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Endorsement watch: Harris County Commissioners for Sharp

Senate candidate John Sharp has a press release out touting the endorsements of Harris County Commissioners Sylvia Garcia and El Franco Lee. It’s printed beneath the fold. As far as endorsements like these go, they’re pretty good gets – if nothing else, they give Sharp some key supporters in Bill White’s back yard, and should be assets for him in fundraising. Note the timing as well – with the fundraising deadline upon us, this provides a nice diversion in the event Sharps’ numbers aren’t terribly impressive. I don’t mean to sound suspicious, but Sharp made a similar maneuver last quarter, so an announcement like this just before the reports start coming online, so forgive me if my Spidey sense is tingling.

I must say, I find it amusing that the press release has Commissioner Lee “citing a recent University of Texas poll showing Sharp leading the field of candidates”. Yes, with ten percent of the total; Bill White had seven percent in that sample. Like the recent Lyceum poll, which had White at ten percent and Sharp at two, this is a poll about a race whose date is uncertain, whose field is not set, and whose announced candidates are largely unknown and have not begun to spend any money to correct that. Drawing any conclusions based on either or both of them is dicey, to say the least.

Anyway. The release is here. I look forward to seeing the fundraising totals in a few days.


Two key Harris County Commissioners, both leading Democrats, today announced their enthusiastic support for John Sharp in his United States Senate campaign, saying that Texas has a unique opportunity to send a seasoned leader to Washington at a crucial moment in history for securing economic prosperity, access to affordable health care, educational excellence, and energy independence.

Commissioners El Franco Lee and Sylvia R. Garcia made their announcement at the end of Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting although a specific date for the special election to replace Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has yet to be scheduled.  

“There is no time to waste, no matter when the special election is,” the two explained in a joint statement.  “Now more than ever, Texas needs a proven problem-solver with statewide support.”

Lee, a former state representative who became the county’s first African American commissioner in 1985 when he was elected to represent Precinct One taxpayers, said he has worked with Sharp often through the years.

“John Sharp has the momentum in this race because Texans know what I have learned through the years — his success is rooted in his political balance and personal integrity,” Lee said, citing a recent University of Texas poll showing Sharp leading the field of candidates.

Garcia, the former Houston City Controller and chief judge of Houston’s municipal court system who in 2003 became the first Hispanic and the first woman elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioners Court, agreed.

“Few have done a better job of representing our state’s rich diversity than John Sharp during his outstanding career,” Garcia said.  “I especially appreciate his commitment to safeguarding vital public services while holding the line on new taxes and wasteful government spending.”

Sharp, 58, is a former state representative, state senator, and chairman of the states energy agency, and Comptroller of Public Accounts, the states chief financial officer.

As Comptroller, Sharp earned a national reputation for innovative solutions such as the Lone Star card, which helped protect the federal food stamps program by replacing the inefficient paper coupon system with an electronic benefits card, and the Texas Tomorrow Fund, a unique prepaid program that allowed middle-class families to lock in the future costs of their childrens college tuition.

Sharps Texas Performance Review saved taxpayers more than $8.5 billion, helped divert a proposed state income tax, safeguarded vital public services, and served as the model in 1993 for the Vice President’s successful National Performance Review, which Sharp helped direct.

A graduate of Texas A&M University, where he was elected student body president and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, Sharp grew up in a South Texas farming community near Victoria.  He earned his masters in public administration from Texas State University in San Marcos while working fulltime as a budget examiner for the Legislative Budget Board in Austin.

Sharp served as vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as a state representative and was named Outstanding Freshman by Texas Monthly magazine.  He later ran successfully for the Texas Senate and was appointed to the powerful Senate Finance Committee.  In 1985, he was elected statewide to the Texas Railroad Commission and served as the energy agencys chairman.

After leaving the Comptrollers Office, Sharp created the Travis Fund to fund a special scholarship program for the children of Texas-based soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and co-founded Texans to Cure Cancer, the largest anti-cancer initiative ever launched in the state.  In 2006, with state lawmakers facing the prospect of shutting down public schools or advocating a state income tax, he led a bi-partisan committee to find a solution to avoid both cutting overall taxes by more than $1 billion in the process.

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