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Bill Burton

The Commissioners

Here’s a look at how the candidates in the three Commissioner races did across Texas.

– In the Democratic primary for Land Commissioner, Bill Burton won a majority in an astonishing 193 counties; of those, he scored better than 70% in 123, and better than 60% in 161. So why isn’t he the nominee for Land Commish? Only 55 of those counties had as many as 1000 votes cast in them. There were 317,597 votes cast in those 193 counties he won, and 247,923 in the 53 counties carried by Hector Uribe (some counties had no primary votes cast in them). Uribe also had big margins, and they came in such places as Webb, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, El Paso, Bexar, and Travis, all of which he won with 64% or more of the vote. Burton carried Dallas and Harris Counties, where he won 20 of the 25 State Rep districts (Uribe took 134, 136, 143, 145, and 148) thanks in part to endorsements from various African-American groups, and he won his home county of Henderson with 82%, but for the most part he was running up the score in places with few people. That 82% total netted him 566 votes; Uribe’s 86% tally in his home of Zapata County was worth over 2,000 votes. In the big counties he won, Burton’s wins were closer – his combined margin of victory in Dallas and Harris was about 16,500 votes, or about 500 votes fewer than Uribe’s margin in Hidalgo. Uribe’s win wasn’t broad but it was deep, and it was in places the Democratic Party hopes to do well this fall.

– I had no idea where Kinky Friedman’s strongest showings would be. Turned out he did pretty well in South Texas and along the border – his 63% in Webb County was his best performance, and he also took places like Zapata, Jim Wells, Val Verde, Maverick, and Hidalgo. He also had a comfortable win in Collin County, and squeakers in Montgomery, Galveston, Denton, and Tarrant, where he had been endorsed, albeit somewhat casually, by the Star-Telegram. He did not carry the other major counties in which he received endorsements, Dallas and El Paso; perhaps the latter didn’t like the song. He did win his home Kerr County, for a total of 66 all together. Hank Gilbert won 179 counties, including big wins in Travis and Fort Bend, and smaller but solid margins in Williamson, Bexar, and Harris, where he took 20 State Rep districts. He won his home county of Smith with 55%.

– I don’t know what I expected when I looked at the GOP primary for Railroad Commissioner, but it was ugly. Victor Carrillo won a grand total of six counties, four of which had less than 100 votes each in them. They still loved him in his home county of Taylor (that’s Abilene, in case you were wondering), and he collected over 60% of the votes in Webb, but it was all downhill from there. David Porter took 60% or more of the vote in 186 counties. He won by a two to one margin in neighboring Lubbock, and was over 60% in Bexar, McClennan, Denton, and other places too numerous to name. He won 15 of the 25 State Rep districts in Harris County, which he carried with “only” 53% of the vote. You can explain his win over the better-funded incumbent, who ran a competent campaign despite what the spinmeisters would have you believe, however you like. All I can say is that had I not known better, I’d have thought Porter was the incumbent and Carrillo was the unknown challenger.

Eight days out reports

The 8 days out reports aren’t available on the TEC website yet for the Governor’s races, so I can’t show you the details. The Trib did it the old-fashioned way, by viewing the actual paper forms, so go look at their numbers. Bill White raised another ton of money, and we can see that Rick Perry and KBH have spent down their kitties considerably. No surprise – you cannot escape their ads, no matter how you try, if you turn your TV on. The end result is that all of a sudden, the playing field is a lot more level than it’s ever been. And that’s a mighty good thing.

Beneath the fold are the reports from the other Democratic statewide races, with my comments. Click on to read them.

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Endorsement watch: Land Commish and Ag Commish

Two more endorsements from the Chron, both for the Democratic primary. First, for Ag Commish:

In the Democratic primary contest to select an opponent to face Republican incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in November, the Chronicle recommends native Houstonian and longtime Northeast Texas rancher Hank Gilbert. (Kinky Friedman’s jokey candidacy does not deserve serious consideration.)

Take that, DMN and FWST!

And for Land Commish:

In the Democratic primary to select a nominee to face incumbent Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in the fall, the Chronicle believes the best-qualified candidate is former South Texas state Sen. Hector Uribe, a lawyer with a wealth of legislative experience on the issues he will confront if elected. While serving in the Senate for 12 years, Uribe chaired a standing subcommittee on water resources and vice-chaired a joint subcommittee on oil spills and water pollution abatement.

On the other hand, the El Paso Times goes Kinky.

