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Farouk Shami

The UT/TT poll’s track record in past Democratic primaries

The one result in that UT/TT poll from Monday that has people freaking out is the one that shows nutball LaRouchie Kesha Rogers leading the Senate race with 35%, followed by David Alameel with 27%. I expressed my skepticism of that result at the time, because among other things I have my doubts that their sample is truly representative of the Democratic primary electorate, but I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Trib’s previous efforts at polling Democratic primaries and see how they’ve done in the past. There are two elections to study. First, let’s go back to 2010 when all of the statewide offices were up for grabs. Democrats had three contested primaries that the Trib polled: Governor, Lt. Governor, and Ag Commissioner. Here are the results.

In the Democratic primary race, former Houston Mayor Bill White has a huge lead over his next closest challenger, businessman Farouk Shami, pulling 50 percent to Shami’s 11 percent. Five other candidates are in the running for the Democratic nomination; the survey found that only 9 percent of those polled prefer someone other than the two frontrunners.

Undecided voters are still significant in both gubernatorial primaries. On the Republican side, 16 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds. Pressed for a preference, 51 percent chose Perry, 34 percent chose Hutchison, and 15 percent chose Medina — an indication that Perry could win without a runoff if he can attract those voters into his camp. Among Democratic voters, 30 percent were undecided, and of those, 48 percent, when pressed, said they lean toward White. With White already at 50 percent, that means Shami would have to strip votes away from him in order to force a runoff or to claim a win.


Democratic primary voters have a couple of other statewide races to decide. In the contest for lieutenant governor — the winner will face Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in November — labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson took 18 percent of those polled, former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle got 16 percent, and restaurateur Marc Katz had 3 percent. Five percent of voters said they wanted “somebody else,” and a whopping 58 percent remain undecided on the eve of early voting, which begins on Tuesday. Kinky Friedman and Hank Gilbert — two refugees from the governor’s race now running for agriculture commissioner — are locked in a tight race, 32 percent to 27 percent. While Friedman’s ahead, the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. And, as with the Lite Guv race, “undecided” is actually leading, at 41 percent. The winner will face incumbent Republican Todd Staples in November.

And here’s the reality:

Governor Alma Aguado 2.83% Felix Alvarado 4.95% Bill Dear 0.96% Clement Glenn 1.44% Star Locke 0.92% Farouk Shami 12.84% Bill White 76.03% Lieutenant Governor Linda C-T 53.13% Ronnie Earle 34.67% Marc Katz 12.18% Commissioner of Agriculture Kinky Friedman 47.69% Hank Gilbert 52.30%

So White did have a big lead on Shami, but it was much bigger than they indicated. Linda Chavez-Thompson was indeed leading Ronnie Earle, but by a significant amount, more than enough to avoid a runoff. And Hank Gilbert defeated Kinky Friedman, despite the UT/TT poll showing Friedman in the lead.

How about the 2012 Senate primary, which is a reasonably decent facsimile of this one, as it’s a large field of mostly unknown candidates? Here’s the poll:

The Democrats, too, could be building to a July finish, probably between former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, according to the poll.

Sadler led the Democrats with 29 percent, but was followed closely — and within the poll’s margin of error — by Hubbard. Two other candidates — Addie Dainell Allen and Grady Yarbrough — also registered double-digit support.

And the actual result:

U. S. Senator Addie Allen 22.90% Sean Hubbard 16.08% Paul Sadler 35.13% Grady Yarbrough 25.87%

Sadler did in fact lead the field, but Hubbard came in fourth, well behind eventual second-place finisher Grady Yarbrough, whom the Trib pegged for fourth.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Mostly that we don’t have enough data to be able to evaluate the Trib’s ability to poll Democratic primaries. To be fair to them, they were quite accurate in the corresponding GOP races. They had Rick Perry winning in 2010, though not quite over 50%, with Debra Medina’s level nailed exactly, and they had David Dewhurst with a lead over Ted Cruz with Tom Leppert in third, but with the Dew falling short of a majority. As such, I’d put some faith in their GOP polling, at least until we see how they actually did. But I would not put much faith in their Dem results. They clearly pushed people to pick someone – anyone! – in the Senate race, they polled before David Alameel dropped a bunch of mail, which they themselves said (but didn’t acknowledge in their writeup) is exactly the sort of thing that could enable someone to win that race, and as I said I just don’t believe they’ve got a representative sample of the Dem primary electorate. I’ll be more than a little shocked if it turns out they got this one right.

One more thing: What if they are right about Rogers leading? Well, as long as she doesn’t crack 50%, I’d suggest we all remain calm. For all its constraints and limitations, the state Democratic Party has managed to get the nominees it has wanted in the last three Senate primaries. Rick Noriega cleared 50% in round one in 2008, and Sadler in 2012 and Barbara Radnofsky in 2006 both won their runoffs – Radnofsky has said that her overtime race against the now apparently dormant Gene Kelly was the best thing that happened to her, as it boosted her fundraising and made people actually pay attention to that race. I feel reasonably confident that if Rogers is in a runoff with anyone, everyone else in the party will fall as loudly and visibly as they can behind her opponent, whoever that winds up being. It’s already happening to a large degree – the TDP, the HCDP, and the Fort Bend Democratic Party have put out messages condemning Rogers and urging Democrats not to vote for her. I’d have preferred to see that happen earlier than this, and I’d much rather it not come to banding together to beat her in a runoff, but I’m not going to fall into a spiral of self-loathing over this one poll result. Do your part to help people make a good decision in this race, and be prepared to support someone other than Kesha in a runoff if it comes to that.

Where KBH and Medina did best, where White did worst

I’ve been poking around the county by county results in the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries to see what might be of interest. Here’s what I’ve found.

– Debra Medina carried three counties: Zavala, Crane, and Carson. There only 16 GOP primary votes cast in Zavala, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in that; Crane, with 457 votes total, isn’t much different. What was curious about Carson was that Rick Perry came in third, with a puny 10.31% of the 1,098 votes cast. Anyone have any idea what the deal was in Carson County? Oh, and while Medina pulled a respectable 36.31% in her home county of Wharton, that was only good for second place, behind KBH and her 40.51%. Her best showing in a big county was Tarrant, with 23.28%; Rick Perry won it but did not get a majority there, with 47.57%.

