December 17, 2007
A House Pick-Up On Tuesday?

December 18th is election day in Tarrant County in the runoff election to select a new member to the Texas Legislature. Democrat Dan Barrett got 31.5% of the vote in the recent special election against five Republicans. He faces Republican Mark Shelton in the runoff.

This special election became necessary when Anna Mowery, a Republican, retired in August from the Legislature after serving 19 years.

The Fort Worth Star -Telegram endorsed Barrett, saying:

Democrat Dan Barrett has a ready answer for people who contend that the controversies involving Speaker Tom Craddick's heavy hand in the Texas House don't matter to the voters in District 97.

"Maybe only the most inside of political wonks know his name," said Barrett, who is facing Republican Mark Shelton in the Dec. 18 runoff, "but they are upset by a style of leadership that allows Craddick and the people he works with to exercise absolute control by fair means or foul."

Craddick's "politics of fear and intimidation" came to a startling climax in the last session, Barrett said, when the speaker declared himself the ultimate authority in the House, but this has been an issue ever since the Midland representative took the speaker's chair.

"That is so contrary to the very principle of democracy," Barrett said. Even if people aren't well-informed about the particulars of government, they still care what happens in Austin. "They want to make sure that things are going OK so they don't have to watch every single move. That's why they elect representatives."

Barrett is counting that the concerns for fair government will propel him to victory Dec. 18, given that his opponent, a pediatrician at Cook Children's Medical Center, is a Craddick backer.

Barrett pulled in 31.5 percent, or 5,575 votes, in the Nov. 6 special election. Shelton -- one of five Republicans in the race -- came in second with 22.8 percent, or 4,047 votes.

Early voting for the Dec. 18 runoff election begins Monday.

Barrett is "absolutely against" school vouchers, supports a local-option sales tax for rail transit projects, believes that state lawmakers' votes should be on the record "from start to finish," and will work for comprehensive measures to bring North Texas into compliance with Environmental Protection Agency clean-air standards.

To paraphrase Barrett from a League of Women Voters forum, District 97 voters who think things are hunky-dory in Austin should vote for Shelton.

Unfortunately, the last legislative session was far from hunky or dory. Although Barrett is a realist in admitting that he alone, as a freshman legislator, can't change the status quo, he just might make a difference as part of a growing body of lawmakers who represent a growing number of Texans who are dissatisfied with House leadership.

The Star-Telegram recommends Dan Barrett in the Dec. 18 runoff for Texas House District 97.

3352 votes were cast during early voting for the runoff election.

Follow Tuesday's election night results at the Tarrant County Elections site.

Posted by Martha Griffin on December 17, 2007 to Election 2007