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Bill Moody

On defining success

It depends on what your goals are.

Suppose you were a Texas Democrat and a realist.

You want your candidates to win in November and to break the spirit-killing string of losses that started after the statewide elections in 1994.

But you have been scratching for reasons that this year will be different, from the two women at the top of the Democratic ticket to the Battleground Texas organizing efforts to the current Republican tilt to the right that — to Democrats, anyway — seems out of step with mainstream voters.

But the realist within is thinking about Nov. 5, and how to keep the embers going on the day after an election that — unless there is an upset — will mark another set of Republican victories.

Short of winning a statewide election, what would constitute good news for Texas Democrats in November?

Jeremy Bird, a founder of the Battleground Texas effort to build a Democratic grassroots organization in the state, has his eyes on volunteers, energized activists and the sorts of activity that could expand through 2016 and 2018. His group started a little over a year ago with talk of a six-year plan to make Democrats competitive in Texas. The somewhat unexpected rise of state Sens. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte as political candidates could accelerate that effort, even if neither takes office. His measure of a win, short of a victory: “Better than Bill White.”

White, a former Houston mayor, was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010. He received 42.3 percent of the vote — better than any Democratic candidate for governor since Ann Richards’ loss in 1994, when she received 45.9 percent.

“Closing the margin is important; getting back to the Ann Richards numbers in 1994,” said Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “There’s not much opportunity for pickups in the Legislature, but closing the margin would help set the table for 2016.”

Glenn Smith, who managed part of Richards’ first campaign for governor in 1990, is not a fan of this kind of thinking.

“It’s my extremely strong opinion that you play every contest to win,” said Smith, who now runs the Progress Texas PAC, which supports Democratic candidates and causes. “You set everything on winning. There is nothing else. If you start even mentally thinking that we’re okay at 46, then you might end up at 42. You can’t get in that mind-set. It’s true in sports, in every competitive walk of life — you have to set a course to win. You can’t begin cutting the goal to something short of winning, or your plans will suck.”

I’ll settle this: They’re all right.

Look, there’s no question that winning is always the goal and that losing is failure. There are no consolation prizes, no moral victories, and no partial credit. Greg Abbott will govern the same way whether he wins by one vote or one million votes, just as Rick Perry did when we were all calling him “Governor 39%”. So will Dan Patrick, and so will the rest of them. Another shutout means another four years of the same old shit we’ve had since George Bush was first elected.

That doesn’t mean all losses are created equal, however. Democrats haven’t just lost every statewide election since 1996, we’ve lost them badly. Here are the top five statewide Democrats by percentage of the vote in the Rick Perry era:

Year Candidate Office Pct ===================================== 2002 Sharp Lt Gov 46.03 2002 Mirabal Sup Ct 45.90 2008 Houston Sup Ct 45.88 2008 Strawn CCA 45.53 2006 Moody Sup Ct 44.88

It’s about changing the perception almost as much as it is about winning. Winning obviously does that splendidly, and it comes with a heaping helping of other benefits, but after all this losing, coming close will mean something, too. Going from “Democrats last won a statewide election in 1994” to “Democrats came closer to winning statewide than they had in any election since 1998” matters. It will make recruiting and fundraising a lot easier, and not just for the star candidate or two at the top but for candidates up and down the ballot. It virtually guarantees that Hillary Clinton contests the state in 2016. It puts Ted Cruz squarely in the crosshairs for 2018.

As such, I respectfully disagree with Jeremy Bird. Doing better than Bill White isn’t progress. We need to do better than John Sharp. I’ve been reluctant to say stuff like this out loud – it’s not my place to set expectations – but the question was going to come up sooner or later. It’s not just about vote percentage, either, but also about turnout, since that’s what Battleground Texas’ mission is. I’ve talked at length about turnout and how Democratic levels of turnout have been flat in the last three off-year elections. I can’t say offhand what a minimally-acceptable level of improvement in that looks like to me, but I feel confident saying that if we’re achieving Sharp levels of vote percent, we’re doing fine on turnout.

Let’s also acknowledge that the original mission of Battleground Texas was to make Texas competitive in future Presidential elections, and that when they first showed up Wendy Davis was just another State Senator and we were all (okay, I was all) doing fantasy candidate recruitment for Governor. Davis’ arrival on the scene and BGTx’s integration with her campaign changed their focus, but they were never supposed to be about 2014. The whole point was that unlike traditional campaign machines, BGTx would stick around and keep working for the next election and the one after that. Obviously, having serious candidates that have generated real excitement at the top of the ticket has jumpstarted BGTx’s efforts, but it’s reasonable to expect that BGTx has their own metrics and their own timeline.

So yeah, they’re all right. And just because I’ve drawn a line somewhere doesn’t obligate anyone to recognize or respect it. We all agree that winning >>> losing, but beyond that it’s all open to interpretation.

January finance reports for Democratic statewide candidates


With the exception of a stray missing report here and there, all of the January campaign finance reports for state office holders and seekers are up on the Texas Ethics Commission webpage. Here’s a brief look at the reports filed by Democratic candidates for statewide offices. I already have reports for the candidates in contested primaries on my 2014 Election page, so this is a chance to look at the uncontested candidates as well.


Wendy Davis
Wendy Davis SPAC
Wendy Davis GPAC

Ray Madrigal – No report

As you’ve probably read by now, Wendy Davis filed three campaign reports – basically, the first one is her previously existing Senate account, to which people were contributing before her official announcement that she was running for Governor; the second is her special purpose PAC account for her gubernatorial campaign, similar to the “Friends Of” or “Texans For” PACs that Republicans often use; and the joint Battleground Texas PAC that has gotten every Republican’s panties in a wad. I’m not going to rehash any of that, I’m just going to note with amusement that her total must have really freaked them out to have reacted so strongly instead of just pointing to Greg Abbott’s bottom line, which is enough to make Switzerland salivate. Davis certainly answered the question about her ability to raise the funds she’ll need, but once won’t be enough. She’ll need to post similar, if not better, numbers for July. But we’ll worry about that another day.

Lt. Governor

Leticia Van de Putte
Leticia Van de Putte SPAC

As with Wendy Davis, the first account is the pre-existing Senate account, and the second is for the Lite Guv race. Here are the details from each:

Account Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Senate $154,087 $177,799 $235,084 LG SPAC $290,514 $ 21 $251,756 Total $445,601 $177,820 $486,840

I presume all of the expenditures came out of the Senate account, which makes sense. The SPAC was created on November 23, so basically it represents five weeks’ worth of fundraising, which isn’t too shabby. I didn’t go through its contributions, but I did go through the expenses for the Senate account, and I did not see any transfers from the one to the other, so that $290K figure is accurate and as far as I know doesn’t include redundant funds. For five weeks during the Thanksgiving/Christmas period, that’s a decent total, which would project to $1.5 million to $2 million at that pace for the July report. Not bad as I say, but not really enough, either. LVdP doesn’t need to be in Wendy’s league, but she does need to have enough to do some real statewide outreach. If she doesn’t raise at least $5 million for July, I’d be concerned she won’t be able to do that. On the plus side, she can hit up Wendy’s supporters, including and especially the big-dollar ones. I feel confident that she is more than up to this challenge, but if you’ve donated to Wendy and not to Leticia, you need to rectify that.

