Fight Card: Primaries to Watch

The top of the ballot is weird this year. It would've been a big deal if Texas had voted on Super Tuesday — Rick Santorum, who was in the lead in all of the polls at the time, probably dreams about it — and it might remain a big deal in the national race even on May 29.

There's an open Senate race for the first time since 2002. That was the first open race since 1993 — these don't open up very often. That could be a draw for voters. And there are races for Railroad Commission and the courts, which hardly ever penetrate the public consciousness.

The heat might be local this time. Here's our early watch list, which we'll change as new information comes in during the two months between now and Election Day. Caveat: This is an early list and might not include your favorite fight. Call and share. Argue. This is politics. Caveat 2: The parties and the Secretary of State haven't taken the oath on these lists yet, and there are some clear errors. Things could change. Caveat 3: We're looking at primaries here — not the general election.




The state's congressional delegation gets four new seats and two members — Charlie Gonzales of San Antonio and Ron Paul of Lake Jackson — aren't coming back. The starting list has a baker's dozen on it.

CD-6: U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, drew three primary opponents (and there are three Democrats in the hunt, too).

CD-14: Ten Republicans in the primary for Ron Paul's seat (he's not coming back) and two Democrats, including former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson. Two libertarians, too, in a district currently held by their party's 1988 presidential candidate.

CD-15: U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, drew a crowd, including four primary opponents and four Republicans who want a crack at the winner.

CD-16: U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, has a serious primary opponent in Beto O'Rourke.

CD-19: It might not amount to anything, but it's always worth some conversation when an incumbent draws the opposition of the chairman of his own party in his home county. U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock will face Chris Winn in the GOP primary.

CD-23: A Democratic primary between Ciro Rodriguez, a former congressman, John Bustamante, the son of another former congressman, and Pete Gallego, a 22-year veteran of the Texas House, in a swing district that promises a close race in November, too, against incumbent Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio.

CD-25: The Lloyd Doggett district that Doggett won't run in. This now-open seat has a dozen Republicans in it and might cost a fortune to win, with its ends stuck in two expensive media markets of Austin and Fort Worth.

CD-27: Blake Farenthold, like Canseco, might not have won in any year but 2010. Now he's defending himself in a newly drawn district that stretches from his home in Corpus Christi up to Bastrop. Three Republicans are waiting for him and the winner will face one of four Democrats, including the former Bastrop County judge, Ronnie McDonald.

CD-30: Longtime U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has two Democratic opponents in her South Dallas district, including Taj Clayton, a newcomer who has raised enough money to make some noise.

CD-33: Another open seat, another rumpus. Eleven Democrats, including current and former officeholders, blacks, Hispanics, people from Tarrant County, people from Dallas County, rich people, poor people. There are 30 ways to make a fight of this. The field includes Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, former Rep. Domingo Garcia, Steve Salazar of the Dallas City Council, Kathleen Hicks of the Fort Worth City Council, and David Alameel, a wealthy dentist, political financier and would-be horse track owner.

CD-34: An open seat in the Valley. Like the other open seats, this one has a herd of candidates: eight Democrats, three Republicans and a Libertarian. As in CD-33, the numbers favor the Democrats.

CD-35: This would be an open seat had Austin's Doggett not been squeezed out of his home district by the mapmakers. Now it's an Austin vs. San Antonio Battle Royale featuring Doggett on the north and Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo on the South. It was drawn to give minority voters the upper hand, but so was the district where Doggett won after the last round of redistricting.

CD-36: The last open district strongly favors the Republicans, but which one? A dozen signed up, including former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and current state Sen. Mike Jackson.



SD-9: In which state Reps. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Todd Smith of Euless face off in the Republican primary for Chris Harris' seat, with heavy lobby betting on the outcome.

SD-25: Texans for Lawsuit Reform painted a bullseye on Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio this year, and he faces former Railroad Commissioner and state Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones, along with Donna Campbell, who ran a feisty race against Doggett two years ago. This will be expensive.

SD-30 and SD-31: Barely on the watch list. Probably nothing. But keep your eyes peeled. The incumbents, Craig Estes and Kel Seliger, both drew primary challenges.



