June 18, 2007
Draft Rick Noriega

Well, now that we've got one Noriega safely elected, it's time to start thinking about another. I've talked about Rick Noriega and his consideration of a run against Sen. John Cornyn next year. The prospect of such a candidacy is very exciting to me for a number of reasons, and I'd like to discuss a couple of them here. First and foremost is simply that I hold Rick Noriega in high regard, both personally and as a legislator. Noriega has a record of accomplishment in the Lege - he's been a leader on matters of education, immigration, and border security - and he has a voting record that I feel good about. You all know I'm a half-a-loaf guy, and I'll support someone with whom I have significant disagreements if the overall package is acceptable. I'll support Mikal Watts in the general election if he emerges as the Democratic candidate, despite his anti-abortion stance, because he's good enough otherwise, and because the alternative is too gruesome to contemplate. But I'd so much prefer to throw down behind someone who doesn't need any glossing over. I don't expect to ever have to say "Yeah, but" to a fellow Democrat about Rick Noriega.

I think we will finally have a confluence of establishment and grassroots support at a statewide level with a Noriega candidacy. I believe people will get fired up about getting Rick Noriega elected. If nothing else, it's refreshing to see someone who isn't a same-old, same-old name as a standard-bearer. It feels like a changing of the guard, one that's long overdue. I think he can be a game-changer, someone who can alter politics in this state in a fundamental way, and in doing so alter Texas' image nationally. I'm told Harvey Kronberg expressed similar sentiments at the town hall meeting Ellen Cohen hosted last week; he apparently said this has been the talk of Austin as well. Who was the last statewide Democrat to generate that kind of buzz? Maybe Henry Cisneros, if you overlook the fact that he never ran a statewide race. It's about damn time.

Finally, I think Rick Noriega is exactly the right candidate to run against John Cornyn. Noriega spent a year in Afghanistan on the front lines of the "war on terror". He's also been deployed to the Texas border to train National Guardsmen on matters of border security. What are the two biggest issues these days? John Cornyn can talk about these things. Rick Noriega has actually been there and done them.

To get to that point, Noriega must first win a primary against Watts, and that will be no small task. Watts starts out with a lot of money, and he's been busy raising even more. He's been involved with a lot of campaigns, and that will bring him a lot of institutional support. And let's not forget, he's a pretty good candidate in his own right. I just believe Rick Noriega is a better one. I hope you'll agree with me and many of my blogging colleagues, who are banding together to get Rick Noriega into, and then out from, the primary for Senate. To put it another way: Draft Rick Noriega.

UPDATE: Others weighing in:

South Texas Chisme
Feet to the Fire
Capitol Annex
Half Empty
Dos Centavos
Burnt Orange Report
Eye on Williamson

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 18, 2007 to Election 2008

Help me understand the "draft Rick" movement.

I'm a Democrat. I'll be supporting our Democratic nominee in November.

I have read about Mikal Watts and his views on getting our troops out of Iraq (good) and on abortion (bad). I could vote for Watts, but I'd be more than happy to hear about another candidate.

But I'm hinky about another "draft" movement.

If Noriega isn't excited enough to run without a draft movement begging him to get into the race, what would make anyone think he's excited enough to run a winning campaign? Last time we "drafted" a candidate, Tony Sanchez got his ass handed to him!

Plus, I think I understand why Noriega is reluctant to run and why people are having to "draft" him. Noriega just finished getting re-elected and serving in the 80th Legislature, and then he went straight to his wife's city council election (which she won, yay!), and now he's going straight to his wife's re-election (she's up again in 5 months because she was just elected to fill a partial term), and THEN and ONLY THEN can Noriega focus full-time on any potential senate race. And if Noriega gets into the race, he'll have to campaign full time for another whole year -- essentially following up 3 campaigns over 2 and a half years with another year of hard campaigning. Isn't Ricky, Jr. just 10 years old? Good lord, you'd have to "draft" my ass too if you thought you could get me run for Senate after 3 campaigns over the previous 2 and a half years.

Noriega is a great guy, but why are we drafting him and not, for example, Senfronia Thompson?

What major pieces of good legislation did Noriega successfully author or sponsor this past session? I give Noriega credit for hard work on the teacher pay raise, but that's all I'm aware of. I'm not complaining because lots of good Democrats didn't get anything major done this past session, but if we're going to choose someone to draft, why Noriega?

Let's look at Noriega's votes from this session:

Why did Noreiga vote for HB 1098 which prevented girls entering the sixth grade from getting vaccinated against the human papilloma virus?

Why did Noriega vote for HB 109 to make it harder for the state to provide healthcare for the children of illegal immigrants?

Why did Noriega vote for HB 2683 which was Warren Chisum's stupid marriage tax?

Why did Noriega vote for HB 3678 which was Charlie Howard's prayer in public school bill?

Why did Noriega vote for HB 284 which makes it OK to shoot people who come onto your property?

Why did Noriega vote for HB 8 which expands the death penalty (which is already too way expansive in Texas) and makes it more difficult for victims of familial sex abuse to report it?

I can live with these votes, and if Noriega runs and wins the nomination, I'll support him fully, but if we're going to draft someone who seems reluctant, why "draft Rick"?

Posted by: JoeSixPackDemocrat on June 18, 2007 11:04 AM

Wow, Joe, you're sure making the rounds.

I can cut and paste, too.

This isn't begging anyone.

What the Draft Rick Noriega movement is about is demonstrating that there is a foundation for a people powered candidate to rise in Texas.

