December 30, 2005
Filing news: Friday frenzy

Lots of filing news to report as we approach the January 2 deadline. Let's get started...

Celebrity has its privilege, as radio personality Dan Patrick's filing for SD07 rates a fairly sizable Chron story. He's off the air until he loses or finishes serving however many terms he wins, but he's still there in spirit, as he's being replaced by his son.

Recent polls have shown Patrick with a commanding lead in the four-way race for the GOP nomination. Jim McGrath tries to make lemonade from that:

Patrick recently released a poll of likely Republican primary voters that shows him earning 54 percent of the vote if the election were held today. Nixon had 10 percent, Hamric had 9 percent and Ellis garnered 7 percent among those polled.

The poll, commissioned by Patrick and conducted by the Colorado-based polling firm Vitale & Associates, was taken in early December.

Nixon spokesman Jim McGrath questions the results.

"He's been on the air in the Houston market for years. Naturally he has a name ID advantage. We dispute that he has that level of support," McGrath said. "Name ID is one thing, support is another."

I suppose that's true, and perhaps for a primary election where most of the voters are more committed to the process than average, you're less likely to get someone to push the button for the only name they recognize than you might get in a general. That's still a lot of ground to make up, and whoever does make the hoped-for runoff with Patrick had better also hope that the two losers aren't too disgruntled to give an endorsement. Otherwise, expect Danno to be off the air for a long time.

Staying with the State Senate, we now have a second Democratic challenge to a GOP-held seat. Eye on Williamson introduces us to Stephen Wyman, who is running against Sen. Steve Ogden in CD05, which covers Brazos, Burleson, Freestone, Grimes, Houston, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Trinity, Walker and Williamson Counties (see PDF map). If a Democrat steps up in Ken Armbrister's SD18, we'll have a challenge to an incumbent (Ogden in SD05 and Frank Madla in SD19, assuming he wins his primary) and a race for an open seat on each side. Elam has some news about SD18, where Glenn Hegar appears to be consolidating support - I've also got a CapInside piece that says he's got State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham in his corner. It's the hair, people. Hegar could swap grooming tips with Rick Perry. Never underestimate a good head of hair.

Moving to Congress, most of the remaining names on the Democratic side have been filled in, as several incumbents plus Robert Ricketts (CD19), John Courage (CD21), and Rick Bolanos (CD23) submitted their paperwork in the last day or two. Here's a few words on Bolanos:

Swinging through San Antonio on Wednesday, El Pasoan Rick Bolaños kicked off his bid to unseat District 23 U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla with a fiery speech that took on the Bush administration more than his would-be Republican opponent.

Bolaños so far is the lone Democrat to announce for the March 7 primary.

Known as "the Band of Brothers," Bolaños and his three brothers, all of whom served in Vietnam, stumped nationwide for John Kerry in 2004, aiming to counteract attacks on the Democratic presidential candidate's military record.

Speaking to supporters in an Omni Hotel meeting room, Bolaños recalled his father's fervent patriotism and his own experiences in Vietnam, including tending to a gravely wounded friend during the Tet offensive.

"If he had lived, what would this administration have said about him if he ran for president?" Bolaños said, his voice wavering.

He went on to attack President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, the administration's handling of health insurance for children and the outsourcing of jobs.

At the same time, Bolaños said he wants to see an end to rigid partisanship in Congress. "We have to be more passionate about America," he said, "and less passionate about parties."

District 23 reaches from San Antonio to El Paso, and Bonilla — who so far has not drawn a primary opponent — has held the seat since 1992.

Here's an older story that mentions Ricketts' candidacy:

On [December 8] Randy Neugebauer announced that he will seek another term as congressman for District 19. The Lubbock Congressman wasn't the only one to make that announcement.

At Texas Tech, Robert Ricketts announced his candidacy for the congressional seat. Ricketts is the Director of Accounting Programs for Tech and will run as a Democrat. He hopes to use his more than 20-years of tax policy practice to help solve the nation's budget problems.

On [December 9] Fred Jones intends to announce his candidacy for District 19 on the Libertarian ticket.