– KBH did her one better and carried four counties: Sterling, Concho, Wilbarger, and Menard. That’ll make for a great trivia question some day. By my count, she did better than Rick Perry in 28 counties, the largest of which was Tom Green – 61,983 voters, but only 9,939 votes cast; she got 45.88%. Her best showing in a large county was in Lubbock, with 39.05%, but Perry still got a majority there, as Medina barely broke 10%. In Harris County, Rick Perry won a majority in every one of the 25 State Rep districts. It’s really hard to overstate how much her performance sucked in this race.

– Bill White failed to win a majority in only 17 counties, of which Maverick had the most votes cast, with 5,470. He won at least a plurality in all of them, the curious case of Montague County having been resolved. His worst showing in a big county was in Lubbock, with 53.26%, though “big” is a relative term here, as more Democratic votes were cast in Maverick and Jim Wells, both of which are about one-fifth the size of Lubbock. (Trivia alert: Star Locke had his best showing in Lubbock County, where he finished third. You’re welcome.) White’s worst showing in a county with five-digit turnout was Webb, where he won 56.82% of the 27,689 votes cast. It was a similar story in some of the other heavily Hispanic counties, such as Cameron (57.64%), Hidalgo (60.01%) and El Paso (58.66%), where Farouk Shami had made some inroads and won almost 29% of the vote. He’s got some room for growth there. In Harris County, White got at least 90% of the vote in every State Rep district except for four – HDs 139, 140, 143, and 145. In HD134, he got an eye-popping 96.13%, which may be the most amazing result I’ve ever seen. Finally, he balanced out those 17 non-majority counties with 19 where he topped that 90% mark, including Harris and neighboring counties Brazoria, Montgomery, and Fort Bend.

I’ll have more precinct and county results in the coming days. Let me know what you think.

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.


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.

Two more polls

We are suddenly awash in hot polling goodness. First up, a new result from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll:

Gov. Rick Perry is well ahead of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Wharton County GOP chair Debra Medina, who are locked in a statistical tie for second place in a GOP gubernatorial primary that could go to a runoff, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Perry had the support of 45 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters — short of the majority required for an outright win. Hutchison had 21 percent and Medina had 19 percent, a two-percentage-point divide that’s smaller than the poll’s margin of error.

In the Democratic primary race, former Houston Mayor Bill White has a huge lead over his next closest challenger, businessman Farouk Shami, pulling 50 percent to Shami’s 11 percent. Five other candidates are in the running for the Democratic nomination; the survey found that only 9 percent of those polled prefer someone other than the two frontrunners.

Not much to see here, as this result is well in line with the others, including the fact that the remaining Democratic candidates are non-factors. One wonders if Medina’s recent 9/11 trutherism gaffe will cost her. Perry rounds up some evidence to say that it will. One never knows with the Republican base, that’s all I can say.

In general election matchups, the Republicans trump the Democrats. Perry would beat White, according to the new poll, 44-35. Hutchison would, too, and by the same margin: 43-34 (in our earlier poll, she outperformed Perry in hypothetical general election matchups). Medina and White would tie, 36-36. Shami would lose a hypothetical race to Perry, 48-25; to Hutchison, 49-23; and to Medina, 40-24.

That’s the first general election matchup featuring Farouk Shami I’ve seen. After the latest Rasmussen poll came out, Team Shami circulated a press release claiming that those results meant Bill White couldn’t win in November. I’m thinking they may need to try a different tack now.

Democratic primary voters have a couple of other statewide races to decide. In the contest for lieutenant governor — the winner will face Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in November — labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson took 18 percent of those polled, former Travis County District Attorney Earle got 16 percent, and restaurateur Marc Katz had 3 percent. Five percent of voters said they wanted “somebody else,” and a whopping 58 percent remain undecided on the eve of early voting, which begins on Tuesday.

Friedman and Gilbert — two refugees from the governor’s race now running for agriculture commissioner — are locked in a tight race, 32 percent to 27 percent. While Friedman’s ahead, the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. And, as with the Lite Guv race, “undecided” is actually leading, at 41 percent. The winner will face incumbent Republican Todd Staples in November.

Now we have two Lite Guv results, and one for Ag Commish. I think Team Hank needs to be a little concerned about these numbers.

More from the Trib is here, with full crosstabs available at either link. And before I could finish posting about this poll, we get a Research 2000 result, which BOR summarized:

Question: If the election for Governor were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Bill White, the Democrat, and Rick Perry, the Republican?

All voters: White 42, Perry 46
Independents: White 45, Perry 42

The poll was taken from Feb 8 – Feb 10, and has a 4% MOE. A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone.

Needless to say, that’s a fine result, and given that Perry is well known and White isn’t yet, it suggests a lot more room for growth for the Democrat. Even in the results where White has trailed by more, he’s generally been around “generic Dem” numbers, while Perry and now KBH have consistently been below 50%. Usually, the conventional wisdom in those cases is that means trouble for the incumbent. Make no mistake, Perry’s strategy will be to try to bury White under all kinds of negative attacks, since after nine years in office he’s got nothing else to say to convince people to stick with him. All these results have shown that he will have his work cut out for him, too.

Still more polling

Via the Trib, there’s another gubernatorial primary poll out there.

The Texas Credit Union League Poll of Texas Primary Voters, released today, shows incumbent Rick Perry close to a majority, holding a 22 point lead over Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary race for Governor. According to the poll of likely primary voters, Rick Perry leads with 49%, Hutchison holds 27% and Debra Medina rose to 19%.

In the Democratic primary race for Governor, Bill White reached 51%, with Farouk Shami holding a distant 19%. Held a little more than a week before the start of early voting, pollsters questioned likely primary voters about top national and state issues, favorability rankings of state elected officials, and more, all broken out in terms of demographics including area of the state, income, ethnicity, and party affiliation.

Full crosstabs are available for the Democrats and the Republicans. Warning: they are each 181-page, mostly Courier-font, PDF files. Of greatest interest to me, from the Democratic side:

– As noted, White leads Shami 51-19. This is consistent with the PPP poll that had White up 49-19. I’m not fully clear how they screened for likely voters, however. They did ask if the respondent was likely to vote, with 80% saying they were very likely and 20% saying somewhat likely, but what I don’t know is if they pre-screened for a history of primary voting. As with all relatively low-turnout affairs, if you’re not in the habit of voting in them, you’re not really a likely voter in my book. Maybe they did this, maybe they didn’t, I couldn’t tell. Seems like they might have, since the TCUL folks used a pollster affiliated with the party in question for each poll, but I can’t say for certain.

– As with the other poll, the lesser-known candidates were basically non-factors. Felix Alvarado got 7%, Alma Aguado got 4%, and “other” got 3%. If those numbers hold up, I believe Bill White has an excellent shot at avoiding a runoff.

