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Filing news: Gene, Gene, the Do-Nothing Machine

The biggest “news”, if you can call it that, since my last update on who’s filed for what, is that perennial do-nothing Gene Kelly has made his biennial donation to the Texas Democratic Party primary fund, and will once again clutter up the ballot for US Senate. If you thought you’d heard the sound of several thousand eyes rolling over the weekend, that would be why. He was greeted by a bizarre press release from Ray McMurrey, welcoming him to the race, which in retrospect seems fitting enough as neither candidacy is about anything other than being on the ballot. The practical upshot of all this is that it will ensure that the Rick Noriega campaign stays active and fully engaged throughout the primary season, since the specter of a runoff against either opponent, especially the inert-but-recognizable Kelly, would be ill advised.

I will say this: While I have nothing but contempt for Kelly and his pathetic obsession with “running” for office, I do disagree with those who have been complaining that his presence has made various Democratic candidates “waste” campaign resources that could have been used against their eventual Republican opponents. The one thing Rick Noriega needs now more than anything is name ID, and there’s really no better way to get that than to have a contested primary. Money spent identifying and targeting Democratic voters is to me an investment, not a waste. The only waste here would be of the opportunity if Noriega supporters fail to recognize this for what it is. The good news is that I’m confident his campaign will not make that mistake.

Elsewhere, BOR diarist Benawu rounds up the current status of Democratic Congressional filings. I’ve said it before, but for whatever the reason there’s just not as broad an interest in running for Congress this time around, though I’m fairly sure several of those empty slots will be filled by someone when all is said and done. While that’s disappointing and a bit puzzling, the good news is that we ought to have a couple of very interesting races here in Houston, what with CD10 making the national radar already, CD07 drawing an exciting contender, and of course Rep. Nick Lampson’s defense of CD22. The field may not be broad, but it has some depth, and will provide some real opportunities.

Finally, it’s not really a filing per se, but this news from last week is fascinating.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican running for president who’s had surprising fundraising success, got a stick (or maybe a dust speck) in the eye Thursday as the Libertarian Party of Texas said Eugene J. Flynn, an immigration attorney, wants to challenge Paul for re-election to the U.S. House next year.

Paul intends to run simultaneously for re-election and for the GOP presidential nomination, as permitted by Texas law. Paul was the 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for president and generally hews to a libertarian platform.

According to the Libertarian Party of Texas, Flynn tried to run against Paul as a Libertarian in 2006, but party members chose not to nominate a candidate against the Lake Jackson Republican at their spring convention.

Wes Benedict, executive director of the Texas party, said in an e-mail that he expects to be blasted “over this,” meaning Flynn’s challenge.

Yes, I imagine he would, given Paul’s hero status among the Libs. What interests me is not the hissyfit potential as much as the issue on which Flynn intends to challenge Paul:

Benedict quoted Flynn as saying: “I agree with Ron Paul about 80 percent of the time. The problem is the other 20 percent is the most important to me, that is, immigration. … Ron Paul offers no way to allow those illegally in the U.S. to get right with the law. Instead he wants to spend more and more money to create bigger bureaucracies to secure our borders to protect us from needed workers.”

Contacted by e-mail Thursday, Flynn said; “We need a guest worker program NOW! One way to help get it is to defeat the (immigration) restrictionists such as Ron Paul.” He noted that as the party’s nominee for chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 2002, he drew 80,185 votes, just under 2 percent, statewide.

More power to you, sir. It’s not clear that the Democrats will field a candidate for CD14 this time around, so someone needs to be a voice of reason on this issue. May this be one of those vanishingly rare times when an LP candidate gains some traction.

As for Paul, here’s my fifty-cent prediction for the week: Regardless of what he may or may not be saying now that he’s made the national talking-heads circuit, I say if he fails to survive his own primary challenge for CD14, Ron Paul will be on the ballot for President this fall. He’ll never have this kind of platform again, and I can’t see the logic in folding up the tent eight months before the election if he gets ousted from his Congressional district. If he’s still the nominee for Congress, then he won’t pursue his Presidential ambitions past the point of the GOP nomination, but if not, what has he to lose by keeping his circus in business? Whether under the banner of the Libertarian Party or as an independent (surely his national network can help him meet whatever ballot access obligations he’ll face), if Paul isn’t running for Congress after March (or May, if there’s a runoff), he’s running for President in November. You heard it here first – or not, if I’m wrong.

UPDATE: Eye on Williamson mentions a challenger to State Rep. Dan Gattis in HD20, meaning that each State House seat in Williamson County will have a Democrat on the ballot. HD20 is considerably more Republican than HD52 (Bill Moody got 39.1% in HD20, 47.8% in HD52), but it ought to help provide for a better metric of how far along the bluing of WillCo has come.

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