Thursday, June 30, 2005

LGRL Announces Special Session Victory

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students scored a major victory in the Texas House of Representatives last night. Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) led the way on two important steps toward making Texas public schools safer for LGBT youth.

During debate on HB 2--a bill to overhaul the funding and programming of Texas public schools--Representative Coleman successfully added an amendment calling for a study on the bullying and discrimination in Texas schools. The amendment would require the Texas Education Agency to collect data on the reasons for and frequency of bullying and discrimination in our public schools. The results of this report will help educators and policymakers create positive environments and ensure that all schools are places where students are free to learn, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

"Governor Perry has called us back to Austin to fix some of the fundamental ways we fund and educate our Texas youth,” stated Representative Coleman. “During this important debate, we must remember that every Texas student has the right to a public education. When students are discriminated against in school, and the school does nothing about it, we are failing them in a very fundamental way. This amendment will give lawmakers the necessary information to better understand and address the issue of bullying and discrimination against LGBT youth in our public schools.”

Heath Riddles, Deputy Director of Communications for the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, applauded the move. “Mr. Coleman continues to be a champion of equality and fairness in this state,” Riddles said. “He understands the importance of protecting our youth, and the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas is proud to have him our corner. This lobby will continue to demand that type of commitment from all public servants in Texas. We will not rest until equality and fairness, not political divisiveness, are the driving forces in this state’s political arena.”

K.T. Thirion, 19-year-old LGRL volunteer and youth activist, says she’s relieved to hear about the amendment. “I know what it’s like to be harassed at school and not feel safe walking around campus,” Thirion said. “This kind of legislation is important, because we need to show that harassment based on sexual preference and gender identity is a problem in our schools. I think some Texans will be very surprised by the findings of this study.”

A separate bill filed by Representative Coleman, HB 60, would go one step further toward protecting students. The Dignity for All Students Act would protect students from bullying and discrimination based on the ethnicity, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin of the student or the student's parent in Texas public schools.

The Dignity for All Students Act is a nonpartisan issue: it protects gay kids from being harassed in public schools. Representative Coleman filed the bill in response to the fact that no state or federal law extends protections to LGBT youth in Texas public schools. A national study done by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, indicates 84% of LGBT youth in public schools reported regularly experiencing homophobic harassment, while 82.9% of LGBT students report that faculty or staff never intervened or intervened only some of the time when present and homophobic harassment takes place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More Jobs For San Antonio

After speculation that Washington Mutual might locate its regional operations headquarters in Dallas, Washington Mutual announces San Antonio will be its new home.

This will create 4,200 more jobs in the city over the next 7 years and most importantly will facilitate new high paying jobs.
The jobs are expected to be highly paid, between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, which is why elected officials have been eager to support the proposal.
Now San Antonio can brag about Washington Mutual, Toyota, and the new Texas A&M campus. This will also increase the push for the PGA and create a larger need for fixing the cities roads and freeways. This is an overwhelmingly good thing for the city as a whole, but if a city manager/planner isn't hired soon this rapid growth could easily backfire.

Madla Runs...AGAIN!?!

Both the Express-News and The Jeffersonian have this important announcement from Senator Frank Madla:

Quelling rumors that he might not seek re-election to a fourth term, Texas Sen. Frank Madla announced today that he will run for his District 19 seat in 2006.

"There was never any question in my mind about what I was going to do," Madla said after a news conference at the Holiday Inn Market Square. "I decided to announce it now to put the rumors to rest."

"With my seniority, the breadth of experience from serving over three decades in the Legislature, and the relationships I have forged with Democratic and Republican colleagues, I am perfectly positioned to facilitate resolutions to these and other important issues," he said.

There was speculation among political observers that had Madla decided not to run for re-election, several state representatives may have sought the seat. They include state Reps. Robert Puente and Carlos Uresti, both of San Antonio, and Pete Gallego of Alpine. On Tuesday, Madla issued a challenge to any seeking his seat.

I hope that Gallego heads Madla's challenge and runs. Gallego voted the right way on most of the water quality bills, the GLBT bills, and education. Will it happen? Who knows, but as always, it is fun to speculate on rumor and conjecture.

The End of Something Special

According to the Quorum Report the special session is nearing completion.
The current plan is for the Senate to convene at 9AM. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst will immediately refer HB2 to the Senate Education Committee. The Senate will stand at ease while Senate Ed meets and votes out SB2 as a committee substitute to HB2. The Senate will reconvene, suspend every rule imaginable and take up the committee substitute to HB2.

Then, next week the conference committee will be appointed and negotiations begin.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A New Declaration

Something both fun and scary from RAN. Have fun!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Final Day of High Court

It has been an interesting day so far. Speculation is that William Rehnquist will step down today, but the big news is that the court has ruled in favor of the ACLU. The decision does not pertain to Texas (yet) but does restrain the posting of the 10 commandments at a courthouse.

Stay tuned for more on Texas.

The AP finally has the story for Kentucky.

Texas CAN display the 10 Commandments on government property but not in a government building. This split decision will have interesting consequences and I will be looking into this more later today.

San Antonio Express News Makes Me Laugh

Apparently there is a void of Democratic candidates this year (for the original article click here). This is an incredible claim to me. As Kuff and I have both written, there seems to be Dems running from the top all the way to the bottom of the ballot.

Here are the speculated candidates for Gov:

Chris Bell, a former one-term congressman who lost re-election to his Houston-area seat in the bitter redistricting battle of 2003, has launched an exploratory committee for the state's highest elected office.

Other names have been floated over the past few months — former Comptroller John Sharp and Laredo businessman and defeated 2002 gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez, to name two — but only Bell has formalized an exploratory bid.

The Express-News is kind enough to point out the recent defeats in races for the big five, showing that Dems have not won an election for a statewide office since 1994. What is the problem? get power, one needs power, and right now the Democrats don't have it, said Bill Miller, an Austin-based political consultant and longtime adviser to Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick.

"Careers advance by virtue of winning," Miller said. "Right now, with Kay Bailey (Hutchison) out of the race, Rick Perry's going to win that primary and a Democrat is going to have to run one hell of a race or have the best set of issues that you can imagine."

