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August 31st, 2006:

Libertarian response to CD22 special election

Just to prove that I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m now on the distribution list for Libertarian Party press releases. Here’s what they say about the Very Special Election for CD22:

In response to Governor Rick Perry’s announcement calling for a special election in Texas CD-22, here is a statement from Libertarian Party Communications Director Stephen Gordon:

“Our founding fathers fought and died to prevent Americans from being taxed without adequate representation. Governor Perry could have called for a special election some time ago to ensure that the voters of Texas 22 were properly represented in Congress.

As opposed to governing in a responsible manner, Perry’s priority is to facilitate Republican Party damage control in the wake of Tom DeLay scandals and the GOP failure to place a candidate on the ballot for the general election. Once again, Republican leadership has violated the trust of the voters.

While there will be two names on the general election ballot in November, voters who prefer responsible government and constitutional leadership have but one choice: Libertarian Bob Smither.”

So neither of the two people who will be on the ballot for the real election will be there for the Very Special Election. What if Rick Perry had thrown a special election and no one came? That would have been fun. Anyone know off the top of their heads if the elections code addresses that possibility?

Anyway. I did a Kuff’s World post on libertarian netroots support for Smither, which drew a comment that has more info, if you’re interested.

Lampson will not run in CD22 special election

When I said before that I was aware of a highly interesting rumor about the CD22 Very Special Election, this was what I was talking about.

Nick Lampson, the Democratic candidate for Congressional District 22, will not participate in a special election to fill resigned former congressman Tom DeLay’s unexpired term.

Campaign manager Mike Malaise said Thursday Lampson has decided to stay out of the special election because the voting process is becoming increasingly complicated as Nov. 7 approaches – and Lampson wants to simplify matters for his supports.

“We want to be able to say, vote once for Lampson and then you’re done,” Malaise said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry ordered a special election be held to fill the remainder of DeLay’s term. The special election will be held on Nov. 7, concurrently with the general election. The winner of the special election would hold the office only until January, when the winner of the CD-22 race in the general election would take office.

At the end of the day Thursday, with one day left in which to register, Republican write-in candidate Don Richardson was the only person listed on the Texas Secretary of State’s web site as running in the special election.

However, sources said Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the Houston City Councilwoman whose write-in campaign is being supported by many CD-22 precinct chairs and party officials, also registered for the special election today. So did a third candidate, who sources were unable to identify.

Sekula-Gibbs and Richardson couldn’t be reached Thursday evening.

“We just feel this thing has become a mess,” Malaise said of the election process. “We don’t want to add to that voter confusion.”

[…]

Malaise said Lampson believes Gov. Perry should have called a special election in May, so residents of the district would have had continuing representation in Congress. As it is, by the time the special election is held in November CD-22 will have been without a congressional representative for more than four months.

If Lampson were to run in the special election, Malaise said, he would increase odds that the race would be thrown into a runoff, since the winner of the special election must have a majority of votes, not a plurality.

A runoff might not take place until December, leaving the eventual winner with perhaps only three weeks to serve as a working member of Congress.

This makes all kinds of sense for Lampson. After five months of being left vacant, a November special election to fill this seat for the Christmas vacation is nothing but a gimmick and a political ploy to boost Shelley Sekula-Gibbs’ profile. A special election in May would have been meaningful. A special election as late as September, which would at least have had a chance to seat someone in time for the fall session of Congress, would have been meaningful. A special election in November, to keep Nick Lampson’s seat warm, is a joke.

And pending the identity of the third person or any other surprise entrants, that joke may wind up being on Shelley, who is likely to be the prohibitive favorite to win it and thus be forced to resign her City Council seat. Hey who knows, maybe the return to private life in January will give her enough time to mount a campaign for the special election to fill her Council seat. There’d be a certain poetry in that.

Bear in mind that the one purpose a special election (whether in May or November) can still fill is to give a leg up on seniority to whoever wins it, assuming that same person wins the regular election as well. Well, Lampson doesn’t need that head start on seniority like an ordinary rookie would. He’ll get eight years’ worth of it when he’s sworn in again. As such, on top of everything else, there’s no incentive for him to run in it. He doesn’t need to be sworn in before January to be ahead of his Class of ’06 mates. If it weren’t for the Constitutional requirement that Governor Perry is so grudgingly and belatedly fulfilling, there’d be no purpose at all to waiting this long before having the election.

Anyone want to guess how much sillier it gets from here? My imagination is starting to run dry.

UPDATE: Forgot to include Lampson’s press release. It’s beneath the fold.

(more…)

Ciro dropping out

Well, that didn’t last very long. BOR had the scoop last night, and now it’s in the papers: Ciro Rodriguez has abandoned his effort to run in CD23 against Rep. Henry Bonilla and others.

