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Marc Katz

Katz’s finally kloses

An era comes to an end.

Marc Katz’s delicatessen on West Sixth Street is finally closing.

Katz, whose business M&M Katz Inc., has been mired in U.S. Bankruptcy Court since 2004, said his business is shutting down Jan. 2 after 31 years in operation.

“I have to go,” he said. “It has been 31 years. I want to leave while I am happy and suppliers and employees are taken care of. I just think it is time.”

Katz informed the 70 workers at the restaurant a few weeks ago that the restaurant would soon shut down.

“We rode so high for so many years. I just don’t want to do it anymore,” he said.


Katz said he will take a month off after the business closes to decide what he will do next.

“We are going to have a party on Jan. 2,” he said. “We expect a big crowd. We are going to have a time.”

And with that, Austin becomes ever so much less weird. At least we still have the Katz’s in Houston. This is their last Christmas at that location, so if this was part of your holiday tradition, better hurry up and get over there.

The Lite Guv race by the counties

The Lite Guv primary was an interesting race. One candidate, Ronnie Earle, had a decent amount of name recognition, a base of support in a vote-rich area, with likely secondary support in other populous counties, and electoral experience. He didn’t have a lot of money or establishment backing, however. Another candidate, Linda Chavez-Thompson, was able to raise enough money to run some TV ads, most likely in South Texas, and she had a base of support with Labor. She was also a first-timer whose name wasn’t particularly well known; if she had anything resembling a campaign here in Harris County, I didn’t observe it. And there was Mark Katz, about whom there isn’t much to say. How did they do around Texas?

– Chavez-Thompson won a majority of the vote in 86 counties, and where she won, she won big – in 46 of those counties, she got 60% or more of the vote. In particular, she did well in some heavily Democratic counties like Webb, El Paso, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Bexar – in fact, those five counties alone provided nearly one third of LCT’s vote total. She won pluralities in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, falling just short of 45% in each.

– Earle, not surprisingly, had his best showing in his home county, Travis, where he got a bit more than 68%. He won a majority in 38 counties, including such Travis neighbors as Bastrop, Burnet, Williamson, and Hays. He won a plurality in Harris County, primarily on the strength of three State Rep districts, HDs 134, 146, and 147, which accounted for nearly all of his 5,000 vote margin. He actually won 14 of the 25 districts, but many of them were close; 11 districts were decided one way of the other by less than 100 votes. Curiously, one place where I thought Earle would have done strongly was Fort Bend, where he helped put Tom DeLay out of business, but that wasn’t the case, as LCT took a plurality. Anyone want to explain that?

– Katz came in second in Live Oak County, and tied for second in King County, in which all of 14 votes were cast. He did not top 29% in any county. Why was he running again?

I’ll have a look at the Ag Commish and Land Commish races next. As always, feedback is appreciated.

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.


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?

The Lite Guv primary

We’re two weeks out from the start of early voting, and I don’t feel like I know any more about the prospective candidates for Lieutenant Governor than I did when they first announced their candidacies.

[T]he odds remain long that a Democrat will knock off [Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst in the fall, said Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political science professor who studies state and national politics.

[Marc] Katz still will be selling sandwiches next year, Jillson predicted.

“Ronnie Earle and Linda Chavez-Thompson have visible strengths,” he said. “Earle is a Texas populist in the (Ralph) Yarborough/(Jim) Hightower tradition, and Chavez-Thompson is a national Hispanic activist. Neither is terribly well-known. Hard to tell who wins the primary, but neither is likely to have the money to stand in against Dewhurst.”

I can’t argue with any of that. Not only do none of them have any money, at least as of the January finance reports, but as far as I can tell none of them has a real campaign, either. I have not gotten as much as a press release from any of them, which is not the case for any other candidate that has a realistic shot at being on the ballot in November. For all of the excitement and apparent establishment-backing of the Chavez-Thompson candidacy, I expected more. There’s time for November, and I don’t think she or Earle would have to match Dewhurst in fundraising, but more than this is certainly needed.