It is great that everyone is counting Strayhorn out. This will work to Democrats advantage. If Strayhorn wins the interest in the campaign will go through the roof. That is unlikely but fun to think about. The better situation is that Strayhorn loses, but gets above 40% in the primary. This will signal a change in the electorate as women and moderates have left Perry's side-- two groups that can easily swing towards Bell.

Miller, who did consulting work for Bell while Bell was on the Houston City Council, said he would be an interesting candidate "because he combines a serious side with a great sense of humor as good as anyone since (former Gov.) Ann Richards."

The most shocking thing is that people think that all Republican's are immune. Ann Richards was ahead in the polls one time in her run for governor, and that was Election Day. A smart ground game and and effective media message will give anyone a chance.

The most important thing to remember is that this is the 4th session that we have not worked out the problems with education, health care, or our prisons, and our legislators have all said (regardless of party affiliation) that it is do in large part to Perry's lack of leadership. Chink. Media strategist go one step forward and say that in this conservative climate (where the R's control every branch of government) the right and the far right can't agree and won't any time soon. Chink.

I believe that the more people in Austin are going around saying this, as well as a statewide amendment fight against the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment and the municipal races in Houston, the better chances for a D to win statewide. The infrastructure and resources will already be set up for who ever the candidate is, and they will be well trained and ready to go. Chink!

But Bell, or any other Democrat for that matter, can only become a viable candidate if the planets align and someone finds a chink in the GOP armor.

"You need a weakness in the majority party, a scandal, and you need a horse," Jillson said.

Democrats can win this thing if we all just stay focused on the prize next November.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Shooting at Taco Land

Taco Land, a small bar in central San Antonio, had a shoot out Thursday night. Usually this is the kind of story that I read, make some sad or disapproving grunt, and keep reading the paper.

Last night was different. This was far from just a story to me. When I was attending Trinity University this was a bar we went to with moderate regularity, and Ramiro was a man that I would talk to everytime we went.

I remember walking in Taco Land to hear my best friend play in his new band of the week, walking up to the bar, buy a dollar something lonestar light tallboy, and listen to Andy's new sub-par band. This was as a big part of my college experience, and a couple hot temptered assholes have bastardized it.

The story itself is a sad one. It's sad because it happend, but also because unless you knew the bar or the man you wouldn't care. When Ramiro was shot a little piece of history went with him, and a fixture of San Antonio will has been lost. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and those of tragedies like this everywhere.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Terry Keel Announces his plans

Quorum Report announces that Terry Keel will Challenge Charles Holcomb. This is going to be wide open seat for a Dem to win, and I am loving the fact that we can all watch this flesh out so publicly.

Here is the press release:

On today’s date I have filed with the Ethics Commission a Designation of Treasurer specifying that I will be a candidate for the republican nomination for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 8. That position, currently held by Charles Holcomb, is a statewide office. The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court in Texas on criminal matters as the Texas Supreme Court has jurisdiction in civil matters only. The individual elected to this seat will take office in January 2007 for a six-year term. I will serve the remainder of my current legislative term, which likewise ends in January 2007. I am enthusiastic about serving on the Court of Criminal Appeals because I believe I can bring to the position a unique background in criminal law, including prior experience as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, experience as a former sheriff, and experience as a legislator, including two sessions as chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. To my knowledge, there has not previously been a candidate for this bench with the same breadth of experience on both sides of counsel table, as well as in both the enforcement and the enactment of criminal law, that I would bring to the court.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Look Mom, the Youth DID Vote

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) just concluded a study that shows youth voter turnout surged more than any other age group.

The increase in turnout by the youngest voters, age 18-24, was higher than any other age group, making it a significant and disproportionate factor in the overall jump in the number of Americans going to the polls last fall, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). New Census Bureau data released today, shows that the voter turnout rate among voters under age 25 jumped 11 points, from 36 to 47 percent, from 2000 to 2004. The overall voter turnout rate grew by about four points, from 60 to 64 percent.

Table 1: Voter Turnout Among Citizens According to the Census Current Population Survey, Nov 2000 and 2004 Year 2000 2004 Percentage Point Increase

18-24 36% 47% +11 % points
25-34 51% 56% +5 % points
35-44 60% 64% +4 % points
45-54 66% 69% +3 % points
55-64 70% 73% +3 % points
65-74 72% 73% +1 % points
75+ 67% 69% +2 % points
All Ages 60% 64% +4 % points

The Census data confirms CIRCLE?s early estimates of youth turnout that were based upon the National Election Pool?s aggregated state exit poll data, and which also put the turnout of 18-24 year olds at 47%.
Maybe this will get the pundits and nay-sayers to stop saying that the youth did not participate significantly enough to be paid attention to.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Political Mistake of the Week

It is only Tuesday but it safe to Say that Perry will win this week. For a guy who is running an aggressive campaign for Governor he is doing some very silly things.

First, DON'T raise taxes when you are running for office! The San Antonio Express News has Perry's plan to fund Texas schools.
Lawmakers convened for another stab at overhauling school funding today, as Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a plan to lower school property taxes, raise sales and cigarette taxes and close an escape hatch in the business tax.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he supported closing the loopholes but wanted to go further to achieve a broad-based, low-rate business tax. House Speaker Tom Craddick said full-fledged business tax reform would be needed. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also said the Senate would be reluctant to raise the sales tax as much as Perry proposed.

House Democrats plan to push a separate plan they say is superior because it would give teachers a $4,000 pay raise over two years and deliver bigger school property tax cuts.

Their plan would drop the maximum school property tax rate from $1.50 per $100 to $1.25 per $100, in addition to increasing the homestead tax exemption to $45,000, up from $15,000 today.

Under the Democrats' proposal, that value would drop to $41,000 for tax purposes, with a school property tax bill of $512.50, or a $46 monthly savings.

Lawmakers also face a threat of schools being unable to open, since Perry vetoed the $33.6 billion that legislators budgeted for schools next year.

Some lawmakers, however, called Perry's threat hollow because of a provision in the appropriation bill directing any savings from line-item vetoes to stay in the budget for the Legislative Budget Board to reallocate.

In that case, the 10-member board, consisting of the House speaker, lieutenant governor and eight legislators, could distribute the $33 billion for schools if legislators once again cannot agree on a plan.

"Basically, there's no courage here, because they can fail, and there's no consequence," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

Republican Rep. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, said different constituents have different priorities.

"Some folks want property tax relief and don't agree with putting more money into education, as we've had to do," Corte said. "Others want us to put more money into education and could care less about property tax relief."

Okay, that was long! All in all, the sales tax increase will disproportionately affect the poor and minorities of Texas and specifically San Antonio. Ironically, Corte takes no stance on this issue... as always.

I know what you are thinking though, prove it. Lucky for all of us the Express-News did some number crunching too.
Local communities can add up to 2 cents on the dollar, which would bring the total sales tax rate for many Texans to 8.95 cents per dollar, making it one of the highest in the country. In addition, Perry's plan would increase cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.

The $7 billion property tax might not produce a hefty savings for most San Antonio homeowners. A rate of $1.20 would save $17.55 monthly for a San Antonio resident with a home valued at the median of $86,000. But additional state taxes would wipe out some of the savings.

San Antonio's delegation is being very vocal for once.
Some San Antonio lawmakers are heading back to Austin after getting an earful from voters back home.

The median San Antonio home valued at $86,000 has a school property tax bill now of $1,065 for maintenance and operations.

Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said he's also heard a fair amount from constituents.

"Everyone wants their property taxes cut. There is total consensus on that," Straus said. "How you arrive at what the formulas would be where you're not harming the economy, that's the tough part."

Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, said proposed changes in school funding plans that died last month actually would have caused most of his constituents to pay more in overall taxes.

Honestly it sounds like there is a group out there organized and lobbying aggressively to create a more equitable plan. It also sounds like there could easily be backlash for both Perry and the Republican majority. This will be an interesting special session because of all the political ramifications for 2006.

In the end if you disagree and think this is just good stewardship, then just know that Perry made this humorous statement too.

Frank Corte Must Go

Frank Corte is a staple in Austin. Every session you can count on this man to ignore his constituents, work more to help Houston than San Antonio, offer up countless bills and amendments attacking women's rights, and attack the environment and more specifically the aquifer.

This has led me to the conclusion that Democrats must begin to target this man, and they must start now! With Chris Bell running for Gov, Barbara Radnofsky running for US Senate, and John Courage running in CD 21 a race in HD122 will help every D on the ballot.

Frank Corte has basically run completely uncontested since 1992 when he first ran. In 2000 he ran a campaign against a Libertarian candidate, and in 2002 he ran against a Green and Libertarian candidate. That's it. Those are his opponents.

It amazes me that a man that has been on Texas Monthly's 10 worst legislators list twice has never had a serious challenge against him. Is it the location of his district? Is it to conservative? No, far from it. This is a district that goes almost as far north as Boerne and East as The Forum, but it is also an area that has twice elected Art Hall and Chip Haass. This is a part of San Antonio that has ranked the environment, education, and health care as their top three issues. District 122 also has a strong Democratic organizational structure in place from the amazing work that John and Zada Courage have done.

So who is going to step up and take on this bull’s eye? The ideal candidate is a woman with either teaching or health care experience. An intelligent woman who can make a case why Frank Corte no longer deserves to run unopposed and should not be on the Defense and State-Federal Relations Committee.

With all the campaigns beginning to flesh out, this is the district that most deserves another option-- a Democratic option.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Juan Garcia Shake Up

Juan Garcia kicked up a stir just mentioning he might run for US Senate, and then he disappeared with out a trace. After nearly one month of speculating what Lt. Commander Garcia was going to do to win the primary, we finally have our answer. Juan Garcia will not be running for US Senate.

Bogey McDuff over at Et Cetera has the latest comment from Garcia in a well written letter highlighting both his experience and hinting at his future plans.

Let me first say I like Juan Garcia as a candidate, and I think that Barbara Radnofsky is dodging a bullet on this one. Juan will be great, but like Kuff has said, the guy needs to start lower down the ballot.

Garcia admits that he was originally asked to run against Gene Seaman. This is a district that is tight to say the least. It responds best to moderate candidates. In fact, HD 32 is based on the military that actually likes Democrats for the most part because of its relation to Hinojosa's district.

This is the race Juan needs to run. He will be able to develop some needed connections, get some great experience in being a candidate, and most importantly, he will have some good practice actually legislating. Looking at Bogey's blog, Juan should run in his home HD 32. My only fear is that he looking at US Congress now and not seeing this great opportunity to run and win.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Our First Candidate

The cycle keeps getting earlier and earlier. As of this morning Joseph Biden announced that he will be seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party in 2008.
"My intention now is to seek the nomination," Biden, of Delaware, said on CBS television's "Face the Nation." He said he would explore his support and decide by the end of this year -- a sign the race may get off to an early and competitive start.

"If in fact I think I have a clear shot at winning the nomination, by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination," he said.

This is the first official announcement of any kind, but it is widely speculated that John Kerry, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton will all be running too. Personally I think that more Democrats should announce early so that way Bush will be forced into being a lame duck earlier, but I doubt that will happen.

Barbara Radnofsky In San Antonio

Brunch for US Senate Candidate Barbara Radnofsky
Saturday June 25, 2005
9:30 am - 11:00 am
Event Location: 16711 Springhill Drive, San Antonio, TX 78232

$25 minimum donation requested.
Please RSVP by calling Dan Graney
(210) 494-7442

Weekend Update

Here is a quick rundown of news you can use while I have been at Dem Fest:

Strayhorn is running for Governor and is not shy about slamming Perry. This is from the Quorum Report:

Announcing her bid for governor, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn this afternoon ripped Gov. Rick Perry's decision to veto $35 billion of public education spending.

"A leader does not hold our children's education hostage and certainly would never even allow a discussion about school not opening on time because he cannot fix what is broken," Strayhorn told around 500 supporters at an election rally on North Congress Avenue.

Earlier, Perry had announced he was vetoing $35.3 billion in the Texas Education Agency budget for 2006-07 and calling lawmakers back for a 30-day special session to "get education funding right." The special session starts Tuesday at noon.

"For all the successes of this past session, job number one was left undone when the session ended without the passage of school finance reform," Perry said. "I'm not going to approve an education budget that shortchanges teacher salary increases, textbooks, education technology, and education reforms. And I cannot let $2 billion sit in some bank account when it can go directly to the classroom."

Kay Bailey is running for Senate again, and is being trumpetted as a great Republican by Perry.

The most important thing though is that tonight is game 5 of the finals and the Spurs need to win this so we can start celebrating here in the city soon.

Friday, June 17, 2005

To Session or Not to Session

Qurom Report has heard some rumblings that a Session will be called by Perry and set to convene at noon on Tuesday. My guess is they will be charged to "fix" the education system, and will come up short again.

The street has also been saying the reason it has taken this long to call the special session was defense. Perry wanted to use this trump card to change the focus of the story if someone were to announce to challenge him in the primary.

This rumor makes sense with Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn having a "major announcement" tomorrow at noon on 16th and Congress.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Just Posting

In a weird turn of events there is literally nothing that is inspiring me to write. I haven't forgotten about you, and I will keep looking for stories of interest. Until then comment at will...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New Poll

A fun new Survey USA poll has the approval ranking for the Senate. The Democrats claim the top spots and moderate Republican are sprinkled in for flavor.

The basic conclusion from this poll is that we like our Democrats moderate and vocal and Republicans just moderate.

For a Texas twist though, Kay Bailey ranks one spot below Hillary Clinton and John Coryn sits all alone at the bottom.

Save PBS and NPR

Straight from Move On to you:

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS: Move On Petition

If we can reach 250,000 signatures by the end of the week, we'll put Congress on notice. After you sign the petition, please pass this message along to any friends, neighbors or co-workers who count on NPR and PBS.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within two years. In particular, the loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur" and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

This shameful vote is only the latest partisan assault on public TV and radio. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which exists to shield public TV and radio from political pressure, is now chaired by Kenneth Tomlinson, a staunch Republican close to the White House. Tomlinson has already forced one-sided conservative programs on the air, even though Tomlinson's own surveys show that most people consider NPR "fair and balanced" and they actually trust public broadcasting more than commercial network news.

Tomlinson also spent taxpayer dollars on a witch hunt to root out "liberal bias," including a secret investigation of Bill Moyers and PBS' popular investigative show, "NOW." Even though the public paid for the investigation, Tomlinson has refused to release the findings.

The lawmakers who proposed the cuts aren't just trying to save money in the budget—they're trying to decimate any news outlets who question those in power. This is an ideological attack on our free press.

Talk about bad timing. Every day brings another story about media consolidation. Radio, TV stations and newspapers are increasingly controlled by a few massive corporate conglomerates trying to maximize profits at the expense of quality journalism. Now more than ever, we need publicly funded media who will ask hard questions and focus on stories that affect real people, instead of Michael Jackson and the runaway bride.

As the House and Senate consider this frightening effort to kill public broadcasting, they need to hear from its owners—you.

Phil Jackson

Some of you may care to know that Phil Jackson is coaching the Lakers again; AP has the story here.

To be honest I could care less. The Lakers don't have Shaq. They don't have a bench, and Phil Jackson isn't a team builder.

With that said, GO SPURS GO!

Griffith Gets Confirmed

Thomas Griffith was confirmed today by an extreme majority of 73-24. Griffith was the Senate's council during the Clinton impeachment and the General Council for Brigham Young University.

The only strike against Griffith is his lack of a Utah law license according to Senator Patrick Leahy the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Griffith said he doesn't have a Utah law license because he never thought he needed it for his job as lawyer for Brigham Young University. He also took the blame for losing his D.C. law license by not paying bar association dues. He got the license back by paying what he owed.

"Mr. Griffith has foregone at least 10 opportunities to take the bar in Utah, and has continued to refuse to do so during the pendency of his nomination. In this regard he appears to think he is above the law," Leahy said. "That is not the kind of person who should be entrusted with a lifetime appointment to a federal court and, least of all, to such an important court as the D.C. Circuit, which is entrusted with protecting the rights of all Americans. This is the wrong nomination for this court."

Griffith shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. His name was being circulated during the negotiations to end the deadlock. When the nuclear option was averted, his nomination was guaranteed.

Fleshing it Out

Kuff has the complete run-down:

- CD10: According to an email from Carl Whitmarsh, the Cy-Fair Area Democratic Club has a meeting on July 7 for which one of the speakers will be "Ted Ankrum, a local resident who is considering a possible candidacy for U.S. Congressional District 10". That's the first I've heard of anything here.

- CD14: I'd been hearing about a challenge here. The Quorum Report has a blurb that says "Independent Cattlemens Association Executive Director Shane Sklar is taking a serious look in the race."

- CD21: John Courage for sure, possibly others.

- CD22: Nick Lampson for sure, with Gordon Quan still contemplating.

- CD31: Mary Beth Harrell, an attorney from Killeen, is supposedly in.

It's unclear yet whether State Rep. Richard Raymond will take a crack at CD23, though I do feel confident that someone will run.

Not too shabby so far. We still need challengers in (at least) CD02, CD07, and CD32, but this is a good start.

Bupkis so far in the State Senate. SD17 is sure to draw someone, and SD03 is going to be open, but that's all I know at this time. Quite the opposite in the State House, where there's already a swarm of potential and committed challengers. I've already talked about many of them - you can browse the Election 2006 archive to see who I've mentioned up till now. Again, I think this is a great start, and I know there will be more.

It's exciting to see qualified candidates take on these races. I live by the Dean philosophy that all races need to be challenged. That is the only way we will make lasting change and take back the House and State.

Hang Together or Hang Separately

I have officially been traveling for two weeks now. Two weeks and I have been all over Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and everywhere in between.

I am a man that naturally loves to travel. I hate work that confines you to three faux walls and has a time table-- not to say it's not worthy work, just not my preference. That's the thing though. We are all so overcome by our preference being the only possible choice. We have terms inside the party like DINO (Democrat in Name Only), changeling, lose cannon, and worst of all moderate.

Why do we separate ourselves so often? If we continue to be a party divided into cliques, then we will simply continue to be the minority party in city government, state houses, governorships, and national politics. I am a firm believe in the rights of all, and until the supreme court disagrees, that includes the second amendment; Democrats in Georgia and Kentucky agree with me. If I were to take that argument to California or Washington I would be called a naive or moderate Democrat. I would still be a D though.

We are so ticked off by some elected Democrats in Texas that we talk about challenging them in the primary. We talk about getting them out of office, but we let people like Frank Corte stay in office and legislate a one dimensional morality for the entire state. Let's challenge the Republican's out there before we start worrying about what name we want to call our fellow Democrats.

Two things have become clear to me in my traveling. One, I miss Texas every time I leave. Two, the reason we are weak across the state can be directly tied to out antagonism inside the party.

Republicans don't need to attack Democrats... we do it for them. Maybe, just maybe, if we could close the gap in the legislature we would be able create an atmosphere were our elected Democrats can vote the way they want and not play politics. Maybe we could have leaders that push the local party to the next great level. Or maybe, we could win a little more.

Instead of all this internal name calling, let us all stand together and find, campaign, and elect Democrats throughout Texas. If this isn't enough, no big deal. Meet with your currently elected official and make more change that way, but enough with talk, now is the time for action.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Perry Runs Right

The mere possibility of Slick Rick versus Killer Kay B is getting a ton of national attention. The AP shows that the Governor is not as good, smart, or sly as his mentors GW Bush or Karl Rove.
"Governor Perry and his people are just not as good as Bush and Rove," Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said. "Governor Perry knows the steps, but he's got no rhythm."
What sparked all this though? During a bill signing, Rick Perry wanted to show he was more in touch with the radical right than Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
The governor, flanked by an out-of-state televangelist and religious right leaders, signing legislation in a church school gymnasium amid shouts of "amen" from backers who just as well could have been attending a revival.

It wasn't just the blatant blend of church and state that made the gathering in Fort Worth unusual. Advance publicity also attracted about 300 angry protesters — unheard of for the routine business of ceremonial bill signings.

I think this is a great national strategy for the Republican Party, but on a statewide race it will antagonize those that disagree with you (whether they are R's or D's), it will look like a stunt, and most importantly it will piss more people off than it will win over.
Objections to Perry using a church school as a backdrop to a bill signing preceded his visit, with critics mostly focusing on separation of church and state.

"This is one of the most outrageous misuses of a house of worship for political gain that I've ever seen," said Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

This just screams of desperation and it is entirely called for.

Courage for Congress

It is official, John Courage of San Antonio will challenge Lamar Smith in CD-21. Courage announced recently that he will be running a second time, and has already visited Austin, Dripping Springs, and San Marcos.

This is going to be good race to watch. Last time Lamar Smith was able to just ignore Courage, but this time around the DCCC, TDP, and activist are targeting Smith because of his involvement in the on-going ethics complaints against DeLay and his unpopular stance on the environment and corporate accountability.

John's website is up but under reconstruction and I encourage you to all check it out here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Howard Dean is Right

Howard Dean is at it again. Dean speaks the truth and the establishment runs away from him. Dean speaks up and makes a point and everyone says he is unrefined.
Dean's has come under fire for recent comments, including his observation that Republicans are "pretty much a white, Christian party." While some Democrats have joined the criticism of Dean, Reid refused to join in
While this is not the best way to describe the Republican party, it is primarily true. The Republican party is made up of a primarily white, moderate to high income, religious, southern, and men. It is the party commonly referred to ask as neo-conservative or religious right.

So why then is Chairman Dean getting so much flack? Because it is easy. During the primaries Dean was tagged as angry, a political novice, and a man who speaks without thinking about the outcomes. I challenge Democrats not to follow into this trap.

If you look at Howard Dean's record of public statements he has been right and he has made the controversial statements before they were popular. You want examples?

Dean came out publicly against the war before any Democrats did. He was the first to say that Saddam Hussein needed to be tried in Iraq and that we are not safer just because he was caught. Dean was the first to say we must have a Democrat run in every election, and that we must fight to win back the south.

We all say that this is right now. Nobody fights any of this, but at the time these were all ideas that people ran from. In Dean's first three months as DNC chairman he has raised more money than Terry McAullife did in the same time. Dean has weakened DeLay and Republican's in Texas by keeping Democrats involved. Dean has been a good chairman so far and we must all realize that when you are the minority, you must speak louder and fight harder. Life is harder on the ropes and Dean is getting us ready for the fight in 2006.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Southwest Airline Wants to Open Love Up

From the AP Wire:

A consultant hired by Southwest Airlines Co. says allowing long-haul flights from Dallas Love Field would save travelers nearly $700 million in lower fares while boosting traffic to and from North Texas.

Southwest offered the study Tuesday to bolster its case to repeal a 1979 law that has blocked the low-cost carrier from flying from Dallas, its corporate home, to most major U.S. cities.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and its dominant tenant, American Airlines, defend the limits at Love Field near downtown Dallas. They say repeal could weaken DFW.

Southwest's consultant, Brian M. Campbell, said that if Southwest added flights between Dallas and 15 other U.S. cities, passengers would save $688 million a year because American and other carriers would match Southwest's lower fares.

Campbell said lower fares would spur 3.7 million additional trips to and from Texas, generating $1.7 billion a year in additional spending at hotels, restaurants and other local businesses. He claimed the true cost of the 1979 law, called the Wright Amendment, is $4.2 billion, including money that other cities lose because fewer people from Dallas visit them.

Campbell said he used information about fares from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make his estimates. He said Southwest paid his firm, Campbell-Hill Aviation Group Inc. of Alexandria, Va., $75,000.

Congress placed restrictions on Love Field to help the then-new DFW Airport grow. Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said DFW is now fully mature and doesn't need the protection.

Southwest co-founder and chairman Herb Kelleher called the law "an affront to consumers" and a relic of the aviation industry before deregulation.

An official at American Airlines, a unit of Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., questioned why Southwest didn't simply begin service at DFW if it wanted to fly beyond Texas and seven nearby states.

"Although Southwest tries to make this all about fares ... repealing the Wright Amendment only serves to line the pockets of Southwest," said Dan Garton, American's executive vice president.

Southwest officials countered that American could lose $300 million a year if forced to cut fares at DFW to Southwest's levels.

Kevin Cox, the chief operating officer at DFW Airport, echoed American's call for Southwest to start flights at his airport — and offered Southwest free rent as an enticement.

Southwest officials said flights at bigger DFW would be more expensive than Love Field and they won't use two local airports.

