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December 21st, 2007:

The RPT versus Texas Monthly

Hilarious. Texas Monthly’s Evan Smith reports that House Speaker Tom Craddick will get a Democratic challenger next year. The Midland newspaper erroneously reports that Smith had “encouraged” said challenger, former Midland city council member Bill Dingus, to make that run. This causes the Republican Party of Texas to go ballistic. The paper has now issued a retraction, saying their reporter made an honest mistake in how he interpreted what was said to him (see here for more).

So. What do you think are the odds that Tina Benkiser and her cohorts will accept this explanation and drop the matter? What do you think are the odds that one or more conservative bloggers will reference the initial story as proof that “the media” is out to get Republicans in general and Tom Craddick in particular, without acknowledging the retraction? It’s certainly possible that this is a one-day story, but let’s keep an eye on it anyway. The unintentional comedy factor is high.

Filing news: Jaworski, Jordan, and Tison

Joe Jaworski made his filing for SD11 today. From the press release:

“Voters want positive change, not more of the same,” Jaworski said. “They know we can do better if we have more leadership and less partisanship. I’m ready to meet that challenge.”

Jaworski filed his campaign paperwork in Austin as a candidate in the SD-11 Democratic primary scheduled for March 4, 2008.

“The stakes are too high in Texas to allow our public policies to continue to be hijacked by narrow special interests,” Jaworski said. “Let’s not settle for the thought that things could be worse. Let’s demand that things be better.”

Polling shows that Jaworski’s opponent, a 20-year Austin political veteran, is in a vulnerable position with a year to go before the general election. The survey of 400 likely voters, conducted by Hamilton Campaigns on October 27-29, found that fewer than one-third of voters in SD 11 approve of the incumbent’s job performance and that the race is statistically tied — 48 percent to 44 percent — with Jaworski polling a full 20 percent higher among independent voters.

A former three-term member of the Galveston City Council, Jaworski earned a reputation for insisting on strict financial accountability to hold the line on new taxes while safeguarding vital services. First elected in 2000, he was re-elected in 2002 and then again in 2004 as Mayor Pro-Tem. He stepped down in May 2006 under the city’s term limits law.

In 2005, Jaworski helped lead the team that faced Hurricane Rita and won praise for his role in that region’s emergency preparation and response to the devastating storm.

Jaworski has a primary opponent (about whom I know nothing), so a strong win in March would be a nice start towards finishing the job in November. There’s an amazing number of contested Democratic primaries for Republican-held seats this year. We’ll see what effect that has on turnout. If you’re in SD11, make sure you get out and vote for Jaworski, beginning in March.

Previously, I had mentioned that there was a candidate looking at the remaining Supreme Court seat. Now BOR reports that Dallas District Judge Jim Jordan is in.

Jordan, a veteran civil defense attorney and past member of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, noted a serious backlog in cases at the state’s highest court. “They are failing to do their work as the backlog in cases has reached record levels.”

Jordan, who currently presides over the 160th District Court in Dallas, is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law – a certification earned by less than 2% of Texas Lawyers.

“When the system is broken, the responsibility must fall on the leader,” Jordan noted, explaining his decision to seek the Chief Justice position. “I am running for Chief Justice because this Court has lost its way. Instead of upholding the law, it is advancing an ideology,” Jordan added, referring to a recent study released by a University of Texas law professor that criticized the court for routinely exceeding its Constitutional authority, ignoring the role of juries, and using the bench to make policy instead of deciding questions of law.

Jordan, who first presided over the 44th District Court in Dallas, was a partner with the firm Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller before returning to the bench. In 2006, he won election to the 160th District Court. In amending his filings with the Texas Ethics Commission, Jordan also reaffirmed his intention to voluntarily comply with the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.

We are now potentially one candidate away from having a full statewide slate. That’s excellent news. We’ll see how it turns out.

Last but not least, Weatherford Mayor Joe Tison has resigned that position and made his filing to challenge State Rep. Phil “Tax Swap” King in HD61. I wish him the best of luck in that pursuit.

Looking forward to 2008: Ed Davis

(Note: I have asked a variety of people to submit an essay to me to be posted during the month of December, to be called “Looking Forward to 2008”. This entry was written by Ed Davis.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say right off the bat that writing for OfftheKuff puts me in a somewhat awkward position. The company I work for, FrogDog Communications, provides strategic communication consulting to a variety of companies and organizations. My most high-profile project this year was helping The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation during its lease dispute with the City. My job is to convince reporters and editors to do positive stories about our clients. Therein lies my conundrum. I get paid for working behind the scenes to help clients communicate their messages, so I’m a bit self-conscious about publicly expressing my own opinions.