Friedman would bring a Texas-maverick personality and outlook to the rather colorless post and bring attention to Texas agriculture.

And personality aside, he has some good ideas when it comes to such matters as animal rescue and biomass and bioenergy projects. He’s also keen on going after grants in various areas, something important in a money-tight Texas and nation. Also, he wants to market Texas agriculture in new ways.

What does he know about agriculture? Not as much as we would like, but if he surrounds himself with experts, that will fill the gaps.

Much like the Star-Telegram, it’s not really clear why they think he’s the better choice. I mean, the “Sure he’s an idiot, but he’ll have smart people around him so who cares if he doesn’t actually know what he’s doing” thing worked out so well with our last President, didn’t it? They also included an endorsement of Bill White for Governor, but did not mention Land Commish or Lite Guv. (No mention of Farouk Shami, either, despite the fact that he appears to have some actual support in El Paso. A little, anyway.) So Gilbert and Friedman each get three endorsements out of these papers, while Hector Uribe goes 5-0 (it’s not clear to me that his opponent, Bill Burton, actually bothered to screen with any ed board) with the EPT still pending.

Hector Uribe files for Land Commish

We have one more contested statewide primary on the Democratic side as former State Sen. Hector Uribe has filed for Land Commissioner. (Bill Burton of Athens is already in.) Here’s Uribe’s press release:

Former state Senator Hector Uribe filed to be a Democratic candidate for Texas Land Commissioner today. Uribe returns to state politics after a 14 year hiatus, when he was the Democratic nominee for Texas Railroad Commissioner.

“The current Republican leadership is short-sighted. Texans want our state leaders to help address the real threats to our environment, but many of our current state leaders continue to minimize the importance of having clean water to drink and clean air to breathe,” Uribe said.

“National and international environmental policies on global warming have serious impacts on long-term state education funding. The Republican leadership should be concerned about any negative impact on education funding. Instead, they deny the existence of global warming, deny the science that CO2 emissions contribute to global warming, and instead they fan the fires of secession. That’s not responsible leadership, that’s failed leadership. They claim that pro-environment policies will negatively impact our economy and education funding. That’s not an answer, that’s a cop out,” he added.

“We don’t have to choose between a clean environment, and maximizing the return on state lands to fund our neighborhood schools. We can do both, and as Land Commissioner, I intend to do both,” Uribe said. “Our campaign will focus on how best to serve both objectives.”

Uribe served as a Texas state Senator from Brownsville from 1981 until 1990, and represented the counties of Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo and Jim Wells. Prior to serving in the Senate Uribe served in the Texas House of representatives for about three years.

As a state Senator he wrote the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, designed to create new businesses and jobs in economically distressed areas. He also wrote the Protective Services for the Elderly Act to guard against elder neglect and abuse as well as legislation establishing the University of Texas at Pan American in Edinburg and Brownsville.

During his final session in the Texas Senate he served as Chair of the Natural Resources Standing Subcommittee on Water that wrote the first colonias legislation and created a bond package to assure clean water and sewer facilities for colonia residents. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee he voted to create a super fund to clean up contamination left by leaking underground gasoline storage tanks. As Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, he authored legislation to regulate and require indoor air quality in public buildings and to regulate asbestos removers.

The release also contained a bio of Uribe, which you can see in this Google doc. It all sounds pretty good, and I look forward to hearing more about him, but Texas was quite a different place when he last ran for office, in 1996 for Railroad Commissioner against Carole Keeton then-Rylander, who defeated him by a 58-39 margin for her first full term in office; she had ousted Mary Scott Nabers, who was appointed in 1993 as a replacement for Bob Krueger when he was tapped as Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s successor, in 1994. I hope that after all this time he has a good feel for what the lay of the land is like now, and that he has the ability to raise the funds he’ll need to run a competitive race. PDiddie, BOR, Trail Blazers, and The Trib, which notes that Uribe is also a movie actor, have more. I’ll have a full roundup of filings later once all the info is available.

Burton for Land Commissioner

Via BOR, we have a report of a new statewide Democratic candidate, former Henderson County Justice of the Peace Bill Burton, who is running for Land Commissioner. I don’t know the man, but I hope to learn more about him. Incumbent Land Commish Jerry Patterson doesn’t have a huge war chest – $564K as of July, after raising a similar amount in 2006, so Burton doesn’t start in as deep a hole as some other candidates. We’ll see how he does. Greg has more.