Political People and their Moves

Sen. Jon Lindsay, R-Houston, endorsed Rep. Peggy Hamric to succeed him, saying she would be the first female Republican from Harris County to win a spot in the state Legislature's upper chamber.Lindsay, who was Harris County judge for 20 years before coming to the Senate in 1997, had said he wouldn't name a favorite in the contest to succeed him. Hamric and three men -- city council member Mark Ellis, Rep. Joe Nixon, and radio personality Dan Patrick -- all want the job. For Lindsay, Hamric is "clearly the best candidate." Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, endorsed Dan Patrick in that race. She says that's the first time she's endorsed a Republican in a contested primary for the Legislature.

The Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth endorsed U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo -- the first Democrat ever endorsed by that outfit.Their stated goals (from the "about the club" section on their website): Making the Bush tax cuts permanent, death tax repeal, cutting and limiting government spending, social Security reform with personal retirement accounts, expanding free trade, legal reform to end abusive lawsuits, replacing the current tax code, school choice, and regulatory reform and deregulation. Cuellar is in a rematch with former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio. That endorsement might be as useful to Rodriguez as Cuellar; the challenger has been accusing the incumbent of being closer to Republicans than the district's voters.

You'll usually see Texas Labor making political decisions and such early in the year, but the AFL-CIO's COPE convention this year is in May.That means the biggest worker organization in the state will be making decisions about endorsements while lawmakers are in town -- and after it's clear whether two independent candidates can get on the gubernatorial ballot. The executive committee has heard from four candidates -- Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who's running as an independent, and Democrats Felix Alvarado, Chris Bell, and Bob Gammage. A spokesman says they didn't make any decisions after those sessions last week. One rumor came out of those sessions: Did Strayhorn promise to stop calling herself a Republican? A spokesman says no, but adds that her latest commercials don't identify her as a Republican. Her first commercials said she was a Republican running as an independent. Now, she's an "independent Texan."

Felix Alvarado's filing check bounced back to the Texas Democratic Party, and he's apparently off the March ballot for governor.Alavarado, a Fort Worth educator, was the only Hispanic in the race for the top state job on the ballot. Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting said Alvarado's bank returned the check and, "if that holds, it would take him off the ballot." Soechting left open the possibility of a bank error, so file this under "developing situations." That's good news for the other Democrats on the ticket, particularly the two with some campaign money: Chris Bell and Bob Gammage. But it's blockbuster news for Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman, who have to gather signatures after the primaries and before May 12. If there's no runoff in either party's gubernatorial contest, they can start collecting signatures on March 8 -- the day after the primary. If nobody gets more than 50 percent of the vote -- which is much more likely with a Hispanic candidate on the Democratic Party's ballot than without -- the signature collection would be on hold until after the April runoff.

Put former Webb County Judge Mercurio Martinez Jr. back on the ballot. He'll run against Rep. Richard Raymond, also of Laredo, in the Democratic primary.Raymond announced for Congress in a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Martinez declared his candidacy for what looked to be an open seat. But when Raymond backed out of the federal race, Martinez stayed in. Raymond challenged his application to run, saying he'd filled it out incorrectly by not properly listing HD-42 as the district he was running in. But a state district judge ruled that Martinez is eligible and ought to be listed as a Democratic primary candidate. That makes four. In addition to Martinez and Raymond, Sergio Mora and Jose "Rudy" Ochoa, both of them from Laredo, want the nomination.

Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, isn't answering questions about whether he'll serve out his term in HD-106, and other folks in political circles in that part of the state tell us they expect a special election for his seat next month.Allen already said he won't seek reelection after this term. And when we asked about this rumor, he said he's not ready to answer yes or no. Read into that whatever you wish. Two Republicans -- Kirk England and Edward Smith -- are after their party's nomination. Katy Hubener, who unsuccessfully challenged Allen two years ago, is the lone Democrat in the race. England is the management favorite, with endorsements from Allen, state Sen. Chris Harris, U.S. Reps. Joe Barton and Kenny Marchant, and a gang of local officeholders that includes Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England, the father of the candidate.

Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, is quitting early and will hang out a lobby shingle in Austin.Allen registered to vote in Austin this afternoon, which has the effect of making him ineligible for the seat he occupies in the House. His resignation letter to Gov. Rick Perry says he'll serve until midnight tomorrow. Allen says he simply can't afford to go through another special session of the Legislature, with its disruptions on his business time. Quitting now, he says, leaves time for a special election and, if necessary, a runoff election to replace him before a special session on education and public school finance. "My district will be better off electing a member now... it just seems like the right thing to do," he says. Allen has been in the House for 13 years, so he's eligible for legislative retirement. And he's over 50 years old, which means he can start collecting retirement checks from the state right away (lawmakers with 12 or more years can collect retirement after age 50; those with more than eight years in the Lege but less than 12 have to wait until they're 60 years old to draw checks). He's endorsed Kirk England, son of Grand Prairie's mayor and son-in-law of Bill Arnold, the Democrat who preceded Allen in the House. Katy Hubener, a Democrat who lost to Allen in 2004, and Edward Smith, a Republican, have also signed up for the November elections. The date for a special election to replace Allen will be set by Gov. Rick Perry, probably for next month.

Flynn, Jackson, Mechler, Vasquez, Jones, Moore, Norcross, Shannon, Scott, Campos, and HolfordRep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, will join the Texas Sunset Commission. House Speaker Tom Craddick named him to the spot held by Rep. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy. Hegar's running for state Senate, and Craddick's announcement said he gave up the sunset spot to concentrate on that election. Gov. Rick Perry named Charles Lewis Jackson of Houston, Tom Mechler of Claude, and Leopoldo Vasquez III of Houston to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. Jackson is pastor at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Mechler is an engineer and president of Makar Production Co. Vasquez is CFO of Cadeco Industries, a coffee processing firm. Perry's former general counsel, Bill Jones, is moving to Vinson & Elkins from his current perch at Locke Liddell. V&E is adding to its administrative law and lobby teams and he'll work there. Jones is currently vice chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. V&E also said its forming an "alliance" with the Texas Capitol Group, working together on some accounts.

Billy Moore, Rob Norcross, and Mike Shannon are joining ViaNovo -- the public affairs consulting firm started by a group of Austin consultants who left Public Strategies Inc. Moore and Shannon, in fact, are leaving PSI for the new gig. Moore will remain in Washington, D.C. Norcross will open a Dallas office for the firm, and Shannon, who worked on the both Bush-Cheney campaigns and also in the White House, will work out of the Austin office. The directors at Equality Texas (formerly the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas) hired Paul Scott as their new executive director. Scott has been the head of the Resource Center of Dallas for the past three years. He'll be on board in March. Dya Campos is leaving Austin-Based Hillco Partners to be the new director of public affairs for HEB Grocery in San Antonio. Department of Corrections: Will Holford, who got a promotion at the comptroller's office (special assistant for communications), spells his first name with two Ls and not just one, like we had it last week. Sorry, sorry, sorry.