Last month, DFW Airport issued a report by another consultant that repealing the Wright Amendment could lead to fewer flights and a loss of one-third of DFW's 60 million annual passengers while Love Field traffic would nearly quadruple to 22 million travelers.

DFW officials originally withheld part of the report that indicated that lifting restrictions at Love Field would cause fares between North Texas and dozens of U.S. cities to fall up to 50 percent.

Eiginio Rodriguez for Zoning Commission

Patti Radle resubmitted Eiginio Rodriguez's name for the Zoning Commission, and the nomination will be reconsidered at this Thursday's City Council meeting. If you are from districts other than 5, please call/e-mail your representative, urging a vote in favor of the very judicious Eiginio.

Roger Flores took the unprecedented move of having Eiginio's name withdrawn. The word is that there are efforts to block his approval once again. There were concerns that he was too focused on the Aquifer and could not make objective decisions at the first meeting.

How Did It Happen?

How did Julian Castro lose and Delicia Herrera win? What stars aligned to give Hardberger such an amazing early vote and a poor election day showing? And the most important question, what does this all mean for San Antonio?

Julian Castro lost last night because he was too concerned about polling numbers and looking like the next Mayor of San Antonio. Julian was perceived as part of the establishment in city government and that worked against him and Schubert. This in conjunction with Hardbergers amazing ability to get endorsements that were tailed directly at neutralizing Castro meant certain defeat for the former city council member. Rev Claude Black in district 2 neutralized Castro and shifted focus to district 1. Susan Reeds endorsement neutralized districts 3, 4, and 6 because of rising crime. Schuberts endorsement locked the northside. These three endorsements alone won the campaign for Hardberger.

Hardberger ran a smart and well organized campaign and that is what made him win. He targeted the right districts and endorsements, and he fulfilled his obligations. Castro had to win districts 1, 5, 6, and 7 huge and take early vote and he only did one of those things. That is why today we are saying Mayor-elect Hardberger and asking what is next for Castro.

Castro will need to stay in the public arena by becoming county chair for the Democrats, doing high profile legal cases, or being involved in a series of issues around the city. Castro has one more shot to win or he will lose his rising star status completely. The narrow lose to Hardberger will mean that nobody will hold it against him, but a second loss means he will be tagged for future runs.

The city council races are a different story. Instead of talking about how Ray Lopez loss, we must focus on how Delicia Herrera won. Delicia had over 300 volunteers, she blockwalked more than Ray Lopez did during the whole campaign, and she was running a campaign with an "open door policy with an open mind philosophy". She won because people want optimism, vision, and a new voice and council. The same strike against Castro for being in city council went against Ray Lopez and worked for Delicia and Elena.

Grassroots power won big last night and I am excited to see the direction that the new mayor and council take our city.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Election NIGHT!

Lucky for me I was not in my apartment to see the initial returns for early vote. Originally Hardberger was beating Castro by a huge 9,000 votes. That margin has since narrowed to 5,500, but it could be a long night for the Castro supporters out there.

In a big surprise of the night Delicia Herrera is beating Ray Lopez in district 6 so far by a narrow 300 votes. This is proof positive that the right message and grassroots power are more important than money. With no surprise at all Elena Guajardo is winning in district 7, and the lead is expanding.

Hardberger supporters out there should be the most encouraged right now. Hardberger had better than expected early vote and voters are still in line in the northwest part of town. Hopefully nobody is celebrating too much right now. With the slow paper ballots coming this is anyone's game.

No matter what happens tonight, Democrats should feel encouraged. Currently the council has one known Republican and after tonight (unless Noel Suniga upsets) there will be 9 D's on council and a Democratic mayor.

26% of the precincts are reporting and the Mayor Race is now within 2,900 votes. As long as they are not calling district 6 and 7 that lead should narrow. Delicia Herrera is holding steady at 200 votes and Elena Guajardo is expanding her lead to 700 votes, and I feel comfortable saying that Elena has won.

A little under 41% of the precincts are reporting now and Julian Castro is only down by 3% to Phil Hardberger. That is an amazing recovery. Delicia has expanded her lead to 700 votes over Ray. I feel comfortable calling the second city council election and say that Delicia Herrera has won in District 6.

The Red State has some interesting news that Districts 8, 9, and 10 have only counted 38 of 208 ballot boxes. These are the three precincts that Hardberger is going to win, and District 8 reports are showing long lines that caused the poll to close at 8:30 pm. This is good news for the Hardberger camp. This is going to be a long night, and I am planning on stick with it all night.

53% of the precincts are in and the lead is narrowing more. Castro is only down by 2,200 votes but as Cincinnatus and The Red State have said, the northside is only partially in and this will bump Hardberger up again.

WOW, what a difference a few hours make. 55% of the precincts in and Castro is in the hunt and he is only behind by 1,500 total votes. It is way to early to say that Castro has the momentum with most of the Northside still out. With turnout exceeding over 100,000 tonight, no matter who wins, they are governing with a mandate and that seems good.

Nearly 60% of the vote in and Hardberger is pulling away again. Castro is down by 1,800 votes now and Hardberger is saying that only 1/3 of the Northside votes are in. If this is true, then Julian's catch-up game tonight could be ending. In an unrelated note, Just Another Blog broke the 1,000 viewer mark!

The last box has just arrived to the election headquarters.

Phil Hardberger is our new Mayor. 96% of the precinct are in and Phil Hardberger has expanded his lead to 2,500 voters ahead of Julian Castro. There are only 20 more precincts left. It has been a very good day for San Antonio. There were over 125,000 voters, there are two more women on council and both of them are Hispanic. It looks like the city wins big tonight and the next two years should be very good in San Antonio. Great job to TRS and The Jeffersonian on their live blogging.

The final numbers look like this:

BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 129,991
Phil Hardberger . . . . . . . . 66,830 51.47%
Julian Castro . . . . . . . . . 63,001 48.53%
City Council District 6
Ray Lopez . . . . . . . . . . 5,101 44.23%
Delicia Herrera . . . . . . . . 6,433 55.77%
City Council District 7
Elena Guajardo. . . . . . . . . 8,901 54.78 %
Noel A. Suniga. . . . . . . . . 7,349 45.22%

Sunday, June 05, 2005

On The Road Again

I am in the Valley starting tonight. What an amazing experience. For the first time in my life I am experiencing the rural part of the state and running into nothing but Democrats.

How do I know they are Democrats? Well, I am paying for most of this trip on my Democratic Party credit card, and all of them smile at me and ask how they can get one. They all are talking about how horrid Bush is, and the best part of all, they are all talking about how they are going to start really working to enlighten us "city folk" to start voting to better their lives. This trip is shaping up to be the exodus of hope.

On a completely unrelated note there is a down side to travelling. I hate the fact that I am not going to be in San Antonio until the day after the election. I will try to keep up with everything that I can, but Cincinnatus has been doing a great job on following this election and I encourage you to read over there. Let me qualify that, I encourage you to read everything except for the pro-Hardberger posts.

The End is Nearing

The Express-News has published a tri-focused set of stories that outline the current campaign, the narrow victory the winner will enjoy, and a close win for Castro. The stories are well thought out and I couldn't agree with them more.

First some interesting background. The Express-News clarifies:

In two of the last three mayoral runoffs, the second-place finisher in Round 1 has come back to win the final battle. And the last time a Hispanic front-runner ran against an Anglo, the Anglo candidate won.

It is very clear what both candidates need. Hardberger needs more than half of all the voters to come from 8, 9, and 10. On the other hand Castro needs huge early vote numbers and turn out from 6 and 7.

During the May 7 election, 43 percent of the 114,071 votes cast in the mayor's race came from Districts 8, 9 and 10 — districts won by either Hardberger or third-place finisher Carroll Schubert, who didn't make the runoff. That bodes well for Hardberger, who has received Schubert's endorsement and the support of many of his former backers.

Castro also has the advantage of a loyal base, which even Hardberger acknowledges is formidable.

"Clearly, getting out the vote is very important for me because I've never had the slightest doubt that Julián will get out his vote," Hardberger said.

Castro also benefits from Tuesday runoffs in two of his strongholds: Districts 6 and 7.

Turn out aside, Carlos Guerra of the Express-News predicts a very close campaign. This is an obvious statement. I don't know many Castro or Hardberger supporters that think Tuesday will be a blow out win by either candidate.

Runoffs, especially in local elections, don't always follow the conventional wisdom. They aren't always continuations of the first elections with fewer choices, and they don't always attract significantly fewer voters. And often, runoff campaigns can give the candidates with the lower-vote totals fresh campaign starts.

Immediately after the first election, it was reasoned that a runoff victory for Castro was within easy reach since he would need to win over only one of every three Schubert supporters. Hardberger, on the other hand, would need more than twice as many Schubert voters, which seemed unlikely since Schubert aimed virtually all of his campaign fire at Hardberger, characterizing him as a greedy liberal trial lawyer intent on raising city taxes.

But shortly after that first round, Schubert swallowed his pride (and his venom) to endorse the liberal trial lawyer nemesis he had campaigned against.

And with unusual unanimity, Schubert's strongest developer and business community backers seem to have followed his lead.

In the one public poll released during the runoff period, Hardberger held a narrow lead over Castro, though his advantage is well within the margin of error.

But all indications are that the contest is likely to be unexpectedly close, and is one that will likely be determined by the effectiveness of the campaigns' election-day get-out-the-vote efforts.

Of the 115,194 votes cast in the May 7 election, 56,284, or almost half, were cast early. If this predictor of overall turnout remains constant, don't be surprised if 94,300 voters — about 14.5 percent of those eligible — cast ballots in Tuesday's election.

Ken Rodriguez goes down the check list and sees it as a very narrow Castro win, and it is hard to say he is wrong.

It would help if there were a City Council runoff on Schubert's turf. There isn't.

It would help if there were no runoffs in Castro's backyard. There are two.

It would help if Castro had a weak grassroots organization. He doesn't.

It would help if Hardberger and Schubert were not political opposites. They are.

It would help if Hardberger could count on a heavy turnout of Schubert supporters. He can't.

The candidate who probably can count on a heavy turnout is Castro.

The last time there were runoffs in Districts 6 and 7, more people voted in Round 2 than in Round 1.

These are the hard facts and I am predicting that Tuesday Castro will win with a tight 52% of the vote. Hardberger will spend most of his time in 8, 9, and 10 on election day and focus on getting Schubert voters out again. Castro will work in 1, 2, 4, 5 and let the runoff mobilize his voters for him in 6 and 7 and this will be just enough.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Gearing Up

With the new election cycle starting I will be travelling a lot this week meeting with candidates and doing some freelance work. I will try to post some, but I don't know how much I will be able to do. If anyone knows anything fun to do in Brownsville, Rio Grande City, or McAllen please let me know.

On a side note, I am looking for a partner in crime and some one to help write on this site. If you are interested please let me know by sending me an e-mail at JustAnotherMatt-at-gmail-dot-com.

Just Another Try

This should be no surprise but Rick Perry says he will call the Legislature back to Austin for a special session on school finance before the end of the month.

"My prediction is that after these members get home and spend some time with their constituents, they'll hear about school finance ... and we'll come back between now and the end of June," the governor said Wednesday during a stop in Tyler to sign bills passed during the recently completed session.

The Legislature wasn't able to restructure the Texas tax system to pay for public education, which was a priority in the session after a judge ordered the state to fix funding problems.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Support Corprate Responsibility

HRC wants us to help support Ford:

CLICK HERE to let Ford know you appreciate their support of fairness in the workplace!

On the heels of ending a failed boycott against the Walt Disney Company, an anti-gay lobbying group called the American Family Association has called for a boycott of Ford Motor Company because of its family-friendly policies.

Among AFA's complaints: that Ford's corporate policies pledge not to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, and that Ford provides equal benefits for all its employees. This is just another example of the AFA being out of touch with reality. Ford knows that treating employees fairly is good business - both for employees and for the company.

The More You Look the Uglier the Cox

As promised I have been looking more into Cox and the more I look the worse he is. American Progress Action Fund has a lot to say about Cox, and none of it is good.
COX IS THE ANTI-DONALDSON: Don't expect Chris Cox to pick up where Donaldson left off. He has built a career on doing the bidding of financial lobbyists. During his career he has accepted more than a quarter million dollars from the securities and investment industry. In 1995, Cox "sponsored the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which restricted the ability of investors to sue for securities fraud." He sponsored the bill the same year he was sued for "misleading regulators and investors about the condition of a real estate investment fund" in the 1980s. The charges against Cox personally were dropped after his law firm settled for an undisclosed amount. Cox said the experience caused him "to sympathize with people who are victimized in these suits." That sympathetic group includes people who lie to investors, regulators and the public.
Oh wait, there is more.
Chris Cox, who Bush will shortly announce is his nominee to become chairman of the SEC, was the primary sponsor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. That law helped set the stage for Enron and others to hide their fraudulent accounting practices. Moreover, it helped shield these corporations from liability once the fraud is exposed. From a 1/20/02 LA Times editorial by William Lerach and Al Meyerhoff:

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act might more accurately be labeled the “Corporate License to Steal Act.” Approved by just two votes over a presidential veto, the law was written largely by and for powerful corporate interests. It gutted historic safeguards against fraud and weakened those protecting investors. It set up legal obstacles that may have enabled Enron to hide its questionable accounting practices. Under the law, victims must prove a fraud in detail without access to evidentiary documents. Damages are limited. Those collaterally responsible for a fraud like, perhaps, an accounting firm, are protected from liability.

In other words, if you liked corporate scandals like Enron and WorldCom, you’ll love Chris Cox.

More on TRMPAC

Latest from Quorum Report:
Tom Delay and Speaker Tom Craddick. Judge Hart essentially found that TRMPAC was funded by more than half a million dollars of illegal corporate dollars and was engaged in money laundering. This doesn’t bode well for criminal defendants Colyandro, Ellis, Robold, and the 4 remaining corporations, or for that matter Delay and Craddick.

For over 2 years, TRMPAC’s attorneys and supporters have claimed stridently that the civil lawsuits and criminal investigations were frivolous and nothing more than a partisan witch-hunt. The losing Democratic plaintiffs, TRMPAC contended ad infinitum, were simply a bunch of sore, partisan losers and the DA a Democratic Party hack.

Well, Judge Hart’s opinion blew away those contentions. TRMPAC can’t impugn Judge Hart as a partisan, "liberal activist" Austin judge, because TRMPAC chose him. In Travis County, the litigants can ask for a specific judge to be assigned to their case because of special circumstances. TRMPAC’s attorneys asked for the case to be assigned to Judge Hart-- a retired judge (no political re-election concerns), who was appointed by Republican Governor Bill Clements (no partisan bias), and who is known as an apolitical, distinguished jurist (no Austin wild-eyed liberal).

The plaintiffs agreed to Judge Hart, and he was assigned to the case. In short, both sides agreed to Judge Hart, the best testament there can be to his fairness.

New SEC Chair Named

Just a day after William Donaldson announced his resignation George W. Bush has named Christopher Cox as chair. Donaldson was well known for his reforms for mutual funds and share holders protections, and constantly sided with Democrats to make these changes. The five person commission had important votes break down 3:2 with Donaldson being the tie breaking vote.

I don't see a reason why Cox won't be confirmed for this position after being confirmed for chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Cox is also a veteran of the Financial Services Committee and has a business and a law degree.

I need to look into this a little more, but so far Cox seems like the kind of chair that won't repeal all the amazing work that Donaldson did. That is all I can ask for in the post Enron era.

UPDATE 6/2/2005- 9:31
This is the latest off the AP Wire:

Cox supported the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Congress' response to financial scandals at Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other large companies. The law ordered the most far-reaching changes in corporate accountability since the Depression, imposing stiff new rules on companies and their top executives.

He also is a longtime advocate of repealing taxes on capital gains as well as on dividends.

The SEC position is subject to Senate confirmation, a process that left Cox bruised once before. He was in line for an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2001 when Democrats suddenly gained control of the Senate.

Facing opposition from at least one of his home state's two Democratic senators, Cox realized he faced a difficult fight to win confirmation to the bench without a guarantee of success. He withdrew his name.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Congressional District 21

The session is over which can only mean one thing, time to speculate who is running for office and where!

The buzz is that John Courage may challenge Lamar Smith again. Courage is a San Antonio teacher and former challenger to Smith in 2002. In 2002 Smith received 73% of the vote and raised over $700,000 compared to Courage's 25% and a little over $150,000. Some view this as a long shot seat, and I couldn't disagree more.

Last year Rhett Smith garnered 35% of the vote and was only 6,000 votes away from winning Austin. This is a candidate that was originally running for President and after his loss decided to run for the Mayor of San Antonio.

If John Courage runs for this position he could win. Lamar Smith is directly connected to DeLay and company and could be married to his on-going ethics problems. John already has name recognition from running for both Congress and the Democratic chair in Bexar county. The only challenge is money.

This aside if John Courage runs, this could be the first time in a long time we have put up strong challengers against Smith and DeLay, as well as, have candidates for Senate, Governor, and other positions down the ballot. I for one hope this rumor turns to truth and the second it does I will let you all know.

A Field of Challengers

Burnt Orange Report and Quorum Report has this great news:

The San Antonio Express News is reporting that, "Republican Darrel Brown of Bandera County will formally announce on Wednesday his campaign for the seat held by Sen. Frank Madla, D-San Antonio, in next year's election."

The word is that Sen Madla is not running again anyway, but Rep Gallego is planning to move up from state representative and take over Madla's job. If Darrel Brown does decide to challenge Gallego I will be surprised. Gallego's district is large and covers most of Madla's district already and I can't see a world in which Gallego loses.

This does show that DINO's need to be concerned. People are getting upset with so called Democrats voting for developers over the environment and the religious community over civil rights and liberties. Maybe we will see a challenge against Armbrister?

On another note, there is nothing but good news about Todd Baxter's seat. Kelly White made a good run against him last time and it is good to see someone is willing to try again.

Add Hugh Brady's name to the likely contenders in the Democratic primary seeking to challenge Austin Republican state Rep. Todd Baxter. Brady is a former staffer for state Rep. Glenn Maxey. He is an attorney with the Fitzwater Firm and one of his clients is the House Democratic Caucus. Brady is also the editor of Texas House Practice, a guide book to Texas House procedures.