– The poll asked about favorability for White, Shami, and Alvarado. White was rated favorably by 51% of respondents, with only 5% having a negative view. An astonishing 93% of Houston-area respondents gave him positive marks. Shami’s numbers were 32/12, and nobody knew who the hell Felix Alvarado was.

– Despite having all kinds of data subsets, I couldn’t tell how the vote preference broke down along regional or ethnic lines. It may be in there, but I gave up trying to find it.

– Interestingly, basically the same number of people (90) claimed to have seen a White ad as a Shami ad (93). For all the money Shami has spent on ads, that’s gotta sting.

– This poll also asked about the Lite Guv race. Linda Chavez-Thompson was in the lead there, with 25%, followed by Ronnie Earle at 18%, and Marc Katz at 8%. Needless to say, that leaves a lot of room for “Undecided”.

– I did not delve into the GOP crosstabs, because life is too short. The one point of interest was there on the summary page, where it said Perry would defeat KBH in a runoff by a 58-34 margin. Poor Kay.

Finally, Burka reports that we’ll have a UT/Texas Trib poll soon, which means there will be three results to compare and contrast, plus Rasmussen’s GOP numbers. It’s so nice to have this much data, isn’t it?

White holds big lead in Dem primary poll

The headline and content of this Trib story is about another strong showing by GOP gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina in a poll, this one by Public Policy Polling, but that’s not what interests me. I’ll get to that in a minute, but this is what caught my eye from the memo:

There is less drama on the Democratic side- Bill White leads Farouk Shami 49-19.

PPP surveyed 400 likely Democratic primary voters and 423 likely Republican primary voters from February 4th to 7th. The margin of error for the Democratic survey is +/-4.9% and for the Republicans it’s +/-4.8%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

Far as I know, this is the first publicly released poll that includes Farouk Shami, and as you can see, it suggests he is not competitive with White. All of the poll data is included – text of questions, demographics, and so forth – and nothing in particular stands out as odd to me. The sample is 32% Hispanic, 19% African-American, 46% white, 3% other, which strikes me as reasonable. Shami does best among Hispanics, losing by a 23-39 margin. If there’s one more piece of data I wish this poll had, it would be a geographic breakdown. Does Shami do better in, say, South Texas than elsewhere? We don’t know.

The other data point of interest is that the no-name candidates, especially the ones with Hispanic surnames, barely register. Felix Alvarado got 5%, Alma Aguado 2%, Clement Glenn 1%, and that’s it. Alvarado and Aguado have the potential to force a runoff if they pick up enough stray votes from folks who have no familiarity with the topline candidates, but there’s no indication in this data of that – Alvarado and Aguado combined for 13% of the Hispanic vote, which isn’t enough to cause trouble. If this poll is accurate – and all the standard disclaimers apply – then Dr. Murray’s prediction of White winning comfortably in March looks good. Again, it’s just one data point, so apply salt as needed.

As for the Republican side, Medina’s 24%, which is well within striking distance of KBH’s 28%, certainly looks impressive and would make my repeated predictions of her not beating Ron Paul’s showing in 2008 look foolish. I’ll just note that 51% of respondents were not sure what impression they had of her, which suggests to me that her support is still pretty soft and may fade over time. Or I’m just deluding myself and she’s the story of the year in Texas. Who the hell knows with Republican primary voters? More from Burka, who seems to be mesmerized by Medina for reasons I can’t quite fathom.

UPDATE: BOR has more.

The Observer interviews White and Shami

If you’re looking for some more prep material in advance of tonight’s debate, the Texas Observer has a nice cover story on Bill White and Farouk Shami, with an interview with each candidate. For those of you who tune in tonight, leave a comment and let us know what your impressions were.

UPDATE: BOR and Martha did the liveblog thing for the debate. Anyone want to give their impressions?

Interview with Farouk Shami

Farouk Shami

Farouk Shami

You’ve probably seen a few of Farouk Shami‘s ads for Governor by now, and you know the basic story: Came to America with only a few dollars in his pocket, started a successful business, and is now running to be the Democratic nominee for Governor. The primary focus of his campaign has been jobs and economic growth, which he plans to achieve by leveraging his business acumen. You’ll be able to hear more from Shami tonight when he and Bill White debate on public TV, and while you’re waiting for that, you can listen to my interview with him:

Download the MP3 file

A full list of the interviews I have done is on the 2010 Election page. As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Another Rasmussen poll in TX-GOV

Following their GOP primary poll, Rasmussen has released another general election matchup; the previous one, from only two weeks ago, is here. For the most part, it’s not any different:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Texas voters finds incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry leading former Houston Mayor Bill White 48% to 39%. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate, and eight percent are undecided.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison still runs best against the Democrat, leading White by 13 points, 49% to 36%. Seven percent (7%) prefer another candidate, while another seven percent (7%) are not sure.
The findings for both these match-ups are little changed from mid-January.

The surprise, as in the new Rasmussen Reports survey of the GOP gubernatorial primary, is the growing strength of Debra Medina, a businesswoman active in the state’s Tea Party movement. Medina now edges White 41% to 38%. Last month, White had a 44% to 38% lead on her. In this contest, six percent (6%) favor some other candidate, but a more sizable 16% are undecided.

I wouldn’t read too much into the Medina/White result. She’s had a couple of good weeks, thanks mostly to the two debates, which gave her the chance to do her thing without taking on much fire. It’s basically a honeymoon bounce, and should any of the other candidates start attacking her, as KBH may need to in order to draw closer to Perry, she’ll probably drop a bit. And let’s be honest, she ain’t gonna be the nominee, so these numbers are for academic interest only. White, meanwhile, is more or less still at “generic Democrat” levels, having just now started to advertise. I’d expect him to get a bit of a post-primary bounce, assuming nothing horrible happens, then he’ll have to deal with whatever comes as the attention turns to the general election race.

As always, it would be nice to get more data points, if only to see if there’s any agreement on the state of this race or not. For all we know, Rasmussen is making assumptions no one else is about the electorate. It would also be nice to see a poll that pits the Republicans against Farouk Shami, for comparison if nothing else. Finally, one wonders if the GOP electorate will take a closer look at KBH’s so far consistently better showings against White than Perry, especially in the event of a runoff. Given how inept the KBH campaign has been, I wouldn’t put too much stock in this, but it could still sway some folks if they think about it in those terms. Mary Benton has more.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates to debate

As you know, I’m not much of the debate-watching type. But this is one I may tune in to.

