Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finding your voice in 140 characters.

Rick has been on Twitter for a while now (Twitter.com/GovernorPerry), and Kay is just now getting into Twitter (Twitter.com/TeamKay).

Rick also has a Twitter account for his campaign (Twitter.com/GovPerry2010) and for his state office (Twitter.com/TexGov). There seem to be several unused accounts for Kay and Rick... and some potentially fake versions of each.

The @TeamKay Twitter account seems to be a staffer or staffers just joshing around. This tweet was a little bit strange (link):
TGIF and TGFT (thank god for tacos).. Busy day @ HQ full of free tacos (thanks Wiley), b-day cake and hail storm.. Jealous?
Certainly that is not supposed to be Kay herself, right? The lowercase 'g' in God might rub a lot of people the wrong way, since most Christians at least capitalize the name of the Lord (and some Jewish people and others don't really like writing it down at all, not that there are many Jewish people in the Texas GOP primary). Then there is the "Jealous?" at the end... is that from a Saturday Night Live sketch or some MTV program that I don't know about? I guess I am too old to get the joke, especially if that is supposedly Kay herself tweeting.

Rick's staff Twitter accounts are somewhat sterile and bland, both for the state office and the campaign, but his personal tweets are often a lot more interesting. Kay's staff Twitter account seems to still be in the process of finding its voice.

If a political firestorm burns inside the Capitol and nobody hears about it, does it make a sound?

Jason Embry has an article this morning about how biotech turned into a political storm (link). From what I can tell, it is a political storm inside the Capitol and the kind of story people outside of the Capitol gloss over while searching for the sports section. Excerpts follow:

Giroir said drugs are often manufactured in large numbers at facilities that make only one product. They are also usually made outside Texas — the state ranks near the top in biomedical research funding but about 30th in commercialization, or turning discoveries into medicines for public consumption.

The idea behind the Texas A&M System center is for a number of drugs to be manufactured quickly, sometimes in small doses, to serve multiple biotech companies in the state, even small ones.


The center itself — aside from the process of how it was funded — has received little criticism.

Said Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, "I hope we don't throw out what appears to be a really good idea."

I am not really a fan of the ETF in general, but every state has something similar, so not having one might put Texas at a disadvantage compared to other states. It is also something that any Texas Governor has access to, and from what I can tell there was really no actual problem in this case other than a flux in Texas Speaker at the time it was done and the fact that Rick went to Texas A&M. The entire "firestorm" erupted from Representative Pitts, who might actually be using this to take one final shot at former Speaker Tom Craddick. I also heard from a media source who covers news at the Capitol that some of the Pitts posse tried unsuccessfully to drag Rick's son into the story... a big foul in my book.

While I don't really like the idea of economic development funds, I do think investments in higher education are worthwhile. We talk about needing more top tier research institutions in Texas... this is the kind of thing that can solidify a school on the cusp like Texas A&M as a solid Tier 1 level school.

I also don't see this being a big issue in the Rick vs. Kay race, but let me know if you think I am wrong. This story seems like one of those tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it kinds of controversies. It may be a big deal within the forest, but the villagers will never even know about it unless Kay's team spends millions of dollars to tell people about it (which seems like a terrible waste of resources). Even then, don't Aggies rally together when under fire? I could see a bunch of those wacky farmers thinking Kay was attacking funding for their school.

Rick would sign concealed carry on campus "in an instant"

There is a debate right now about allowing concealed carry on college campuses, and Rick has said he would sign a measure allowing it in an instant (link). Excerpt follows:

A current rule upheld by the University of Texas’ code of conduct that prohibits guns on campus may be overruled by the Texas legislature if the vote to allow concealed carry on campus succeeds in an April vote.

If approved, the current law allowing licensed individuals over the age of 21 to carry handguns in the state of Texas would be extended to include all Texas colleges and universities, according to Katie Kasprzak, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus Organization in Texas spokesperson.

“We feel those people should not be prohibited (in) their right to self-defense on college campuses,” Kasprzak said.

According to Kasprzak, the university is not advocating the change to its current code of conduct, but Texas state governor Rick Perry said he would sign the bill “in an instant” if it successfully passed through the state legislature.

Where does Kay stand on this issue? Could this be a point of agreement, or a point of contention?

Eyewitness to Rick's veto

The Texas Senate is looking at making some changes to laws pertaining to eyewitness testimony, but Rick is against some of the proposed changes (link). Excerpt follows:

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, dropped his original version of the bill that would have ordered police agencies to follow specific lineup methods or face exclusion from trial of identification evidence. Gov. Rick Perry vowed to veto any bill that applied laws on evidence exclusion to eyewitness identifications, said Keith Hampton, legislative director of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The compromise legislation requires police agencies to have written policies on identifications that reflect the latest scientific research. But it specifies that the judicial rule governing what is admissible evidence does not apply to eyewitness identifications.

Unlike his predecessor, Rick is highly inclined to use his veto powers. Will a contentious veto period make Rick seem like he doesn't get along amicably with the legislature, as the Kay team is wont to assert?

Monday, March 30, 2009

YOU the reader be my editorial board...

While this little blog experiment is still in its infancy, I want to hear from my readers.

What topics should I be writing about?

On the one hand, I want to write about a lot of insider stories. Who is on what campaign, doing what behind the scenes. On the other hand, I want to attract a broad audience and spark a broad conversation, which means covering only the really big issues.

Then there are the issues... should I cover 10 stories per day shallowly or do one or two really in depth blogs per day?

Should I add more of my own opinions, or just try to report the facts and let you the reader decide for yourself?

One key feature of this blog and other blogs is that we can cover the stories reporters in the mainstream media ignore. Should I focus on more original blogs and do less talking about what the mainstream reporters are talking about? On that note, are there any stories I am blatantly missing right now that I should be covering (but maybe I don't know about them because they are not in the mainstream media)?

Finally, should I monetize this blog or keep it advertisement free? It is not really worth it to monetize unless I have a lot of readers, which is still a work in progress. I am leaning toward keeping Rick vs. Kay 100% advertisement free. Would you appreciate that, or does it even matter? Thoughts?

Rick and Kay campaign teams shaping up...

Gardner Selby has a rundown of the campaigns and how they are shaping up (link).

Here is the list... it's very inside baseball, but I figure I might as well throw it out there.

Hutchison's team

(The senator began organizing in January.)

• Rick Wiley, campaign manager, Austin — Has not run a race for governor but was the political director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin when an incumbent GOP governor unsuccessfully sought re-election in 2002. Later became the party's executive director. He worked as deputy political director of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign starting in early 2007.

• Hans Klingler, communications director, Austin — A former Perry campaign aide who recently shifted from his post as political director and communications director of the Republican Party of Texas.

• K.C. Jones, political director, Austin — Also worked in Giuliani's presidential campaign. She also worked for the Texas GOP's victory committee in 2008 and was involved in a Colorado congressional campaign.

• Todd Olsen, general consultant, Austin — A direct mail expert who was once executive vice president of Karl Rove & Co. His firm says it has contributed to direct mail fundraising campaigns for presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and other state campaigns in more than 31 states. Past clients include U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, President George W. Bush, Rick Perry when he was running for agriculture commissioner in 1990 and Gov. Bill Clements.

• Tim Griffin, message development — Arkansas lawyer and public relations consultant hired to work on messaging; he was an opposition researcher for the Bush-Cheney campaign of 2004 and later was appointed the U.S. attorney in Little Rock as part of a challenged effort by the Bush White House to replace select attorneys.

• Jan van Lohuizen, pollster, The Woodlands — Has been described as principal pollster for George W. Bush starting in the early 1990s.

• Scott Howell, TV media consultant, Dallas — Once worked on targeting legislative races for GOP strategist Lee Atwater at the Republican National Committee and for GOP mastermind Karl Rove before starting his own firm in 1993.

• Lindsey Howe Parham, senior adviser, Austin — Has been a Hutchison aide since 1993.

Perry's team

(Perry's campaign doesn't plan to announce specific hires until this summer, but his team pivots around three stalwarts.)

• Dave Carney, general consultant, New Hampshire — Has been with Perry more than a decade, having previously advised Sen. Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential primary season and served as political affairs director for the Bush-Quayle presidential campaign in 1992 after three years as special assistant to President George H.W. Bush in the White House. He started his career as field director for John Sununu's 1980 U.S. Senate campaign, preceding Sununu's win for governor in 1982.

• David Weeks, media consultant, Austin — Once helped Hutchison. Besides Perry, whom he has aided since the governor's last run for the Texas House in 1988, his clients have included state Comptroller Susan Combs, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Michael Williams, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, and members of Congress, the Texas Senate and the Texas Supreme Court.

• Mike Baselice, pollster, Austin — Clients aside from Perry have included Combs, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, members of Congress, state legislators and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

Selby seems to be leaving people out on both sides. Surely each side has more people on the team by now. There are also a lot of people who will informally work for one side or another without pay or title.

Do you think campaign staffers make a huge difference? I think they definitely can. Part of it is how bad do the staffs want it, how loyal are they to their candidate, and how do the staffs interact with their candidate... from the people I know from each side, their relationships with their respective head honchos seem very different. Their entire organizations seem very different from each other. I'll try to elaborate more on that in the future when I get the opportunity and a little bit more intel.

Rick and Kay spar early and often...

The lugubrious Gardner Selby published a nice must read piece on the state of the Rick vs. Kay race yesterday morning (link). Excerpts follow:

At a time when Republicans nationwide are openly pondering how to reunite their party, two of the highest profile Republicans in Texas have begun to trade jabs in a race to see who will be the next governor.

Perry insists he's not thinking about any election during the legislative session, and Hutchison has said she won't formally declare her challenge until summer.

But in other ways, their clash has obviously begun. Hutchison has rapidly assembled her campaign team, while the Perry re-election campaign has dug for dirt on her husband, Dallas bond lawyer Ray Hutchison, at Dallas City Hall.

Meantime, the likely ballot foes have sparred indirectly over issues including federal stimulus money (both dislike it, but Hutchison said last week that Perry should have hunted a way to get unemployment money while avoiding federal strings) to million-dollar bonuses for managers of a state investment fund (Perry attacked the bonuses, while Hutchison suggested he was trying to punish one of her campaign supporters).

What looms is a cage fight on the national stage that threatens to split and weaken the party.

"There will be blood," said consultant Mark McKinnon , who advised former President George W. Bush and the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards. "Doesn't matter who you're for. It will be fun to watch the shoulder pads crack."

There will be blood, Mark McKinnon says. And it will be fun to watch. Is Mark McKinnon a fan of blood within the GOP?

One awkward moment in Selby's otherwise fine article is at the end...

Guests interviewed outside Hutchison's event hailed her approach and Perry's service as governor. Most also said they'd support whoever survives the primary.

"He's done one super job," Austin lawyer Pete Winstead said. "He's been in office long enough."

Lauren Kuehnel, who made food for the gathering, was noncommittal.

"The race is not for another year," she said. "Don't we have a long time?"

Kay's caterer is undecided? That is worthy of mention?

In the AP version of the story (link), that part was left out, but it did have this appropriate picture...

Notice the body language. Rick is sort of in your face and Kay is sort of standoffish. Rick is wearing casual clothes, while Kay is a bit more prim and proper. Rick is probably telling Kay a joke, and Kay is probably not a fan of Rick's humor. I am reading a lot into this picture, but I think it does tell 1000 words.

Kay brought Hill to tears?

It was a wild Friday. On the same day that Kay ran into a snag with the base for insulting Sarah Palin (link), she was at the Women's Museum in Dallas bringing Hillary Clinton to tears (link). Excerpt follows:

Clinton, the Democratic secretary of state, and Hutchison, the Republican senior senator from Texas, spoke to each other like close sisters, rather than political adversaries who share almost nothing in common.

The highlight of the 55-minute conversation occurred when Hutchison interrupted Clinton to weigh in on the former New York senator's historic but unsuccessful presidential campaign last year.

"The most incredible thing I saw in you during this period was your ability to keep a happy face, a confident face, when you were getting so many disappointments," Hutchison said.

Hutchison noted that Clinton was able to get over her loss and help Barack Obama win the White House.

"That character is why you're secretary of state today," she said.

The Dallas Morning news has a brief video, but I can't embed it... (link).

After hanging out with Kay, Hillary went to accept the Planned Parenthood award (link), which only reminds Republican voters that Kay is also moderately pro-choice.

As each week goes by, I have to ask myself more and more what Kay's campaign strategy is. Do her people not realize how damaging these kinds of days and weeks are to her chances with the Republican rank and file? Bashing Palin (link), praising Hillary. Not a good juxtaposition.

UPDATED at 9:15 in the morning...
This is the story that just won't quit on the blogs. Matt Lewis of America OnLine has a blog about the political gaffe by Kay on Friday (link). Excerpt follows:

A Republican Senator allowing her campaign to be perceived as attacking a fellow Republican Governor is problematic enough, but hamming it up with Hillary Clinton at the same time is indeed a troubling political gaffe.

I've previously pointed out Hutchison's problems with a growing number of Texas conservatives. Now add her praise of liberal Hillary Clinton -- compounded with her campaign's aiding in the attacks of a conservative Sarah Palin – to the list.

Over the weekend, I talked with some Republican leaning people who casually follow politics, and they all knew Palin had endorsed Rick, none of them knew anything about Rick's A&M ETF grant controversy, and none of them knew anything about Kay's new federal cancer push with Senator Ted Kennedy. They all knew Palin had endorsed Rick, and a few of them had heard that Kay was praising Hillary Clinton, although only a few of them knew that Kay's campaign had thrown darts at Sarah Palin

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rick has a sense of humor? Who knew...

Newspaper legend Gary Borders filed an illuminating report titled "No governor? Stall, then sit down" from the Texas Daily News convention last week (link). Excerpt follows:

At noon on Monday, I first announced a couple of awards. The governor obviously was in the hotel, since the dining room was ringed by a retinue of his aides, all dressed in black or dark blue suits. Most wore "P" pins. My recollection is someone told me to forge ahead and introduce him, even though he wasn't scheduled to appear until 12:30. (I might have done this on my own, admittedly. I was a bit rattled.) I read my introduction, which concluded, "Please join me in welcoming the 47th governor of the great state of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry."

It was really quiet when I shut up. Oddly, nobody clapped. I looked to my left, and our organization's paid professional was giving me the "cut!" sign. The governor wasn't present. He was out making phone calls somewhere. Our guy had unsuccessfully been trying to get my attention the entire time I was delivering the introduction, to tell me to hold off a few minutes.

I'm quite certain that this was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I stood on the stage for a time, thought about telling a joke (not that I can remember any), possibly performing a bit of soft-shoe. Luckily, newspaper types live for lunch. They started chowing down. Nobody booed me, at least that I could hear. So I sat down and drank iced tea.

The governor showed up on time. I wasn't about to reintroduce him, so I apologized for introducing him early, and assured him he wasn't late. He shook my hand really hard and for a long time. I could be wrong, but I think I was on the receiving end of the Evil Eye.

His speech was gracious and funny at times — the latter attribute is not one I associate with Rick Perry. He suggested we could improve our circulation over the next 18 months or so by running complimentary stories and photos of him on the front page every day. Not likely to happen, but the gesture toward humor was appreciated.

For the rest of the convention, I received a full measure of ribbing for the 20-minute delay between my introduction and the governor showing up. The good thing is he didn't realize I had rewritten the introduction — since he didn't hear it. That covey of aides listening looked a bit miffed, however.