More on Chavez-Thompson

The Express News does a nice profile of Democratic Lite Guv candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson. The most important bits are right here:

Party leaders gathered in Austin last month to brainstorm on promising candidates for the lieutenant governor’s race. They had initially approached state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, but she said she declined.

Someone suggested Chavez-Thompson, and before long, her friends and associates began a full-court press to persuade her.

Strategists dropped by her home and made their case. Pollsters broke down the numbers for her. Prominent politicians such as former state Comptroller John Sharp and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, urged her to run.

“There’d be one day when I thought it was doable,” Chavez-Thompson said. “And the next day I’d think, ‘Am I crazy or what?’”


Four years ago, Texas Democrats nominated Maria Luisa Alvarado, a little-known, underfunded San Antonian with no election experience, for lieutenant governor. She lost to Republican incumbent David Dewhurst by nearly a million votes.

Dewhurst has a personal fortune estimated to be close to $200 million, and Alvarado said she found it particularly hard to compete with “the millions of dollars Dewhurst had available.”

The main difference between Chavez-Thompson and Alvarado is that Chavez-Thompson starts out with a base and the promise of support from establishment Democrats. If she is the nominee, she won’t need to match Dewhurst dollar for dollar, but she will need enough money to get her name and basic message out. If these party leaders who urged her to run were sincere, then they will be there to help her raise some of that money. It will be hard to win, for all of the reasons we’re familiar with, but if Chavez-Thompson has the resources she can certainly be competitive. If that doesn’t happen, then her fate will be like Alvarado’s. She – indeed, all of the Lite Guv hopefuls – deserves better than that. I just hope whoever the nominee is, he or she gets it.

A brief intro to Linda Chavez-Thompson

Video of Linda Chavez-Thompson’s filing day remarks, from The Trib.

They have more on Chavez-Thompson here. As I said, I’m really looking forward to Chavez-Thompson and Ronnie Earle making the case for themselves. And as expected, Chavez-Thompson’s candidacy has generated some excitement in South Texas.

“I am excited about the fact that Linda Chavez-Thompson is going to file for lieutenant governor. Along with Bill White, she will energize the statewide base of Democratic voters,” said Nelva Sosa-Slagle, co-founder of South Texas Democrats for Obama.


There was widespread concern that the statewide Democratic ticket would not reflect the changing demographics of the state of Texas because it would lack a high profile Latino candidate. [Ester Salinas, co-founder of the Justice Advocacy Group] said that all changes with Chavez-Thompson’s candidacy. She said the border region would be particularly excited.

“With the current recession, so many Texans are going without. Linda understands that. Her candidacy is a real spark that can have a big impact down here. People are sick of the same old politics. I am looking forward to Linda’s next visit to the Valley and helping her campaign.”

Sosa-Slagle said Chavez-Thompson would “energize” the Democratic base for a number of reasons.

“On a personal level, she can relate to the concerns of working-class Texans due to her humble beginnings which have served as an inspiration to many Latinas. On a professional level, she derives the expertise and vision for resolving these concerns from being a successful executive of the AFL-CIO and Democratic Party,” Sosa-Slagle said. “And, on a political level, she serves as a major contrast to the wealthy Republican incumbent David Dewhurst and the Austin restaurant owner Marc Katz.”

And speaking of the AFL-CIO, this is from Ed Sills’ email newsletter:

Needless to say, this is an extraordinary development for the labor movement in Texas. Chavez-Thompson will build a campaign over the next few days, and it’s only about eight weeks to the March 2 primary, so this thing will run fast and furious over the coming weeks. Other Democrats who have filed for the post include former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and Austin delicatessen owner Marc Katz. Chavez-Thompson made it clear during media questioning that she is running to make changes in Texas, not against the Democratic opponents. This is a good place to note as well that the Texas AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education won’t issue an endorsement in this contest until the COPE Convention on Feb. 6 and 7 and that only the delegates to that convention can finalize such an endorsement. That said, there is no question that Chavez-Thompson has the closest possible ties to the labor movement and there’s no point in pretending otherwise, so this newsletter will be watching the lieutenant governor’s race in detail.