HD-3: Open seat with three Republicans.

HD-4: Freshman Rep. Lance Gooden draws an opponent, Stuart Spitzer.

HD-6: Leo Berman was going to retire and then, after Matt Schaefer jumped in, decided to stay in the race.

HD-7: A Longview rematch. Rep. David Simpson vs. former Rep. Tommy Merritt, who lost the 2010 round.

HD-9: Wayne Christian challenged by Chris Paddie, who has strong lobby support in a district that is largely new to the incumbent.

HD-10: Jim Pitts draws three challengers. That's never encouraging.

HD-11: Chuck Hopson draws two challengers.

HD-12: Open seat with five Republicans.

HD-19: Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton against James White. Incumbent v. incumbent.

HD-24: Open seat with three Republicans.

HD-26: Open seat with four Republicans.

HD-29: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-33: Open seat with a former pro football player and a former judge on the GOP side.

HD-35: Open seat with two Democrats.

HD-40: Open seat with four Democrats.

HD-41: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-43: Rep. J.M. Lozano in his first primary as a Republican.

HD-47: Rep. Paul Workman draws a challenge from a House staffer who worked on the redistricting maps.

HD-56: Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson has two challengers, including local businessman Chris DeCluitt.

HD-57: Freshman Rep. Marva Beck defending a seat against Trent Ashby of Lufkin. One of several races that will test what Republican voters think of the education votes in the last session.

HD-59: Sid Miller drew two challengers while he was talking about running for Congress.

HD-65: Open seat with three Republicans.

HD-67: Open seat with six Republicans.

HD-68: Open seat with four Republicans.

HD-70: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-74: Open seat with three Democrats.

HD-75: Open seat with three Democrats.

HD-77: Rep. Marisa Marquez, draws a challenge.

HD-83: Another rematch, this one with Rep. Charles Perry and former Rep. Delwin Jones, in Lubbock.

HD-85: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-88: Rep. Jim Landtroop, draws three challengers, including former Rep. Gary Walker.

HD-91: Open seat with four Republicans.

HD-92: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-93: Two challengers for Rep. Barbara Nash, including Republican activist Pat Carlson.

HD-95: Open seat with three Democrats.

HD-97: Open seat with three Republicans.

HD-101: Open seat with three Democrats, including former Reps. Paula Hightower Pierson and Chris Turner.

HD-106: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-110: Open seat with three Democrats.

HD-114: Open seat with three Republicans, including former Rep. Bill Keffer.

HD-115: Open seat with five Republicans, including Bennett Ratliff, son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.

HD-117: Open seat with three Democrats.

HD-121: Noisemaker. A challenger for House Speaker Joe Straus.

HD-125: Open seat with two Republicans.

HD-133: Redistricting gets Rep. Jim Murphy two Republican opponents.

HD-137: Open seat with four Democrats.

HD-144: Open seat in a swing district with two Republicans and three Democrats.

HD-146: Hatfield & McCoy, meet Borris Miles and Al Edwards. A rematch of a rematch: Edwards lost to Miles and then beat him and then lost to him.

HD-150: Another test of those education votes. Rep. Debbie Riddle drew a challenge from James Wilson

Spotlight on D.C. Turns to Immigration

Texas’ focus on Washington will likely shift next month from health care to immigration. In late April the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the state of Arizona’s case against the federal government after a lower court halted several key provisions of the state’s controversial immigration enforcement bill, SB 1070. The enjoined sections include a provision that makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and another that requires local law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.

Since the Arizona bill’s inception in 2010, a number of states, including Texas, have attempted to pass or have passed several of their own contentious immigration-enforcement bills. Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi all passed similar bills, only to see parts blocked by the federal courts as well. The case against them was mainly that the federal government, not individual states, has the sole power to enforce immigration laws.