Attorney General

Sam Houston
Mike Collier

Account Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Houston $184,595 $ 41,216 $153,678 Collier $213,518 $170,791 $439,015

I put these two together, because they’re the only other candidates to report significant fundraising totals. Houston’s report begins in October, whereas Collier had the whole six month period in which to raise money. Both did pretty well, with Collier’s totals being boosted by $400K in loans ($250K from himself, $150K from his company; Houston reported $10K in loans as well). Collier spent $30K on video production, and $50K on “website design and video advertising”; he also spent many thousands on consultant fees, which I didn’t add up. As Van de Putte needs to kick it up by an order of magnitude this period, so do these two. I’d be happy with $2 million raised from each. We know the base is big enough to support Wendy’s campaign, and I’m confident that support will extend to LVdP. Will it reach this far? I hope so.

Ag Commissioner
Land Commissioner
Railroad Commissioner

Kinky Friedman
Hugh Fitzsimons
Jim Hogan

John Cook

Steve Brown
Dale Henry

Account Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Kinky $26,416 $ 4,256 $22,159 Fitz $27,200 $ 6,549 $74,401 Hogan $ 0 $ 3,750 $ 0 Cook $13,153 $17,010 $ 0 Brown $ 4,455 $ 5,661 $ 0 Henry $ 0 $ 0 $ 0

Not a whole lot to say here. Fitzsimons had $50K in loans, and Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso, had a bit more than $19K in loans. I’m not exactly sure why neither Cook nor Brown reported any cash on hand, but it’s not that important. With the exception of Kinky, none of these folks will have much in the way of name recognition in November, but then neither will any of their opponents other than Baby Bush. From this point on, it’s all about the top of the ticket.

Supreme Court
Court of Criminal Appeals

William Moody
Larry Meyers
Gina Benavides

John Granberg

Account Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Moody $ 7,500 $ 9,358 $ 4,037 Meyers $ 1,000 $ 3,750 $ 441 Benavides $ 2,500 $ 3,750 $ 0 Granburg $ 780 $ 5,296 $ 780

Again, not much to say here. I thought Larry Meyers might have a few bucks stashed away just due to his longevity, but apparently not. He does have about $94K in outstanding loans, presumably money he has already spent. In case you’re wondering, that $3,750 figure you see is the filing fee. Again, these races are determined by the top of the ticket more than anything else. Maybe the state party will raise some money to campaign for the slate as a whole.

That’s it for these reports. I’ll look at others as we go along.

More primary thoughts

I wonder if Big John Cornyn will come to rue this interview.

Big John Cornyn

Big John Cornyn

BDS: At the kickoff for your reelection campaign in November, Governor Perry said that you are “the epitome of what I look for in a U.S. senator.” He has certainly been embraced by members of the tea party. But in your speech you said that Republicans should be the party of the “big tent,” which sounded an awful lot like it was pointed in their direction.

JC: To be clear, I was talking about being a welcoming party, not an exclusive party. I don’t know how we got off on this track, where some people are welcome in our party and some people are not. Hence my reference to Ronald Reagan’s line, “What do you call someone who agrees with you eight times out of ten? An ally, not a twenty-percent traitor.” Well, we’re at a point where you can agree with someone 98 percent of the time, but they think of you as a 2 percent traitor, which is just an impossible standard. I like to point out that my wife and I have been married for 34 years, we don’t agree with each other 100 percent of the time. We need to be a little more realistic about the goals, and we need to look not just at the short term but at the long term. If the goal is to change the direction of the country—and I would say to save the country from the big government track we’re on now—then we have to win elections by adding voters, not subtracting them.

That sound you hear is Steve Stockman rubbing his hands and cackling with glee. Remember, Steve Stockman is nuts. I know that term gets thrown around a lot, but seriously. That boy ain’t right.

Josh Marshall ponders what the implications are of Stockman’s entrance.

Everyone seemed to think Cornyn had successfully evaded a challenge and that he was home free. And Stockman got in just under the wire. I’m curious whether he waited so long precisely to assure a serious Democrat didn’t get into the race. As long as there’s no serious Democrat running, that will make it easier for him to argue he’s not another Akin in the making.

Of course, he is basically an Akin in the making, or an Akin before there was Akin (Stockman first came in in the ’94 Republican landslide but was too nuts and got bounced out after one term). But if there’s no credible Dem, maybe he gets through?

I seriously doubt the condition of the Democratic field for Senate had anything to do with Stockman’s move. I don’t think he operates that way, and I don’t think the Texas GOP would behave any differently towards him if he wins the nomination regardless. A better question is whether or not the DSCC and other national Dem groups get involved in the event it’s Stockman versus Maxey Scherr or David Alameel or Mike Fjetland. If it winds up as Stockman versus Kesha Rogers, we may as well just admit that this whole experiment in self-governance has been an abject failure and see if Great Britain is willing to take us back.

Speaking of Maxey Scherr, the El Paso Times covered her campaign kickoff in Austin.

[Scherr] said she is coordinating her effort with statewide Democratic organizations that are hopeful that with Texas’ changing demographics and, in Wendy Davis, an attractive candidate at the top of the ticket, 2014 will be the year Texas starts to turn blue.


“If I can raise $7 million, I can be competitive, and I think I can,” she said.

She plans to suspend her law practice and spend the coming year the same way she spent Monday — traveling the state in a motor home towing a car with a smashed-in hood and emblazoned with her campaign slogan, “Texas on Cruz Control.”

If she wins the Democratic Primary, Scherr will likely face Cornyn, but she says her real opponent is Texas’ junior senator, Ted Cruz, who won’t be on the ballot until 2018.

“This race is about Ted Cruz,” Scherr said. “This race is about Ted Cruz because John Cornyn has taken a back seat to Ted Cruz. It’s unfortunate that our senior senator of Texas has done everything that Ted Cruz, the junior senator, wants him to. He doesn’t have the guts to stand up to Ted Cruz on anything that matters to Texans and I will.”


Among the issues Scherr plans to attack Cornyn are education, health care, women’s rights and immigration. On the latter topic, Scherr said she’s tired of Republicans whipping up false fears about security on the border.

“Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have voted against a comprehensive immigration reform bill every single time it has come up. I find that offensive,” she said.

“I come from El Paso and El Paso been consistently rated as one of the safest cities for several years. What these guys want to do is militarize our border, put a military-type outfit along the border. But they are wrong about that. El Paso is a huge border city and we don’t need to militarize it. We are safe as can be. What we need to do is pass comprehensive immigration reform that doesn’t tear apart families.”