She hasn’t won anything yet, and she has one strong and appealing opponent in Earle, and one with a lot of resources in Katz, so nobody should take anything for granted. But her potential is obvious, and it’s cool and amazing to see a race that three months ago was on no one’s radar generate so much buzz. Stace has more.

Chavez-Thompson to file for Lite Guv


Linda Chavez-Thompson, a national leader within the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party, plans to enter the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor on Monday, according to a source familiar with her plans.

She is expected to file Monday afternoon at state Democratic Party headquarters.

This may be the most interesting primary of them all. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to say, and to see how she and Ronnie Earle make the case for themselves. (Sorry, Marc, but these are my top two choices for this race.) Thanks to BOR for the tip.

The Lite Guv may not be what it used to be

Now that we have an interesting race for the Democratic nomination for Lite Guv, it’s worth wondering whether a Lt. Gov. Earle or a Lt. Gov. Katz would wield the same power as Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and his predecessors. Dave McNeely thinks not.

The Texas lieutenant governor appoints Senate committees and their chairs; decides which bills go to which committees; decides whom to recognize on the Senate floor, thus controlling the agenda; and is the Senate’s leader and names the other four Senate members on the Legislative Budget Board, which writes the rough draft of the state budget.

Most of the lieutenant governor’s powers, however, aren’t in the state constitution, but the Senate rules passed at the start of each regular legislative session.


If Dewhurst is re-elected and doesn’t get an opportunity to go to the U.S. Senate, he will most likely retain the existing powers of the lieutenant governor.

Republicans hold a 19-12 advantage over the Democrats in the Senate. Most observers think that ratio is unlikely to change in the 2010 elections, and they’re unlikely to punish their fellow Republican.

If, however, a Democrat should win — Newsweek magazine recently predicted that White would narrowly be elected governor in 2010, which if it happened, could aid the party’s lieutenant governor candidate — the Republican senators very likely would strip several of the lieutenant governor’s powers.

Burka has addressed the issue of Republican Senators versus the Lite Guv in recent months, though he was talking specifically about Dewhurst. He thinks there’s a good chance the Senate will be a different place in 2011 even if The Dew is still in place. This is all pretty inside baseball stuff, but the potential effects are quite large, so this is definitely worth paying attention to.

Katz files

As expected, Austin restauranteur Marc Katz has filed for Lite Guv on the Democratic side, saying his family will contribute “millions” to his effort.

Austin deli owner Marc Katz, filing papers to run for lieutenant governor at Texas Democratic Party headquarters [Wednesday], said his relatives will make a “huge, milestone contribution” to his campaign that will allow him to buy TV and travel the state spreading his progressive-populist message.

“It’s in the millions,” Katz said of the family donation. He promised more details Friday.

Katz, who has run unsuccessfully for Austin mayor, is making his first statewide race. He faces former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and possibly national labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson in the March 2 Democratic primary. Barring a resignation by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, they would be vying for the right to take on incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst next fall.

Katz said the relatives making the contributions to his campaign mainly live in New York, California and Florida.

Not sure how good an idea that will be in a Texas election, but we’ll see. At least he’ll provide a bit of entertainment, and if the message he says he’s going to bring resonates, who knows? As I said before, I’m just glad to have another potentially high profile primary on our side. And if Linda Chavez-Thompson gets in as well, so much the better. The Trib has more.

Katz to file for Lite Guv

Looks like we’re in for another contested primary for Democrats in statewide races.

Two weeks after former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle surprised many by filing to seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, Austin deli owner Marc Katz plans to add his name to the primary race on Wednesday.

I’ve heard it said that Katz was only going to run if no other viable candidates stepped forward. If that’s the case, then either he doesn’t think much of Earle, or he never really meant that and always intended to run. In any event, that’s three contested primaries at the statewide level for Democrats, with this one possibly becoming a multi-candidate race. Considering where we were as recently as six weeks ago, that’s a pretty remarkable achievement. In any event, Earle has written about why he’s running for Lite Guv, which is worth your time to read. I look forward to hearing more about Katz’s reasons for running.

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.