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August 29th, 2006:

ParentPAC endorses Ellen Cohen

I knew this was coming, but here’s the official announcement:

Texas Parent PAC today endorsed Ellen Cohen for state representative in House District 134, which encompasses Bellaire, West University, River Oaks, Meyerland, and Montrose areas of Houston.

“Ellen Cohen is the pro-public education candidate in this race,” said Texas Parent PAC board member Dinah Miller. “She is a fiscal conservative who will lead efforts to finally develop a long-term school finance plan that addresses the needs of our neighborhood schools while continuing to reduce property taxes.”

Parents from throughout Texas have joined together in a bipartisan effort to elect to the state legislature strong and effective leaders who will stand up for children and parents and strengthen public schools. In addition, a broad base of individuals and business leaders are coming together to join in this effort.

“Ellen Cohen is intelligent, articulate, a collaborator, and a proven leader,” said Carolyn Boyle, Texas Parent PAC chair. “Unlike the incumbent, Ellen Cohen will be a partner with parents and responsive to their concerns. Ellen will be part of the solution instead of part of the problem at the state Capitol.”

[…]

Texas Parent PAC is endorsing a small and select number of Republican and Democratic legislative candidates statewide. The PAC describes its endorsed candidates as “men and women of integrity, open and responsive to parents, actively involved in their communities, and committed to investing in public education to achieve economic prosperity in Texas.”

Parents are encouraged to volunteer in the Ellen Cohen campaign, to donate money and in-kind services, and to vote and bring friends to the polls during the October 23-November 3 early voting period and on the November 7 election day.

For more information on Texas Parent PAC, visit www.txparentpac.com. For more information on Ellen Cohen and her campaign, call 713-660-0899 or visit www.ellencohen.org.

For a reminder of what ParentPAC is about, see this Texas Observer story. It wasn’t necessarily clear that they were going to endorse anyone in the general, but it seems to me that after their pretty impressive record in the GOP primaries, it wouldn’t have made sense to pack up and go home afterwards. I don’t know who else they’ve touted for November (their website doesn’t say), but I’ve sent them an email to ask and will update this post when and if I get a reply. In the meantime, this is a very nice (and very well deserved) coup for Ellen Cohen. Let’s see if that ParentPAC magic carries over.

UPDATE: ParentPAC’s Carolyn Boyle answered my question via email:

We are going to be rolling out the endorsements one-by-one, with the announcement in the legislative district. It is important to our PAC that the candidates not be considered a “slate,” because they are not. The candidates we are choosing to endorse are just individually very talented!

So there you have it. And here’s the Chron story on the endorsement.

Texas Parent PAC, a group that proved influential in this year’s Republican primaries, made its first endorsement for the general election Tuesday, backing Ellen Cohen, the Democratic candidate in Texas House District 134.

Cohen was the first of an expected 20 to 25 House candidates to be endorsed by the bipartisan Texas Parent PAC.

[…]

“Ellen Cohen is the pro-public-education candidate in this race,” said Texas Parent PAC board member Dinah Miller of Dallas.

The group announced its endorsement across the street from West University Elementary School. District 134 includes Bellaire, West University Place, River Oaks, Meyerland and parts of Montrose.

“I’m flattered beyond words to be endorsed by a PAC that’s bipartisan, that cares about issues that affect public schools,” said Cohen.

[…]

Carolyn Boyle, chairwoman of the political action committee, rapped Wong for supporting private school vouchers, education cuts in 2003 and the Republican leadership’s bill to use revenue from a new business tax for property tax cuts instead of new school funding.

[…]

Boyle said she thinks education will be a key issue in this fall’s legislative races, despite a new school finance bill passed during the special session that lowers property taxes, raises teacher pay by $2,000 and boosts high school spending by $275 per student.

Boyle called that plan a “quick fix, short term.”

“We need a lot of attention on public education come January, with some really talented legislators who care,” she said.

Miller said the PAC expects to make other endorsements in Houston-area legislative races.

I’ve heard reports about one other race in Houston in which ParentPAC will support a candidate, but I’ll wait until it happens to write about it since for all I know I could be wrong.

Three! Three special elections!

I keep thinking that it’s not possible for the November elections to get any screwier. I keep getting proven wrong.

Gov. Rick Perry today officially set the special election to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay to coincide with the general election on Nov. 7.

Candidates wishing to run in the special election must file by 5 p.m. Sept. 1 with the Texas Secretary of State to appear on the ballot.

Shortly after DeLay announced in April that he was resigning from Congress, Perry said he would not schedule a special election to fill the vacancy before the general election. Today, he issued the official order setting the date.

The winner of the special election will serve DeLay’s district in Congress from the day the election results are certified until a new Congress begins in January.

At that point, the winner of the general election will take over as the representative of Congressional District 22.

Yes, the longest standing vacant Congressional seat in Texas history (PDF) will finally get filled. Why did it take so damn long for Perry to get off his gubernatorial keester and finally set a date for this sucker? Kathy Walt explains it all to us.

“Because there were a lot of maneuverings in the court on the Delay question on what could happen with that election, that had to play out then we reviewed all the legal requirements and options,” said Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt.

Mmm hmmm. Remember, kids, DeLay announced his resignation on April 3. He officially stepped down on June 7, a day before the Dems got the initial temporary restraining order that ultimately prevented the ballot replacement process from going forward. In between, as Greg in TX-22 noted, Perry went from deciding there should be an emergency special election to deciding that there shouldn’t be one. That took place long before there was a lawsuit. Even if you believe that Perry feared there would be litigation that would leave the status of the ballot uncertain for months, it’s also the case that the Supreme Court settled matters on August 7. So once again the question is “What took him so long?”

