If this is how it’s gonna be, wake me up on November 8

Today is the start of filing season for the 2006 elections. If this is typical of the coverage we’re going to get, it’s going to be a long, long year.

As the 2006 political season officially opens with the start of candidate filing today, Texas Republicans are targeting another sweep of statewide offices and gains at the local level, while the grand plan for the Texas Democratic Party is to think small.

On paper, the year could be a year of opportunity for Democrats: The Republican Party’s national support has slid over the war in Iraq, and Texas polls have shown that many voters are frustrated by the failure of a Republican-dominated Legislature to pass a school funding plan.

“This is a perfect storm politically, and I think we’ll benefit from it,” said Texas Democratic Chair Charles Soechting.

But Texas Democrats appear to lack the infrastructure to capitalize on the Republican shortcomings in statewide races and have not yet attracted any candidates with widespread name recognition.

“A good year for the Democrats would be a gain of four or five seats in the House, maybe one or two in the Senate,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “The table is set for modest gains.”

If you can tell from this context whether Dr. Jillson is referring to national Democrats or Texas Dems, drop me a line and let me know. If he’s talking nationally, a gain of four or five House seats plus one or two in the Senate would be actually a bit disappointing given trends, history, and expectations. If he’s talking statewide, a four or five House seat pickup would indeed be good, but even I wouldn’t predict any gains in the Senate, given that the last time I looked there weren’t any announced Democratic challengers to Republican-held slots. Flip a coin and decide for yourself which it is.

So far, there are announced Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, but no other statewide offices. The party instead is focusing on rebuilding for 2010 and capturing some seats in the Texas House and on the Third Court of Appeals.


The only Democratic candidates formally announced for any statewide office so far are Houston lawyer Barbara Radnofsky for U.S. Senate and former Houston congressman Chris Bell for governor.

Umm…David Van Os? Running for Attorney General? Been on the campaign trail for, I don’t know, six or eight months now? Was on the statewide ballot in 2004? Hello? Anyone there?

And though she’s nobody’s idea of a serious candidate, Maria Alvarado has announced her intention to run for Lite Guv. If you’re going to use words like “only”, you really should check to make sure you’ve counted everyone. I expect better than this from RG Ratcliffe.

Bell wants to take on the winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage also is looking at entering the Democratic primary for governor.

But a search of on-line news libraries showed independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, mystery writer and singer, has garnered more ink in the Texas press in 2005 than Bell and Radnofsky combined.

That sound you hear is me grinding my teeth. Friedman gets the ink because he’s a Celebrity, which seems to be the one thing that guarantees coverage these days. Meanwhile, the newspapers ignore what Bell and Radnofsky have to say (never mind poor David Van Os), then criticize them for not getting into the newspapers. How stupid can you get? Just shoot me now.

Meanwhile, a bit of unintentional comedy from the latest Statesman blog, Postcards from the Trail.

Don’t count Tony Sanchez out of making a second try for governor quite yet.

Sanchez, the deep-pocketed Laredo businessman who won the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nod before getting walloped by GOP Gov. Rick Perry, said this week he’s still mulling his options.

“I’m still looking at the landscape,” Sanchez said. “Obviously, I’ve got to make a decision over the next four weeks,” he said, a reference to the candidate filing period that starts Saturday. “I want to think about the direction of the state.”

Tony Sanchez will be the Democratic nominee for Governor approximately five minutes after a squadron of javalinas is spotted doing aeronautics over the Capitol. That’s all I’m going to say about that, and it’s all you need to know. Thanks to the equally skeptical Eye on Williamson for the catch.

It’s gotta get better from here, right? Please tell me it’s gonna get better.

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10 Responses to If this is how it’s gonna be, wake me up on November 8

  1. PDiddie says:

    R.G. ought to be embarrassed at that article.

    Emphasis on ‘ass’.

    The Chronic has been getting faxed press releases from the Van Os campaign for months now, which means they’re either not reading them or they are studiously avoiding even looking at them.

    Damned liberal media.

  2. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    Maybe all the Kinky press is the same old PR machine to divide and conquer handed to the same bullied press…

    in case you missed it…


    Delays Attorney is a Kinky Campaign Adviser

    By Phillip Martin

    Here’s something interesting: a campaign adviser for Kinky Friedman also happens to be Tom Delay’s attorney.

    Back on August 11, Kinky Friedman, the independent candidate for Governor, hired Dick DeGuerin as a staff adviser. This came with little fanfare, but was noted in both the Houston Chronicle and on Kinky’s blog as evidence that he’s running a fairly conventional race:

    “Don’t be fooled by the “Kinky Volunteers Needed,”and “Why The Hell Not?” T-shirts available on Kinky Friedman’s Web site.

    Writer, musician, jokester and independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman is actually running a fairly orthodox campaign.
    This week, Friedman announced that Dick DeGuerin of Houston, one of Texas’ top defense attorneys, has joined Friedman’s campaign as a staff adviser.”