Houston Mayor Bill White and millionaire businessman Farouk Shami have accepted an invitation from KERA and its media partners to debate on Monday February 8 at 7:00 p.m. The hour long debate will take place before a studio audience with questions coming from journalists, voters and social media. It will be broadcast statewide on television, radio and online.

For what it’s worth, the way my interview schedule is currently going, I’ll be running my conversation with Shami that same morning. Thanks to the Trib for the heads up.

And the rest

I suppose it’s not fair to talk about the possibility of a runoff in the Republican gubernatorial primary without discussing the prospects for same in the Democratic primary. We don’t have any polling in this race as yet, and frankly even if we did I’d be suspicious of it, just because I doubt any pollster has much of a track record in this kind of Democratic primary here, so this is little more than guesswork. As BOR notes, Dr. Murray thinks Bill White will win outright. There’s certainly a decent chance of that, and you should read each of their analyses for why, but who knows what effect Farouk Shami’s TV advertising will have. Plus, as the Trib and the Chron have noted, there are five other candidates in the running (though one of them is doing double duty), and they don’t need to collect too much support to make it hard for anyone to cross 50%. An average of 4% each adds up to 20% overall, meaning that if Shami can top 30%, we go into overtime. As noted before, I’m wondering when White will start to appear on the air. Early voting begins in less than four weeks, so time is getting very short.

White reports $2.5 million raised

Not too shabby.

[Democrat Bill White] reported raising $2.5 million from Dec. 4, when he got into the [Governor’s] race, and the end of 2009: about $90,000 a day, according to his campaign.

Counting “transfers and in-kind donations” his campaign has collected more than $6.2 million, with about $5.5 million remaining in the bank. That figure, you’ll recall, is about half what Perry and Hutchison had on hand Dec. 31.

True, but they’re about to spend all of their cash ripping each other apart. White will have to spend some money in the primary, too, but it’ll be in a much more positive fashion. He will be fairly close to parity with whoever survives the GOP race, and at anything close to that pace from December, which would generate over $16 million for the next six-month reporting period, he’ll be in good shape to compete.

On a related note, in addition to picking up the Texas State Teachers Association endorsement last week, White has also locked up the support of all 12 Democratic State Senators, and 66 of 73 Democratic State Reps. The seven holdouts, in case you’re as curious as I was:

Joe Pickett – HD79
Tracy King – HD80
Joe Heflin – HD85
Robert Alonzo – HD104
Trey Martinez-Fischer – HD116
Senfronia Thompson – HD141
Al Edwards – HD146

Again, not too shabby. We’ll get Farouk Shami’s fundraising report tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll have a large chunk of his own money, which is fine as long as he doesn’t pull a John Sharp on us.

UPDATE: Stace has more.

Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back

Well, give him points for originality.

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Farouk Shami was busy Sunday, shooting a new campaign TV commercial with a stunning campaign promise to Texas voters.

The commercials air in two weeks and showcase what amounts to a money back guarantee if he wins the Governor’s race.

“I’m hoping within the first two years I will create a minimum of 100,000 jobs or I will resign and I am thinking I will give the state $10 million,” Shami said. “What do you think of that?”


Rice University and 11 News Political Expert Bob Stein had a different view.

“I think it will probably come off looking more like a gimmick than serious public policy,” he said.

That’s my initial impression as well. For one thing, you’ll need to come up with a metric that everyone will agree on if you want this to be a real, binding promise. Do part-time jobs count, or must they all be full-time? What if they’re mostly minimum-wage jobs? Whose job creation figures are accepted as the standard? Rick Perry likes to make claims about how many jobs have resulted from Texas Enterprise Fund grants, but no one who isn’t Rick Perry believes him. There are a lot of questions to be answered for this. And remember, there’s a pretty good chance that if Governor Shami were to be compelled to step down as a result of this promise he’d be handing the Governor’s office back to the Republicans, since the Lite Guv would succeed him. I’d give it a little more thought before I pushed this too hard if I were him.

Farouk files

Farouk Shami has officially filed for Governor.

“I don’t see the difference in public service and running a big company,” Shami said shortly after filing paperwork at state Democratic headquarters.

“You work with people,” he said. “You build team spirit. You cut down on middle management.”

Shami – now airing TV ads that tout his rags-to-riches story as a Palestinian immigrant who got rich making popular hair-care products – said it would be easy to switch from entrepreneur to state government’s head.

“I am a leader. I am not a dictator,” he said.

Asked if it’s a liability to not have served in elective office, Shami shot back, “I’m a smart man, OK?”

More here and here, with Shami’s press release here from Monday, when he’d originally said he was going to file.

Obviously, I have a preferred candidate in this race, but as long as Shami is in the race, and as long as he has a chance to win, which anyone with $10 million to throw around will have, I’m interested in hearing what he has to say. It’s just that so far it’s been a lot of non-specific mush that doesn’t really give me a whole lot of confidence that he has a clear vision and a plan to carry it out. But we’ll see how it goes.

On a side note, former Shami staffer Jason Stanford writes in the Trib about what it’s like to become an ex-staffer. Check it out.

Kinky drops out of Governor’s race, will run for Ag Commish

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Musician and author Kinky Friedman will drop his Democratic bid for Texas governor and seek the agriculture commissioner post, instead.

“This has never been about me; this has always been about what is best for the people of Texas and the Democratic Party,” Friedman said, in a statement released Monday to The Texas Tribune.

Friedman finalized his decision after meeting with Democratic gubernatorial candidates Bill White and Farouk Shami separately over the weekend.


[Friedman campaign consultant Colin] Strother says while Friedman did consider the land commissioner post, he felt the agriculture commissioner job was “the best fit”. Friedman spent the past week getting advice from his friend, former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower.

No, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either. I certainly understand why Kinky didn’t see any way he could win the nod for Governor, but why he thinks he can beat Hank Gilbert eludes me. Putting aside the silly notion that Kinky has any idea what’s best for the Democratic Party, and despite the rationale he offers for this switch, I still don’t get why he isn’t throwing in for Land Commissioner, which is an office for which he seems more suited and for which even I might consider voting for him. Yes, there’s already a Dem in that race, but so what? Kinky’s star power, such as it is, might actually help him win that primary and would serve him well in November, whereas he doesn’t stack up well against Gilbert, who has far stronger Democratic credentials and more than enough of his own personality to make Kinky seem more quaint than colorful.

