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June 28th, 2013:

Friday random ten: Going deep

My inspiration this week comes from John Scalzi:


Name a favorite “deep cut” from a band you like.
A “deep cut” meaning a track that was never a single or radio/video hit and wouldn’t generally be known to people who are not already huge fans of that particular band.

His commenters left a ton of deep cut suggestions. Here are ten that I have:

1. Mr. Blue Sky – Parthenon Huxley (org. ELO)
2. Your Racist Friend – They Might Be Giants
3. Helpless Automaton – Men At Work
4. Canary In A Coalmine – The Police
5. Summer, Highland Falls – Billy Joel
6. Madman Across The Water – Bruce Hornsby (org. Elton John)
7. The Roof Is Leaking – Phil Collins
8. The Sweetest Thing – U2
9. Nightswimming – You Say Party! We Say Die! (org. REM)
10. Theo & Weird Henry – John Mellencamp

As usual, I have a mix of cover versions in there. These are all really good songs, too, so kudos to Scalzi’s readers for having exemplary taste. I myself might suggest “Candy’s Room” by Bruce Springsteen, “Cruise” by David Gilmour, and “Up The Junction” by Squeeze – actually, the acoustic/countrified version that Chris Difford does on “From New Cross to Nashville” is even better. What deep cuts would you add to this list?

What the future may hold for Wendy Davis

Patricia Kilday Hart has her take on the Wendy Davis phenomenon, including the reaction of some Republicans to it.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

For both proponents and opponents of SB 5, the legislation that would have banned abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy and required costly upgrades to abortion facilities, one point was irrefutable: The filibuster created a new star for Texas Democrats.

“She’s the real deal. Humble beginnings … and she’s wickedly smart. The fact is, she does her best against the greatest odds,” said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. “Her future is whatever she wants it to be.” Agreed Sen. Rodney Ellis: “The sky is the limit.”

Republican campaign consultant Matt Mackowiak said Republican strategic errors carried a real cost for his party. “We now have a Wendy Davis problem,” he acknowledged. “We created an unbelievable opportunity to launch a first-tier Democrat.”

Still, given Davis’ liberal record and the state’s solid Republican bent, he said those who think a Democratic candidate can defeat Gov. Rick Perry or Attorney General Greg Abbott in 2014 are delusional. “I don’t think that person exists,” he said.

Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, a physician who challenged Davis’ position during Tuesday’s filibuster, agreed that better Republican planning could have prevented Davis’ moment in the limelight. He had advocated passing two other pieces of legislation, and adjourning, leaving the abortion bill for a second special session.

He also does not believe that Davis “will ever be governor of Texas.” In fact, she may have difficulty hanging onto her Texas Senate seat, when she runs in 2014 in a non-presidential year,” he said.

“Obama is not on the ticket,” he noted, and her last race was a tough, expensive ordeal.

Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought the Republicans’ strategy on Tuesday was nuts. But let’s knock down this idea that Davis necessarily has a harder time holding onto her State Senate seat next year because it’s not a Presidential year. You can find all the electoral reports for the State Senate map here – look for the RED206 Statewide files. Here are the best Democratic results in SD10 for each election going back to 2002:

Year Race R Vote D Vote R Pct D Pct ================================================ 2002 Lt Gov 92,324 81,771 53.0 47.0 2004 CCA 6 151,278 111,000 57.7 42.3 2006 Sup Ct 2 79,897 71,640 52.7 47.3 2008 Sup Ct 7 146,726 138,650 50.2 47.4 2010 Gov 90,897 76,920 52.7 44.6 2012 Sup Ct 6 143,816 128,484 50.8 45.4

2008 was less hostile to Dems than other years, but 2012 is basically on par with 2006 and 2002, in terms of margin of victory. 2012 was also a lot more challenging for Davis than 2008 was. John McCain won SD10 in 2008 by 15,000 votes and a 52.1 – 47.1 margin. Mitt Romney won SD10 by 23,000 votes and a 53.3 – 45.4 margin. Despite that, Davis won by 6,500 votes in 2012, which is almost as wide as the 7,000 vote margin she had in 2008, in a friendlier atmosphere. Turnout helped her in 2008, but it’s hard to argue it was much help 2012, as President Obama received 11,000 fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008 in SD10. Davis’ vote total, on the other hand, was nearly identical – 147,832 in 2008, 147,103 in 2012. She was one of only three candidates to win in a district that was not carried by her party’s Presidential candidate – Craig Eiland and Pete Gallego were the other two. She got 4,000 more votes than President Obama did in 2008, and a whopping 15,000 more votes than he did in 2012. That’s pretty strong evidence of her ability to attract crossover votes. Dismiss her if you want, but this is exactly the profile of someone who could be competitive statewide. Plus, as a plaintiff in the redistricting litigation, she offered to settle by accepting the 2012 interim map for the Senate. Maybe there’s some hubris in there, but if she thought she was doomed in 2014, I daresay she’d have continued to fight for more changes to the map. We already know she doesn’t back down from a fight, no matter how long and drawn-out it may be.

Now, this doesn’t mean that she couldn’t lose in 2014. SD10 is still a red-leaning district. If 2014 is a sufficiently GOP year, the hill could become too steep for her. Her elevated profile could work against her as well in that it might make her look more like a partisan Democrat to her Republican supporters, thus making her less attractive to them. It’s usually not that hard to convince people to vote for the home team. I suspect her profile is already pretty high in her district and the voters there already know what team she plays for, after two high-profile Presidential year elections, but crossover appeal can be a fickle thing. On the other hand, if she thinks there may be reason to be concerned about her prospects in SD10, that would serve as incentive to roll the dice on a statewide run. Be careful what you wish for, Sen. Deuell.

I suspect the bravado about her never being Governor masks a certain nervousness, too. Republicans must know that what happened on Tuesday is something they can’t control. Forget the political junkies and their yapping about parliamentary procedures, and forget the Internet junkies and their incessant memes. Focus on the fact that Wendy Davis is getting positive attention from lifestyle columnists and Amazon shoe reviewers, all of which will contribute to making Davis a known and likable figure among the lower-information folks. Don’t underestimate the power of the shoes here to help get the word out. If I hear my mother-in-law mention the name Wendy Davis, I’ll know for sure this is working.

On a more basic level, the fact that Rick Perry felt the need to take a cheap shot at her is mighty telling. As Wayne Slater notes, Perry has just elevated Davis to his political level, implying that she is this fearsome adversary he must fight. Not to mention the fact that he sounded like an arrogant, patronizing jerk – exactly the sort of behavior Kyrie O’Connor was talking about in her column. Maybe no one has ever told Rick Perry this, but the vast majority of women really really don’t like that kind of crap. Remember Sandra Fluke? Or Clayton Williams? During the marathon #StandWithWendy filibuster on Tuesday, I saw a tweet from someone who wondered how long it would be before Rush Limbaugh called Sen. Davis a slut. That hasn’t happened yet, but there are a lot of Rush acolytes out there, and I find it impossible to believe that one of them won’t follow Perry’s insult with something really nasty sooner or later. That sort of thing didn’t work out very well for the GOP in 2012. Davis herself was a beneficiary of that in her 2012 race. It’s fine by me if the GOP wants to go there. I just don’t think they’ve thought it through if they do.

Anyway. Sen. Davis has responded to Perry, and I’m quite certain this is not the end of it. Sen. Davis is leaving the door open to running for Governor in 2014. There’s certainly a lot of interest in her walking through that door. She’d need some stars to align for her to take that risk, but right now at least it looks to me like they just might be moving in that direction.

UPDATE: And when someone says something vile about Sen. Davis, Roy will be there to document it.

UPDATE: Fantasy casting the Wendy Davis biopic. Yeah, this is bigger than you think.

The 2011 maps are officially dead

Rick Perry has signed the redistricting bills, thus making the 2012 interim maps the official state-sanctioned maps and thus dropping any further pursuit of the maps drawn by the 2011 Lege.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry signed all three redistricting bills that lawmakers sent to him.

With his signature, Perry set the district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate and the Texas House, his office confirmed.

Capitol gossipers had been whispering that the governor might try to find a way to shove state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, into a Republican district as punishment for her filibuster that led to the death of a strict abortion measure in the Senate early Wednesday.

But by signing off on the redistricting maps, Perry silenced the rumors that he might veto the new state Senate map and seek to put into place the more Republican-friendly maps passed by the Legislature in 2011.

Texas Redistricting had the early call on that. Speculation had been about more than just the Senate map, and Lord only knows what kind of chaos could have been caused by Perry vetoing the only bills that came out of the special session that had originally been called just to pass those specific bills, but that is now consigned to an alternate universe.

Not wanting to take any chances, the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force had filed a motion asking the court to modify and extend the injunction that had been in place barring the use of the 2011 maps. That’s moot now, so the battle shifts back to the formerly-interim maps and the argument over what if anything the San Antonio court needs to do with them given the DC court ruling from 2012 – you know, the one that found evidence of discriminatory intent in the maps – and the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act. The last San Antonio court hearing was on May 29, and there’s a status conference on Monday, July 1, but it’s not clear when the next hearing will be. So stay patient, there’s still a lot of this game left to be played.

Patrick is in for Lite Gov

And then there were three challengers to David Dewhurst.

Sen. Dan Patrick

Citing the need for “authentic conservative leadership” in Texas, state Sen. Dan Patrick announced on Thursday that he would run for lieutenant governor against incumbent David Dewhurst.

“Today begins roughly 18 months of hard work,” said Patrick, a Houston Republican who was joined by his wife at the news conference. “I think the people in Texas sense that it is a time for change. 2014 is going to be a change election.”

Patrick came out swinging against current GOP leadership, placing the blame at their feet for the failure to pass omnibus abortion legislation during the recently ended special session. Armed with a list of endorsements from county party officials affiliated with Tea Party groups and the results of a recent internal poll, Patrick also emphasized his widespread support in the Houston area.

“We are going to win Harris County. We are going to win Montgomery County,” he said.

Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis’ Tuesday filibuster of an abortion bill, which Patrick cited as an example of why voters should put someone new in office, was a backdrop to many of his comments.

“It was pretty clear to the world who was watching that it happened because of a lack of leadership,” said Patrick. “We allowed someone to stand on the floor for 12 hours and give one side of the story.”

Yes, Wendy Davis is officially Public Enemy #1 to the Texas GOP. There’s video of Patrick’s announcement here if you’re into that sort of thing. Patrick drew a short term at the start of the session, so he will be abandoning his Senate seat in order to run for Lite Gov. Former Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt has already announced his candidacy to succeed Patrick. I am confident there will be others joining him.

There was a time when the thought of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made me nervous. That time was back when Dewhurst could still pass as something resembling a serious public official that cared about getting things done rather than advancing ideological interests first. Now that Dewhurst has completed his transition to an angry, pratfalling clown, it’s hard to see what the difference would be. Patrick’s antipathy for the two thirds rule was menacing once, but now that the two thirds rule gets jettisoned whenever it’s convenient, again I ask what exactly there is at risk. (Burka is more alarmed about this.) Patrick could hardly make worse rulings on points of order than Dewhurst. Whatever it was I was worried about before, it’s already here. Patrick may be a more competent Lite Gov than Dewhurst has been, but on the other hand the potential for Real Housewives-style personality conflicts with his former colleagues would at least make it all the more entertaining. So go ahead and run, Danno. You don’t scare me any more.

Endorsement watch: The firefighters still don’t like the Mayor

Last week, the Ben Hall campaign teased on its Facebook page that it was about to get a “game-changer” endorsement. This week, that endorsement was announced.

Ben Hall

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association announced they will be endorsing Ben Hall in his challenge to incumbent Mayor Annise Parker in this year’s mayoral campaign. This comes well after the Houston Police Officers’ Union endorsed the incumbent mayor back in March and just weeks after a fire that killed more firefighters than any single incident in Houston history.

Despite the fact that both organizations represent those who protect and serve the community, it is not surprising to see the HPOU and the HPFFA supporting different local candidates. It has happened numerous times in the past and usually has to do with how the current regime has supported both organizations. In this case, firefighters clearly believe Mayor Parker has not provided the department with the kind of support they need.

[…]

Hall was a city attorney and he seems to be fairly well organized with a good coalition of backers, but his challenge of the mayor is likely a long shot, as with most incumbents, particularly ones who were in office during an economic upswing. But the endorsement of the firefighters will no doubt help Hall boost his chances.

Perhaps. Generally speaking with endorsements, it’s better to have them than not to have them. However, a “game-changer” to me is one that is unexpected, particularly if the endorser in question had previously supported the other candidate, or otherwise would not have been expected to make this endorsement. That’s not really the case with the firefighters, since they endorsed Fernando Herrera in 2011, and endorsed Gene Locke in 2009. Mayor Parker won both of those elections without their support, so it’s not clear why this time is different. Good for Ben Hall, but it’s not in the same league as winning the endorsement of a previous supporter.

Speaking of which, if one is going to claim the endorsement of someone who had previously supported one’s opponent, it’s best to actually have the endorsement of that person. And when mistakes about endorsements happen, as they sometimes do during campaign, it’s best to correct them quickly lest they remain on the Internet long after they’re first noticed. I’m just saying. Texpatriate has more.