By the time you read this, David Harris will have paid his fee in Austin to file for CD06. Here's his statement:

On Friday afternoon, I will deliver my filing to run as the Democratic Candidate in TX-06 to the state headquarters in Austin. It is an awesome responsibility that lies ahead and my family and I appreciate the encouragement and support we have received over the past few months.

Recently, according to the New York Times, “Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.), an architect of the Medicaid proposals, said the higher co-payments were needed to `encourage personal responsibility' among low-income people.”

While Barton believes those less fortunate need to learn to exercise more “personal responsibility”, I believe the elected official for TX-06 should take more “personal responsibility” for what that job should be…an instrument to serve the constituents of the district from which you are elected, not a position of power to line your pockets. Now that TX-06 has dirtier air, rapidly shrinking salaries in Tarrant and Ellis counties and children dropping off Medicaid rolls at alarming rates its time to enforce our own term limits…its time for Joe to go.

I hope each of you will Follow Me to DC…it is truly the most important work we will ever do.

Moving to the State House, I did a little counting on the Dem filings and GOP filings pages. By my count, 80 seats so far have Democratic candidates filed for them, while 78 have Republicans. Three of those 80 Dems are not yet listed on the page but will have filed by the end of the day today (HD50 - Mark Strama, about whom more in a jif, HD122 - Larry Stallings, and HD125 - Joaquin Castro - scroll down on the page). The districts which do not yet have anyone filed for them:

HD24 - Larry Taylor (R)
HD33 - Vilma Luna (D)
HD34 - Abel Herrero (D)
HD37 - Rene Oliveira (D)
HD38 - Open (D)
HD42 - Richard Raymond (D)
HD65 - Burt Solomons (R)
HD74 - Pete Gallego (D)
HD90 - Lon Burnam (D)
HD95 - Marc Veasey (D)
HD100 - Terri Hodge (D)
HD104 - Roberto Alonzo (D)
HD123 - Mike Villareal (D)
HD128 - Wayne Smith (R)
HD130 - Corbin Van Arsdale (R)
HD132 - Bill Callegari (R)
HD135 - Gary Elkins (R)
HD138 - Dwayne Bohac (R)

Interestingly, none of the Harris County GOP contingent is listed as having filed yet; in contrast, all of the Dems have done so. Either the state party's page is out of date, or they're being especially laggard about it. Other than the open seat in HD38, I've not heard anything about retirements in any of these, so I presume it's all just procrastination. We'll have a much clearer picture soon.

Speaking of Mark Strama, his statement upon filing today is beneath the fold. Greg has a twofer on the contested primary in HD146, and news about filings for Harris County offices. I just want to say that J. Goodwille Pierre, candidate for Harris County Clerk, has an awesome name.

Finally, a piece of unexpected news at the statewide level: The Dems have a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Marshall resident and attorney Ben Z. Grant on Thursday announced he will be a candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor in the March Democratic primary.

Grant, 65, a former state representative who also served 17 years as justice of the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana, said he is looking forward to the statewide race.

He shipped his filing papers Thursday to Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin. As of Thursday afternoon no other candidates had filed.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst filed on Dec. 15 as a Republican seeking re-election. Grant said, assuming he wins the Democratic Party primary, he is looking forward to likely taking on Dewhurst next November.

"I realize it will be an uphill battle," Grant said, "but I want to give the people a choice."

Grant said voters across the state are unhappy with the lack of progress by the Texas Legislature on solving the state's school finance challenges.

"There has been a lot of disenfranchisement from both parties because the legislature has been unable to get together on school finance," he said. "It's not an easy task, but I feel I can work with people of both parties."

Grant retired from the Sixth Court of Criminal Appeals when his term ended in 2002. He served as a state representative from 1971 until 1981.

Grant was also a district judge for the 71st Judicial District Court in Harrison County and was appointed to the court of appeals in 1985 by then-Gov. Mark White. He said he spent 37 years in government, starting his career as a school teacher.