Even if Emperor Cruz stays out of the GOP Senate primary – well, at least if he doesn’t take any overt action – a Stockman win would cement the point that Scherr is making about Cruz driving the action. In a sane world, Cornyn would have nothing to worry about in March. He may yet have nothing to worry about, but I doubt he’ll run his campaign that way. Of the sane Democrats running, I see Scherr as having the highest upside. I look forward to seeing her first couple of finance reports to see if she can make any headway on that fundraising goal.

More news from El Paso:

Meanwhile, all of the El Paso County incumbents in the Texas House of Representatives have filed for re-election.

Four have challengers.

District 76 Rep. Naomi Gonzalez faces former state Rep. Norma Chavez and Cesar Blanco, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego.

District 77 Rep. Marisa Marquez faces El Paso attorney Lyda Ness-Garcia.

District 75 Rep. Mary Gonzalez is being challenged by Rey Sepulveda, president of the Fabens school board.

And District 79 Rep. Joe Pickett, the dean of the El Paso delegation, faces Chuck Peartree.

I have no brief for Reps. Marquez or Naomi Gonzalez; they can explain their support of Dee Margo over Joe Moody (who did not get a primary challenger) to the voters. Pickett has been the Transportation Committee chair and has some juice, but he also voted for HB2; if he gets beaten up about that in his primary, I’ll shed no tears. The one legislator in that group I do care about is Rep. Mary Gonzalez, who is a force for good and deserves to be supported for re-election.

I mentioned yesterday that Rep. Marc Veasey avoided a rematch in CD33 with Domingo Garcia. I thought at the time that meant he was unopposed in the primary, but apparently not.

Several local members of Congress drew opponents as well.

U.S. representative, District 6: Republican Joe Barton (i), Frank Kuchar; Democrat David Edwin Cozad.

U.S. representative, District 12: Republican Kay Granger (i); Democrat Mark Greene

U.S. representative, District 24: Republican Kenny Marchant (i); Democrat Patrick McGehearty

U.S. representative, District 25: Republican Roger Williams (i); Democrats Stuart Gourd, Marco Montoya

U.S. representative, District 26: Republicans Michael Burgess (i), Joel A. Krause, Divenchy Watrous

U.S. representative, District 33: Democrats Marc Veasey (i), Thomas Carl Sanchez

There had been much speculation about whether former state Rep. Domingo Garcia, D-Dallas, would challenge Veasey for the 33rd Congressional District, setting up a rematch of last year’s hotly contested primary race. But Garcia put out a statement late Monday that he would not enter the race.

“I am truly humbled by the encouragement and support I have received to run for congress this year but after careful consideration I have decided against a run for congress in 2014,” he said. “I look forward to helping turning Texas blue and will continue to work to register and turn out more voters. I look forward to continuing to serve the community in one capacity or another.”

Democratic officials said Monday that little is known about Veasey’s challenger, Sanchez of Colleyville, other than that he is an attorney.

I feel reasonably confident that Rep. Veasey will win, but as always it’s best to not take anything for granted.

On the Republican side, Burka has a couple of observations. Number One:

Two trends are evident in this year’s campaign. One is that this is not necessarily shaping up as a tea party year. There are a lot of Main Street Republicans running for the House of Representatives — business people and school district leaders. Some of the candidates backed by Michael Quinn Sullivan might find themselves on the losing end of races. Matt Schaefer faces a strong opponent in Tyler. The same is true for Jonathan Stickland, whose opponent in Bedford is a popular former coach and educator.

That would be fine by me, but see my earlier comment about underestimating the crazy. Numero Dos:

The most significant late filings in the Republican primary:

(1) Steve Stockman vs. John Cornyn (U.S. Senator)

(2) Robert Talton vs. Nathan Hecht (Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court)

(3) Matt Beebe vs. Joe Straus (House District 121)

(4) John Ratcliffe v. Ralph Hall (U.S. House District 4)

(5) Mike Canon vs. Kel Seliger (Texas Senate District 31)

Stockman is about as far-right as far-right can get in this state. Cornyn can swamp him with money, but the tea party will be out in force against Cornyn.

Talton is a conservative trial lawyer who is famous for once having stationed a DPS officer outside his door to prevent gays from entering his office. He is a threat to Hecht (the stationing of the DPS officer outside his door notwithstanding).

Talton’s most recent foray into elections was last year as the GOP candidate for Harris County Attorney. He won that primary but lost the general, and slightly underperformed his peers. Hecht of course is deeply unethical. The winner of that race faces Bill Moody in the general.

There’s still a lot to process from the candidate filings. I don’t have a full picture yet of everything, and I suspect there are still some unexpected stories to tell. I’m already thinking about what interviews I want to do for March; with the primary back to its normal spot on the calendar next year, there isn’t much time to plan. What caught you by surprise this filing period?

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: The Chron for Hampton

The Chron joins the DMN and the Star-Telegram in endorsing Keith Hampton for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

We highly recommend that voters cast their ballots instead for Democratic challenger Keith Hampton. This endorsement is not merely a rejection of the incumbent judge’s poor track record, but enthusiastic support for Hampton’s impressive history of working to improve the Texas judiciary, whether trying cases in courtrooms or shaping policy in Austin.

With experience ranging from criminal district courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hampton has an extensive criminal defense track record that’s not common enough on the state’s highest criminal court. Endorsed by seven former state bar presidents, Hampton is respected across the political spectrum for his work and expertise. As governor, George W. Bush appointed Hampton to the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to revise the Code of Criminal Procedure. And when he was on the Texas Supreme Court, John Cornyn appointed Hampton to the Supreme Court Jury Task Force.

Hampton also worked with state legislators to improve our judicial system, notably spearheading the creation of Veterans’ Courts in Texas – specialty courts that handle veterans suffering from service-related injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, who are prone to violence or drug use.

One would be hard pressed to find a better candidate for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

As you might expect, the Chron began their piece with the usual airing of grievances against Sharon Keller, before noting that their recommendation of Hampton was based on more than just her long list of sins. It must be noted that Keller does have some positive accomplishments in her tenure as judge, mostly having to do with the state’s Indigent Defense Task Force. But whatever positive qualities she must have had to bring to that work, they have been consipcuously absent in her judicial record, and it is by that record that we judge her. By any accounting of that record, she fails as a judge, and it is only right to vote her off the bench. As I said before, it should be the case that editorial boards across the state reach that conclusion.

And if they do, will it make any difference? I asked that question back in 2006, when Democratic Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody swept the newspaper endorsements against underqualified Perry appointee Don Willett. My conclusion at the time was that all things being equal it was worth a few percentage points in the final tally. That was six years ago, in an election that had relatively low turnout and low levels of partisan fervor, neither of which are or will be true this year. Still, given that each endorsement is also an opportunity to remind people of Keller’s awful record, I do figure it will make some difference, and in an election where 48% of the vote may well be enough to win, every little bit helps. We’ll see how it turns out.

On challenging Ron Paul in CD14

Jason Stanford has a question.