Oh well. He's running for re-election again. I figure nobody is going to get all that bent out of shape with folks who still buy ink by the barrel.

And it was nice of him to show up.

And people wonder why print media is going out of business...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sarah Palin vs. Kay... keeps flaring up....

We know that Sarah Palin endorsed Rick against Kay. Today, Politico has a good blog about how Kay has attacked Sarah Palin (link). There are dozens of comments over there, and a few of them are sort of interesting. They follow:
I'm a life-long Texas Democrat, but I've already volunteered to help Hutchinson in her campaign to unseat Perry. I don't agree with Ms. Hutchinson on everything, but I regard Perry and Palin as extremists who are out of touch and out of step with the values of most Americans.

Posted By: El Viejo | March 27, 2009 at 03:31 PM
Democrats for Kay? Is this a trend?
Governor Good Hair Perry is a joke, not unlike Palin. I wonder if Palin would support him if she knew about his sexual orientation...

Posted By: nisl | March 27, 2009 at 03:34 PM
Seems like liberals love to make gay cracks at conservatives. How is that not a raging double standard?
Palin is hitching her wagon to a sinking ship. Rick "good hair" Perry wont even have a chance to run for governor in the general as Kay will beat him in the primaries.

Posted By: Panhandle Slim | March 27, 2009 at 03:37 PM
Maybe. Maybe not. I am not sure these kinds of things help Kay with the primaries.
I will never forget the look on Hutchinson's face when Palin was first selected and she had to defend her as being qualified to be VP. I thought she was going to cry. She totally blew her own credibility to support Palin and Palin thanks her with a knife in the back.

KBH -- are you really enjoying being a Republican?

Posted By: | March 27, 2009 at 03:38 PM
Ouch for Kay.
Good, now I'm positive I won't be voting for Hutchison. When will these morons learn that you don't eat your own?

Posted By: Adam, TX | March 27, 2009 at 03:49 PM
Another ouch. Why, if you are Kay, do you pick a fight with one of the most popular figures in the GOP? How does that make sense?
When the going gets tough Sarah gets going. Kay Baily is a GHWBush style Republican which is to say all good government and no political nads. I don't know from Perry and don't particuarly like what I have heard but we'll put the boot down hard if he's worth a fight. The more I see Palin demonized by the slack-jaws the better she looks. ...and that's saying something considering...

Posted By: troe | March 27, 2009 at 03:50 PM
This is what I am talking about. People who are not even loyal to Rick are going to migrate to his side if Kay keeps trying to pick these fights with Sarah Palin.
Perry will face a tough race regardless of who else is in the running. He's been a mediocre gov - worse than bush - mediocre at best. Heck, he barely won his last election - he almost got beat by Kinky Friedman for goodness sake. I will work for anyone running against perry - he's nothing but a hack.

Posted By: jb | March 27, 2009 at 04:00 PM
Not really true. Kinky came in last place out of four candidates. Chris Bell was about 10 points away from Rick. Strayhorn was further. Kinky was even further.
Hutchison can run laps around Palin. As a Texan Dem, I would pick Hutchison over Perry any day of the year.

Posted By: | March 27, 2009 at 04:11 PM
Another Democrat for Kay? Are these people really going to vote in the Republican primary... some kind of Operation Kaos type of thing?

This "Kay versus Sarah Palin" meme really caught fire today. It was on the Lone Star Times (link). It was on Politico (link). Now it is on Free Republic (link). Free Republic is buzzing about Kay's attack on Palin, saying how it makes them want to vote for Rick even though they may not like him.

How does Kay's attack make any sense if she is trying to win a Republican primary? All this really does is empower the mainstream media to report on a "catfight" within the Republican Party.

Can someone on Kay's team explain this strategy to me? The more she brings up Palin, the more catty and spiteful she looks. Few Palin fans will forget Kay's petty comments about not knowing who Palin was when McCain made his pick. Kay is just pouring fuel on the fire.

Today's fire really spread quickly across the internet.

Of course, if you had been reading Rick vs. Kay, you would have known about it 8 days ago (link).

Rick vs. Kay: the Texas economy...

Rick has staked a lot of his reputation on the Texas economy, which we found out today is not going so hot right now. Texas lost tens of thousands of jobs in February, with an unemployment rate creeping up to 6.5% (link).

Kay, wise enough to know that talking about how crappy the Texas economy is will not be a winning campaign communications strategy, has tried to take the economy out of the equation entirely and has said that the Texas economy is better than the rest of the country because we have a lot of airports and good weather (link).

Texas is expected to lose as many as 300 thousand jobs this year, which would send the state unemployment rate to above 8%. All of that is an exercise in crystal ball gazing, however. Nobody really knows what will happen, especially me. I won't try to be an expert and lead you astray. I'll tell you when I know what's up, and I will tell you when I have no clue. That's my policy on Rick vs. Kay. There is nothing worse than some amateur pretending to be an expert on every little thing.

What I do know is that Texas has an unemployment rate of 6.5%, up about 2 points in the past year or so. The rate for the country is 8.1%. Texas therefore has a rate 1.6% better than the nation (someone always check my math... please... thank you!).

According to Business Week there are big differences around the state (link). Excerpt follows:

Following are the preliminary February jobless rates for local areas in Texas, with revised January numbers in parentheses. The local figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Abilene 5.0 (5.1)

Amarillo 4.5 (4.6)

Austin-Round Rock 6.3 (6.4)

Beaumont-Port Arthur 8.5 (8.8)

Brownsville-Harlingen 9.3 (9.5)

College Station-Bryan 4.8 (5.1)

Corpus Christi 6.0 (6.1)

Dallas-Plano-Irving 7.0 (7.1)

El Paso 8.2 (8.3)

Fort Worth-Arlington 6.9 (7.0)

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown 6.4 (6.5)

Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood 6.1 (6.5)

Laredo 7.4 (7.3)

Longview 6.0 (5.8)

Lubbock 4.5 (4.7)

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 9.6 (10.1)

Midland 3.9 (3.8)

Odessa 5.3 (4.9)

San Angelo 5.4 (5.7)

San Antonio 6.0 (6.3)

Sherman-Denison 7.1 (7.4)

Texarkana 5.7 (5.8)

Tyler 6.6 (6.8)

Victoria 5.9 (5.9)

Waco 5.8 (5.9)

Wichita Falls 6.7 (6.8)

Look at West Texas and the panhandle... Midland, Abilene, Amarillo, and Lubbock all have very low unemployment, well below the national average or even the Texas average. South Texas seems to have higher unemployment than the national average.

Another thing to think about to keep the Texas economy in perspective is that Michigan now has a 12% unemployment rate, South Carolina's is 11%, Oregon's is 10.8%, North Carolina's is 10.7%, Rhode Island's is 10.5%, California's is also 10.5%, Nevada's is 10.1%, and there are several other states with rates above 9%.

Even other states in the south have much higher unemployment than Texas. Georgia's is 9.3%, Tennesee's is 9.1%, Mississippi's is 9.1%, and Alabama's is 8.4%.

Comparing Texas to other big states, Florida's is 9.4%, Illinois' is 8.6%, Washington's is 8.4%, and California's again is 10.5%, New York's is 7.8%, and Virginia's (which is benefiting a lot from the growth of the federal government in northern Virginia) is 6.6%.

The source for all of these numbers is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (link).

These numbers are just numbers, but I think it is fair to say that Texas is still avoiding the worst of this economy and is doing better than a lot of other states. I know two people I went to school with who are moving to Texas for new jobs from other states on both coasts.

I am also on the side that says the economy is not accidental. Government policies do a lot to stifle the economy, and in Texas, Republicans have done a better than average job of restraining government, in turn protecting the economy from being stifled.

I doubt Rick's people are sitting around rejoicing that Texas only has a 6.5% unemployment rate, nor are Kay's people rejoicing that Texas' rate has gone up by 2 points in the past year, but I still think stewardship of the economy will be a big issue in March 2010. Will Rick be able to convince people that he is even partially responsible for Texas not sucking as much as the rest of the country? Will Kay be able to convince people that the economy is really just about luck, geography, and weather?

That's what Rick vs. Kay is here for. Stick around, and keep sending me tips in the comments section, on Twitter, or by email at rickvskay@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Napolitano cancels trip to Texas... more to the story than the eye can see?

Homeland Security Watch blog has a great blog on Rick's home girl Janet Napolitano's cancellation of her trip to Texas today (link). Excerpt:
Secretary Napolitano has canceled today’s scheduled trip to Texas. She was to have joined Governor Rick Perry in Port Arthur. A bit before 10:00 pm (eastern) last evening the DHS press office announced the decision, “due to bad weather predictions for tomorrow. The inclement weather would prohibit Secretary Napolitano from being able to take her trip as planned to fully assess recovery and rebuilding efforts from hurricanes Ike and Gustav.”

Today’s weather forecast for Port Arthur reads, “Variable clouds with scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly during the afternoon hours. A few storms may be severe. High 78F, Winds SSE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.”

The storm warning of most concern may be more political than meterological. While the trip was scheduled to examine hurricane recovery, whaddaya want to bet the border might be brought up?

Some good observations from that blogger, although the weather really is pretty bad today in the areas where they wanted to fly in helicopters and furrow their brows and point out at hurricane damage for the camera. The Obama administration has been very difficult to read on border security. At first they rebuffed Rick completely. Then they gave him a little bit of something but are still open to Rick's troop suggestion? With Janet Napolitano canceling her trip, does that buy Obama's administration more time to determine its position?

The undead stimulus issue...

This unemployment insurance issue is some sort of zombie. It just won't die.

The Lone Star Times is the latest right wing blog to take up for Rick on this issue (link). They are responding to a Houston Chronicle editorial about how wrong Rick's decision was. Excerpt from the blog rebuttal follows:

Burdens for Texas to modernize? That is an interesting phrase, isn’t it? If you’re like me, phrases that tell Texans they are nothing but a bunch of backwoods yahoos usually get my attention. Why do we need to “modernize” our unemployment system? It seems to be working fairly well, if success as a jobs producing state is a criteria. So what is it she wants us to do?

In a nutshell, she wants Texas to change the way benefit periods are calculated so that short term job holders can receive benefits, allow part-time workers to receive benefits, allow benefits for those that quit their jobs to take care of sick relatives give give benefits to spouses who quit to relocate with their spouse. But hey, no strings, right?

More and more, I think Kay made a really bad decision for criticising Rick. Conservatives are rallying behind Rick on this. Kay meanwhile has aligned herself with the out of touch mainstream media.

Good question... "where does Kay stand on DREAM Act"???

A blog I have stumbled across from time to time called Marc's Mscellany has posed an important question about Kay and her support for the DREAM Act (link). Excerpt follows:
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is expected to reintroduce the DREAM Act this week. DREAM Act supporters, which include me, are hopeful that Congress will finally enact this needed measure.

Sen. Cornyn supported the filibuster of the 2007 version of the DREAM Act. (He
voted against the cloture motion.) Cornyn presumably will continue to oppose the DREAM Act.

Sen. Hutchison actually voted in favor of cloture (which would have ended the filibuster) in 2007. She intended, however, to offer an amendment that was aimed at making the bill more palatable to her fellow Republicans. (She never got the chance, as the cloture motion failed.)

DREAM Act supporters consider Hutchison to be
on the fence. Her office will no doubt receive many phone calls, letters and e-mail messages urging her to support the act. But Hutchison, who hopes to be Texas’ next governor, is preparing for a primary showdown with Gov. Perry. How many likely Republican primary voters support the DREAM Act? That is no doubt a question Hutchison will be asking herself as she considers the measure.
Kay has been one of the few Republican supporters of the DREAM Act in the past. Will she continue that track, even though the DREAM Act is highly unpopular among Republican primary voters?

Club for Growth signals support for Rick on unemployment insurance...

The Club for Growth has issued a statement standing up for Rick and criticising Kay for her criticism of Rick (link). Confused? Just read the statement:

Gov. Perry Deserves Credit Not Criticism

Washington – Texas Governor Rick Perry deserves credit for rejecting part of the stimulus package, not the criticism we heard from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson today.

For a long time, Senator Hutchinson has been more than happy to put taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in government spending. She has a long record of supporting wasteful earmark projects and voted for the $700 billion TARP Program. Texas taxpayers are lucky they have an advocate in Gov. Perry who is willing to make the tough decisions to protect their hard-earned money.

“Gov. Perry has rightly pointed out that the federal stimulus money comes with expensive strings attached that Texas taxpayers will have to assume responsibility for in the long run,” said Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating. “With President Obama and the Democrats in Washington foisting an ever larger pile of debt on taxpayers’ shoulders, it is comforting to know that Gov. Perry refuses to shackle Texas taxpayers with even more state debt.”

Hutchinson? A much more common mistake than you might imagine, now that I have subscribed to google news alerts...

Club for Growth is a very fiscally conservative group that Rick has been rumored to have been courting. I don't know of a lot of examples of them endorsing in gubernatorial primaries, but maybe they are headed that way? Club for Growth itself may not endorse, but if they send enough signals, maybe their donors will get the idea and start sending money to Rick against Kay. Kay can't be happy about the Club for Growth's move today.

Kay's decision to rip Rick on the unemployment insurance money seems to be hurting her more and more each day with conservative groups inside Texas and out alike. She has to either be hoping this issue will go away soon, or hoping she will be vindicated somehow between now and March 2010.

Kay getting pushback from right wing bloggers about running?

A blogger lady named TxSkirt has really captured what a lot of us are feeling with regard to the Kay versus Rick race (link). Excerpt follows:
Many would assume I am a Rick Perry fan. To tell you the truth, I haven’t decided who I will support. There are many things about Rick I like and dislike. There are many things about Kay that I like and dislike. Both have served the State of Texas admirably. I think many conservative Texans are in my shoes. How do you decide who to vote for between two people you really kind of like? Neither of them have done that much to piss me off or make me stand up an cheer.


This is not good for the party. It will leave it scarred an divided at a time when we can least afford it. There is nothing unifying about this upcoming election cycle. It will have national ramifications. The bloodshed will be heavy and could result in significant losses to the Democrats. Plus it will provide fodder to the left-wing bloggers who would love to watch the Republican Party implode.

I see no good here. No good at all.

More and more, this is what I am hearing from party officials... the mid level kind. County chairs. Even precinct chairs. Leaders of various Republican clubs. People like that. I am hearing that each side is going to spend 20+ million bucks, at a time when we need to be united and moving toward taking back an actual working majority in the Texas House and even possibly recapturing one side of the United States Congress.

I have little doubt that Rick and Kay are both in this fight, and neither one is backing down. They are gearing up for a battle royale, and it may get ugly.

As churlish as I can be on this blog, and as much fun as a protracted battle between Rick and Kay would be to write about for the next year, I really hope that this battle doesn't harm the GOP in Texas. In some ways, I hope there is no battle.

TxSkirt really captured the essence of what a lot of us are feeling. In the past few weeks of paying acute attention to the race, I have seen some things that have tipped the scales a little... and my loyalties have started to take shape. I have also seen some foreshadowing from both sides about just how ugly this race might get. I just hope Kay's decision to run for Governor doesn't result in handing our state over to the Democrats.

Kay and Ted Kennedy share op-ed on cancer.

Cancer is one of Rick's big deals. He helped get the big cancer center on the ballot and has pushed to make Texas one of the top places in the world to research cures for cancer. He has wrapped himself in the flag of cancer, if you will.

In a very sage move to neutralize Rick's advantage on this issue, Kay has co-written an op-ed with Senator Ted Kennedy about cancer (link). Excerpt follows:
The solution isn’t easy, but there are steps we should take now if we hope to see the diagnosis rate decline substantially and the survival rate increase. To do so, we must identify and remove the numerous barriers that obstruct our progress in cancer research and treatment.


We have introduced bipartisan legislation to bring about these necessary changes, and we hope to see the bill enacted in the coming weeks and months. These policy initiatives cannot be fully implemented without broad support and sufficient resources, and we are committed to leading this effort to completion.

It’s time to reinvigorate the War on Cancer, and more effective coordination of policy and science is indispensable for rapid progress.

For Kay, she gets to neutralize Rick's cancer talking points, while demonstrating her bipartisan skills through working with well known Democrat Ted Kennedy.

Kay might resign her Senate seat at the end of 2009?

The everlasting Gardner Selby has some scoop on Kay's intentions for the Senate (link). Excerpt follows:

Kibosh: Hutchison nixed a March 17 Roll Call report saying she's not planning to resign while running for governor. She told me she still might resign toward the end of this year — though under law, she can stay put while running for governor.

The Washington paper, she said, "just all of a sudden made a story that wasn't there, which you know has happened before."

Can one of the experts on this stuff help me out, here... if she resigns before or after a certain date, does that impact whether Rick would get to choose her replacement or whether there would be a special session? Can someone feed me the timeline on that? I wonder if that will play into her decision.

UPDATED at 11:23 AM...

Rick vs. Kay reader adds via Twitter...

When Clinton picked Bentsen as Treas Sec, Richards picked Krueger as temp replacement and called special election to fill unexpired term. Which Kay won.

So basically Rick would get to pick a replacement for Kay, but there would still be a special election later on. That's what I am gathering. Would the special election happen at the same time as the general election? I guess that might be up to Rick as well?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Polling spat spills into this week on Burka Blog...

Over the past couple of weeks, Rick versus Kay spotlighted some of the polling in the race (link).

My take always has been, is, and always will be that polling this far away from an election is just not all that worthwhile. Touch base with me about a poll in a few months, and I'll listen.

Still, polling seems to drive news coverage. Kay is the perceived front runner because she has been up in the polls. My gut hunch is that Kay would win by 5-10 points if the election were held today.

Over on Paul Burka's blog, he wrote some stinging things about the University of Texas poll that came out 2 or 3 weeks ago. A lot of those things seemed similar to bullet points in an email lobbying campaign I was included on from people aggressively trying to discredit the UT poll. I didn't bite, mostly because I don't know enough about polling, and I would rather remain and be thought a jackass than open my mouth and remove all doubt.

The UT professors responded to Paul Burka, and I still don't have a high opinion of polls this far away from an election, but in my opinion, the profs got the best of Burka (link). Excerpt follows:
Neither of us was contacted by Mr. Burka about the survey. We were, therefore, surprised that he chose to inaccurately question the methodology of the poll in his podcast. When gently chided by some during the podcast, he forged ahead and headlined his blog post with a declaration that the poll was “not legitimate.” This is, in our opinion, an irresponsible and lazy characterization. We hope to hear from him next time around.
To really feel the full force of the obliteration, you should read the profs' entire blog, linked above.

In an interesting move, Paul Burka did not let the profs' rebuttal stand and instead decided to keep it going (link). Again, speaking as someone who is 100% skeptical of polls, Burka doesn't really seem like he knows what he is talking about. I want to root for him here, because I just don't really like polls, but I can't help but think he is in over his head against these profs who live, sleep, work, and breathe this stuff. Polling is practically fused to their DNA now, and watching Paul Burka try to discredit them is a little bit like watching some high school basketball coach with moderate height and fading hoops skills try to make a layup against Shaq.

Here is a comment by one of the profs in the comment section of Burka's re-rebuttal:
Jim Henson says:

Paul -

It’s your blog and I’ll respect your right to not wrestle any more on it. Thanks for the opportunity to respond, and I hope people will look at the results at the site and in the document you link to above so they can do some interpretation on their own, too.

But I do hope you’ll clarify something: when you say you’ve talked to both of us, you mean in the past, but NOT about this poll prior your commentary. That was one of our key points, and I hope you’ll clarify that for your readers.

Again, thanks for the opportunity and the interest, and for all your past support of the program. I look forward to having you back on campus for the Speaker Series again soon.

It's a trainwreck over there.

Kay and Big John overruled on judges.

Texas Senate duo Big John and Kay seemingly easily won a big battle over Texas judicial picks made by the President last week (link). The understanding seemed to be that Texas two Senators would send their choices for U.S. judge, U.S. attorney, or U.S. marshall to President Obama and he would then officially nominate them.

The latest word, from the Dallas Morning News, is that declaring Kay and Big John the winners might have been premature (link). Excerpt follows:

WASHINGTON – The fight over control of federal nominations in Texas came to head today, with the White House proclaiming that Democratic lawmakers – not the state’s Republican senators – get to send names to the president for consideration.

“No federal judge, U.S. Attorney or U.S. Marshal will be nominated by the president… unless that person has the confirmed support of the Texas Democratic delegation,” the White House said in a statement provided to The Dallas Morning News.

The decision is sure to rile Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, who have demanded an ongoing, central role in selecting nominees.


“Elections have consequences,” Doggett said. “…Of course we’ll talk with the senators and ask them to share their views. We’ve never suggested otherwise.”

The White House statement served as a fairly direct rejection of Cornyn’s assertion last week that “we have an understanding with the Obama administration.”

As Republicans saw it, they would continue screening candidates and sending finalists to the White House, and if Democrats had a candidate, they would have to submit to that screening process, too.

Here is the full White House statement:

"The Texas Democratic members of the House of Representatives have, at the request of the White House, engaged in a process that involves interviewing potential candidates for federal judge, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal. The White House supports the Texas Democratic delegation’s established process for reviewing and submitting candidates. Individuals seeking these positions should utilize this process to ensure full consideration by the White House."

"The President of the United States will make the final decision as to who will be nominated and sent to the Senate for confirmation. No federal judge, U.S. Attorney or U.S. Marshal will be nominated by the President, however, unless that person has the confirmed support of the Texas Democratic delegation. The Texas U.S. Senators will be accorded a full opportunity to share their views about each candidate whom the President proposes to nominate."

In essence, Kay and Big John have been neutered in the process. How much will they fight back? Kay, with a Republican primary coming up in one year, could try to position herself as a scrappy fighter against the overreaching liberal Obama administration. Will she?

Border security somehow emerges on Rick vs. Kay agenda...

A couple of weeks ago, Kay criticized Rick for suggesting that he wanted to send 1,000 federal troops to the Mexican border (link).

When asked about Rick's request for troops, she said:

"We're not in a war with Mexico. We have the same enemy and that is the drug cartels," Hutchison told reporters today.

"The issue of military on the border has to be looked at very carefully. I'm not ruling it out. But I'm not ruling it in either," Hutchison said.

"Nor has Mexico asked for that," the Texas Republican added.

It's hard to know whether or not to support Kay, because she is all too often all too careful with her statements and positions when put on the spot by a reporter. She always seems to take the position that she is "concerned" or that we need to look at something carefully, instead of just saying she is for or against something. A lot of the time, when she has thought about it carefully enough and long enough, she picks the right side, but not always.

Burnt Orange Report took her up on this yesterday (link), calling her a coward (they also called Rick a cyborg). From the liberal perspective, Kay is a coward for not knowing what her positions are until she has sufficiently polled them. Whether that is correct or not, I don't know, but Kay is definitely developing a reputation as a typical wishy-washy Senator. She needs to work hard on overcoming that reputation, or her current front runner status won't mean a thing in a year.

Yesterday was a big day on border security. According to google news search, Rick was mentioned in dozens and dozens of articles around the country as a Republican Governor who is asking Obama for more border security. In the articles, Rick comes across as some kind of lone hawk on border security, standing up to Clinton/Bush/Obama for inaction, exactly where he wants to be in the Republican primary.

Not to be outdone, Kay put out a statement on her website yesterday taking credit for expanded border security efforts in recent years (link). Here is the statement:
“Having worked on border security efforts for years, including working to increase the number of border patrol agents from roughly 4000 agents when I first came to the Senate, to over 20,000 agents today, I’m pleased that the Secretary is supporting current efforts such as Project Gunrunner and assistance for local law enforcement, two programs which I have been leading support for in the Senate. More must be done, including additional Border Patrol agents and equipment, to ensure that we can fight the drug cartels and do away with the human trafficking and violence along our border.”
Rick can take credit for various border security efforts at the state level and rail against the "inadequacies of Washington's response." Can Kay credibly say she was a bulldog in the trenches working on this issue in Washington? Let me tell ya, this is a big issue for Republican primary voters, and both Rick and Kay are positioning themselves as "tough" on border security.

As a Republican primary voter who has typically not cared much about this issue but (due to all the recent carnage and mayhem just across the border) is starting to come around to the hawkish conservative position, I will be keeping my eye on this issue.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Did Obama give Rick what he wanted on border security?

A while back now, Rick asked Obama to send 1000 troops or law enforcement personnel to the border to crack down on international gangs and drug cartels.

Obama at first seemed to dismiss it entirely (link) but later made signals that the feds would be sending border reinforcements (link).

Today, the White House announced its decision (link). Excerpt:

Among the moves the government is making:

_Doubling the border enforcement security teams that combine local, state, and federal officers.

_Adding 16 new Drug Enforcement Administration positions in the southwest region. DEA currently has more than 1,000 agents working in the southwest border region.

_Sending 100 more people form the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to the border in the next 45 days. A recent bill passed by Congress already provided money for the ATF to hire 37 new agents and support staff in the region to fight gun trafficking.

The administration is also highlighting $700 million that Congress has already approved to support Mexico's efforts to fight the cartels.

Yet the plan so far falls short of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's request last month that 1,000 troops be sent to bolster border security in his state.

During a visit to El Paso last month, Perry said he had asked Napolitano for aviation assets and "1,000 more troops that we can commit to different parts of the border."

Asked then it he wanted the military, Perry said, "I really don't care. As long as they are boots on the ground that are properly trained to deal with the border region, I don't care whether they are military troops, or National Guard troops or whether they are customs agents."

Last week, a Perry spokeswoman said that federal border protection had been underfunded for some time and that the 1,000 extra troops Perry requested would fill in gaps that state and local agencies have been covering.

It looks like Rick got a little bit of what he wanted, but not everything. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano hinted that she may still be willing to send troops, but she wants to discuss the issue with Rick when she is in Texas later this week (link).

How will border security play in the race between Rick and Kay?

UPDATED at 3:01 PM...

There is video of Janet Napolitano making her announcement (link). Here it is:

Napolitano also issued a press release about her visit to Texas (link).

Kay's plans solidifying...

The Daily Horse Race blog has a blog up about Kay's plans for the Senate (link).

There are pros and cons to her decision to stay in the Senate.

Potential pros include that she can stay relevant on national issues, although the Horse Race bloggers labels that a mixed bag and a draw. Another potential plus from Kay's decision is really more of a mitigation of a likely downside. It takes away Rick's chance to appoint someone (like the dynamic and very conservative African American Republican Michael Williams) to the Senate who would excite the base and be a big national news bonanza for a few weeks.

There are also some disadvantages to Kay's decision. Excerpts from the Horse Race blog follow:
There are two major pitfalls with remaining a senator. The first is that the Perry campaign will be able to argue that Hutchison is absent from her service to Texas if she ends up missing important votes; on the other hand, if she spends too much time in Washington, the Perry campaign can charge Hutchison spends too much time there. If she resigned, she would have plenty of time to travel the state and raise more funds (she already has $8 million, transferred from her federal account, but by many estimates, that’s only the beginning).

The other is that Washington is largely unpopular, with the exception of the president, who won his election by criticizing the behavior of politicians in Washington. While Hutchison is undoubtedly a full-blooded Texan (born, raised, college-educated in the state that she has now represented in the senate for 14 years), Hutchison is finishing her third term (due to expire in 2012), and has therefore spent a lot of time out of the state. The Perry campaign has already disparaged her for her ties to Washington, dubbing her “Kay Bailout” after unpopular TARP legislation. The more time she’s away from Texas, the easier it will be for Perry’s campaign apparatus to link her to D.C.

Clearly this is a very political decision, and Hutchison’s consultants will be judged by the decision they’re making before any blood has been spilled. Keep coming back for more analysis of this race as it develops.
Very solid analysis from the Daily Horse Race blog. Kay is faced with a sort of lose-lose scenario. Because she is not resigning her Senate seat, she will likely miss a lot of votes. Expect Rick's people to bash her over the head with that fact on a daily basis. Because she is still part of Washington, it makes Rick's talking points a lot simpler.

On the other hand, if she had resigned, she may not have a backup position in case she loses the primary. She would be out of office entirely. Kay would also be handing Rick a big gift in terms of a Senate appointment. Rick could appoint anyone he wants, and he could put someone in Kay's place that might upstage her and make her look not very conservative by comparison.

Kay: where do you stand on unemployment insurance?

The effervescent and always well dressed Jason Embry this morning blogged that Kay's stance on stimulus UI money is "open to interpretation." Look at the url, though...


Originally, it must have been titled "Hutchison fuzzy in response to..." ("Rick's UI position..." or something like that.)

Open to interpretation is a much nicer and way more journalistic way of saying fuzzy.

Excerpts follow from Embry's blog (link):
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was in town and spoke to the Texas Daily Newspaper Association. Afterwards, she took a few questions from reporters, and because her initial response was vague, we asked her a couple of times about her reaction to Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to turn down federal stimulus aid for extended unemployment benefits.

Here are her responses:

And a followup question:

To recap, Hutchison said that while she agrees with Perry’s concern about expanding the unemployment program, as the federal stimulus package requires in order to receive the money, she said he should be looking for creative ways to manage the fund to lessen the impact on businesses who pay taxes into the fund (and who are looking at a tax increase because of a looming deficit in the fund).

Embry goes on to catalogue all the different mainstream media interpretations of Kay's verbal dance party (she's all over the place!). After watching those videos, I can't blame any of the media for having no idea what her actual position is. I am still confused.

UPDATED at 10:41 AM...
Check out the video on the Houston Chronicle site (link). The Daily Horse Race blog says almost exactly what I was thinking in its analysis of the Chronicle video (link). Excerpt:
I think Perry won the exchange here–not necessarily on substance (that’s obviously up to voters), but that his message is clear. Let it serve as an early-in-the-race lesson to Hutchison: when the race heats up, her current popularity alone won’t let her sail to victory. She still needs a compelling reason to run.
Exactly. I would love to a reporter to ask each candidate the infamous "Ted Kennedy" question. Why do you want to be Governor? Or even, why do you think you would make a better Governor than the person running against you? I think Rick has already found his campaign voice, while Kay is just going through the motions thinking she can coast to victory. I am not sure she would be able to answer those questions as succinctly as Rick right now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Audio of Kay speaking to reporters at Texas Daily Newspaper Association today.

Kay's thoughts from today, direct from the source...

Listen for yourself.

Kay blasts Rick, Rick responds at Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

This morning, Kay spoke at the Texas Daily Newspaper Association meeting, lashing out at Rick for not leading on the issue of unemployment insurance (link).

Rick spoke to the same group later in the same day. He did not mention Kay by name in his remarks.