Whatever. I wanted Hank to run for Ag Commish from the beginning, and this does nothing to change my mind about supporting him for that office. Mostly what this means is that I’ll need to try to add Friedman and Gilbert interviews to my to-do list for the primary, as this is now a contested race. Election season never truly ends. BOR, Martha, PDiddie, McBlogger, John, and Stace have more.

A gubernatorial threefer

Debra Medina made her filing for Governor today as well, and she hopes to be allowed in the clubhouse when the big kids get together to play.

“Texans deserve a Governor who is more interested in the needs of Texans,” campaign manager Penny Langford Freeman said in a statement. “We are proud to have a candidate who is listening to the people and offering real solutions for the future of our state.”

Medina, the chair of the Republican Party of Wharton County, wears the “Tea Party” label proudly. According to her website, the central issues of her campaign include eliminating property tax, protecting gun ownership, securing our border, and restoring state sovereignty.

Medina does not have the funds or name recognition of her primary opponents, Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, but she’s believes there’s more to a campaign than money. She recently told the Tribune, “If we could put a value on the shoe leather and elbow grease that has been applied to this campaign by the same activists that have been leading and attending the tea party and 9/12 events all over the state, we would look very competitive.”


As Medina heads into the fight, she says others — specifically Rick Pery — is running away. The Medina camp released a statement today saying that, when it comes to official debates, “each time we confirm, the governor cancels.”

“That’s just not true,” says Perry spokesman Mark Miner.

Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder says, “We would welcome Medina’s involvement in the January debate.”

Of course KBH would like Medina to be in any debate. That’s two candidates bashing on Rick Perry instead of one. While I’m skeptical that Medina will have any real effect on this race, I’m sure KBH believes, not unreasonably, that most votes Medina gets will come out of Perry’s hide. There’s little downside for KBH in giving Medina some visibility.

She’ll need all the help she can get. Dubious polls about teabagger ID aside, most people don’t know who Medina is. And all due respect, but speaking from the perspective of the perpetually underfunded statewide party, the value of shoe leather and elbow grease ain’t what you hope it will be when up against money and name recognition.

Meanwhile, Farouk Shami, who shook up his campaign not too long after starting it, is one of those candidates with a spotty record of actually voting.

Shami voted in the 1996, 2002 and 2004 general elections, according to Montgomery County Elections Administrator Carol Gaultney, but skipped the 2006 and 2008 general elections, missing chances to vote for Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman (to whom he donated $24,400) and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who Shami has called his inspiration. “That’s the man, that’s my man, that’s the man who did not let his strange name or an unconventional upbringing stand in his way,” Shami said of Obama at his November campaign announcement.

Shami’s primary election voting record is thinner. While the haircare billionaire is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next March, there’s no record of him voting as a Democrat in his home county at least as far back as 1996. He did, however, vote in the Republican primary in 2000.

The campaign is challenging some of the county’s data, saying Shami did indeed cast a ballot in the 2008 election. “He did go vote for Obama, but they can’t find any record of it, so we’ve talked with them about fixing it,” said Jamila Shami, the candidate’s niece and campaign aide.

As for the other skipped elections, Shami spokesperson Jessica Gutierrez says he was otherwise engaged.

“He was focusing on his company, and he had a billion dollar company at the time, and his business came first,” Gutierrez said. “He’s apologizing that he didn’t go vote, so that’s why he’s educating people that they should go vote.”

Okay, look. I’ve said before that a candidate’s previous voting history is not a make-or-break issue for me. It can be a deciding factor if all else is even, but it’s almost never a disqualifier. That said, please spare me the “I was too busy to vote” baloney. Most of the time, it takes just a few minutes to actually go to a polling place, wait your turn, and make your selections. Nowadays you have as many as ten days over which to do this. Nobody is too busy to do this, at least not year in and year out. If you’re one of those hardly-ever-voted-before candidates, don’t insult my intelligence like this. Just admit you should have done better before and then prove to me you mean it when you say you’ve learned your lesson.

Finally, Come and Take It notices that despite having endorsed Rick Perry in the primary, Sarah Palin never actually appeared with him while in the state promoting her book. Make of that what you will.

Carole the chameleon and Kinky the commissioner

This would be a little too weird.

[Bill] White, expected to say Friday that he’s shifting his political sights from the U.S. Senate to the Democratic nod for governor, confirmed Thursday that [former Comptroller Carole Keeton] Strayhorn has tried to reach him.

Asked if he’d welcome Strayhorn to the Democratic ticket as, say, a candidate for her former office of state comptroller, White weaved. (The only Democratic figure otherwise believed to be eyeing the state comptroller slot: former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson.)

“I’m not a political commentator,” White said. “I return telephone calls from people but I really don’t get into the business of giving people political advice.”

Strayhorn, who lost a run for mayor of Austin last year, hasn’t yet returned my calls on if she’s eyeing a statewide run, though two people close to her—her son, Bradley McClellan, and her long-time adviser, Mark Sanders—each said he hadn’t heard she was looking at another campaign.

There was a time when I would have welcomed a return by Strayhorn to her political roots in the Democratic Party and a run for statewide office under its banner. That was in the 2003-2005 time period, when she was probably the single most effective critic of Governor Rick Perry, thanks to her high profile and non-shyness in seeking attention. Since then, we’ve seen her disastrous, amateurish run for Governor as an independent, followed by a third-place finish in this year’s Austin mayoral election, and my reaction to this is “oh, good Lord, would you please retire already?” Carole, if you feel you must be involved somehow, by all means please feel free to host a fundraiser or two for White. Maybe you could write some op-eds bashing Perry for old time’s sake as well. But let’s leave it at that, OK? Thanks.

And as long as we’re discussing one of the 2006 gubernatorial alumni, Ross Ramsey speculates about Kinky Friedman.

Take a look at this teaser from gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, issued after Hank Gilbert exited the governor’s race, set his heart on being agriculture commissioner, and endorsed Farouk Shami:

“I think that all of these things are good for the party and good for the ticket. We all want new leadership in Austin and I think each candidate should be evaluating how best to achieve that. Everyone on the ticket or thinking of joining the ticket should be thinking about what will be best for Democrats in November. We will take the weekend to visit with all of the candidates, my advisors, and many of my supporters and have an announcement about how I believe I can best support our party on Monday.”

Don’t be surprised if he moves to another race. And don’t forget that one of the people in this particular smoke-filled room is former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, who knows a little something about one of the agencies on the ballot.


A bit of ballet lies ahead if Friedman wants to run for agriculture commissioner. Gilbert endorsed Shami and Shami “accepted” his endorsment and said nice things about him. But he didn’t endorse Gilbert for ag commissioner. Shami is a longtime business associate of John McCall, who was Friedman’s financial angel in the 2006 race for governor. McCall hasn’t been nearly as generous this time around — you have to wonder if that has anything to do with having two friends in the same race — and might be more comfortable if Friedman ran for, say, ag commissioner. As long as there’s no deal to break between Shami and Gilbert, that could work.

Friedman will make his announcement after the weekend.

Shami, of course, is also a friend and associate of Friedman’s. BOR thinks he might wind up running for Land Commissioner instead. I have to say, Kinky versus Jerry Patterson would provide the most colorful set of characters that office has ever seen. Beyond that, I can’t say I really care what Kinky does.

White makes it official

Well, between a dead car battery, a preschool that closed early, and a wife that had an unbreakable noon appointment, I am at home instead of at the Bill White for Governor launch. At least I have Elise Hu’s liveblog to keep me informed. Here’s the release that Team White sent out at noon on the dot:

Today, after listening to thousands of Texans from all backgrounds, Bill White filed to run for Governor, pledging to fight for Texas’ future.

“I am proud of the people of Texas, and as Governor I will move us forward as America’s great state of opportunity,” White said. “I’ll be a Governor who challenges Texans to lead, not leave, the United States.”

White highlighted ways of creating new jobs with businesses small and large across the state. He emphasized that Texas could not be its best with skyrocketing insurance and electric rates and college tuition that increases faster than the incomes of Texans.

The son of San Antonio school teachers, White vowed to focus on improving educational achievement in K-12 grade levels, improving high school graduation rates, and reducing the costs of college.

White, a successful businessman, was first elected as Houston Mayor in 2003 and was twice re-elected with margins averaging 88%. He has been hailed as a strong leader and a problem-solver, with the Houston Chronicle noting that he has “deftly steered Houston through fiscal and tropical storms.”

During White’s administration, Houston led the nation’s cities in job growth, adding more jobs than 16 states combined. At the same time, he cut property tax rates five years in a row. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, Bill White mobilized an effective disaster response including first responders, businesses and churches.

“I don’t have the polish of career politicians. But as a businessman and Mayor I know how to be accountable for results, not just rhetoric. I have a track record of bringing people together to get things done,” White said. “That’s what Texas needs now.”

Last December, White launched a U.S. Senate campaign that in 11 months attracted more than 1500 volunteers, more than 5500 contributors, and more than $6.5 million. He has visited 70 Texas counties to date.

This is the race I wanted him in from the beginning, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that it has happened. It was a long, strange trip to get here, to say the least, but getting there is what matters. It will be a tough campaign, but I’m as confident as I can be about it.

In related news, Hank Gilbert announced that he was dropping out of the Governor’s race, and will run instead for Ag Commish, which is where he started out. He also endorsed Farouk Shami for Governor. Whatever – next summer at the convention, when White is the nominee, no one will remember that. Time to move forward, we’re eleven months out.

Roundup and reaction to White’s announcement

Bill White isn’t officially a candidate for Governor yet, but he’s already picked up endorsements from State Sens. Kirk Watson and Eliot Shapleigh. I feel confident that many more such endorsements will follow, perhaps even before he commits to the race.

For now, at least, the other Democratic contenders for Governor are still in the race. I figure Kinky is in till the end – he has books to sell, after all. Shami has already sunk a bunch of money into TV ads, so it doesn’t make sense for him to decide anything until that runs its course. Alvarado is an afterthought. It makes sense for Hank to switch, either to Land Commish or back to Ag Commish, but I expect he’ll dig in his heels a bit. He got into this race for a reason, and he won’t get out of it without one. He could wind up staying in, but I think a lot of folks will want him to switch. He’s the one to watch.

(Speaking of ads, I saw that KBH for Governor ad last night during the local news. My God, it was as awful as I’d heard. Hard to believe she was once seen as an unstoppable juggernaut in this race.)

Speaking of the other races, there’s already been talk about who else might run for the other offices now that White would be at the top of the ticket. I don’t want to get too far out there in the speculation game, but let me suggest a name anyway: State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for Lite Guv. She isn’t on the ballot in 2010, so it’s a free shot for her, she would provide a nice bit of regional and ethnic diversity, and she would generate as much excitement for that office as she did as a potential candidate for Governor. There would be some issues to work out first – she would have to want to do it, and there’s the matter of her endorsing John Sharp in the Senate race – but it’s nothing insurmountable. I have no idea what anyone else is thinking here, but this is what I think.

Ross Ramsay lists winners and losers as a result of White’s likely move. I would suggest that it’s too early to call Sharp a winner – we still don’t know for sure that there will be a Senate race before 2012, after all, and for all we know someone else could get into it by then. I’ll say this much – Sharp no longer has an excuse for his lousy fundraising in that race. I’d also suggest that a potential loser is Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. If White’s entry into the Governor’s race is the boost for Democrats in Harris County that a lot of people I’ve talked to think it will be, that may attract a stronger candidate to the County Judge’s race, and could put Emmett in jeopardy. Which would be a bit ironic, given the link White and Emmett have for their work during Hurricane Ike, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I’m sure there will be a lot more to talk and think about between now and December 4, when White will announce his decision. In the meantime, here’s more from Burka and Swartz, BOR, PDiddie, Hal, Juanita, John Coby, Erik Vidor, Andrea White (not actually related to these events, but amusing to read), and Evan Smith.

UPDATE: Forgot to add in Rick Casey, too.

UPDATE: Here’s Purple Texas.

Shami and Shapleigh

Farouk Shami will make his entry into the Democratic primary for Governor official tomorrow afternoon at his business’ headquarters in Houston; details are on his website. The Trib gives us a peek behind the curtain.

Shami, running as a Democrat, has lined up an experienced gang to run his campaign: campaign manager Joel Coon, general consultants Robert Jara and Dan McClung, pollster Ben Tulchin, and media specialist Tad Devine.

Coon has worked on several campaigns, helping Democrat Travis Childers win a Republican congressional seat in Mississippi in 2008. Jara and McClung are old hands at Texas and especially Houston races. Tulchin is a California-based pollster who works on races around the country. Devine was an advisor to John Kerry and to Al Gore and has managed several campaigns in other countries.

The field for the Democratic primary is crowded, but more than half the voters are undecided. The names at this point include Felix Alvarado, Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert, Tom Schieffer, and maybe Ronnie Earle and Eliot Shapleigh, who haven’t declared but have been making gubernatorial noises. In a UT/Texas Tribune poll earlier this month, Friedman had 19 percent and Schieffer had 10 percent with everyone else in the single digits. Undecided had 55 percent, leaving plenty of room for new candidates.

I think the Ronnie Earle ship has sailed by now. I’m not aware of any buzz around him, haven’t really heard his name get mentioned in weeks, and at this point it’s hard to imagine him getting any traction. Shapleigh’s an interesting case. Since his announcement that he was not running for re-election to the Senate, it has appeared that he’s interested in running for something statewide, a subject that another Trib story explores. With five candidates already in the race, it seems to me it’d be a crapshoot – 20% of the vote might be enough to get into a runoff in a six-person field, and any of the five declared candidates strike me as being capable of doing that. Lite Guv, on the other hand, is wide open (yeah, yeah, Marc Katz – like I said, wide open) and if you’re really lucky you might wind up opposed by some non-officeholder selected by a committee. Certainly the odds of being on the ballot in November are much better in the latter case.

Back to Shami, about whom I daresay there will be many questions asked by primary voters, starting with “Who’s he?” and working towards “What has he done before now?”

Shami’s business, founded in 1986, took off when he signed a distribution deal with Austin-based Armstrong McCall. John McCall is a part owner of Farouk Systems now, and the two men — particularly McCall — were the biggest contributors four years ago to Kinky Friedman’s campaign for governor. Shami gave Friedman $24,400 for that run; McCall was in for $1.3 million and was listed, until last February, as Friedman’s campaign treasurer.

Shami also contributed to former Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, who lost a 2006 race to Democrat Ellen Cohen. And in May of this year, he gave $5,000 to Republican Ted Cruz, who had his sights set on a run for attorney general. In federal races, he’s contributed to candidates of all political stripes this decade, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, Houston Mayor Bill White (for the U.S. Senate race), Ralph Nader (in 2004 and 2008), Tennessee Democrat Graham Leonard, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the same month he gave to Cruz), and the Republican National Committee (most recently in 2007).

Yeah, that’s going to cause some heartburn. All I can say is I hope he has a good, pithy explanation for folks who ask him about it. Beyond that, I look forward to seeing how his launch goes tomorrow.

Thompson says he’s out, Shami says he’s in

Mark Thompson has ended his candidacy for Governor.

“There’s just too many people running,” Thompson said. “Any time someone jumps in, they cut your percentages down.”

Thompson said last week he was considering ending his bid. He had said he had launched his campaign earlier in the year assuming he would be in a three-way race with former ambassador Tom Schieffer and humorist Kinky Friedman.


Thompson said he is endorsing [Hank] Gilbert, who most closely matches him on several key issues including an opposition to toll roads.

I confess, I had forgotten that Mark Thompson had been running. In any event, his absence will hardly be noted as another contender gets set to jump in.

Houston hair care executive Farouk Shami said Tuesday that he’s definitely running for governor and that he’ll put in $10 million for the Democratic primary alone.

“I am in,” said Shami, 66, a political novice whose company sells CHI hair-straightening irons and BioSilk hair products. “I am 100 percent sure I will be the next governor of Texas.”

I look forward to hearing what he has to say, but I hope he remembers that writing your own check can’t substitute for raising money from actual donors. By all means, write the check if you can and you feel you must, but don’t forget to work the phones, either. Thanks to BOR for the Thompson link.

Don’t forget about Farouk

Tom Schieffer has been running for Governor for several months. Hank Gilbert made a fairly high-profile entry recently and has been doing well in earned media since. Kinky Friedman – well, never mind. The race on the Democratic side is already interesting whether or not Ronnie Earle ever jumps in. But there’s another player out there, and he wants to be taken seriously as well.

Houston hair-care businessman and millionaire Farouk Shami is getting serious in his race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Shami has hired Houston political consultant Dan McClung and California pollster Ben Tulchin to help him start pulling a campaign message together.

McClung has a long history of working in successful Houston mayoral campaigns and state legislative races. His last statewide race was Paul Hobby’s near-run loss for state comptroller in 1998.

“He believes when people get to know more about him, they’ll take him seriously,” McClung said.

Four things:

1. I have a pretty good idea at this point of what to expect of Schieffer, Gilbert, and Kinky. I know nearly nothing about Shami. I look forward to hearing what he has to say. If nothing else, having a broader, and hopefully deeper, field of candidates will be beneficial for the eventual nominee as well as for the party as a whole. As long as we can keep from sinking into Republican levels of discourse, of course.

2. We know Shami has a ton of money, and he could easily spend his opponents into oblivion if he chose to. But it’s important for him to raise money as well, as that’s a good indicator that people other than himself think he might be a good nominee for Governor. He could win on just his own money, but I daresay that would not be a good outcome.

3. Hiring McClung does suggest that Shami intends to be a serious player. Still, gazillionaire first-time successful-businessman candidates often go through consultants like tissue paper, as they often have their own ideas about how to run a campaign, and aren’t always amenable to being told what to do. That’s by no means what will happen, but it bears watching. The more consultants Shami has had by the time March rolls around, the less well I’d guess he’ll do.

4. Having said that, as long as Shami avoids this kind of self-inflicted injury by hiring a competent consultant like McClung, I’ll consider it a win for him.

Gilbert makes his official entrance

Democrat Hank Gilbert has officially entered the Governor’s race.

Hank Gilbert – East Texas rancher, former schoolteacher and newly announced Democratic candidate for governor – said today that improving public education is critical in revitalizing the state’s economy and putting Texas back on a solid foundation.

“The future of our economy depends on creating school systems that prepare our children to succeed by giving them the knowledge and skills to prosper,” Gilbert said, as he kicked off his campaign at a union hall in Dallas.

“It’s the only guaranteed way of bringing long-term prosperity back to this state.”

Dallas was the first stop in a 13-city tour that Gilbert hopes will help him score the Democratic nomination for governor.


In 2006, Gilbert was the Democratic nominee for Texas agriculture commissioner. He got more votes than any other Democrat running for a statewide office, but lost to Republican Todd Staples.

If he is to win his party’s gubernatorial nomination, he has work to do.

His announcement in Dallas drew 10 people, including four from the news media and two from his campaign.

Schieffer has been campaigning for months. And Friedman is a popular Texas celebrity with huge name recognition.

As I said before, I think Gilbert undercuts whatever cachet Kinky might have had as the anti-establishment/non-Schieffer candidate. Regardless, don’t confuse being well-known with being well-liked. The Democratic base – you know, the folks who will actually vote in March – loathes Friedman. Schieffer has the Bush issue to get past, but in my estimation Friedman has the much steeper hill to climb to atone for his sins, and he only made his official entrance a couple of weeks ago.

I personally consider myself neutral in this race at this point. I like Hank, though I still kinda wish he were running for Ag Commissioner again. I’m going to let things play out and see who impresses me the most – Gilbert, Schieffer, Ronnie Earle if he ever gets off the pot, Farouk Shami, someone else if such a person materializes. Among other things, I want to see how they do with fundraising. I wish there were a September reporting deadline for state races, but alas there isn’t. Gilbert had a target of raising $100K by the time he announced; he appears to have fallen just short of that, according to the “Fill Hank’s Hat” graphic on his website. Beyond that, we’ll just see how it goes.

UPDATE: I have been informed by the Gilbert campaign that the event in Dallas was media-only, so the “attended by 10 people” descriptor is misleading. Also, as noted by McBlogger in the comments, they did exceed 100K raised before the deadline. Good for them for that.

Katz announces for Lite Guv

Well, at least we have a candidate.

Marc Katz can’t help it. He’s gotta tell you. He’s planning to run for lieutenant governor.

Katz, 62, Austin’s self-proclaimed deli king, said he plans to file paperwork to enter the race as a Democrat, hoping to take the Republican-held seat with a populist campaign stressing the need for change.

“We need a whole new deal,” Katz said this morning, after announcing his intentions to make his first bid for statewide public office to supporters over the Labor Day weekend.

“Katz will never quit for Texas,” he added, playing on the theme of his 30-year landmark Austin eatery: “Katz’s Never Kloses.” “There’s no question we’re in one of the most difficult periods for the State of Texas. But I don’t see any urgency (among state leaders). There needs to be some urgency … some vision.

“I can’t help it. I can’t afford not to do something for Texas.”

I’m trying to imagine which Governor candidate for the Dems would pair with Katz to make the most colorful combination, Farouk Shami or Hank Gilbert. I’m not sure I want to go there.

On the plus side, Katz probably has more name general public recognition than anyone other than Kinky, and he’s sure to be a media favorite as well. On the minus side, Katz’s third-place finish in the 2003 Austin Mayoral election wasn’t an auspicious political debut, and it would be nice to have someone at the top of the ticket with some experience. BOR and Mean Rachel aren’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect. I’m glad someone is running, but beyond that I’ll need to see and hear more.

By the way, if Katz is the Democratic nominee, he will face David Dewhurst, who has apparently decided to run for re-election and sent a letter to supporters announcing his intention to do so.

Dewhurst spokesman Rich Parsons said the lieutenant governor sent the letter to supporters because it is the day after Labor Day, which he described as the traditional last day of summer.

“He’s focusing on re-election,” Parsons said. “All the other talk is just hypothetical.”

Dewhurst’s announcement immediately led to three items of speculation:

  • Hutchison will not resign as stated, a notion considered unlikely by Republican political operatives.
  • Attorney General Greg Abbott has been too aggressive in building a campaign to run for lieutenant governor if Dewhurst vacates the post. By announcing for re-election, Dewhurst keeps Abbott from announcing as a candidate for the race before the Senate vacancy occurs.
  • Dewhurst wants to retire the $2.5 million campaign debt that he personally guaranteed for his political committee before he makes another personal investment in a Senate race. By announcing for re-election, it becomes easier to raise money for the office he already holds, and federal law may preclude him from raising money to eliminate the state debt once he becomes a senator or Senate candidate.

So in some ways, not much has changed. We still don’t know who’s running for what on the Republican side. Take all the time you need, fellas.

Another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful

Well, you can’t say that the Democratic cast of characters for Governor lacks characters.

Rick Perry might not be the only candidate in the 2010 race for Texas governor who is known for great hair.

As the Republican governor with famously spiffy locks seeks re-election, the head of a Houston hair products company that Perry recently touted says he might be running for governor — as a Democrat.

Farouk Shami, 66 , founder and board chairman of Faorouk Systems Inc., hosted Perry at his company’s headquarters in July for a news conference announcing the company’s decision to move manufacturing facilities from South Korea and China to Texas, bringing 1,200 jobs to Houston. Perry called Shami, who was born in what was then Palestine, someone “who pretty much embodies the American dream.”

“Inspired by the freedoms we enjoy, he was drawn to this state,” Perry said at the news conference, a video of which is posted on the governor’s Web site. “He’s built a life of significance and an organization that is respected around the world. His is the story of Texas.”

Now, Shami, who has never run for office, is pondering a run to replace Perry, though their philosophies sound similar. Shami says he wants to bring jobs to Texas and avoid raising taxes. He said Perry “is a wonderful person” but lacks business experience.

“I have the capability to run the state as a business,” said Shami, whose shampoos, hair dryers and flat irons are sold around the world under the BioSilk and CHI brands. “People are tired of politicians.”

Yeah, the name “Tony Sanchez” is popping into my head, too. Given what Perry said about Sanchez during that campaign, one can only wonder what he might say about Farouk Shami in this one.

Shami donated more than $24,000 to [Kinky] Friedman’s independent campaign for governor in 2006, when Friedman referred to Shami as his Palestinian barber. Now, Shami said Friedman doesn’t seem serious.

Well, I can’t argue with that last part. At least he’s able to learn from his mistakes.

On a much less colorful note, Burka touts former Speaker Pete Laney as the Democrats’ best hope in the Governor’s race. I have a lot of respect for Pete Laney, and if he got into the race I’d certainly consider him. It’s not clear to me why Burka thinks Laney’s support for George W. Bush in the 2000 election would be any less a problem for him than Tom Schieffer’s Bush connection, but I suppose Burka was addressing the general election and not the primary. I’m far from sold on the need or the wisdom of having a rural candidate as the nominee – I think the marginal gains in rural counties may not be enough to overcome a lack of enthusiasm for a rural white guy in the urban, heavily non-Anglo Democratic base, and I tend to agree with Greg that the place to be looking for persuadable voters is the suburbs. I also take issue with Burka’s assertion that Laney isn’t just the Dems’ best hope, he’s the only hope. Among other things, I’m hearing from more and more people who think KBH may back out of the Governor’s race, in which case you’d have Bill White and John Sharp in a non-existent Senate campaign; surely White would represent a stronger hope than Laney, or anyone else for that matter, and I’d rank Sharp above Laney as well. Be that as it may, if this is more than wishcasting, I’m certainly open to hearing more. But get back to me after I’ve heard it.