Grant has also been a weekly Sunday columnist for the Marshall News Messenger the past eight years. Those columns will cease as of this week, newspaper officials said.

Is this state big enough for two former media personalities running for office in 2006?

If you want proof that what Grant says about working with people of both parties is more than mere rhetoric, consider this:

County Republican Chairman Sam Moseley said, while he wishes Grant well, he anticipates Dewhurst will continue serving as Texas Lieutenant Governor after the November election.

"Ben Grant is a good personal friend whom I admire in many ways," Moseley said Thursday afternoon. "I know this statewide campaign will be a valuable experience for him."

Moseley and Grant ran against each other in 1970 for state representative with Grant winning that race.

"Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is also a friend, and a person of great personal skill and integrity," Moseley said. "Legislators from both parties say he serves very effectively as our state's lieutenant governor.

"I have confidence in Gov. Dewhurst, and expect him to continue serve our state honorably and well."

That's about as nice a quote as you could expect from a county chair for the opposing party, especially someone you once beat in an election. I look forward to learning more about Ben Grant.

Click the More link for Mark Strama's statement.

I am writing to announce to you that today I am filing for re-election to the Texas House of Representatives in District 50. I am honored by the opportunity the voters have given me to serve them. My election last year sent a message to the Legislature that the people of Texas did not support their policies of cutting children's health insurance, neglecting education, and prioritizing political issues - like Tom Delay's redistricting plan - above the public interest.

I believe this played a role in the current Legislature's decision to restore vision and dental care in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and to shore up the problems with Children's Protective Services (CPS). My first year in the Legislature has left me with a stronger desire than ever to be a force for change in Texas politics. We still have a long way to go to achieve the improvements in education and reforms in our political system that our state deserves.

And with another campaign starting in the New Year, I am once again asking for your support.

Fundraising Deadline: December 31

December 31 marks the final day before our next contribution reports are due, and it is important that my report show a strong financial position as the campaign gets started. Please donate at:

If everyone receiving this email donates $25 today, we could kick off the New Year with over $100,000 on hand. This would send a powerful signal to the big special interests that solid grassroots support can overpower their huge political contributions. We did it before, and we are going to have to do it again.

As you recall, last year's campaign cost over $500,000, and I was still outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars. So please consider making a donation of $25, or whatever you can afford, at:

There is power in numbers, and your contribution, no matter how small, adds up to real power when it is added to the contributions of the thousands of other supporters receiving this email. But it only works if everyone participates - and it works even better if each of you forward this email to 10 friends and encourage them to participate as well. Thanks for your continuing support.

Campaign Academy Summer 2006

There are a lot of things I was proud of about our 2004 campaign, but by far the proudest accomplishment was the summer Campaign Academy, in which high school and college students engaged the political process and made a real difference in the outcome of the election.

The Campaign Academy was a program that brought in daily guest speakers - current and former elected officials, political consultants, policy wonks, and university professors - to visit with a group of about twenty Campaign Academy interns. The interns spent the remainder of each day learning by doing - block walking, phone banking, organizing events, and experiencing first-hand the daily activity of a political campaign.

I know that the winter holiday is when many students begin making their plans for the summer. If you know of any bright, interested young people who might want to spend this summer learning about politics and making a difference, please forward them this message. Detailed information about Campaign Academy is available at:

Last year's Campaign Academy interns were not only a tremendous campaign asset; they were also a constant reminder of why we all worked so hard. Every single day, their idealism and enthusiasm inspired us to aim higher, and grounded us in the purpose and mission of the campaign.

These young people deserve better service from the Texas Legislature. The most important challenge facing the State of Texas is improving our public schools while reducing their dependence on local property taxes. Yet repeated special sessions once again ended in a stalemate among our legislative leaders. In the information-based, global economy of the 21st century, an educated workforce is our strongest asset. If our education system is not competitive today, our workforce and our economy will pay a high price tomorrow.

The people of Texas support their schools, and they are ready for a change from the failed approach of the past four years. If you would like to be involved in my campaign to bring a change of priorities to the State Capitol, please visit:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 30, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack