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June 16th, 2009:

The Ensign affair


Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who had been considering a 2012 presidential campaign, has now admitted to an extra-marital affair, and will hold a press conference later today in Nevada to explain it further.

Chris Cillizza reports that the affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008, with a woman who worked for Ensign’s re-election campaign and his Battle Born leadership PAC. The Associated Press reports that the woman was married to one of Ensign’s Senate staffers.

I just have one question: Why is it that adulterer John Edwards and prostitute aficionado Eliot Spitzer are considered to be too disgraced to hold public office any more, while adulterer John Ensign and prostitute aficionado David Vitter are still Senators? I’m just asking. Think Progress, which notes that Ensign had previously called for the resignations of then-President Clinton and Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, but not Diaper Dave Vitter, has more.

Rerun for Welsh?

Maverick Welsh is a young first-time candidate who exceeded expectations in his initial campaign. I most certainly do expect we’ll see him run for office again.

“I absolutely will run for council again,” Welsh said. “I had way too good a time, met too many wonderful people. I saw too many issues around the city to just go away. I will absolutely run again, I just don’t know when or where it will be.”

The two races he’s looking at closely include giving District H another go in November — due to some changes in polling places he believes could work to his advantage — and running for one of the five At-Large City Council seats.

The At Large races are starting to get a little crowded. There’s a GLBT candidate in each of the two open seat At Large races, so the support Welsh had in this go-round in H may or may not be there for him in one of those. I tend to think a November rematch is unlikely to go any better for the runnerup, but there’s not much history to base that feeling on – pretty much just the 2007 special in which Melissa Noriega beat Roy Morales in June and then again by a wider margin in November – and I’m certainly not going to underestimate Welsh. That said, I wonder if waiting till 2011 and the possibility of a new map that creates a district that joins Montrose and the Heights isn’t the better idea. There are no guarantees that will happen, of course, so it’s as much a gamble as anything else. Worth a mention, though.

Looking back on the race, Welsh said the deck was stacked against him with a large base of institutional support going to Gonzalez. He ran a grassroots campaign, which is one of the reasons he said he did not regret the mail pieces that brought about some controversy in the final week of campaigning.

“I have no regrets at all,” he said. “I don’t believe my mail pieces got personal. Look, I was running against the establishment for District H. Ed had worked in Adrian (Garcia)’s office…I didn’t get personal in the mail, and I think that’s important. You’ve got to look at the race and go with your strategy, and my strategy was that I was the grassroots guy.”

I agree that Welsh was running as the non-establishment candidate, and that the mailers simply reflected that. In fact, I said exactly that when the mailings first came out and caused a stir. I also said I wasn’t sure that was the best strategy in this case. Of course, it’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. I have no idea what, if any, strategy might have worked better. I thought Welsh ran a strong race. I based my vote for him in the first place in part on the fact that I was impressed by the campaign he ran. If and when he does run again, here or elsewhere, it’ll be up to him to figure out how to build on that. I see no reason why he can’t do that, and I look forward to his next effort.

The most important issue in the Republican gubernatorial primary

Apparently, it’s fealty to Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan isn’t on Mount Rushmore. But lots of Republicans think he should be. Thus, it is no small matter for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison when doubts are raised about her commitment to the party’s hero.

Dust off those clippings from 1976, a seminal year for Texas Republicans. Reagan’s challenge brought legions of enthusiastic newcomers to the party – and some friction between them and the traditionalists who had labored years to break the Democrats’ grip on Texas.

President Gerald Ford had named Hutchison vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and she sided with him against the insurgent, naturally.

“But after that, certainly I was very pro-Reagan,” Hutchison said last week. “Loved Ronald Reagan. Supported him, was chairman of his Women for Reagan committee in Texas [in 1980]. I’ve got a lot of Reagan supporters supporting me for governor right now.”

Because nothing says “We are a modern-day, forward-looking political party” like using a campaign from 1976 as a litmus test of candidate purity. Greg, from whom I got the link, gives us a preview of the next nine months.

By the end of any primary food-fight, Kay Bailey Hutchison will be in full agreement with the top five priorities of today’s Republican Party: 1) too many people today vote and this needs to be put to a stop; 2) illegal immigrants are the worst thing in the world and there’s really nothing we’re going to do about it; 3) all government properties should bear the name of Ronald Reagan; 4) abortion is the worst thing in the world and there’s really nothing we’re going to do about it; 5) poor kids + health care = straight from the pit of hell.

She won’t look a thing like the Kay Bailey Hutchison of today.

I’ve commented several times about how KBH seems to have snoozed through the campaign so far, leaving much of the initiative to Rick Perry. Maybe that’s been for the better.

UTMB to open emergency room


The University of Texas Medical Branch is scheduled to open a full-service emergency room Aug. 1 for the first time since Hurricane Ike inundated its campus more than eight months ago, relieving pressure on overburdened emergency rooms throughout the region.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that a smaller UTMB has had an impact all over southeast Texas,” said David Marshall, UTMB chief operating officer.

UTMB’s Level 1 trauma center, a rating given to emergency rooms that provide the most services, was ranked among the best nationwide before the storm.

The emergency room has been closed since then, forcing emergency medical crews to drive patients long distances and be out of service for extended periods.

Marshall said UTMB is trying to get the emergency room open as soon as possible after talks with other hospitals in the region that are overwhelmed with patients that otherwise would have gone to the medical school.

Great news for the region and for the Island. I just hope they can hire, or rehire enough people in time for the opening.

Texas blog roundup for the week of June 15

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time once again to present the best of the Texas Progressive Alliance blog posts for the week. Click on for the highlights.