In 2011, Texas’ version of an immigration enforcement law, the so-called sanctuary cities bill, failed to make it to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk twice, once during the regular legislative session and again during the special called session in June. That came despite the bill, which would have denied funds for local entities that prevented law enforcement officers from checking the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained, being deemed an emergency item by the governor. But stakeholders are betting that if SB 1070 is upheld, lawmakers will try again to pass similar legislation here. Bill author and Carrollton Republican Burt Solomons, who has chosen to not seek re-election, said the issue is too “hot button” to go away. It will likely continue to be so until some sort of reform is enacted on the national level, he added.

So what have Texans done in the meantime? Filed a flurry of amicus briefs supporting the federal government’s decision to block key provisions of Arizona’s bill. The city of Austin, the city of Laredo and Dallas County have joined other municipalities and the National League of Cities in voicing concerns that the law would divert resources from cities and counties.

Lars Etzkorn, the NLC’s program director, said the amicus brief shifts the attention from the pre-emption argument to what local governments claim would be the erosion of public safety.

“What we wanted to do was share the diversion of resources that were occurring as a result of the Arizona law,” Etzkorn said. “What it really did was make public enforcement safety harder by local governments.”

The diversion of resources is also a concern for Laredo, but the leadership in that predominantly Latino community has other concerns.

“Mayor [Raul] Salinas was concerned about the inherent ‘racist’ spirit of the law, as only a suspicion of someone being undocumented is required for police to begin questioning a person’s citizenship, leading to racial profiling for many Hispanics,” city spokeswoman Xochitl Mora Garcia said in a statement. “Additionally, law enforcement officials also point out that many crimes in immigrant communities may go unreported, for fear of deportation. For these reasons, the City of Laredo City Council decided to be a part of the collective voicing their dissent of this law.”

STAAR Almost Over, but Debate Isn't

For 2.5 million Texas public school students, the STAAR exams are almost over. But for elected officials, educators and other members of the education community, wrangling over the rollout of the new tests — and the effects of standardized testing in the classroom — has just begun.

Anxiety among parents, teachers and students over the new tests and a public call to action from Education Commissioner Robert Scott has ensured that holding schools and students accountable will be a hot topic during the upcoming legislative session. But the conversation will get started well before then.

Expect more stories about confusion over testing instructions as schools go through the first round of testing — like the one out of Houston’s Clear Creek Independent School District, where more than 50 students wrote their essays on the wrong page of their tests and whose teachers had to then recopy them — to generate worry over cheating and whether districts were adequately prepared to administer the new exams. An analysis from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of 70,000 public schools across the country that found questionable scores in Dallas and Houston districts may fuel the conversation, but the Texas Education Agency has already cast doubt on the paper’s report and said that it won’t be conducting an investigation.

The State Board of Education will take up the topic of standardized testing at its April meeting. At its January gathering, Scott made the first of several powerful remarks noting his concerns about the state of standardized testing in Texas, which he said had become “a perversion of its original intent." This time around might provide an opportunity for the commissioner to elaborate, scale back or amplify them after schools have administered the first of the exams.

Don’t be surprised if by May 1 nearly all Texas school districts have signed up to defer the so-called 15 percent rule, either. As of late March, 600 have decided to hold off on making high school student scores on the statewide test 15 percent of their final grades, a concession that the Texas Education Agency made after uproar from parents, teachers and lawmakers in February.

With the May 29 primary date set, April will also be an important month for candidates hoping to oust incumbents on pro-public-education messages. Across the state, a handful of Republicans are running — some for open seats — on platforms that focus on the state of Texas public schools. The Lufkin ISD school board president is challenging incumbent Marva Beck for her Waco-based House district, James Wilson is opposing Debbie Riddle for her Houston area district, and SBOE member Marsha Farney and Coppell ISD school board member Bennett Ratliff are each running for open spots. 

However they turn out, the primaries will be the first critical indicator of the public’s reaction to the budget cuts passed in 2011 and could help foretell the results of some general election contests, too.