Of course, what wasn’t settled on August 7 was the official GOP strategy for trying to play the rotten hand they’d been dealt, though that was the case by August 17. What has Rick Perry been doing since then (besides this, whatever that is)?

How will this play out? I have no idea. I’ve expressed the thought that it’s good for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, while both Chris Elam and Greg think it’s bad for her. One of us is wrong, but it’s probably a coin toss as to whom. It does keep this race in the news, at least for a little while longer.

And if all this isn’t more fun than you can stand, take a close look at the official ballot (PDF) for CD22 as currently posted on the Secretary of State website. Here it is, on page 4:

U.S.Representative District 22 (M )

Nick Lampson DEM
Bob Smither LIB
Don Richardson W-I

I’m sure there will be one more candidate by September 6. But will there be one less as well? I still don’t think it matters that much in the grand scheme of things, but it might give the RNC/NRCC a face-saving way to punk out on that $3 million promise it made to Sekula-Gibbs, since she wouldn’t be the only write-in candidate. Link via Fort Bend Now and South Texas Chisme.

One last thing:

Perry also set Nov. 7 special elections to fill the unexpired terms of state Rep. Vilma Luna, D-Corpus Christi, and Sen. Frank Madla, D-San Antonio. The winners of those elections will serve until a new Legislature is convened in January.

Madla resigned effective May 31, which is even earlier than DeLay, while Luna quit more recently. I can’t think of any purpose a November special election to fill their empty seats for those two months could serve.

CQ updates its ranking in CD22

CQ Politics has updated its rating of the CD22 race from “No Clear Favorite” to “Leans Democratic”, which makes it “the first House seat being defended this year by the Republicans in which the Democratic nominee is rated as having a clear edge”. That’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve got a post about libertarian netroots coming out for Bob Smither and another about more successful write-in candidacies over at Kuff’s World. Hey, someone’s got to cover this thing now that it’s not newspaper-worthy any more, right?

Updated list of candidates for special Congressional elections

According to this list (PDF) from the Secretary of State’s office (via Quorum Report), each of the five re-re-redistricted Congressional seats has at least two challengers. That contradicts this sloppy AP article, which says the following about CD21:

In the 21st District, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, 58, will face perennial Democratic candidate Gene Kelly, 80, a retired Air Force colonel and San Antonio-area lawyer. Kelly, who has the same name as the late song-and-dance star, has sought elected office numerous times. His most recent outing was his unsuccessful bid against Democratic Senate nominee Barbara Ann Radnofsky in the spring primary. Radnofsky beat Kelly in a runoff.

Incredible. Nearly a full paragraph about the joke that is Gene Kelly, and not a word about John Courage, the man who has been running against Lamar Smith for a year now. The phrase “Liberal media, my rear end” just doesn’t get said nearly often enough.

According to QR, that SOS list may change depending on petition signature verifications. One presumes they’ll do that job faster than they did for the first round, when the not-lovable loser Steve Stockman failed to qualify. The ballot is supposed to be certified on September 6, so we should know for sure by then.

Clutterbuck’s cantilever canned

This should come as no surprise to anyone.

Metro has evaluated Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck’s suggestion that part of its future University light rail line be suspended over the Southwest Freeway, and the results are hardly a surprise.

In the segment from Dunlavy to Edloe, the “cantilevered” tracks over the north side of the freeway would cost more than twice as much as Metro’s proposed ground-level route in the middle of Richmond Avenue and would attract fewer than half as many riders, the agency estimates.
Click to learn more…

The numbers, which Metro says were generated using the same procedures required for Federal Transit Administration funding applications, are: $215 million over the freeway vs. $90 million for the Richmond alignment, and 700 riders a day over the freeway compared with 1,600 for Richmond.

Clutterbuck said Friday that she had not advocated the freeway route, which was suggested to her by some residents.

“I asked Metro to look at this so that we would know they had done their due diligence,” she said. “And now the process will go forward.”

Yes, I hope it will, and I hope we’ll all be more serious about it. Including, one hopes, with the numbers that get cited one way or another.

Consultant Janet Kennison told the board that Metro had received 2,600 comments (57 percent) for Westpark or against Richmond, and 2,000 (43 percent) for Richmond or against Westpark.

“We had an awful lot of feedback,” she said.

I presume that at least some of those pro-Richmond comments came from people who live and/or work along the street. I think we can safely translate John Culberson’s laughable statement from his hot dog rally as “Ninety-seven percent of the people who contacted my office to say that they opposed rail on Richmonf oppose rail on Richmond.”

Culberson also got feedback recently from officials of the Greater Houston Partnership, the West Houston Association and the North Houston Association.

The three groups sent letters responding to his request that Metro drop Richmond from its route evaluations.

Although each organization sent its own letter, and each was signed by a different person, the three were in uncanny accord that ” … the most financially competitive, technically competent alignment that maximizes ridership potential will best serve the greater Houston community.”

Proving that great minds not only think alike, they sometimes write alike.

Would you have preferred that they just write one letter and all sign their names to it? I’m not sure why that’s even worthy of mention, but since Rad Sallee brought it up, I’m including the text of the letter beneath the fold. I found it at the West Houston Association site, but it’s not permalinked so who knows how long it will be there. Note the date on it, too; this wasn’t exactly timely news.

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