Mikal Watts has deep pockets, but that isn't the only thing required, or we would have had Governor Tony Sanchez. I don't think anyone would properly categorize the Sanchez campaign as people powered-and the political landscape online has opened up a lot since those days.

That's what the Draft Rick Noriega movement is about. If you want to draft Senfronia Thompson (whom I hold in highest respect) then make the case for her.

Rick is an experienced legislator who's served his nation both in Afghanistan and also on the Texas/Mexico border.

In short, he's a leader, and that's what Texas needs. I don't doubt I'll disagree with some of his votes, but I'll never doubt his leadership ability nor his willingness to champion legislation that will benefit everyday Texans instead of the Boards of Directors of Texas.

That's what the draft movement is about.

Posted by: boadicea on June 18, 2007 12:04 PM

Mr 6 pack - I have questions of my own, for you:
Do you know Rick Noriega? Have you had any involvement with any of his campaigns or with Melissa's campaign as of late? I see you've done your research on his 80(R) votes and have posted comments on other blogs, presumably to question Rick's integrity. Mikal Watts, on the other hand, has no voting record to speak of. He does have alot of money, though, and some integrity questions of his own. Maybe you can get Ms. T to rescind her intent to run for House Speaker in 2009, get her some combat experience, a well-oiled political machine with the best political minds in the state, and ask her to run for the U.S. Senate. I'd love to be in the room for that!

Posted by: Marie on June 18, 2007 12:23 PM

Ugh on Watts. Given the likelihood of key liberal justices dying or resigning in the next few years, I am extremely leary of electing an anti-abortion senator of any party.

If the Dems need to lock arms to prevent an Alito from replacing a Stevens, I don't want somebody who might try to develop a nasty streak of individuality.

Posted by: Greg Morrow on June 18, 2007 12:25 PM


I didn't cut and paste anything; these are my questions and not anyone else's.

I asked them originally at HalfEmpty and, when they didn't post there, I asked them here.

I completely 100% agree with you that deep pockets are not the only (or best) criteria for electing a Senator (or any office for that matter). As I said, I think Watts's views on abortion are bad, and I'd be more than happy to hear about another candidate.

My question was simply why "draft Rick" as opposed to drafting someone else? As I understood your response, the answer was because Noriega (1) is people powered, (2) has legislative experience, and (3) served in Afghanistan and on the Texas/Mexico border.

First, I'm -- again -- 100% in agreement with you that a people powered candidate is good. I'm asking in a sincere fashion what makes Rick Noriega more people powered than, for example, Garnet Coleman, or Senfronia Thompson, or Rafael Anchia, or Scott Hochberg, or Mark Strama? I share with you the preference for a people powered candidate. I'm just not in the know about what makes Noriega more people powered than the next guy (his list of campaign contributors don't necessarily give this impression).

Second, how is Noriega's legislative experience more distinguished than Garnet Coleman's, or Senfronia Thompson's, or Rafael Anchia's, or Scott Hochberg's, or Mark Strama's? I'm not complaining about Noriega, but I'm looking to understand why his legislative experience is extraordinary. I assume that there is some reason why there is a "draft Rick" movement and not, say, a "draft Garnet" movement. I'm asking for your insight into this question.

Finally, with regard to Noriega's service in Afghanistan and on the border, I love that he has served the country. Is it impertinent to ask how these experiences have affected his views on what we should do at the border and whether we should get out of Iraq immediately? I just want to know because I'm a bit concerned with regard to border issues because of his vote for HB 109 and, despite the fact Noriega's a vet, I have not heard his voice in the peace movement. I'm looking for answers. Is that wrong?


I have met Melissa but not Rick. I like Melissa, and I am confident I would like Rick if I met him. I have also met John Cornyn, and while he seemed nice enough, I won't be voting for him.

I have posted on one other blog, and I re-posted here only because there was a delay in my original post at HalfEmpty (and I found this blog because Charles Kuffner posted over at HalfEmpty).

I do not question Rick's integrity. He served our country and our state and I have every reason to believe he is an honorable man. I'm only questioning why Rick - as opposed to other talented Democrats - is being drafted, and I'm discussing his votes because they seem to place him in the middle of the pack, not the most progressive nor least progressive Democrat in the Legislature (which leads me to believe that the "draft Rick" movement isn't from the left or far right of the Democratic party). Just because Rick may not share my views on every issue, that is not in my view grounds to question his integrity. When you say that Mikal Watts has "integrity issues of his own," please understand that it was my intent neither to vouch for nor to question his integrity (I just don't share his views on abortion, and I can disagree with someone's views on an issue without doubting his integrity).

Finally, I wasn't proposing to launch a "draft Senfronia" movement (but now that you mention it, I think that wouldn't be such a bad idea). I was simply trying to figure out why people were trying to draft Rick instead of some other legislators who have had more legislative experience. I'm not anti-Rick. I'm just unsure what makes him unique as compared to a dozen other legislators, and I thought a website which was touting him as a candidate might be able to provide some insight into the answers to that question.

Posted by: JoeSixPackDemocrat on June 18, 2007 4:37 PM

We can speculate all day, but I see the point of this as evaluating those who are already in the race. Among those, Noriega sounds promising. I also like Emil Reichstadt, an attorney and former JAG officer out of Dallas who's making a first-time run.

Both those gentlemen are grassroots, for-the-people candidates which is what we need.

I am shocked at the number of people coming out for Watts, given that he donated $35,000 to Rick Perry (or so says the Dallas Fascist News). That was a deal-breaker for me.

Posted by: lonestar gal on July 4, 2007 7:51 PM