Campaign Chatter

State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville
State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville

Put Harvey Hilderbran, the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, into the mix for a comptroller race in two years. The current occupant, Susan Combs, has been looking at David Dewhurst's job as the lieutenant governor runs for U.S. Senate. After Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, expressed interest, Hilderbran threw down with this: "The recent flurry of speculations over the 2014 elections need to be tempered with the reality that our duties and obligations as legislators are focused on the 2013 legislative session. Meeting our session duties are priority #1. Also, our duties as Republicans need to be on defeating Obama in the 2012 November election.  In terms of the 2014 statewide elections, there are many statewide offices that may or may not be open. I am interested in serving the people of Texas in a statewide office, including the office of Comptroller, an office with responsibilities that mirror those I have as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now, however, my main focus is on the current election and the upcoming session."  Now you know.

There was a related rumor that former Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, is interested in statewide office. Maybe, he says, adding that he's not really been thinking about it too hard. He thought Hegar was looking at the agriculture commissioner job that would open up if Todd Staples runs for lieutenant governor. If Hegar isn't in that race, Gattis says he'll have a look at it.

Justin Hewlett is offering a free tour of CD-25 to two Republicans who are moving into the district to seek the nomination. Hewlett is the mayor of Cleburne and is picking on Roger Williams and Michael Williams, both of whom were running for U.S. Senate, then for a Tarrant County congressional seat and then, after the maps were changed, for the GOP nomination in a district stretching from Fort Worth to south of Austin.

Elizabeth Ames Jones launched her air campaign against state Sen. Jeff Wentworth with a TV ad taking credit for oil patch (and gas) jobs created while she was at the Texas Railroad Commission. That started during the second-to-last weekend of March Madness basketball. That's a three-way Republican primary for the San Antonio-based seat: Donna Campbell is the third candidate.

Tom Gray, running for the Waco-based 10th Court of Appeals, is getting some help. Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips endorsed him, as did TEXPAC, the political arm of the Texas Medical Association.

• TEXPAC endorsed Michael Truncale in the CD-14 Republican primary. He's one of ten Republicans in that primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Jason Villalba, who's running in HD-114, got an endorsement from Mitt Romney. He was on Romney's 2008 National Hispanic Steering Committee, and the presidential candidate is returning the favor. That's the seat opened by Dallas Republican Rep. Will Hartnett's decision not to seek another term.

Sylvia Romo, running as a Democrat in the new CD-35, unleashed a list of San Antonio endorsees that includes former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a commissioner, a state senator, five state reps, and a slew of other local officials. Romo, Bexar County's Tax Assessor-Collector, faces U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, in that primary.

Matt Beebe, the San Antonio Republican challenging House Speaker Joe Straus in the primary, got endorsements from three former House members: Rick Green of Dripping Springs, Nathan Macias of Bulverde, and John Shields of San Antonio.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst picked up endorsements from the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, the Texas Apartment Association, and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas.

• The full list of endorsements from the Texas Association of Business includes a few notable nods and some surprises. BACPAC, the group's political arm, endorsed Mitt Romney for president, and Warren Chisum and Barry Smitherman for Railroad Commission. (Their endorsement of David Dewhurst for U.S. Senate had already been announced.) The group stuck mostly with incumbents in the congressional races where they did anything at all, and picked Randy Weber and Mike Jackson in open seats in CD-14 and CD-36, respectively. In the Senate, they crossed one incumbent, endorsing Republican Mark Shelton over Democrat Wendy Davis in the SD-10 race in Tarrant County. They picked Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Larry Taylor of Friendswood in open seats (and skipped Ken Paxton of McKinney, who's unopposed in the GOP primary in another open seat). In House races, they endorsed former Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview over incumbent David Simpson, and Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton over James White in a GOP primary with two incumbents.

Craig Goldman got an endorsement from former Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen in the HD-97 open seat race.

Alice Walton, a Wal-Mart heiress who lives in Texas, endorsed Craig James in the U.S. Senate race.

• Dallas County Commissioner Maureen Dickey endorsed former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who's in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

• Former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Pauken endorsed Dr. Steve Nguyen in the GOP primary in HD-115 where Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Dallas, is retiring. Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell endorsed Bennett Ratliff in that contest. Dickey already endorsed him, as did Jackson, who was a commissioner before running for the House.

