texas House."

One down, three to go.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 22, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

At the rate he's going, those 1,000 signatures on that petition may reflect the demographics of the 1,000 who voted for Tom De Lay in November of 2006 when he lost his seat in Congress in a stinging defeat. At the rate he's going, however, he may not even have those votes.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on December 22, 2005 5:05 PM

Did the Kuff watch the joint appearance of Henley and Murf last night on Real Texas Politics? If so, why not offer a fearless analysis? Jim Henley

Posted by: Jim Henley on December 23, 2005 10:14 AM

Jim - Sadly, I did not. We were having dinner with my in-laws at the time it aired. Feel free to give your own appraisal, though.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 23, 2005 10:30 AM

Charles, I would never critque myself! I think you should watch the video. I will send it to you if you wish. Happy holidays to you and your family. Jim Henley

Posted by: Jim Henley on December 23, 2005 4:10 PM