June 19, 2007
Money will be raised, primaries will be fought. Film at 11.

There's not really a whole lot of actual news in this Chron story about the beginning of Legislative Fundraising Season for 2008 - Tom Craddick has a lot of money! And a lot on the line! People will be primaried! The next Speaker will be decided! - but there are a couple of bits that merit comment.

All House seats are on the ballot next year, and the uncertainty concerning the speaker could mean a record number of contested primaries. Incumbents who don't draw challengers or have more money than they need may give some to a fellow candidate.

That right there is the justification for Run Everywhere in a nutshell. You don't want (say) Phil King to help out the likes of Dwayne Bohac? Then make sure King has something at home to occupy his time and attention (and money). Sure, such a person is unlikely to come within shouting distance of King on election day, but nobody likes to get hit without hitting back. The key, and the reason this has to be seen as a long-term project, is to make sure that the folks you recruit for these kamikaze missions have access to enough funds and talent to have the kind of impact that will make the intended target feel the need to stay home and defend his turf. That will require some serious resources and infrastructure, which is why it's not just something you can wish for. Still, it'd be nice if someone in a position to do something about this were giving the matter some thought.

Two of the state's biggest megadonors, Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and San Antonio businessman Jim Leininger, are likely to play key roles in the GOP primaries.

Craddick has supported the issues of Leininger, a school voucher proponent, and Perry, who favors limits on lawsuits against businesses. Perry will continue to support Craddick because of his record on tort reform, said his spokesman.

"Without Craddick, their agenda doesn't look as good," [Rep. Warren] Chisum said. "I don't think they'll abandon Craddick by any means. In fact, they may just double their effort."

Didn't do them a whole lot of good in 2006, but with a new year comes new opportunities. Unlike most recent years, there are groups that push back against the Leininger/Perry axis, and have had success in doing so - ParentPAC, for instance. Perhaps the time is right to run against Tom Craddick in the way that Democrats ran against Newt Gingrich in 1998. He'd make a pretty good symbol for "what's wrong with the legislature" ads. Something to think about, anyway.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 19, 2007 to Election 2008