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Maria Alvarado

Van de Putte appears to be in for Lite Gov

Hot damn!

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sources close to state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, say she is poised to make an announcement on her political future on Friday. But the likely Democratic contender for lieutenant governor is expected to do what gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis did: reveal a future date for a formal announcement.

“I can’t think of somebody who would be a better lieutenant governor for Texas,” Democratic consultant Glenn Smith said. “With her legislative experience, the deep care she has for Texas and its future, her work ethic, her honesty, I mean she’d be darn near perfect.”

If Van de Putte throws her name in, she’d be the only Democrat seeking the post currently held by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is facing a Republican primary challenge from state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Van de Putte’s formal campaign kickoff is expected to be Nov. 23.

It’s not actually true that Van de Putte would be the only Dem in the race so far – Maria Alvarado had previously announced her candidacy. As it happens, Wendy Davis will also have a primary opponent, former Corpus Christi Mayoral candidate Ray Madrigal. Van de Putte will have her official campaign kickoff on November 23. Note that unlike Davis, Van de Putte does not have to give up her Senate seat to run, as she is not on the ballot till 2016. I’m thrilled she’s taken the plunge, and I look forward to voting for both her and Wendy Davis.

Van de Putte update

Senator Leticia Van de Putte was at an Annie’s List event for Sen. Wendy Davis in San Antonio on Monday, and while the attention was on Davis, everyone wanted to know what was up with Van de Putte, too.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Davis has encouraged Van de Putte to run for lieutenant governor, but the San Antonio senator insists that she’s weighing her options.

“Very soon,” Van de Putte said about making a decision, although several sources said she would join the race. One guest at the luncheon, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Van de Putte told supporters she didn’t want to distract from Davis’ event.

“She said that she was waiting for after this luncheon. … But she inferred she was running,” the source said.

I have three words: Run, Leticia, run! I don’t think there’s anything more I can add to that. The story also says that Sen. Carlos Uresti is hoping to make a decision before Thanksgiving about whether he will run for Attorney General. That would make that race a contested one, as Sam Houston is already in. For that matter, if VdP jumps in as we hope she will, she will also face a Democratic opponent in Maria Alvarado. It’s fine by me if there are some contested Dem primaries, as I’d like to have our candidates out there engaging voters from the get go. But first we need to finalize the lineup.

2014 Democratic lineup updates

In honor of Peggy Fikac, an update on who is running for what as a Democrat in 2014. Starting at the top, folks who attended the HCDP Johnson-Rayburn-Richards event on Saturday had the opportunity to meet Maxey Scherr, a 33-year-old attorney from El Paso who will be filing to run for Senate against John Cornyn. Art Pronin has a couple of pictures of her on his Facebook page – see here and here, assuming his security settings allow for that, and see here for a brief bio and video. I had a chance to meet Maxey on Friday thanks to Barbara Radnofsky, who was hosting her and introducing her around. She would be a first-time candidate, which is daunting to say the least at a statewide level, but she has some connections that will serve her well to get going. She is friends with both Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Rep. Silvestre Reyes, and is good friends with and a former schoolmate of the daughter of John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso who is now the Democratic candidate for Land Commissioner. Scherr’s father James Scherr is a fixture in politics there and will apparently take a year off from his position as senior partner at their law firm to fundraise for her. I think she has the potential to raise a few bucks, which will be worth keeping an eye on. Rick Noriega took in about $4.5 million over the course of his candidacy in 2008; I think Scherr can top that. I also think she can take advantage of advances in technology and changes in the electorate and how to reach them to stretch those dollars farther. I expect her to run a progressive campaign geared at least in part towards voters of her own cohort, which is something we’re not used to seeing in this state and which ought to provide a good contrast to an old-boy establishment figure like Cornyn. Look for more information and a formal announcement from Maxey Scherr shortly.

A bit farther down on the ticket, BOR confirmed something that I first reported two weeks earlier, that former Fort Bend Democratic Party Chair Steve Brown is exploring a run for Railroad Commissioner. From BOR:

Steve Brown

In our exclusive interview, Mr. Brown spoke with me about his political history, including having served in the Clinton White House and how he was elected as chair of the Fort Bend County Democratic Party in 2010. He resigned the Chairmanship earlier this year when he began considering a run for elected office. He stated that he wanted to run for Texas Railroad Commissioner because the Commission needs an advocate for regular Texans while making sure people who are doing the right things in regards to oil and gas production are not being punished.

Mr. Brown stated his preference to see the Commission change its name to reflect that it is a regulatory commission over the energy sector, and not railroads. He also stated his desire to see stronger ethics rules implemented over the Commissioners. When asked about Republicans who cited federal oversight was a job killer, Mr. Brown responded that people who used that excuse were not being creative when it came to finding solutions. He pointed out again that one of the roles of a Commissioner is to punish bad actors who violate laws, not to give everyone a free pass.

Stephen Brown has been a great advocate for the Texas Democratic Party as Fort Bend County’s Chairman and served the Party with distinction and honor.

