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Democratic Governors Association

Davis vs the DGA

Show some respect, y’all.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

The chairman of the Democratic Governors Association gave a less-than-rosy assessment of Sen. Wendy Davis’ chances Tuesday and got a slam in return from her campaign.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, association chairman, failed to cite the Texas Democrat’s race for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott as a top target in talking to reporters, The Wall Street Journal reported. Instead, Shumlin pointed to races in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania and, secondarily, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

“We’re hopeful in Texas but we all understand that Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” he said. “I wish that we could spend money for Democrats in all 50 states. My job is not to promote governors’ races in states where we can’t win.”

His comments came after the DGA earlier set up a political action committee that raised $50,000 for Davis’ bid, and after a Public Policy Polling survey that showed Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott still has a double-digit lead on the Fort Worth Democrat.

Davis’ camp has questioned the poll and slapped back at Shumlin’s remarks in a statement by campaign manager Karin Johanson.

“The uninformed opinions of a Washington, D.C., desk jockey who’s never stepped foot in Texas couldn’t be less relevant to what’s actually happening on the ground,” Johanson said.

“The Davis campaign is constructing an operation never before seen in Texas that’s built on the hard work of 15,000 volunteers who knocked on more than 55,000 doors in one weekend, more than 120,000 individual donors and a candidate who is exciting voters in a way not seen since Ann Richards’ come from behind victory,” Johanson said.

To be fair to the DGA, the six states cited were all carried by President Obama twice, they all feature Republican incumbents who are trailing or leading by modest amounts in the polls, and in the case of Wisconsin it’s the opportunity to cut the legs out of a potential Presidential candidate. I can’t blame them for prioritizing those races; it’s what any rational organization would do. That said, Governor Shumlin could have been a lot more artful in talking about Texas and Wendy Davis. At the very least, the words “can’t win” should never have escaped his lips. How hard is it to say something like “We’re keeping an eye on Texas. It’s a tough state for Democrats, but Wendy Davis is doing a great job. She’s inspired thousands of people all over the state to volunteer and organize for her, and they’re doing tons of work to turn Texas blue.” Pretty boilerplate stuff – it says all the right things without committing the DGA to any action. It’s especially annoying for the DGA to be saying such things while continuing to solicit funds in Texas with emails that say “Wendy Needs You”. In contrast to Democracy For American, which is calling on its members to support Leticia Van de Putte, it looks even worse. (Howard Dean and DFA already support Wendy, in case you were wondering.) I don’t don’t think it’s asking too much for the DGA to avoid being a buzzkill about Wendy Davis. Texas Leftist has more.

Perry settles lawsuit with Bell

The settlement in the lawsuit by Chris Bell against the Rick Perry campaign over allegations of illegal campaign contributions to Perry by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is now official.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign paid $426,000 to former Democratic challenger Chris Bell to settle a lawsuit.

Bell, Perry’s unsuccessful Democratic challenger in 2006, sued the Perry campaign a few years ago, claiming that it had accepted contributions that were improperly routed through the Republican Governors Association to hide their true source.

Shortly before giving Perry $1 million in the closing days of the 2006 campaign, the RGA received a couple of major donations from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry.

The Perry campaign paid Bell on March 3, the day after this year’s primary. The money went to Bell personally, not to a political campaign.

Actually, if you read the lawsuit Bell filed, the claim Bell made that he said entitled him to damages was that the Republican Governors Association PAC was not a qualified PAC in Texas at the time of the donation. The Bob Perry issue was mentioned in the suit, but it was a political matter, the idea being that by having him give a million bucks to the RGA, which then sent two donations totaling that amount to Perry, that donation was effectively hidden from public view. (See here for a copy of the original Chron story reporting on that.) You may recall that towards the end of the race, the Bell campaign got an infusion of over a million dollars from Houston trial lawyer John O’Quinn, which Perry used to bash Bell. One can certainly understand why Perry didn’t want it widely known that he was taking a similar infusion from this well-known Republican sugar daddy. But the crux of the lawsuit was the claim that the RGA was not legally able to make a donation to Perry’s campaign at that time because they were not officially recognized as a political organization in Texas. (Or at the federal level, apparently.)

Interestingly, the Houston Chronicle reported [Friday] morning that the Democratic Governors Association, which has given former Houston Mayor Bill White more than $1 million this year, has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Texas donors.

That Chron story is here. I understand the parallel that is being drawn, but unless someone is claiming that the DGA hasn’t filed the proper paperwork as was the case with the RGA in 2006, it has nothing to do with anything. Fortunately, the full Statesman article clears that up.

Whereas the Bell lawsuit alleged that Perry did not properly report contributions from the governors’ group in 2006, White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said White’s campaign made the required disclosures when his out-of-state money came in. The ethics commission confirmed that the proper reports were filed.

It also notes that as Perry has been the Chair of the RGA, some of their abundant resources will likely be headed his way.

Election results: White wins without breaking a sweat

This one was over before it started. I think the AP called the race for Bill White based on the early voting alone. I expected a big win for Bill White, but 75%+ surprised me, and from talking to folks at the Bill White victory party, it surprised a few other folks as well. He’s going to get about 90% of the vote in Harris County, and I can’t wait to see the statewide canvass. As for Farouk Shami, let’s just say he spent good money to get the votes he did get. Unlike KBH, Shami’s concession statement did not include an endorsement, or even a mention, of the winner of his race. I don’t suppose it really matters, but it would have been nice to offer congratulations, if nothing else. Whatever.

I’ll check up on the other races in the morning. For now, click on to read a statement about the Texas governor’s race from the Democratic Governors Association. And keep that seat belt fastened.

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