So why aren’t we targeting Ron Paul again? The Texas legislature drew him the reapportionment equivalent of a target on his back. They took away some of his red meat territory and gave him Galveston and Jefferson counties, something which failed to raise Kuff’s spirits.


Kuff’s not the only one to think this is a non-starter. Everyone in Austin is waiting for relief from the courts or from Obama’s DoJ, and rumor is that the DCCC doesn’t even consider targeting Ron Paul a remote possibility. And yes, though unpopular Ron Paul does have name ID, and he can raise millions at the click of a mouse. And Obama only got 42% in 2008 in this district.

I think all of the arguments against targeting Ron Paul can be chalked up to entrenched pessimism. As I pointed out before, Democrats routinely win these kinds of seats nationwide.

But to really make a case, we’re going to have to see a path to victory in the numbers. First, the placeholder Democrats. Can your average numbnuts candidate do well? Luckily, we have a healthy sample of those, and Kuff breaks down the numbers.

Toss out the 2010 results. We can’t plan for a 100-year-flood every two years. And if 2010 is the new paradigm, we should all quit and sell gold. Those results are pointless either way. Moving on.

The apples to apples argument is statewide judicial candidate Sam Houston, who got 47.3% in the new CD14 in 2008, the last presidential year. Houston didn’t have much cash, was working against years of salesmanship about tort reform, and suffered, at least in the new CD 14, of the effects of a hurricane in Galveston, and he still came pretty close.

It is certainly not my intention to discourage anyone from taking on Ron Paul. I’d be delighted if someone did. My point in the writings Stanford cites is to provide some context, as I believe the partisan numbers in the new CD14 look better than they really are. My basis for this comes down to the trends in Galveston and Jefferson Counties, both of which are entirely within the new CD14, and which are about 75% of its total population. Take a look at how Bill Moody and JR Molina did in consecutive Presidential year and non-Presidential year elections:

County 04 Molina 08 Molina Change 02 Moody 06 Moody Change ================================================================== Galveston 46,065 41,996 -4,069 27,390 29,811 +1,421 Jefferson 48,351 46,024 -2,327 30,805 24,553 -6,252

Like I said, the trends are in the wrong direction. Moody was on the ballot last year as well, and his numbers (26,162 in Galveston; 24,539 in Jefferson) continue that trend. Galveston is a growing county, where most of the growth is coming from the northern, Republican suburbs like Friendswood and League City. Jefferson is a stagnant county made up of staunchly Democratic African-Americans and formerly Democratic Anglos, the latter of which are the bulk of the population and growing less Democratic every day. I hate to be a wet blanket, but I have higher hopes going forward for CDs like 06, 12, 31, and 32, where you can see the population trends be more favorable.

Again, I don’t want to write off any reasonable district. This one absolutely deserves attention, especially given its very different nature from the previous map. Looking beyond 2012, Paul won’t be around forever – he turns 76 this August – so regardless of what the past numbers look like, someone needs to be thinking about the future in CD14. I just want to be realistic about what we’ll be getting into.

Where the votes were and weren’t in 2006 and 2010

When I was doing the electoral analysis for the new Congressional districts, I also had data about how many votes were cast in each district. And in looking through that data, I saw some interesting things. What I was looking for was the change in Democratic turnout from 2006 to 2010. We know 2010 was a huge Republican turnout year, but Democratic turnout is a bit harder to pin down. Most Democrats other than Bill White got about the same number of total votes in 2006 as in 2010, but the location of those votes changed a lot. Here’s a comparison of White, Lt. Gov. candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson, and Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody from 2006. White received 2,106,395 votes, LCT got 1,719,202, and Moody 1,877,909, so in general you’d expect the order to be White-Moody-LCT, but that wasn’t always the case. First, there were a few districts in which Moody led the way:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 04 53,281 38,538 58,733 11 36,925 24,089 43,168 13 36,285 24,089 47,056 16 49,342 44,478 55,542 19 38,880 26,806 46,817 27 59,160 46,972 66,018 36 50,118 37,524 51,906

CD16 is in El Paso, which is Moody’s home county, so that result is understandable. The rest are puzzling to me. CDs 11, 13, and 19 are West Texas/Panhandle; CD 4 is northeast Texas; CD 36 is southeast Texas, including southeast Harris County; CD27 is Central Texas. All except CD16 are Republican, mostly strong Republican. Why Moody would do so much better in these places is rather a mystery to me. Clearly, he got some crossover Republican support – I can’t say how much right now because I don’t have any other statewide results for 2006 – but so did White. Simply put, the baseline Democratic vote had to decline in these locations. Was that because they didn’t vote, or because they’re voting Republican now? I can’t answer that question, but whoever runs for Governor in 2014 better get a handle on it.

Here are the districts where the vote totals followed the order you’d expect:

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 01 51,874 38,898 51,681 03 47,323 37,154 39,032 05 51,603 38,718 51,270 06 45,018 37,610 41,581 08 46,415 32,213 37,867 10 75,070 57,466 63,491 12 54,464 46,383 52,643 14 69,305 57,054 66,154 17 62,546 47,579 60,262 20 60,249 53,304 55,298 21 82,051 64,223 75,448 23 54,719 46,205 50,387 24 52,928 42,154 49,004 25 73,744 57,362 71,185 26 43,221 37,711 37,769 31 53,200 42,787 47,221 32 68,019 52,902 61,105 33 56,896 47,582 54,195 34 48,311 44,335 45,745 35 57,191 50,473 52,046

Much more of a mixed bag here. The districts are geographically all over, and run the gamut from strong D to strong R. What stands out to me is that for the most part, Moody’s total exceeded LCT’s by about what you’d expect given that he had about nine percent more votes overall. The exceptions to that are CDs 14, 17, 21, 24, 25, and 32. Similarly, White topped Moody by about 12%, and he clearly exceeded that in CDs 3, 8, 10, and 26. Note that two of those districts are either partially in Harris County (CD10) or next door to it (CD08). Keep that in mind as we look at the set of districts in which both White and LCT surpassed Moody.

2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT Moody =========================== 02 60,693 45,546 39,874 07 70,874 50,083 48,140 09 81,595 76,783 52,345 15 45,220 40,713 33,443 18 104,617 96,130 72,057 22 64,834 50,287 46,626 28 55,686 49,419 42,744 29 48,781 44,524 33,244 30 96,105 92,385 78,602

Six of these nine districts are wholly or partially in Harris County; of the others, CDs 15 and 28 are South Texas, and CD30 is Dallas. The step up from 2006 is huge – fifty percent or more in some cases. Anyone who claims White had no coattails in his home turf needs to explain these numbers. Now of course the Republican surge wiped everyone out, but the point, which I’ve made before, is that base Democratic turnout improved quite a bit in Harris County over 2006, as 2006 had done over 2002, and that this bodes well for 2014 as 2008’s gains should bode well for 2012.

Anyway. I don’t know that I have any broad conclusions to draw here. As I said, anyone thinking about running statewide in 2014 needs to understand what happened in those West Texas districts, and what if anything could have been done to improve things in the big middle group of districts. I myself have not spent much time studying 2010 data because the Republican wave obscures much of what’s interesting about the data. It doesn’t obliterate it, however, and that’s something I need to keep in mind. There’s always something to learn if you look for it.