Scott Turner, running in HD-33 in Collin County, got an endorsement from the Texas Right to Life PAC.

Tony Dale, a Republican running in Williamson County's HD-136, got a nod from the Texas Home School Coalition PAC.

• Rep. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, got an endorsement for his state Senate bid from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Jim Herblin, challenging state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, got an endorsement from former state Rep. Elvira Reyna, R-Mesquite. On the other side of that race, Estes got an endorsement from Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Texas Weekly Newsreel: Redistricting Court Case, 2012 Election Brackets

This week in the Newsreel we look at the Texas redistricting court case still pending in D.C., and the Texas Weekly 2012 election brackets.

Inside Intelligence: About Next Summer...

The Texas primaries are two months off, so we checked in to see what the insiders think the Republicans will do in the presidential race. Rick Santorum was the overwhelming favorite, with 71 percent saying they think he will prevail in Texas (we asked for their predictions and not for their preferences), and 26 percent choosing Romney.

That led to our next query, which also got an overwhelming response: 84 percent said there is no chance the Republican nominee will name Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the vice presidential candidate.

The insiders split on the question of whether Texas would be better off with or without the federal health care law that was argued for three days this week before the U.S. Supreme Court. It was almost a tie, with 45 percent saying the state would be better without it and 44 percent saying we would be better off with it.

Finally, we asked about another topical news item, to wit, whether prosecutors ought to be held accountable for wrongful convictions. About two thirds of the insiders said yes, while 25 percent said no and 11 percent didn't have an opinion.

The full set of verbatim comments to our questions is attached; a sampling follows. 


Who do you think would win a Texas Republican primary held today?"

• "Yawn..."

• "Romney. Texans back winners, even if he's not their first choice. Most of my politically astute friends think it's past time to unite behind the eventual nominee."

• "It's clear that about 60% of Americans want someone besides Romney. The grassroots are restless that the 'insiders' would choose Romney. Santorum has proven to be the most conservative candidate left standing."

• "Texas is still slow to move to Romney although the momentum will continue to build. May 29th could be a Romney win in Texas."

• "Santorum still has some fuel left among the evangelicals, but he is dead-candidate-walking. I guess Texas did play a role in the Presidential primary after all. Had we had our primary in March, Santorum would've won and who knows what kind of momentum that would have created for his campaign."

• "Texas GOP primary voters are looking for the most conservative plausible candidate. Santorum apparently fits the bill."

• "This is a strange year. Republicans hate Obama worse than they ever hated Clinton, they have only one viable general election candidate (Romney), yet the 'conservatives' seem content to let him twist in the wind. Interesting days we live in."

• "If it were held today, it would come as quite a shock because no one was expecting to vote on Wednesday, March 28. Given the complete surprise factor, only Ron Paul would be able to get his fanatics out without prior notice. If on the other hand, this was a primary election with proper notice, then Rick Santorum would win because he's won every primary in which the percentage of the electorate that identified itself as born-again or evangelical exceeded 50%."


Do you think there is a chance Rick Perry will be the vice presidential nominee this year?

• "There's always a chance. The Perry national reputation mending process is already underway."

• "He is too much a risk of doing something embarrassing in public again"

• "You don't recover from that level of a campaign debacle."

• "Maybe a cabinet member if a Republican wins the White House."

• "hahahahahahaha"

• "There are other conservatives who bring a lot more to the ticket than Perry -- he can't talk and his big state is already in the bag for the GOP."

• "Romney will need someone to appeal to the Southern bloc and evangelicals, but it will someone else, like Jindal or Barbour. The GOP doesn't need Dan Quayle, Part 2."

• "There's also a chance I will start at third base for the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series and that Rick Perry and Glen Maxey will get married. So there is 'a chance,' not a realistic one."


Would Texas be better off with or without the individual mandates in the federal health care law being argued this week in the U.S. Supreme Court?

• "We have one of the highest uninsured populations in the country. Who do you think pays for their healthcare? Those of us with insurance. We'd be better off mandating that they either buy insurance or pay a penalty."