Democrat Ciro Rodriguez told a roomful of San Antonio union activists Wednesday night that he was pulling out of the crowded race in Congressional District 23, according to one of the participants.

The former four-term congressman didn’t offer an explanation to the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, which met to consider an endorsement in the race, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Rodriguez couldn’t be reached for comment late Wednesday night.

His campaign spokeswoman said she was unaware of his announcement, which came a week after Rodriguez filed to run against 14-year incumbent Henry Bonilla and what turned out to be a bevy of other Democrats in the Nov. 7 open election.

Weird. I think PerryVsWorld is correct in pegging this as a problem Ciro had convincing people to fund his effort, and I unfortunately also agree that this makes it somewhat less likely that Bonilla wil be forced into a runoff. One thing that I hadn’t thought of before, though it’s forehead-slappingly obvious now that I’ve seen it in print, is that straight ticket votes won’t count in the special Congressional elections. They’re basically primaries, so with multiple Dems in a race like this, that of course makes sense. That may mean in practice that if you’re in one of these districts and you pick a straight ticket button, you still get presented with the Congressional ballot. Whether that is how it works or not, it’s how it should work.

I don’t know what will happen here now. Lukin Gilliland has the money to compete, but no name ID and not much time to generate it. Albert Uresti has a recognizable name, thanks to his brother, but doesn’t have any money (as far as I know). Rick Bolanos has been running the longest, since he was Bonilla’s original challenger, but he has neither of those things. I still think this district deserves attention from state and national Dems, but as I also thought Ciro was in the best position to take out Bonilla, I’m not as optimistic about things as I was before.

Third write-in for CD22

Want to know another reason why it’s hard to take write-in candidacies seriously? Because, as Juanita discovered, literally anyone can be a write-in candidate. Does anybody else think that this guy was aiming to be on the CD21 ballot and missed?

Here’s the full list of candidates, by the way. Too bad we don’t have a list of CD22 special election candidates yet. I imagine that will make for some humorous reading as well. We’ll know by tomorrow what to expect for that one.

Do you love your BlackBerry too much?

Via John comes this story of new frontiers in employer-employee relations.

Keeping employees on electronic leashes such as laptops, BlackBerries and other devices that keep them constantly connected to the office could soon lead to lawsuits by those who grow addicted to the technology, a U.S. academic warns.

In a follow-up to an earlier paper on employees’ tech addictions, Gayle Porter, associate professor of management at the Rutgers University School of Business in Camden, N.J., has written a paper that states workers whose personal lives suffer as a result of tech addictions could turn their sights on their employers.

“These people that can’t keep it within any reasonable parameters and have these problems in their lives, at some point may say: ‘My life is not all that great. How did this happen? Who can I blame for this?’ ” Porter, who co-authored the study with two other academics, said in an interview last week. “And they’re going to say, ‘The company.’ ”

I like John’s answer better. Be that as it may, all I can say is that this story gave me and my boss a good laugh.

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry wireless device – jokingly dubbed the “CrackBerry” by some – is well known for what some describe as its addictive properties.

In most major North American and European cities, businesspeople can be seen gazing nose-down into their BlackBerry screens.

Porter says she isn’t picking on RIM or the BlackBerry in particular, but notes that terms like “CrackBerry” show that “there is, however lightheartedly, some acknowledgment that many people have kind of gotten out of control with using these devices.”

Next they’ll tell me that the Internet can be addictive, too. Oh, wait…

Texas poverty

The problem, in a nutshell.

Eighteen percent of Texans, and 25 percent of Texas children, lived below the federally defined poverty level, according to the 2005 American Community Survey. The nationwide percentage below poverty level was 13 percent.

[…]

Overall poverty rates, locally and nationally, didn’t change much between the 2000 census and last year, although levels increased somewhat more significantly among Hispanics and blacks in Harris County.

“Generally, the survey reports that the socioeconomic profile of Texas has stayed pretty much the same as it has been for years. It was bad to begin with and has not gotten better,” said State Demographer Steve Murdock, with the Texas State Data Center at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

That would be a good description of the Perry administration, but that’s neither here nor there. What is of importance is Moving Forward: Common Sense Policies to Promote Prosperity for Working Texans, which is a meaty report (PDF) by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) that gives a number of strategies for improving our bad-and-not-getting-better socioeconomic profile. Check it out.

On the enthusiasm gap

In my post on the CD10 poll that provides some good news for Ted Ankrum, I mentioned that one reason why the proportion of likely voters was higher in Travis County than in Harris was greater enthusiasm by voters in the Democratic Travis. For what it’s worth, various national polls have consistently shown that more Democrats are excited about this year’s election than they have been in recent years, while Republican interest is down. MyDD has the details.