Primary day, on balance, was a good one for conservatives and TCR's recommended candidates. TCR selections won or hit the run-off in 17 of 19 races with a few casualties. In the featured congressional primaries in CD 1, Louis Gohmert and John Graves beat out conservative favorite Wayne Christian. In CD 2, nationally known Criminal District Judge Ted Poe overcame five opponents and an ugly smear campaign to stomp his opposition with almost 61% of the vote. Ted Poe moves on to a key fall race against left-wing Democrat Nick Lampson. Incumbent GOPer's rolled in CD 3 - Sam Johnson, Ralph Hall in CD 4, John Culberson in CD 7, and John Carter in CD 31.
Other newcomers to roll - CD 9 Arlette Molina in a very difficult fall race with Judge Al Green, Mike Conaway in CD 11, and Kenny Marchant in CD 24.
Now there are two key run-offs for conservatives, one in CD 10 where conservative hopeful Ben Streusand leads attorney Michael McCaul in what could be a geographic and possibly ideological battle - Houston (Streusand) vs. Austin (McCaul), staunch conservative (Streusand) vs. a more moderate conservative (McCaul) supported by well known GOP moderates like former Harris County Chair Betsy Lake and her United Republicans group.
A similar battle in CD 17 where philosophical and regional differences are in play - Club for Growth and conservative hero Arlene Wohlgemuth vs. more moderate Dot Snyder.
TCR will have more to say about the run-offs in the near future.
A few other comments about the election:
(1) Low Turnout - Total turnout of around 9% for both parties is pathetic and an indictment of all of us including parties, candidates and the media. We need to do a lot more if we want to teach democracy to other countries. Do you realize 2-3% of the registered voters select our officials since most races are not seriously contested?
(2) Democrats Racial Issues Surface - In CD 9 and 25. In CD 9, Congressman Chris Bell's attacks on Al Green (an African-American Judge) backfired into charges of race-based double standards and Democrats giving table scraps to the black community. Green blew Bell out effectively ending his political career at least for now. In CD 25, Hispanic Democrats (shades of Gene Green) once again are shown the back of the bus. When Lloyd Doggett wins and TCR wonders when substantial numbers of Democrats from these communities will see the light and join the GOP.
(3) Perry Strikes Back - TCR did not think Governor Perry should have gotten involved in the Smith-Green Supreme Court race as both were conservative and Smith had a good record. He did get involved and was key in Green's victory. TCR agrees that the Governor got payback for X. Rodriguez's defeat in 2002, but wonders whether there was a cost with the grass-roots conservatives behind Smith and whether it is part of the reason the Governor's Texas poll numbers have dropped below the 50% approval level.
(4) Harris County-Based Endorsement Sheets - Did They Make Any Difference? If you look at the truly competitive elections, not much. In the high profile congressional races CD 2 and 10 - Conservative Republicans of Harris County 0-2, Link Letter 0-2, Harris County GOP PAC did not endorse, United Republicans (moderates) 1½ out of 2. Even when you look at low profile races like Judges the critical race McCally vs. Rondon (Governor appointee), the endorsers were split and McCally won narrowly. To TCR, it seems the longer we have these endorsers the more irrelevant they've become, especially in races where the campaigns have visibility. TCR's Comment - maybe we should legally require disclosure of who and what was paid (if anything) to get the "endorsements".
(5) Democrats Cannibalize Themselves. It appears seven Democratic House incumbents are not coming back to Austin - essentially targeted by Democrats and their trial bar allies for voting for tort reform and (or) redistricting. It appears the minority party in the legislature will allow no diversity of opinion or independence. The message is, if you play with the GOP you are toast. TCR Comments - so who exactly halted bipartisan cooperation? It sure looks like the Democratic legislative leadership is well on its way to irrelevancy.
Governor Perry Stakes Out Bold Plan
to Control Runaway Property Taxes
Governor Perry spoke the truth when he stated that the 1992 tax cut disappeared as "many found that their rate cuts were offset by appraisal hikes". This echoes comments back in 1998 by the Harris County Republican Party and its chairman and Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt in an earlier effort to stop unvoted for increases in property taxes.
The Governor's plan has three key parts -
- (a) Limit property appraisal increase on homes to 3% per year.
- (b) Setting up a revenue cap tied to the previous year spending plus inflation and population growth.
- (c) Make the appraisal boards contain five elected officials accountable to the taxpayers.
Essentially, the Governor is putting the brakes on unvoted for tax increases. He is onto something, as an example, in the last 6 years average property taxes in Harris County are up 89%!
Of course, gutless city, county and school officials and "the spend it all" media and special interest groups are wailing. TCR says make them wail more.
The Twelve States "in Play" - A Review
You have probably heard about the battlegrounds of the 2004 election. TCR has studied the polls, history of the vote and trends to give you the picture of what's in play and what's not.
First, since TCR's focus is on Texas let's be clear, Bush will win Texas and it will not be in play.
Second, the presidency, as you know has fifty different elections (one in each state) and we need to win enough states to have 270 electoral votes.
Third, as of today the states in play are:
- (a) Florida - Remember this mess and it's in play again. It will be a real challenge - Jeb Bush as Governor is a plus, but with Senator Nelson or Graham on the ticket we could be in trouble. Nader got 97,000 plus votes in 2000 and Buchanan 17,484.
- (b) Ohio - A close Bush victory in 2000 while having a GOP Governor and Senators is a plus; loss of lots of manufacturing jobs is a minus - it will be hard fought and if Representative Gephardt is the Vice Presidential candidate it could help the Democrats here.
- (c) Missouri - A close Bush victory and Democrats hold two of the three top state offices, unemployment is an issue here and Gephardt on the ticket would probably mean it goes Democrat.
- (d) New Mexico - A close Bush loss (266 votes) in 2000 but then there was a GOP Governor and now Bill Richardson is, so it will be a challenge. Nader could help here.
- (e) Arizona - With a close victory for Bush in 2000 and a Democratic governor this state could be in transition due to California migration and a hostile major daily paper - The Arizona Republic.
- (f) Iowa - A close Gore victory in 2000 with Nader getting 2.23 percent. A swing state that will be a turnout battle.
- (g) Pennsylvania - A narrow Bush loss in 2000 where we had a Republican governor. Now there's a Democratic governor and as part of the rust belt it has lost manufacturing jobs, so it will be a challenge.
- (h) West Virginia - A narrow Bush win in a culturally conservative state in 2000 due to dissatisfaction with Clinton steel import policy - for 04' it's now our problem.
- (i) Minnesota - A state that seems regularly in play with real independent voters, looks to be close again.
- (j) Wisconsin - In 2000, Gore took Bush 47.83% to 47.61% with Nader getting 3.62%, so this again looks to be a tossup.
- (k) New Hampshire - A narrow Bush win in 2000 with more liberal immigration from Massachusetts, this state will be closer - also Nader got 22,000 plus votes in 2000. Bush's margin was just above 7000 votes. This will be close.
- (l) Nevada - We won in 2000, but if you add Nader votes to Gore's in 2000, it was very close, so this time the fastest growing state will be a battle.
As things develop TCR will be on the lookout for other possible swing states.
A great American, John Fonteno, Jr. died on March 8th. John is a former Harris County Republican Party Pioneer award winner and as such was a pioneer activist when you could hold a Republican Party meeting in your kitchen. He was an early leader in the black community for the GOP and a good man. He will be missed.
About Your Editor
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
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