The highly clean and articulate Jason Embry has some of the details (link). Excerpt follows:

“Our low taxes, controlled government spending and fair legal system give us a leg up on other states,” Perry told the Texas Daily Newspapers Association on Monday.

But to hear Hutchison tell it, much of the state’s economic success is, if not an accident, a product of good weather, good air service and decisions made long before Perry moved into the Governor’s Mansion at the end of 2000, such as not having a state income tax not allowing unions to “dominate” the state.

“The reason Texas is in good shape today is because of the attributes that we have that neither the governor nor I produced,” Hutchison told the newspaper group, speaking a few hours before Perry.


Hutchison criticized Perry’s approach but did not say whether she would have also rejected the federal aid.

“I agree with him on the point that the fed government should not have mandated the specifics in the coverage,” Hutchison said. “However I believe that we look at all of the aspects of this, that we are in a position where it’s not status quo in the fund. I think there are management questions about where we are.”

She added, “A leader would be taking time to look at all of these aspects and coming up with a better solution.”

Perry has said that taking the federal dollars would have cost more in the long run.

“I think most Texans look at Washington, D.C. today and see what’s going on up there and they’re like, ‘Listen, the last thing we want is Washington coming down here to Texas and telling us how to run our state,’” Perry said. “We have a system in place that works. The people who lose their jobs by no fault of their own are going to be covered.”

Signaling how he will run against Hutchison, Perry used the word “Washington” seven times in a 100-second exchange with reporters.

The Houston Chronicle also took note of the sparks (link). Excerpt follows:

"I would be hoping that he is looking for innovative ways not to dock the taxpayers of Texas," Hutchison said. "I think a leader would be taking time to look at all of these aspects and coming up with a better solution."

Perry, after speaking to the news industry group later in the day, disagreed with the senator. Perry has said taking the unemployment fund dollars would force the state to keep paying for expanding jobless benefits for the long term.

"I think most people in the state of Texas understand that having Washington D.C. give us a bunch of requirements and then wipe their hands of it and say, 'Oh and by the way, in two years that money is going to be gone' — for us to have taken that money would have been irresponsible and that's the reason we stood up and said we made the right decision: No thank you, Washington," Perry told reporters.

Texans who are laid off from their jobs will continue to be covered by the state's existing system, Perry said.

According to the Houston Chronicle article, Kay took a shot directly at Rick, while Rick never mentioned Kay in his speech. Does it seem odd to anyone else for the alleged front runner to attack the alleged underdog, and not vice versa?

My take on the issue at stake here...

I may be biased on this issue, because I am a fairly typical GOP primary voter in that I am not happy with government spending, not happy with high taxes, and I am really not happy with the various bailouts we are seeing out of Washington. That being said, I am still listening to both candidates as they make their pitches, and I am always about the last person in the party to officially commit to a candidate during primaries, even when it is obvious which candidate is going to win. It's just how I am. That being said, Kay has had a couple of pretty bad weeks, and Rick has done pretty well for himself over the same period.

In that vein, I am having trouble following Kay's logic here. This particular statement really bothers me, as someone who believes policy decisions actually make a difference (link):

Kay: "The reason Texas is in good shape today is because of the attributes that we have that neither the governor nor I produced."

I strongly disagree with this statement. Economic consequences do not happen by accident. Tort reform did not happen by accident. Attributing Texas' relatively good economy to fate or something else that is out of our control is highly specious. Lots of other states have great ports or locations or weather. Not all of them are doing well. Just look at the numbers comparing states with certain characteristics... policies make a huge difference. It bothers me a lot that a politician would even think that what they do (or don't do) doesn't matter. A few of the things that make Texas great today, Rick inherited, but let's take unemployment insurance as an example. Kay's logic breaks down here.

Kay wants Rick to cave to Obama and change Texas law in order to receive federal unemployment insurance money that will go away in a few years, leaving Texas on the hook for a massively expanded program.

In other words, if Kay had been Governor, Texas might be changing our laws to be more like California or other liberal states so we can receive the federal money. Over the course of a Governor's term, there will be several big decisions like this, dozens of somewhat big decisions, and hundreds of small decisions that all add up. The sum of these decisions makes a huge difference to the success of the state. Texas is more economically competitive today by far than if Rick had not been Governor.

Kay obviously has to break through this argument by downplaying Rick's record as a scrappy free market fighter, but her argument that A) Texas would be fine anyway regardless of who was in charge, yet B) Kay would have done things much differently doesn't jive. Part B undermines Part A, and vice versa.

Rick getting his wish? Feds sending security to border?

Here is a very under the radar story I am not really seeing anywhere, but it's a story that GOP primary voters will care a lot about.

A few weeks ago, Rick asked President Obama to send 1,000 troops or other personnel to help secure the Texas border. The initial response from Washington seemed very lukewarm, if not outright dismissive (link).

That may have changed (link). Excerpt follows:
The US is expected this week to announce plans to dispatch more federal agents to its border with Mexico in a bid to combat drug cartel operations there, US officials said.

Washington appears poised to bolster its customs and border protection forces along the 3000-plus kilometer (2000 mile) frontier, in what would be President Barack Obama's first major domestic security initiative.

The announcement is expected to come "in the next few days" a Department of Homeland Security official told AFP ahead of the announcement.


The governor of the border state of Texas, Rick Perry, last month asked the president to deploy 1,000 soldiers as a precaution.

In Mexico more than 1,000 people have been killed so far this year in suspected drug attacks, amid the Mexican government's crackdown on warring cartels.

Last year saw more than 5,300 killed in drug related violence.

Drugs are bad, mmmkay. So don't use drugs.

It remains to be seen what the Obama administration will do, but if Dick Morris were in charge, this would be the perfect "triangulation" issue for them. Seem tough on border security to quiet down activist opposition in 2012. It is hard to believe that Obama will still be president in 2012. Yuck.

Kay "concerned" about Rick's unemployment decision.

Kay and Rick are both speaking today to the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

Kay told the group that she was "concerned" about Rick's unemployment decision (link). Excerpt follows:

AUSTIN, Texas — Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says Gov. Rick Perry should be looking for ways to accept $550 million in unemployment fund stimulus money but without committing the state to future federal mandates.

She told reporters at a Texas Daily Newspaper Association meeting Monday there may be a way to do that. She said Perry should be looking at every avenue to keep employers from facing higher unemployment taxes next year.

Perry faces Hutchison in the 2010 Republican primary. He recently rejected the federal money that would rescue the struggling unemployment insurance fund. He said it would commit the state to expanding jobless benefits.

Lawmakers call the move politically motivated.

Perry's aides did not immediately respond to Hutchison's remarks.

Kay, give us something to work with here. Do you disagree with Rick's decision, do you agree with it, or are you "concerned"? What does that even mean, concerned... We need some campaign friction here, Kay. Rick versus Kay needs sparks.

There is definitely more to come on this story. How will Rick respond in his speech later today? Will Kay be asked what Rick should do specifically?

Kay's fundraiser theme in Round Rock: "CHANGE"

The Austin American Statesman has video from outside Kay's fundraiser in Round Rock (link).

The theme of the attendees' comments echoed Barack Obama's campaign theme: "CHANGE." One man speaks very highly of Rick and his stewardship of the economy but says that he had committed to Kay in 2006 under the assumption that Rick was not running again.

Kay's campaign offered attendance for as little as $1 for young Republicans. It looks like one college student on Twitter took her up on the offer (link). Excerpts:
@ Kay Bailey event. Lots of old people. Young people on their way.
Host about to speak at event. Senator Hutchison to arrive soon.... Only young person here.....
Hutchinson speaking now....
@WayneSlater She outlined her plan for Texas.... Good goals... Property taxes are one of them.... I thiink she is better for the State!
Looking at the tweets of @sjamesb, he seems like a disgruntled Mike Huckabee supporter. Some of the Huckabee people I talk to tell me they will never get over Rick's insistence that Huckabee drop out of the race before the Texas primary. That's a grudge that Kay may be able to use.

What's ironic about the Huckabee grudge is that Rick is considered more socially conservative than the moderately pro-choice Kay, and Huckabee's big thing was social conservativism, so if the Huckabee people go for anybody but Rick, they may end up supporting someone who is pro-choice.

Rick on Austin NBC Sunday Morning.

Rick went on KXAN on Sunday morning for the Jenny Hoff show. It is kind of the Texas version of Meet the Press.

I was not able to catch it live, but @HaoleWahine on Twittter twittered some live updates (link). Thank you to HaoleWahine for that.

Now the entire interview is online.

If you can't watch it on your computer at work, there is a recap online (link). Excerpt follows:

Governor Rick Perry assures Texans that his decision to reject stimulus money is the best decision in the long run. While denying any political motivation, he says he made the decision based on a principled and philosophical basis. Perry does not agree with how the Obama administration is handling the stimulus packages distribution of funds. In fact, he thinks that the 10th Amendment will be brought up soon, which states the relationship between federal and state governing. He says the strings attached offer shows that Washington is overstepping the boundaries by telling states how they must spend the money in an all or nothing deal. The Governor is convinced that the Federal Government is stripping down state rights when they should be leading the states to make their own decisions.

The stimulus money aside, Texas is in a position to make other attempts at recovering from the massive amount of people who are out of work. Governor Perry wants to put an emphasis on creating jobs in Texas and recover from the bruised economy. He is hoping to do this partly by lowering taxes so more businesses will open, creating jobs and increasing the circulation of money.

Money and finances is always a hot button issue, even more so now. Jobless people are in need, but the unsecured border is rising in the ranks of top concerns. The situation along the Texas-Mexico border is increasingly dangerous with an alarming amount of drug trafficking. Governor Perry would like to see that the federal government plays a large role in providing what’s necessary to increase border patrol and make improvements on the dangerous situation.

Finally, the Governor shared his intentions to run for a 3rd term of Governor for the state. When asked if he would like to expand his political career beyond the governorship, Perry responded by saying that being the Texas Governor is the best job in America. He moves forward with confidence as he reflects on the decisions he has made while in office. He notes that he is very proud of Texas, which he feels is headed in the right direction, partly due to his disciplined approach a policy. He finishes by saying that Good policy makes good politics.


How will Kay vote on punitive taxation on AIG bonuses?

The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 328-93 to tax AIG bonuses at a 90% level. As far as I am concerned, Congress is the primary problem in this situation, and they all need to just go home or at the very least all sit in the corner with a giant dunce cap on.

The bailout itself was a bad idea. Government ownership of private business is the real problem. Some Texas Republican members of Congress recognized that the special AIG tax was a trojan horse for some pretty terrible things, and they voted against it.

Still, it passed with big margins. Tyranny of the majority in action. It is also why the Founding Fathers set up the Senate to be far more deliberative and slow... to put the brakes on populist lynch mobs. It's also why they set up the presidential veto and the Supreme Court, to add a couple more layers that may put a halt to excessive action.

On the other hand, we the taxpayer bailed out AIG, and now they are using that money for seemingly frivolous things, even if they did owe those bonuses according to the contracts.

What will Kay do when this issue hits the Senate next week (link)? Excerpt follows:

One objection to the bill is that it’s unconstitutional to target one individual or group with a law in such a way.

Although a similar Senate bill was stopped in its tracks Thursday, senators are expected to vote on legislation next week designed to take back the bonuses.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Congress should first have hearings to find out how the bonuses were allowed to be paid out, who’s responsible and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We ought to be careful,” Cornyn said. “We ought to be deliberate.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, wants to recoup the bonuses but feels there are better options than taxing them away.

“I agree with the people who say, first of all, they should voluntarily not take these bonuses,” Hutchison said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” this week.

She is trying hard to distance herself from the Kay Bailout label, and on MSNBC's Hardball last week, she gave the distinct impression that she agreed with Senator "Lyle and Eric" Menendez and was all for a punitive tax on AIG (link).

She was not adamant about it, and she left herself a little wiggle room with her indecisive statement, but Kay did leave the impression that she was for 100% taxation (link). Excerpt follows:
BRZEZINSKI: Senator, are you with your colleague, Senator Menendez there, as well as Chuck Schumer, that if they don‘t give the money back, Congress will move forward to tax them 100 percent so the money gets back some way, somehow?

HUTCHISON: Yes. I do think that we should take action. I think they should know that we will take this action. And I think it should apply to others who are taking federal stimulus money, as well. When money is misspent, I think if our only lever is taxes, or maybe it is you return the money or you‘re out of a job, that‘s another piece of leverage that could be used. But I think this is something we can‘t just sit back and say, Well, we can‘t do anything about it. I think there are some things we can do.


BRZEZINSKI: All right. Let‘s pan back. Bottom line. Yes or no from you both. Senator Bob Menendez and Kay Bailey Hutchison, will that money from AIG—will those bonuses be recovered?

MENENDEZ: They‘re going to be recovered, 100 percent.

BRZEZINSKI: All right. Senator Hutchison?

HUTCHISON: I believe so, but I never want to predict fully anything that happens in Congress. But I do believe that the sentiment is there. We‘ve just got to find the legal way to do it, if they don‘t come up with a volunteer program, which would be my first choice.

She wants AIG to do something "voluntarily," but if they don't... is she backed into a corner on this one? Does Kay have to vote for the punitive tax increase or look like she is going back on her earlier comments? It seems like a lose-lose proposition, and a good reason why Senators rarely become Presidents. For that matter, do Senators become Governors that often?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

POLLING analysis in Rick vs. Kay race.

Dr. Richard Murray from Cougar High (no offense to Cougar High, a.k.a. the University of Houston) is on TV a lot in Houston and around the state, talking about polls and campaigns. He's got some expertise, and some letters after his name. Dick, as his friends probably call him, wrote a good piece on the polling in the Rick vs. Kay race (link). Excerpt follows:
Above all else, keep in mind polls taken a year before an election are notoriously unreliable. If you could take these early readings to the bank we would had a presidential match-up last November between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Hillary Clinton, as both were well ahead of their rivals a year before their respective party nominating conventions.

[T]he major reason we have to be quite careful in projecting current poll numbers into March 2010 results is the huge uncertainty as to who will actually show up at the Republican polls next year. One can see why that is a big problem by looking at Republican primary voting in the last four gubernatorial years (1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006) compared to the vote received by the Republican nominee in the November General Election.

These numbers show that while there have been millions of votes for Republican nominees in recent General Elections, there were far, far fewer voters in the March party primaries. That tells me that trying to figure out who the primary voters will be a year from now, and poll just those voters, is not possible at this stage. Any one of the 13 million registered voters in Texas can vote in the Republican Primary next year, but if past performance is a guide, less than a million will actually cast ballots.

We do know that the very selective GOP primary voters from 1994 – 2006 have been disproportionately hard-right conservatives. This explains why Governor Perry has been busily moving to the far right since he realized Senator Hutchison really is going to try and take him out in 2010, unlike four years ago when she talked about running against him, but pulled back at the last minute.

A much more robust and serious analysis from Dr. Murray than Saturday's blog from Paul Burka (link), who basically posted word for word the email from Rick's "campaign guru Dave Carney" followed by the exact spin I have been receiving in my email inbox from anonymous Kay supporters. Not really enlightening stuff. A commenter on the Burka Blog asked Burka if he had consulted with Dr. Shaw of UT who conducted the poll. No answer yet, but maybe I'll do just that and report back here in a future Rick vs. Kay post. Or if anyone knows Dr. Shaw, they could do that and post it in the comments section.