Congressional map gets final approval

On to the Governor.

The Republican-controlled Texas Senate approved a new congressional district map for the state Monday and sent it to Gov. Rick Perry for his approval.


The map was approved 19-12 along party lines and without debate. Democrats have complained the new map violates the federal Voting Rights Act by splitting Latino and black communities and diluting their voting power.

If Perry, a Republican, signs the map into law, it will go to the Department of Justice for review. The Voting Rights Act requires Texas to make sure the map does not diminish minority representation.

Far as I know, the map is the same as the one the House approved last week. Here’s a final look at the numbers, with districts sorted into those drawn to be Republican seats and those drawn to be Democratic. First, numbers we’re familiar with, from the 2008 elections:

Dist Obama Houston =================== 01 30.4 36.4 02 35.9 36.7 03 37.4 36.8 04 29.3 37.6 05 37.3 42.0 06 42.5 45.4 07 39.1 37.8 08 26.1 29.4 10 42.6 43.2 11 23.1 27.5 12 44.2 44.8 13 22.2 27.5 14 42.0 47.3 17 40.9 44.1 19 27.9 32.3 21 42.2 40.2 22 37.6 38.3 23 47.5 49.6 24 40.5 39.9 25 42.7 43.5 26 38.7 38.9 27 40.1 45.8 31 42.5 42.4 32 43.8 43.7 33 41.7 43.0 36 29.6 39.3 09 76.5 76.8 15 57.3 60.0 16 64.4 66.5 18 79.6 78.7 20 59.1 59.5 28 60.0 62.7 29 64.6 69.7 30 81.8 82.0 34 60.0 63.6 35 63.2 63.1

As observed before, all downballot Dems but one carried CD23 in 2008, with two of them getting a clear majority. This district is definitely winnable and should be a top target in 2012. Other districts bear watching and deserve willing challengers, but may not be ready to turn. Joe Barton’s millions will make CD06 a tough nut to crack even as it keeps getting bluer.

I’ve done most of my analysis on the 2008 elections, since the first election after redistricting will be a Presidential year election, and I wanted to compare apples to apples. But let’s take a look at some non-Presidential year numbers to see what they tell us as well:

2010 2010 2010 2006 Dist White LCT BAR Moody ============================= 01 31.5 23.8 23.2 37.1 02 36.3 27.5 26.4 35.5 03 33.6 26.6 27.5 34.2 04 32.9 24.1 23.3 43.2 05 38.3 28.9 28.8 43.5 06 41.9 35.2 34.4 45.4 07 40.5 28.9 28.3 37.4 08 27.1 19.0 18.0 32.7 10 41.2 31.8 30.7 46.3 11 23.9 16.8 15.7 33.1 12 41.7 35.6 34.6 46.7 13 24.7 16.5 15.6 34.0 14 41.8 34.7 33.6 50.6 17 41.2 31.6 30.3 47.3 19 28.1 19.5 18.2 36.5 21 38.8 30.7 29.3 43.7 22 37.3 29.1 27.6 38.3 23 43.8 37.8 34.8 51.1 24 36.2 29.0 29.5 38.4 25 41.4 32.4 31.3 47.9 26 34.6 27.8 27.6 39.3 27 40.0 32.2 29.4 49.9 31 36.6 29.5 27.8 41.9 32 42.1 33.0 35.3 43.3 33 39.5 33.1 31.9 43.0 36 32.8 24.8 23.4 44.4 09 76.6 72.8 71.2 73.9 15 53.7 49.4 45.7 55.5 16 60.0 54.8 53.1 69.8 18 79.6 73.8 72.8 78.6 20 57.1 51.4 46.8 62.1 28 59.0 53.5 50.3 61.5 29 69.1 63.9 61.3 69.0 30 81.1 78.4 77.1 79.2 34 55.7 52.2 46.8 62.2 35 59.9 53.6 50.1 65.5

White is Bill White, LCT is Linda Chavez-Thompson, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Lt. Gov., BAR is Barbara Radnofsky, the 2010 nominee for Attorney General, and Moody is Bill Moody, who ran for State Supreme Court in 2006 (and in 2002 and 2010, but never mind that for now). White was by far the top Democratic votegetter in 2010, earning about 400,000 more votes than most of the rest of the Dems, all of which came out of Rick Perry’s totals. Radnofsky was the Democratic low scorer, as Greg Abbott topped the GOP field – he had about 115,000 more votes than Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst – and won a few crossover votes of his own in doing so. Moody was the top Dem in 2006.

BAR’s numbers represent a worst case scenario. Three districts drawn for Democrats – Ruben Hinojosa’s CD15, Charlie Gonzalez’s CD20, and the “new” CD34 (which is really Solomon Ortiz’s old district with a different number) would fall under these conditions. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that BAR lost by over 30 points. LCT, who lost by “only” 27 points, won all 10 of these districts; she didn’t get a majority in CD15 but she did carry it by two points and about 2,000 votes. Barring a repeat of 2010 or unfavorable demographic changes, these districts should continue to lean Democratic even in bad years. That said, if I had absolute control over who ran for what, I’d give serious thought to finding a successor for the 71-year-old financially troubled Rep. Hinojosa, on the theory that it’s better to defend an open seat in a year where the wind will probably be at your back than in a year where maybe it won’t be.

I included Moody’s 2006 numbers because I wanted to show what things might look like in a year where Republican turnout isn’t crazy off-the-scale high. The comparison is a bit skewed because the 2008 and 2010 reports from the Texas Legislative Council include third-party candidate, but reports from before then do not. There was a Libertarian candidate in the Moody-Don Willett race in 2006, and that candidate got about 4%, so Moody’s numbers here are all a bit high. Still, you see that he won CD23, lost CD27 by a hair (less than 300 votes), and – surprise! – won CD14. I still believe that the underlying fundamentals of that district are going the wrong way, but who knows? The right candidate with the right message could make life interesting in 2014.

I will have one more thing to say about these numbers in a future post, but for now that about closes the books, at least until the Justice Department and eventually the courts have their say. Remember, if history is any guide, we’ll have some new districts to play with in 2016. You can see the 2010 report here, the 2008 report here, and the 2006 report here; my thanks to Greg for sharing them with me. The Lone Star Project has more.

Endorsement watch: High courts

Four more endorsements from the Chron, one of which goes to a Democrat:

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5:The best choice to bring differing judicial philosophies and a wealth of trial experience to the all-Republican court is El Paso jurist and Democrat Bill Moody. Moody has occupied the 34th District Court bench for 25 years, and during that time has tried more than 500 felony and civil cases. Appreciating the essential role of the jury system, he successfully championed increasing juror pay to $40 first in El Paso and later statewide. Judge Moody says he would bring his experience as a trial judge to a court that too often has sided with big business defendants against plaintiffs. “This court is out of balance,” says the candidate. “We have got to go back and move more to the center and balance things.”

Moody was the high scorer among Democratic statewide candidates in 2006. Sweeping the newspaper endorsements that year probably helped him a little. He won’t get that this year, as the DMN went with the Republican incumbent, but I would still expect him to do well overall. For the one contested Court of Criminal Appeals race, the Chron stuck with incumbent Mike Keasler even if he is part of the problem with that court. I don’t think I can add anything to that.

Meet the Statewides: Moody and Weems

Two more candidate videos from the TDP’s “Meet the Statewides” series. First up, Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody:

Moody, a District Court justice in El Paso, was the top performer among Democratic candidates in 2006, getting 45% of the vote while sweeping the newspaper endorsements. He ran for Supreme Court in 2002 as well.

Next is Jeff Weems, candidate for Railroad Commissioner.

Weems, a Houstonian, is running against the no-name Republican that knocked off Victor Carrillo in the GOP primary. He’s got a lot of experience and expertise in the energy industry; if any of that matters, he should win easily. I’ll be very interested to see what his fundraising totals look like in July.

Population and voting trends: 2002 and 2006 judicial elections, Part II

In the previous entry, I said there was another way we could compare the 2002 and 2006 statewide judicial elections to get a feel for how partisan voting patterns changed at the county level. Turns out that the two Democratic candidates for statewide judicial office in 2006, Bill Moody and JR Molina, were also candidates in 2006. Let’s see how they did in each year.

County Jefferson Willett Change Moody2 Moody6 Change Dem Net =================================================================== Webb 6,557 3,588 -2,969 29,653 13,295 -16,358 -13,389 Hidalgo 19,517 15,739 -3,778 43,163 28,576 -14,587 -10,809 El Paso 27,602 24,960 -2,642 69,700 60,271 -9,429 -6,787 Jefferson 21,574 18,747 -2,827 30,805 24,553 -6,252 -3,425 Maverick 1,085 800 -285 4,699 2,736 -1,963 -1,678 Cameron 15,315 13,633 -1,682 26,239 22,977 -3,262 -1,580 Willacy 845 593 -252 2,530 1,234 -1,296 -1,044 Brooks 349 207 -142 1,828 891 -937 -795 Zapata 393 237 -156 1,786 845 -941 -785 Angelina 9,838 11,161 1,323 8,260 8,866 606 -717 County Jefferson Willett Change Moody2 Moody6 Change Dem Net ================================================================== Montgomery 55,526 54,018 -1,508 15,711 20,632 4,921 6,429 Fort Bend 49,406 49,953 547 34,660 42,890 8,230 7,683 Williamson 48,389 43,193 -5,196 22,913 31,466 8,553 13,749 Denton 72,040 63,475 -8,565 28,145 35,905 7,760 16,325 Collin 92,093 82,834 -9,259 30,313 42,514 12,201 21,460 Bexar 137,679 117,031 -20,648 124,500 134,383 9,883 30,531 Tarrant 195,001 166,293 -28,708 128,590 133,600 5,010 33,718 Travis 98,489 73,382 -25,107 110,926 130,546 19,620 44,727 Dallas 217,489 168,162 -49,327 205,742 204,310 -1,432 47,895 Harris 336,493 275,807 -60,686 280,739 271,021 -9,718 50,968 County Cochran Keller Change Molina2 Molina6 Change Dem net ================================================================== Webb 5,117 3,575 -1,542 30,982 14,135 -16,847 -15,305 Hidalgo 19,267 16,124 -3,143 44,009 29,133 -14,876 -11,733 El Paso 34,133 32,492 -1,641 60,608 54,028 -6,580 -4,939 Jefferson 21,786 19,747 -2,039 29,687 24,046 -5,641 -3,602 Cameron 15,383 14,924 -459 26,519 23,444 -3,075 -2,616 Maverick 980 862 -118 4,810 2,805 -2,005 -1,887 Angelina 10,267 12,216 1,949 7,662 8,280 618 -1,331 Willacy 868 659 -209 2,538 1,258 -1,280 -1,071 Dawson 766 1,755 989 1,289 1,227 -62 -1,051 Jim Wells 2,517 2,314 -203 6,023 4,839 -1,184 -981 County Cochran Keller Change Molina2 Molina6 Change Dem net ================================================================== Montgomery 56,686 57,502 816 13,683 19,490 5,807 4,991 Fort Bend 49,567 52,085 2,518 33,157 42,670 9,513 6,995 Williamso 50,071 48,599 -1,472 19,859 30,545 10,686 12,158 Bexar 136,742 133,090 -3,652 118,952 127,905 8,953 12,605 Denton 73,752 68,435 -5,317 24,636 34,432 9,796 15,113 Collin 93,516 88,847 -4,669 27,634 41,003 13,369 18,038 Tarrant 199,542 180,813 -18,729 119,562 128,575 9,013 27,742 Dallas 221,884 186,960 -34,924 194,803 195,356 553 35,477 Harris 339,473 295,795 -43,678 267,941 262,496 -5,445 38,233 Travis 99,173 83,346 -15,827 99,833 131,035 31,202 47,029

Note again that each 2006 race also featured a Libertarian candidate; the 2002 race between Molina and Cathy Cochran included a Green Party candidate.

The list of counties and the reasons for the changes in their performance are familiar by now, and I don’t have any new insights to add. The reason why Moody and Molina each did better in this comparison is simple: The previous comparison matched them up with the top performing Democrat in 2002 for each court. As it happens, they were each the second-best performing Democrat; there were five contested Supreme Court races, with Moody doing better than three others and worse than one, and three contested CCA races, with Molina doing better than one and worse than one. They were the only Democratic challengers in 2006, so the comparisons can only get more favorable from here. As you can see, their percentage and total votes improved even though turnout was down by 100,000 to 300,000 votes. I don’t know how many ways there are for me to say that the trend has been decidedly Democratic, but I guess I need to find one more, because there it is again.

I had thought this would be the last thing to say about this subject, but since I started writing this entry I thought of one more comparison to make, which I’ll publish next week. As always, let me know what you think.

Population and voting trends: 2002 and 2006 judicial elections, Part I

For the next entry in this series, we’re going to look at how county returns changed from 2002 to 2006 in statewide judicial races in Texas. Again, I’m using judicial races here because they tend to reflect straight partisan preference a bit more closely. It might have been nice to compare Senate races or Governor’s races, but those contests were too different in each year to really tell us much. As with the previous entry, I’m comparing one Supreme Court race – Steven Wayne Smith versus Margaret Mirabal in 2002, and Don Willett versus Bill Moody in 2006 – and one Court of Criminal Appeals race – Paul Womack versus Pat Montgomery in 2002, and Sharon Keller versus JR Molina in 2006. Here are my observations:

– Right off the bat, the main difference between this comparison and 2004-2008 comparisons is with turnout. Where 2008 saw 650,000 more voters than 2004, 2006 saw a decline from 2002. In the Governor’s race, for example, there were 4,553,987 votes cast in 2002, but only 4,399,116 in 2006. I attribute this to there being fewer high profile races – in 2006, about all that people were really paying attention to was the Governor’s race, and that was more for the wackiness factor, while 2002 had high-profile, big-dollar races for the Senate and Lite Guv as well. In addition, the lack of a Democratic “ticket” meant there was basically no statewide GOTV effort. You’ll clearly see the effect of this in some counties.

– In the races we’re actually considering, Willett/Moody drew 295,700 fewer votes than Smith/Mirabal, while Keller/Molina attracted 149,880 fewer than Womack/Montgomery. It should be noted that there was a Libertarian candidate in the Willett/Moody race; that was the only such contest with a third candidate. As always, only the R and D vote totals are considered.

– As such, in the end everyone lost votes from 2002 to 2006. The Republicans lost more votes, however, so the Democrats had a net gain in each race. Smith got 2,331,140 votes, Willett got 2,135,612, for a drop of 195,528. Mirabal received 1,978,081 votes to Moody’s 1,877,909, a decline of 100,182 but a net reduction of the Dems’ deficit of 95,356, from -353,059 to -257,703. On the CCA side, it was Womack 2,463,069 and Keller 2,346,204, a dip of 116,865, and Montgomery 1,828,431, Molina 1,795,416, a drop of 33,015 but a net pickup on the deficit of 83,850 as it reduced from -634,638 to -550,788.

– In the Supreme Court race, Democrats lost ground in 90 counties, gained in 163, and stayed even in one, Freestone, where the deficit was exactly 432 votes each time. In nine of the ten counties where the Dems took the biggest step backwards, both parties lost votes from 2002 but the Democrats lost more. A look at these ten counties will give you the reason why:

County Smith Willett Loss Mirabal Moody Loss Dem Net =================================================================== Webb 5,723 3,588 -2,135 30,712 13,295 -17,417 -15,282 Hidalgo 18,523 15,739 -2,784 44,133 28,576 -15,557 -12,773 Harris 308,107 275,807 -32,300 309,802 271,021 -38,871 -6,481 Jefferson 20,775 18,747 -2,028 31,564 24,553 -7,011 -4,983 Cameron 14,953 13,633 -1,320 26,804 22,977 -3,827 -2,507 Bexar 121,614 117,031 -4,583 141,088 134,383 -6,705 -2,122 Maverick 1,048 800 -248 4,742 2,736 -2,006 -1,758 Smith 30,053 28,469 -1,584 15,124 11,931 -3,193 -1,609 Angelina 9,485 11,161 1,676 8,704 8,866 162 -1,514 Nueces 29,099 27,979 -1,120 35,969 33,417 -2,552 -1,432

Say what you want about Tony Sanchez and his Titanic campaign, but he helped bring a huge number of Democratic voters out to the polls. Just look at the huge dropoffs in 2006 in Webb (Sanchez’s home base), Hidalgo, and Maverick. If we were to continue down this list, we’d see similar declines. Willacy, Jim Wells, Brooks, Zapata, Frio, Zavala, Jim Hogg, and Dimmitt – all of them saw their Democratic turnout drop by as much as 50% or more. To a lesser degree, it was the same effect in Cameron, Nueces, and Bexar. When you hear people talk about the Democrats’ strategy or lack of same for the Valley and South Texas, this is their Exhibit A. We know about Jefferson and Angelina, which were moving away from the Democrats from 2004 to 2008; this is just a part of that trend, with Jefferson also being at the bottom of a population dip in 2006. Smith is also a county that is moving away from the Democrats, though that effect was masked in 2008 due in part to its higher than average African-American population. As for Harris, I’d attribute the downer to there being basically no Democratic ground game in 2006. I can say with confidence that will not be the case this year.

You may also note that Mirabal won a majority in Harris County, making her the only Democrat to do so that year. If we swap out Willett/Moody for the one race in which a Democrat won a majority in Harris in 2006, that of Elsie Alcala versus Jim Sharp, we get the following:

County Smith Alcala Loss Mirabal Sharp Loss Dem Net =================================================================== Harris 308,107 276,529 -31,578 309,802 277,820 -31,982 -404

Hold that thought, because we’ll eventually come back to it. The story is more than a little different when we look at the CCA races:

County Womack Keller Change Mntgmry Molina Change Dem net =================================================================== Webb 6,121 3,575 -2,546 30,116 14,135 -15,981 -13,435 Hidalgo 19,306 16,124 -3,182 43,563 29,133 -14,430 -11,248 El Paso 34,007 32,492 -1,515 62,196 54,028 -8,168 -6,653 Jefferson 22,190 19,747 -2,443 29,993 24,046 -5,947 -3,504 Nueces 31,311 32,235 924 33,076 31,479 -1,597 -2,521 Cameron 15,562 14,924 -638 26,442 23,444 -2,998 -2,360 Angelina 10,070 12,216 2,146 8,072 8,280 208 -1,938 Maverick 1,074 862 -212 4,754 2,805 -1,949 -1,737 Medina 5,590 6,073 483 3,597 2,978 -619 -1,102 Wilson 4,999 6,312 1,313 3,483 3,744 261 -1,052

Webb, Hidalgo, Maverick, Cameron, and Nueces are all still there, with their issues of depressed Democratic turnout from 2002. Note, however, that JR Molina failed to win Nueces while Moody, who ran an actual campaign, carried it. Angelina and Jefferson, with their increasingly red (and in Jefferson’s case, shrinking overall) populations are there as well. El Paso had the same turnout issues as the first five counties, with about 10,000 fewer voters showing up in 2006, but it’s also Bill Moody’s home turf, and he killed there, getting over 70% of the vote and more than 6,000 more tallies than Molina, giving him a net gain over Mirabal.

The other two new counties here are small ones. Moody lost ground in Medina and Wilson counties, he just lost less than Molina did, with -1850 in Medina and -750 in Wilson. What’s more interesting is the counties they replaced: Harris and Bexar. Margaret Mirabal ran very strongly in Harris in 2002, just a wee bit better than Bill Moody, but enough to represent a big drop in net margin. Montgomery and Molina were more representative of average performance in each year, so Molina wound up with a net gain. Same story with Bexar, though Moody won it as Mirabal had, just by a smaller margin. Again, we’ll revisit all this later.

