As we move within six weeks for the 2006 general elections in Texas, there is a growing angst among conservatives that the down ballot conservatives will be forgotten or overlooked with all the hype regarding the five-way governor's race and Rick Perry's declining numbers to well under 50%.
The present situation means that traditional straight ticket GOP voting in major counties will not carry home largely invisible down ballot races. It also creates an opportunity for Democrats who may well exceed the GOP in straight ticket voters in the major counties. This development could result in an alarming number of GOP down ballot losses unless some things are done to alleviate the situation.
So what do we do?
- Educate GOP voters about the potential down ballot disaster and the critical importance of our Judges, County Officials and State Legislators. Stress that any unhappiness with high profile GOP officials shouldn't be taken out on our generally well qualified down ballot candidates.
- Raise the profile of down ballot races which are usually invisible by publicizing key down ballot candidates and stressing the importance of keeping conservatives in office who are doing what they said they would when we elected them.
- Without encouraging ticket splitting, which TCR doesn't recommend, the fact is it's easy in counties with computer ballots to push the straight GOP position and then you can go through the ballot and deselect in any race by selecting another candidate. With generally long ballots, specifically in major counties, this is the easy way for one to vote until the end of the ballot for GOP candidates and still split if you want.
- Stress turnout of the base GOP vote.
This election year, especially for down ballot races, is critical. Inroads in GOP dominated counties will result in much more difficult election cycles two or four years hence, so get to work.
Observations This Fortnight
SCHOOL DISTRICTS BUILD SPORT PARADISES WHILE EDUCATION AND TAXPAYERS LOSE - The Houston Chronicle a few weeks ago had a positive front-page study on new "super" sports facilities built in Katy ISD, Clear Creek ISD, and Cy-Fair ISD. TCR wonders, with school taxes rising by almost double digits yearly due to appraisal creep and increased rates, what were these people thinking? They should be embarrassed spending $25 million, $6.2 million, and $72.9 million respectfully. So while school performance declines, we will have the best sports facilities money can buy. Isn't that great?
DICK MORRIS SAYS, "NEITHER SIDE DESERVES TO BE RE-ELECTED" - and in some ways he is right. As conservatives, we were disappointed in no Social Security reform, no solution to illegal immigration, a weak energy bill passed without Alaskan drilling, all time record spending on earmarks and pork, and too much special interest pandering. That said, there are good conservatives (a minority in D.C.) who deserve re-election, many from Texas. TCR says vote for them and forget the rest.
TEXAS GOVERNOR RACE - Can the unthinkable happen? A Perry defeat? The answer is it's possible, but not probable. The latest Rasmussen Poll says Perry leads with 33%, Strayhorn - 22%, Bell - 18% and Friedman - 16%. This is a plurality race, so Governor Perry still is a favorite, but TCR sees a possible threat on the horizon. With rising dissatisfaction on the business tax, a feeling the state is headed in the wrong direction and of course the biggest threat, is the chance the opposition will focus on one opponent. Remember in a 4+ person race, 26% could win it. TCR rates Perry's re-election odds as 2 out of 3.
Campaign 2006 - How Do We Look Nationally?
At the end of a long, hot summer it looked like the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives were headed Democratic. But things change, and a recent Gallup poll showed a tightening in the generic ballot which is now 48% D - 48% R, much tighter than the 11 point Democratic advantage in July (Gallup 9/15-17/06).
That's the good news. The bad news is a race-by-race analysis shows 20 GOP House seats are rated a tossup or worse and no Democratic seats are in that category. In addition, there are fifteen GOP seats competitive but leaning GOP and Democratic seats in a similar category.
In the Senate, the GOP faces trouble in:
- Montana: Senator Conrad Burns, the most vulnerable of GOP Senators is down about 4 points, depending on the poll.
- Pennsylvania: Senator Rick Santorum has recovered but is still the underdog and highly vulnerable.
- Ohio: Senator Mike DeWine (RINO) narrowly trails.
- Missouri: Senator Jim Talent narrowly leads.
- Rhode Island: Senator Lincoln D. Chafee (RINO) leads.
- Tennessee: Open Seat - Democrat Ford leads GOP Corker by 2-3 points.