What am I looking forward to in 2008? That’s definitely not an easy question to answer. Do I write about how excited I am to help our clients achieve their goals? Do I reveal some of the cool things FrogDog Communications will be doing next year to increase its brand awareness? Do I wax poetic about what I hope to achieve personally? Or, do I offer some political observations–which obviously would fit right in with this blog?

As FrogDog Communications is not a political organization, I will tackle the first three options. I hope you find at least part of it useful and insightful.

Going into 2008, the dollar is weak, a mortgage crisis is pulling down markets, and the economic outlook is–at best–uncertain. So what level of resources should businesses and nonprofits put behind their marketing efforts next year? At FrogDog Communications, we are advising clients that now is great time to strategically invest in their brands through well thought out, targeted marketing campaigns.

Most organizations look to cut costs and batten down the hatches during times like this. Marketing budgets are often the first things to go. In fact, we have clients right now struggling with whether to maintain, reduce, or increase their marketing activities. However, history shows that organizations with the foresight and courage to ramp up their marketing communications during slow economic times come out way ahead of their competition when the economy once again gathers steam.

As noted by the brand valuation and research firm, Interbrand, during the 1988-1992 economic slowdown (recession is a dirty word even if you aren’t an economist or politician), Nike increased its marketing by more than 300 percent. Remember the Just Do It! campaign? As a result, Nike multiplied its profits times nine during this period. But the bigger point is that Nike stole market share by the handful from other shoe and sports apparel companies, and it set itself up for global brand dominance.

This increase-marketing-investment-in-a-down-economy mindset is supported by the Profit Impact of Market Strategy (PIMS) study of 1998, which found that companies that increased their marketing budgets during the recession of 1988-92 realized ROI of 4.3 percent. While that may not sound like much, it is tremendous when you compare it with the returns companies achieved when they maintained their budgets or even decreased them (0.6 percent and -0.8 percent respectively).

So, at FrogDog Communications we are advising clients to focus on strategic marketing. We are optimistic that organizations heeding this advice will be better positioned next year and in the future, and we look forward to our clients’ success in 2008 and beyond.

In fact, we are taking our own counsel and will ramp up our own marketing efforts. While I can’t reveal too much because my boss reads this blog as much as I do, I look forward to seeing our brand everywhere people find themselves in 2008.

And on a personal note, I am looking forward to several things in 2008: getting healthier, trying to find wisdom, and celebrating my two-year anniversary with FrogDog Communications. But most of all, I look forward to commemorating the 16th anniversary of meeting the person who changed my life–my wife.

From everyone at FrogDog Communications, we hope that your 2008 is bigger, better, and more prosperous than 2007.

Ed Davis is an account manager with FrogDog Communications. One of his accounts is The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation.

Filing news: A small flurry of activity

Some quick hits on the candidate filing front:

– In State House news, the Democrats now have candidates for HDs 127 and 135. Joe Montemayor will run against Joe Crabb in the Kingwood-area district, while Trey Fleming, whom we’d first heard about last month, will take on Gary Elkins. Montemayor has met with Diane Trautman’s supporters from that district and has gotten good marks from them. Having a strong candidate there will help the countywide effort as well as giving the widely disliked and perennially underperforming Crabb a run for his money. Stace has more on that. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, in a rare battle that doesn’t involve Tom Craddick, Dan Patrick‘s boy Allen Fletcher has made his challenge against Corbin Van Arsdale official. That ought to be fun to watch.

Dale Henry, the 2006 candidate for Railroad Commissioner, is back in the saddle for that office. I have some mixed feelings about this – Henry’s invisible campaign last year (dude didn’t even have a website) doesn’t exactly inspire confidence – but a lot of people I respect think highly of him, and at the very least it appears he’ll be running something more like a modern operation this time around. I’m willing to be persuaded. More on that is here.

– We may have a candidate for the remaining Supreme Court seat, and at least one non-JR Molina option for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Jim Jordan is the name for the former, and Susan Strawn is the latter. Both are trying to gather the signatures they need to qualify for the ballot. Anyone who wants to help with this, drop me a note and I’ll pass along the info you’ll need to assist.

– Lastly, John Truitt, the independent candidate in CD07, sent out an email saying his Declaration of Intent to run as an Independent Candidate for US Representative 7th District was approved by the Texas Secretary of State’s office earlier this week. He’ll still have to get his petition signatures turned in and validated before he’s official, which takes place after the primaries. He needs 500 valid sigs, which shouldn’t be too hard for anyone not named Steve Stockman.

We’ll see how active things are today, the last weekday before the holiday. Stay tuned.