Here’s where Moody and Molina saw their biggest gains:

County Smith Willett Change Mirabal Moody Change Dem net =================================================================== Travis 87,540 73,382 -14,158 122,214 130,546 8,332 22,490 Dallas 204,686 168,162 -36,524 219,999 204,310 -15,689 20,835 Tarrant 186,595 166,293 -20,302 136,564 133,600 -2,964 17,338 Collin 88,762 82,834 -5,928 33,893 42,514 8,621 14,549 Denton 69,899 63,475 -6,424 30,361 35,905 5,544 11,968 Williamson 46,480 43,193 -3,287 25,501 31,466 5,965 9,252 Montgomery 53,977 54,018 41 17,451 20,632 3,181 3,140 Hays 14,238 13,644 -594 11,891 14,131 2,240 2,834 Fort Bend 47,008 49,953 2,945 37,145 42,890 5,745 2,800 McLennan 27,860 26,554 -1,306 22,211 23,005 794 2,100 County Womack Keller Change Mntgmry Molina Change Dem net ================================================================= Travis 95,152 83,346 -11,806 112,709 131,035 18,326 30,132 Harris 337,368 295,795 -41,573 277,639 262,496 -15,143 26,430 Dallas 215,763 186,960 -28,803 205,495 195,356 -10,139 18,664 Tarrant 196,164 180,813 -15,351 126,457 128,575 2,118 17,469 Collin 91,795 88,847 -2,948 30,228 41,003 10,775 13,723 Denton 72,230 68,435 -3,795 27,549 34,432 6,883 10,678 Williamson 48,838 48,599 -239 22,728 30,545 7,817 8,056 Fort Bend 49,783 52,085 2,302 33,904 42,670 8,766 6,464 Lubbock 38,458 35,657 -2,801 14,976 15,913 937 3,738 Hays 14,887 15,330 443 10,955 14,046 3,091 2,648

Most of this you’re already familiar with, so I won’t belabor it. Note that Harris went from one of Moody’s biggest net losses to one of Molina’s biggest net gains; that says more about Margaret Mirabal than anything else. Note also that the Dallas Democratic sweep of 2006 was happening even as Democratic turnout from 2002 was down. That says more about the demographics of that area than anything else, and it’s one reason why I believe suggestions of a Republican comeback there, outside of perhaps the District Attorney’s race and its unique dynamics, are farfetched.

So that’s our first look at the 2002 and 2006 judicial elections. There’s one more way to look at them, and that’s what we’ll do in the last entry of this series.

Moody to run for Supreme Court again

Good news for Democratic statewide prospects.

A veteran state district judge who walked across Texas three years ago in pursuit of a seat on the state Supreme Court plans to go airborne next year for another shot at the high court.

Judge Bill Moody, of El Paso, plans to charter a blimp and make two daily stops in the state’s 70 most populated counties to grab the attention of voters. An amateur historian, Moody says no Texan has campaigned from a blimp before, although Lyndon Johnson created a buzz by using a helicopter during his 1948 U.S. Senate campaign.

The blimp idea came to Moody during a walk in the hot sun near the Johnson ranch east of Fredericksburg.

“I saw a blimp flying through the sky, and I said, ‘There might be an easier way to do this and to get out the message,’ ” he said Thursday from the state Capitol. “The blimp is important as a messaging tool.”

A Democrat, he hopes to break into the nine-member, all-Republican court.

Moody was the leading votegetter among Dems in 2006, collecting 1,877,909 tallies in a 51-45 loss to appointed Justice Don Willett. He collected a lot of newspaper endorsements along the way, which I believe helped him. Two Democratic judicial candidates from 2008 – Sam Houston and Susan Strawn – received a higher percentage of the vote than Moody did in 2006, so with his name ID and qualifications, he has a real shot next year.

Individual workers, home owners and consumers have lost nearly every case before the court when opposed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies, Moody said.

“These large political contributors have been so overpowering and loud in exercising their speech and influence before the Republican court that everyone else’s voices have been drowned out,” he said.

If you want to know who those big contributors are and who their beneficiaries were in the last election, read this report (PDF) from Texans for Public Justice.

According to Postcards (whose individual entry link is broken), Moody will run against Justice Paul Green. I don’t know yet who will run for the seat that was vacated by Justice Scott Brister, which has now been filled by Justice Eva Guzman of the 14th Texas Court of Appeals, but I’m sure someone will. For that matter, I’m sure someone will run against Guzman and whoever her appointed replacement is on the 14th Court in the Republican primary as well. And I know that whoever wins that latter primary will face Tim Riley, who ran against Tom DeLay in CD22 back in 2002, in the general election. I think that about covers it.

More names surfacing for statewide runs

Via Greg, it appears that Smokey Joe Barton may want to party like it’s 1993.

No one seems to be mentioning U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, as a candidate to replace outgoing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

Turns out that Barton — who came in third in the 1993 special election that Hutchison won in a runoff — is indeed thinking about running.

“Congressman Barton continues to watch the developments in Texas politics with an interested eye,” spokesman Sean Brown said. “He believes serving the entire state of Texas as their next senator would be an honor. If and when an opportunity presents itself, he will discuss it with his wife, family and supporters before making any decision.”

If he runs, Barton, a congressman since 1985, will not have to give up his seat, but he will have to do something pretty quickly about an awkward situation.

His longtime campaign consultant and spokesman, Craig Murphy, is also the spokesman for Roger Williams, the Weatherford auto dealer and former secretary of state who — oops — is running for Senate.

Barton drew a shade under 14% of the vote in the 24-candidate field, good for third place and a smidgeon ahead of former Republican Congressman Jack Fields. He wasn’t anywhere close to finishing in the money, however, as KBH and appointed Sen. Bob Krueger each received 29%. I have no idea why he thinks he might do any better this time around, but hey, dream big. And I’ll somewhat churlishly note that it’s only a free shot if KBH does in fact resign, which I’ll believe when it actually happens. Burka, who notes that Barton has a decent chunk of change in his campaign coffers, suggests the possibility of Barton being Perry’s appointee to the seat. I dunno about that, but as he says, stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, via Marc Campos, this Statesman article is mostly about the Governor’s race and the top Democratic contenders (Tom Schieffer) and potential contenders (State Sen. Kirk Watson, Ronnie Earle) for it, but the interesting bit in the story to me was this paragraph:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Democrats’ 2006 U.S. Senate nominee, has announced she’ll run for state attorney general. Others who have run before (Hank Gilbert, agriculture commissioner; Sam Houston, Texas Supreme Court; William Moody, Texas Supreme Court; Richard Raymond, land commissioner; Nick Lampson, U.S. House) are described by party leaders as weighing or intending statewide bids.

I can confirm that Hank Gilbert is running. Moody and Houston are great names to hear, as they were the Democratic frontrunners in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Having them both on the ticket – I’m hoping they’re not each eyeing Harriet O’Neill’s open seat – would be an asset. I know Rep. Raymond has had ambitions for another statewide run, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. As for former Rep. Lampson, I know he mulled a Senate run in 2008 before deciding to try for re-election in CD22. I’ve no idea offhand what office he might have in mind – the Senate special election field is pretty crowded – so I don’t know what to say about this other than it’s the first I’ve heard of it as well.

One more thing from the Statesman piece:

Earle, who earlier said he might run for attorney general, said that he’s no longer eyeing that possibility; he’s had a law enforcement post.

So it’s presumably Governor or nothing for Earle, unless he’s open to the Lite Guv position; I’m assuming he’s not interested in running for Comptroller or Land Commissioner or something like that. But AG is out, so that’s good news for Radnofsky.