December 06, 2008
A little more on Bettencourt

The updated version of the Bettencourt resignation story has his statement, a brief summary of his career, and a couple of statements from folks like Jared Woodfill (who not too surprisingly loved him) and Gerry Birnberg (who not too surprisingly was more critical). As Bettencourt himself was unreachable for comment (gotta love those late Friday stories), that's what we've got to work with for now. One point Birnberg made is worth noting:

Friday night, Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Gerald Birnberg said he expected Bettencourt to resign at some point, believing he had an interest in statewide office.

"So, I had expected him to resign to run for another office or to be more involved in the radio business," Birnberg said. "It occurs to me that Paul is too deliberate for this to have occurred 'day before yesterday.' It has got to be something he was thinking about more than 30 days ago, before the election, and I am disappointed he did not share his plans with the voters.

"I didn't agree with him on many things, but I have always respected his straightforwardness," he said.

I too have heard that Bettencourt wants to run statewide; I've also heard he wants Steve Radack's job when Radack retires. The thing is, I don't see how resigning now helps him achieve either of those goals. It can't help his name recognition outside of Harris County, and he's unlikely to do better at fundraising as a private citizen than as a fairly high-profile officeholder. Bettencourt would have to resign to run for something else, but he'd have a year before he had to worry about that. Maybe this is still his plan and maybe it's not, I just don't think resigning now makes sense if it is his plan. Am I missing something?

As for Bettencourt's replacement, PDiddie suggests in the comments to the previous post that former District Clerk Charles Bacarisse might be tapped, and that he wouldn't be an improvement from our perspective. I certainly agree that he'd be no less partisan, but I'm not convinced he'd be in the running. One presumes Ed Emmett owes him no favors, after all. Regardless, it wouldn't be a bad idea to let Commissioners Garcia and Lee know that you think it would be swell if we had a Tax Assessor who spent more time on the job than he or she did on talk radio. In the meantime, if you've got a rumor or a wild notion about who might draw the golden ticket, leave it in the comments.

UPDATE: As soon as I'd hit the Publish button, the following email from Annie's List landed in my Inbox:

In the middle of the night it has been confirmed by the Houston Chronicle that Paul Bettencourt intends to vacate his seat effective December 10th and that the Harris County Commissioners Court will now need to appoint an interim successor to fill his term.

"We strongly encourage Judge Emmett and the Commissioners Court to appoint Dr. Diane Trautman to fill this unexpected vacancy. She is an extremely accomplished woman who, after being a candidate for the position for over a year, understands the Tax Assessor-Collectors office and has a clear vision of how to move this office forward while removing the air of partisanship that has undermined it in the past" said Annie's List Political Director Robert E. Jones.

"With over 24 years experience as a teacher, administrator and college professor, Dr. Diane Trautman has demonstrated she has the experience and a track record of ethical leadership to run the Tax Assessor-Collectors office as a service organization that puts people over politics."

Needless to say, I would be delighted by that choice. I hope Commissioners Garcia and Lee, at the least, give it serious consideration.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 06, 2008 to Election 2008

Bettencourt has his sights on a race against Susan Combs for State Comptroller.

Posted by: Embree Timlin on December 6, 2008 9:31 AM

What ever he runs for, how long will it take him to quit when he wins?

Also I heard Roy Morales is in contention.

Posted by: john cobarruvias on December 6, 2008 11:59 AM

Wasn't Dwayne Bohac angling for Bettencourt's job back when Bettencourt was rumored to be moving up for Eckels?

He seems to fit the mold of that talk radio, appraisal cap Harris County Republican. Then again, Craddick would lose a supporter and it would jeopardize R control of the House, so probably not.

Posted by: joe on December 6, 2008 2:03 PM

It is possible that Commissioners Court will motion to eliminate the position and take it over themselves to "save money" - along the lines that they have been trying to commandeer the County Treasurer's office - much like they are decimating the County Attorney's function before the newly elected official is seated.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on December 6, 2008 2:13 PM

I heard Mark Ellis would get the nod. Also, Theresa Chang would be a good choice. I doubt they'll ever appoint a Dem.

Too bad as Diane deserves it.

Posted by: pixiegirl on December 6, 2008 6:39 PM
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