    Dick DeGuerin also happens to be Tom Delay’s attorney, and has spent most of the last few days speaking up for the indicted (former) majority leader:

    DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin doesn’t buy it. “He’s attempting to destroy Tom DeLay,” he told reporters in Austin yesterday. “Tom DeLay changed the face of Texas politics. Nobody can deny that. But Ronnie Earle wants to destroy him because of that.”

    Looks like Mr. Independent isn’t quite so independent after all. Ronnie Earle has received tremendous support from many in the Kinky camp for his fight against corrupt officials; yet, a man who has spent the last 48 hours attacking Ronnie Earle is on Kinky’s payroll.

  3. Charles, it will get better but we are going to have to work to make it better. All the blogs in Texas are going to each have to adopt a journlist, and pressure them to cover the race fairly. Every email that gets sent to the journalist should also get sent to the local TV station and the journos editor. WE have to make the difference, because the local corporate media could care less.

  4. Charles Hixon says:

    Wake you up on November 8th? How about if you instead file?

  5. ttyler5 says:

    ” … the newspapers ignore what Bell and Radnofsky have to say (never mind poor David Van Os), then criticize them for not getting into the newspapers….”

    See!!! I’ve been trying to tell you!

    Banjo Jones says it’s because most of them went to journalism school at UT!

  6. ttyler5 says:

    Kuff, stay tuned, it will pick up! There is never anything really boring about this stuff.

    There are a number of swing districts where you can win.

    And not every democrat is being targeted over the property tax cut and the CAD caps.

    In fact, the ire is being reserved mostly for the GOP turncoats. While people may expect a dem to flake on property tax cuts or CAD caps, they expect more from GOP members and they are a lot angrier at turncoats than people who they expected to flake anyway.

    Also, I’ve heard through the grapevine Hotchberg for example may not be a prime target because his plan to raise the homestead exemption (if it’s a floating statewide mandatory and **not** by ISD choice) is a viable alternative to a straight-out property tax cut. This would of course help the property taxpayers, any cut in any form will. But if the homestead exemption is raised high enough, it ALSO has the effect of limiting CAD assessments.

    As you realize, the exemption is a percentage and if it floats with the assessment, then you’ve got a built-in CAD cap.

    I may jump on you guys a lot, but in fact these politicians are almost all alike.

    It’s like Ron Paul has been saying for decades (I’ve known him since 1974) you have a few principled people on the left and a few on the right.

    And the Kink is an unknown force so far.

    As you well know, anybody who can really do 15% is a spoiler in this race.

    Texas is after all the birthplace of the only significant independent third party movement in the last 3 decades, again lead by a Texan.

    So stay tuned!

    Ideology is one thing, and we can fight over that all day. But real solutions and workable policies are another!

  7. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    Something for everyone (candidates and the public) to think about to help us all do a better job for our future’s sake.

    from kid oakland
    Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 02:26:20 PM CST

    …today, December 3rd, marks a world-wide day of action about Global Warming, I’d like to echo Diamond (Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed), and join the ongoing discussion of how we put long term thinking and sustainability on the political table….


    There’s a moment driving the morning commute over the San Francisco Bay Bridge that exemplifies who we are and where we are at as a civilization.

    Driving through the tunnel on Yerba Buena Island in five lanes of traffic (the bridge is crossed by 280,000 vehicles a day) one can see opening up along the entire length of the first part of the western span…in one gulp…a little over one mile of jam-packed traffic sitting 300 ft. above the surface of the Bay. Before one’s eyes creeps a sea of steel and rubber riding on a suspension bridge of steel and concrete…powered, built, fabricated and maintained by the burning of fossil fuels. It’s something to see. And something to think about…

    I just finished reading Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Here in the Bay Area commuters on the Bay Bridge have that word….collapse…both burned in our memories, and literally present to us in the ongoing $6 Billion construction of a new eastern span of the Bay Bridge which has resulted in a forest of cranes and towers running alongside the vulnerable, and due-to-be-replaced, old bridge. Of course, it is seismic realities that drive this new bridge, but viewing that daily sea of cars and trucks, one could just as easily think about sprawl, water use, smog, fossil fuel dependence, and the increasing atomization of our society into market-driven consumers who lack communal input into the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and economy.

    You see, us morning commuters on the bridge are just getting to our jobs and making ends meet. However, as a society, we are driving into a future shaped by our current policies and assumptions. We are literally building our future out of the raw materials of our daily lives. Have we given that the thought it deserves? That’s the core question that Diamond asks. In light of the fact that today, December 3rd, marks a world-wide day of action about Global Warming, I’d like to echo Diamond, and join the ongoing discussion of how we put long term thinking and sustainability on the political table.