There’s an interview at the link, so go give it a listen. With Scherr and Brown jumping in, the one remaining hole among the non-judicial offices is Lt. Governor, where we are still waiting on a decision from Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. While she waits, as noted by PDiddie, Maria Alvarado, the 2006 Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov., has announced her candidacy. Good for her and all, but with all due respect, I’m still waiting for Sen. Van de Putte.

That still leaves judicial candidates. Via both Maxey Scherr and Attorney General candidate Sam Houston, whom I saw briefly on Saturday evening, El Paso District Court Judge Bill Moody, the top Democratic votegetter in 2006, will be running for Supreme Court again. Sam Houston told me that the TDP was working with other candidates for Supreme Court and that he expected the Dems to field a full slate there, though he didn’t know what was going on with the Court of Criminal Appeals. This is the first news I’ve heard about the statewide judicial races, and it’s reasonably encouraging. If you have heard anything about these races, please leave a comment and let us know.

Finally, in Harris County, we now have a Democratic candidate for the At Large HCDE Trustee position that Jim Henley vacated in June. Traci Jensen, who ran for the State Board of Education in 2012 and who had expressed interest in being appointed to fill Henley’s seat, announced on Facebook that she would run for the position. Rumor has it that former Trustee Michael Wolfe, who was ousted by Diane Trautman last year, is seeking to reclaim a spot on the Board, so having a strong and well-qualified candidate like Jensen will be important.

Last but not least, Glorice McPherson is out collecting signatures to run for County Commissioner in Precinct 2, which would be against Jack Morman. McPherson ran against Steve Radack in 2012 in CC3, which puzzled me a bit at first, but her voter registration card indicates she lives in CC2, so I presume she moved in the last year or so. A lot of people have been talking about running in CC2 so I don’t expect this will be the last word, but for now there is at least one candidate in the race.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have any further rumor, innuendo, or actual fact about 2014, leave a comment and pass it on. Remember, the filing period begins November 9, so there’s hardly time to catch one’s breath after this election before the next one gets going.

Endorsement watch: Two for Doggett

The San Antonio Express News did most of its endorsements before the start of Early Voting, but took its time on the Congressional races. In the end, they did all their endorsements in one editorial, and at the end of that one editorial they gave the nod in CD35 to Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

We recommend that Democrats nominate U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin in District 35.

Doggett is a hard-edged liberal who was targeted by state Republicans during the redistricting process. GOP legislators made Doggett’s current district more conservative in an effort to get him out of the House.

While Doggett’s abrasive style has made him a GOP target, his experience and seniority are assets that far outweigh the attributes of his Democratic opponents.

That’s all you’re gonna get, so don’t go looking for more. They also endorsed Pete Gallego in CD23 and Daniel Boone in CD21, and they had even less to say about those two races.

I don’t know if the Express News’ endorsement of Doggett comes as a surprise to anybody, but I’m pretty sure that the Statesman’s endorsement of him will not be.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Doggett is the top District 35 choice in the May 29 Democratic primary. He is an energetic campaigner who understands as well as anyone that a congressman’s first duties are to serve the citizens he represents.

Almost half of District 35’s residents live in Bexar County. This gives Doggett’s main challenger, Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo, a big name-recognition advantage, because the 330,000 Bexar County residents who are in District 35 write checks addressed to Romo when they renew their car registration and pay their property taxes.

Romo was elected tax assessor-collector in 1996 after a four-year stint in the Texas House. She’s an appealing candidate with political experience, but her experience can’t match Doggett’s.

Experience counts in Congress, and Doggett’s has earned him coveted seats on the important House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee.

Doggett best represents the values of Democratic voters in Travis County, and voters elsewhere in the district are learning he is a quick study wherever he campaigns. Democrats should give him their support over Romo and the third candidate in the District 35 Democratic primary, Maria Luisa Alvarado, who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006.

I forget about Alvarado’s presence in the race. That probably doesn’t help Romo, but it would only really matter if no one gets a majority of the vote. Here was the Express News overview of this race. If you live in CD35, who will you be voting for?

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.

Kirk Watson not running for Governor

Phooey.

There’s been a lot of speculation about my plans for the next election. Well, I’ve decided what I’m going to do, and I want to announce it to you all first.

I will run for re-election to the Texas Senate in 2010.

While I consider Tom Schieffer to be an acceptable candidate for Governor, Watson became my first choice when his colleague, State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, declined to run and urged Watson to do it instead. We’ll have to see if anyone else jumps in – Ronnie Earle, anyone? – or if this is the field we get. And if so, what it means for the rest of the ticket. All I know is that we can’t afford to punt at the statewide level like we did in 2006.

Speaking of 2006, would-have-been candidate Felix Alvarado, whose check for the filing fee bounced, says he’s going to try again this year. I’m somewhat less worried than David Mauro is of Alvarado’s chances of actually winning the nomination, on the grounds that Schieffer, and Earle if he runs, will have enough money and institutional backing to prevent this from being a referendum between random unknowns, as the Lite Gov primary in 2006 between Alvarado’s sister Maria and Ben Grant was. But I admit it could happen.

Finally, here’s Schieffer’s statement on Watson’s decision. We’re waiting to hear from you, Ronnie.