November 20, 2007
Noriega's primary opponent

Mikal Watts may be gone, but there will still be a contested primary for the Democratic nomination for Senate next year. Here's a look at Rick Noriega's opponent, Ray McMurrey:

McMurrey, 42, will make his official announcement Tuesday in Austin, cutting into a primary race against comparably well-funded Houston state Rep. Rick Noriega weeks after millionaire trial lawyer Mikal Watts, who lists Corpus Christi as his hometown, withdrew from the race citing family concerns.


McMurrey said the state's senate leadership should not be based on who has the best name identification or the most money, it should be about who has the right message.

"Ordinary Americans are clamoring for someone to stand up and be truthful about what is going on in our country, and I feel both major political parties have abandoned their responsibility," McMurrey said.

Tired of "politics as usual," McMurrey, who said he is a lifelong Democrat, initially planned to run as an independent. After determining that gaining the 43,000 petition signatures required to get on the ballot was too arduous, he signed up as a Democrat.

McMurrey will campaign on repealing tax cuts instituted by the Bush administration, hastening the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy, campaign finance and ethics reforms and against laws he says have undermined small business, family farmers and average workers, among other issues.

McMurrey wants international borders secured to stop illegal immigration and a redirection in war efforts in Iraq toward forces responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a race where the Noriega campaign has more than $500,000 in the bank and Cornyn already has raised more than $6 million, McMurrey knows raising the money to get his message out will be a challenge.

"I realize what I am up against," he said. "I am at a terrible disadvantage. But I want this campaign to be a battle of ideas, not a battle of cash."

After the relentless "can Noriega compete with Mikal Watts' money?" story line, it's a bit odd to see the shoe on the other foot. Not bothersome, mind you - not at all - just different.

You all know where I stand on this, and I don't expect to have much to say about Mr. McMurrey in the future, but I will say this for now: Lots of candidates, especially underfunded underdogs, give lip service to "politics as usual" and "battles of ideas not cash". One can certainly make the case that the Democrats have done precious little to change the course of things since they took over control of Congress. But I have to ask - is there anything about Rick Noriega and his record that would indicate he'd be a part of that problem in 2009? I sure don't think so, and I'd be willing to bet Mr. McMurrey has no specific examples to cite to bolster that case. Along similar lines, what points of disagreement does Mr. McMurrey have with Rick Noriega's ideas on the issues he plans to highlight in his campaign? You want a battle of ideas, I say bring it on.

Like I said, I don't expect to have much more to say about Mr. McMurrey between now and March. But I'll keep an eye on him anyway, and if he really does put forth some ideas that distinguish him from Rick Noriega, I'll be happy to discuss them. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 20, 2007 to Election 2008