    Collapse is a solid and highly readable book that asks critical questions. Diamond asks himself why societies, past and present, have left themselves vulnerable to failure. Why did past cultures act in what now seem to be short-sighted or ignorant ways? Malcolm Gladwell, in an excellent review of Collapse in the New Yorker summarized Diamond’s analysis of the failure of Greenland Norse society and the Polynesian settlement on Easter Island. You can get an in-depth flavor of the book in Gladwell’s analysis, I highly recommend reading it. Diamond’s book, however, covers a wide range of modern and ancient examples. His writing on strip-mining in Montana, resource-management in China, and the introduction of non-native species in Australia, while not telling anything entirely new, collectively paints a picture of the unthinking ways we have made long term impacts on our environment in the last two hundred years. Diamond’s analysis of Rwanda, and his comparative study of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, while short on positive ideas, shine the light on very real and present ways in which societal failure has occured in the present day, and what little has been done about it. (For a discussion of quibbles and critiques of the book try here)

    Of course, the effect of Hurrican Katrina on the city of New Orleans…a city left vulnerable to devastation by local and national leaders…has brought this concept home here in the United States. It goes without saying that the devastation and abandonment of an entire major U.S. city represents a powerful example of how we have failed to plan for long term eventualities, and are ill-prepared to deal with the inevitable consequences of that failure. The fact that there has been so little discussion of that failure in New Orleans is utterly breathtaking. (Even mentioning the possibility that global warming had a hand in Katrina was taboo…why was that?) Predictably, models for an Eco New Orleans have been waylaid for discussions of the latest political scandal or crisis.

    Diamond’s book, especially in light of Katrina, points up the ways in which we simply don’t think about long term environmental consequences much in our political and economic lives. Anyone who has read Jerome á Paris remarkable series of environmental analyses, or Michael Klare’s work on Znet understands how little of that kind of thinking gets reported in the mainstream press…if not how little of it gets addressed in the political discourse of the two main political parties in the United States. That must change.

    We need to have a discussion of why our national political system has utterly failed our citizens in leading a discussion about the long term environmental consequences of our current practices. Our citizens get it. Our localities get it. But our government doesn’t. In fact, our current corrupt, scandal-plagued GOP-led Congress, exemplified by Rep. Richard Pombo is based on selling our resources and our future to the highest bidder. Environmentalists spend a great deal of energy just combatting the GOP election cycle to election cycle. In that environment, there’s not much of a chance for long term thinking to get discussed.

    One of the critical points that Diamond makes is that societies that “fail” oftentimes were obessesed or distracted with other issues. They just didn’t see the impending disaster until it was too late. Our political system is supposed to provide us with “small d” democratic venues where all of these issues are put on the table…where clear-thinking individuals and leaders are given a chance to break out of short term and “crisis mode” thinking and plan in a rational way. That isn’t happening. Our system has been bought and sold. The situation now is worse than it was two decades ago.

    Oftentimes, shifts away from from long term planning and sustainability happen gradually. As a student of Diamond’s asked…”What was the person who cut down the last tree on Easter Island thinking?” Almost certainly, they weren’t thinking much differently than the people who cut down the earlier trees; environmental devastation happened gradually. The consequences, however, were permanent.

    One of the powerful realities expressed in the morning commute over the Bay Bridge is how easy it is to simply follow the vehicle in front of you wherever it is headed. That morning commute is a clear symbol of how our individual lives plug into a much larger reality. Yes, with the rise in gas prices, car pools and bus use have gone up. You can see that every morning on the bridge. (Fwiw, I carpool and BART whenever possible.) But having seen that same commute during the dotcom boom I can say…nothing substantially is different. We are making change around the edges. We aren’t facing facts.

    Jared Diamond’s book may be a bit of a “best seller”…but it is, nevertheless, essential reading. The picture he paints of Easter Island and Norse Greenland…societies cut off from the rest of the world, without a fallback…is exactly the situation we find ourselves in here on our planet Earth.

    We’re all living on Easter Island. Most of us just haven’t realized that yet.

  8. profk says:

    Granted, I have mixed emotions about Gammage right now, but I am over the moon about all the Rep. Craddy-cracks who are either being challenged or have decided that it would be far wiser to consider a career change at this point than consider the primary…seems the ‘burbs are a LOT more pissed off over education issues than any special session(s) which would have produced ‘tax relief’ would have offset. I suppose it is a real tell that Laney threw in the towel…I guess its JUST that bad. Sound like some things Bradley, Rudman and Hollings remarked about the ‘atmosphere’ around the Congress before they checked their coats….i don’t know if that make sense, but i think you know what i mean. I don’t think Dems really are going to benefit much in some of these areas, especially those with ‘mega churches, or that are hard core evangelically-laced; but with more ‘vanilla’ religious groups and higher SES soccer moms, these incumb. aren’t looking so appealing according to the polling data I have seen…what are ya’lls thoughts?

  9. Mathwiz says:

    Sanchez will be the Democratic nominee for Governor approximately five minutes after a squadron of javalinas is spotted doing aeronautics over the Capitol. That’s all I’m going to say about that, and it’s all you need to know.

    Doing material for the Colbert Report now?

    (I should make it clear that I agree with you; I just found your phrasing amusing.)

  10. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    I second Charles Hixon’s suggestion.

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