- Virginia: Senator George Allen up 4 points over Webb, but still under 50% per last Mason-Dixon poll.
The GOP has hopes in:
- New Jersey: Tom Kean Jr. (RINO) leads appointed Senator Menendez narrowly. Still, New Jersey is a tough state for the GOP.
- Michigan: Senator Stabenow (D) is in some trouble against Sheriff Michael Bouchard and he is within striking distance, down 5 points.
- Maryland: Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R) should benefit from black angst over the Mfume loss to Congressman Ben Cardin and is within 6 points.
Of course, this is subject to change but now the Senate looks 49(R) - 48(D) with tossups in Tennessee, New Jersey and Missouri. In the House, the tight generic poll raises hope the GOP can hold on. As the Democrats fumble the war on terror issue for a third time, the hope of GOP holding the Congress is rising.
Let's Keep The Lights On In Texas
By Peggy Venable
Texans are outraged with higher property taxes, but our electricity bills are escalating just as fast. Our pocketbooks are thinner and certain to be hit even harder with higher energy bills unless we get some additional power.
We Texans have proudly focused attention on the population growth in Texas and our growing economy. Little light has been shed on the need for affordable energy to fuel this growing state.
We cannot lose sight of a simple fact -- as our state grows, so do our energy needs. Texans can ill afford ignoring our increasing energy costs and need for additional generating capacity.
We can learn from consumer experiences in California where rolling blackouts have been commonplace. Texans have experienced one day of rolling blackouts. It made a lot of Texans hot under the collar. Unless we take action, Texans can expect those blackouts to continue and to increase in numbers, generally when we want our air conditioning most - in the heat of the summer.
Texans deserve the facts.
To assure Texans with adequate, affordable energy, we need to increase the generation capacity in the state and we need additional power generating capacity now. Among the 17 new generating plants being considered, TXU has proposed building 11 plants in Texas - creating jobs, bringing investment to the state and lowering electricity costs - while improving the environment. TXU is proposing to build additional generating capacity using coal.
TXU is committed to building the plants while reducing emissions by 20 percent. Texas consumers would be wise to embrace the plan and give a big Texas "thanks."
Instead, some radical environmentalists and ill-informed local politicians say it's just not good enough and are willing to send those TXU investments and jobs to another state. That would be a big mistake. These environmentalists would prefer Texans twiddle our thumbs and just wait for wind or solar power. If we do that, we can count on rolling blackouts and higher energy prices.
Unfortunately, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Houston Mayor Bill White, along with a few other misguided city leaders, are fighting TXU. It seems to me that with Dallas' dubious No. 1 ranking on crime (which the mayor claims is due to such good reporting), and Houston residents' high property tax bills, the Mayors should focus more attention on improving the quality of life for residents, not working to deny them lower energy bills.
Radical environmentalists have hijacked this issue and claim it will hurt air quality. Today's technology burns coal with fewer emissions. And if TXU doesn't keep their end of the deal, they will be subject to sanctions.
According to the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute's (TCCRI) Brent Connent, the radical environmentalists' concerns are ill founded. Texas is not a grave offender in terms of air pollution and has some of the cleanest emission rates. State regulators will be making the decision on permitting for the facilities, but the public has a need to know the facts.
With TXU willing to invest in the plants now, Texas should welcome the investment and ensure Texans with affordable, reliable energy now while research and development of emerging technologies may offer alternatives for the future.
The Texans I know don't sit back and try to figure out how we can make Texas more like California. It's time we shed some light on this issue and assure Texans the energy we need for our households and our businesses.
Peggy Venable is director of Americans for Prosperity in Texas. Americans For Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is a nationwide organization of citizen leaders committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFPF believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFPF educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits.
For more information, visit http://www.americansforprosperity.org
COMING - (Friday, September 29, 2006 at 8 pm) to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. The guest is Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Independent candidate for Governor.
Tune in weekly in October for The Connection - Red, White & Blue every week beginning October 6th through the election. Invited guests Senator John McCain, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Governor candidate Kinky Friedman, Senate candidate Barbara Radnofsky, and of course incumbent Governor Rick Perry.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.