November 20, 2007
Dan Patrick versus the world

Los Dos Professors bring word of the latest front in the Dan Patrick Proxy Wars, courtesy of Capitol Inside:

Patrick, who's backing Tomball businessman Allen Fletcher in his bid to oust State Representative Corbin Van Arsdale in next year's GOP HD-130 primary, denies rumors that have been floating around Republican circles (which we're heard on more than one occasion) that he's recruiting candidates to run against several state representatives in the SD-7 area. Specifically, Patrick denies having any plans to try to field candidates to oppose either State Representative Gary Elkins or State Representative Patricia Harless -- or any other House members in Houston.

From the Hailey story:

"...But Patrick has cautioned Harless about getting involved on Van Arsdale's behalf in his upcoming bout with Fletcher, a retired Houston police officer and Tomball Chamber of Commerce official who launched a campaign for House District 130 last week. Patrick reportedly warned Harless that she runs the risk of being tainted by her association with Van Arsdale as a result of revelations that the senator expects to come out in the primary fight with Fletcher.

...Elkins said that he'd heard rumors that Patrick and House Speaker Tom Craddick were trying to find a primary opponent to challenge him at the polls next year. But Elkins said he hadn't been able to validate that. While Elkins acknowledged that he's been told that a challenger is planning to run against him in 2008, he isn't sure if that potential candidate is a Republican or a Democrat and has no reason to believe that the possible opponent in question has ties to Patrick or Craddick.

Elkins said that he and a supporter had approached the senator at a recent event and asked him "point blank" about speculation that Patrick and Craddick might be plotting against him in an attempt to recruit a primary challenger in the district he represents in northwest Houston. But Elkins said Patrick responded by saying that any conversations that he has with the speaker or other top leaders are confidential. Elkins, nonetheless, said that he thinks Patrick is focusing on the campaign to unseat Van Arsdale and has a full plate with that.

When refuting suggestions that the senator had thought about trying to field a primary opponent against Elkins, Koenning noted that Elkins had voted against the state business tax - a measure that Patrick adamantly opposed when he was still a candidate for the Senate. Koenning suggested that the positions that Patrick and Elkins shared on a tax bill that a substantial number of conservatives opposed made it all the less likely that the senator would intervene in that particular House member's re-election bid next year."

Hmmmm... We wonder if Court's fingers are crossed on that one. Heh.

Well, I can tell you that on Saturday, Carl Whitmarsh forwarded an email to his list from a fellow named Trey Fleming, who plans to run as a Democrat against Elkins in HD135. Here's an excerpt:

I'm running against Gary Elkins and on paper, the district is set to go to a Republican. However, there is a catch in the numbers in that Governor Perry picked up less than a majority of the vote in 2006 in this district while many other Republicans carried much more than their share... I'm a former Republican (as of 7 years ago or so) and will put together a campaign to knock on 8 to 9,000 1-R Republican doors and bring them my way. This is a winnable district, be it 2008 or 2010. Either way, we're going to take this district and you won't find a more aggressive candidate...

It's true that Perry got less than a majority in HD135, but that isn't saying much, since he won a higher percentage there than he did statewide, and his margin over Chris Bell was twice what it was overall. HD135 is actually a bit less red than I thought it was - I'd have pegged it in the 65/35 range, but Bill Moody cracked 40%, and looking at the countywide numbers, it's more like 62/38. Not completely impregnable, but a steep climb to say the least. In any event, I daresay this is the challenger Elkins had heard about.

It's mildly curious to me that no one has recruited a primary opponent to Elkins, since he was the only local Republican besides Robert Talton to vote for the secret ballot for Speaker at the start of this past session, which everyone interpreted as a vote against Tom Craddick. Maybe he got a pass on that vote for some reason, maybe everyone has forgotten about it, maybe his overall record is good enough to forgive the transgression, I don't know. I'm just a little surprised, given how aggressive Craddick has been in recruiting opponents for his Republican detractors and in framing the Speaker's race issue that Elkins' lack of faith appears to have been overlooked.

As for Danno and his full dance card, I'll just say this: For a guy who reportedly has statewide ambitions, he's sure taking a path that will accumulate enemies. I can't think offhand of a State Senator who's been that vocal about State House members and the possibility of primary opponents for them. Lots of folks don't care for this kind of meddling in other people's races - ask Sue Lovell about that. I will say that Patrick has certainly been true to his promise to not be a "business as usual" politician - well, other than taking lobbyist money - and this is consistent with that approach. I just wonder how sustainable it is. Maybe we'll find out the next time Patrick himself is on the ballot.

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

As one of the voters in Patrick's district, I got his newsletter. It was one long temper tantrum aimed at those who thwarted his devine, agenda. The accomplishment he was most proud of was ensuring that the phrase "In God We Trust" was displayed permanently in the Texas Senate.

Reading it is like watching Bluto's "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor speech?" You're left hoping that his diatribe doesn't inspire any ardent support but you fear that out there someone may give him a boost by saying "Bluto's right."

Posted by: Patrick on November 20, 2007 8:06 AM