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.
Donâ€™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 heâ€™s still mulling his options.
â€œIâ€™m still looking at the landscape,â€ Sanchez said. â€œObviously, Iâ€™ve got to make a decision over the next four weeks,â€ he said, a reference to the candidate filing period that starts Saturday. â€œI want to think about the direction of the state.â€
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.