• "Insurance is predicated on the collective pooling of risk. How is it possible to control costs, provide meaningful access to coverage, without everyone in the pool?"

• "We don't want socialism. Certainly we don't want socialized medicine, which is socialism's cornerstone."

• "As much as I want all folks to have health insurance, I feel that individual mandates would be more burdensome on those that can't afford it."

• "The big impact on Texas is the Medicaid expansion. There are alternatives to the mandate, but insurance companies will back away from other elements of the ACA (guaranteed coverage for uninsurable) without some poled risk mechanism. Democrats benefit if SC strikes the mandate."

• "With so many uninsured, a great many Texans would benefit from the expanded access to Medicaid and subsidies provided to the lower middle class, but the mandate would be a huge affront to the Texas political culture."

• "Federal law requires treatment for emergencies. The question for me is if you don't have health insurance coverage, should you be able to use the system or should hospitals and physicians be required to provide treatment? Right now for automobile insurance, if you drive without it and are in a wreck, you pay out of pocket to fix the car or you don't drive."

• "1 out of every 2 births in the State is paid for by Medicaid. If we do not bring Medicaid recipients into a private insurance program, we have absolutely no chance of controlling costs. This is a no brainer, the mandate is crucial for Texas."

• "Texas would be better off with the individual mandates, but without the Medicaid changes."

• "Until everyone is in, costs can't be contained."


Should Texas prosecutors be held accountable for wrongful convictions?

• "We hold criminals accountable we need to hold prosecutors accountable for things that lock up innocent people"

• "If a prosecutor knowingly withholds evidence then he/she should definitely be held accountable."

• "Wrongful convictions represent a sizable problem in Texas and a major stain on the integrity of our criminal justice system. The performance of prosecutors, judges and other actors in the criminal justice system should be recorded so that problems can be identified, solutions developed and, where necessary, incompetent individuals replaced."

• "Would have said 'No' until Williamson County fiasco."

• "Punishment should be the same as for the wrongfully convicted — the only way to keep the honest."

• "Absolutely . . . the goal should be 'justice', not just 'winning'. These are people's lives. Put the bad guys away . . . including the very small number of bad prosecutors."

• "If wrongful conviction result from willful intent or disregard then subject to criminal penalties. Otherwise, accountable to the voters."

• "Well, was it on purpose or not? If so, then yes; but if a wrongful conviction was unintentional or negligent and could still result in a personal lawsuit, who would ever be a prosecutor if you can be sued for not being perfect? Also, expanding prosecutor liability would be a boon for rich defendants who can threaten their way out of being criminally prosecuted. This is not as cut-and-dried as the media and the ACLU want it to be. Most policymakers haven't studied this issue very closely and should avoid knee-jerk conclusions until they have done so."

• "Prosecutors have operated with no skin in the game for too long."

• "They should not have criminal or monetary liability, but their jobs and their law licenses absolutely should be on the line if their misconduct results in the wrong person going to jail."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Angelo Zottarelli, Peck Young, Lee Woods, Seth Winick, Ellen Williams, Darren Whitehurst, Ware Wendell, Trey Trainor, Trent Townsend, Russ Tidwell, Jay Thompson, Sherry Sylvester, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Charles Stuart, Colin Strother, Keith Strama, Jason Stanford, Bryan Sperry, Dennis Speight, Larry Soward, Todd Smith, Martha Smiley, Ed Small, Dee Simpson, Bradford Shields, Julie Shields, Steve Scurlock, Bruce Scott, Stan Schlueter, Jim Sartwelle, Andy Sansom, Mark Sanders, Luis Saenz, Jason Sabo, Kim Ross, Bill Ratliff, Ted Melina Raab, Jay Propes, Kraege Polan, Royce Poinsett, Wayne Pierce, Tom Phillips, Bill Pewitt, Gardner Pate, Nef Partida, Pat Nugent, Sylvia Nugent, Keats Norfleet, Keir Murray, Craig Murphy, Steve Murdock, Bee Moorhead, Lynn Moak, Robert Miller, Scott McCown, Parker McCollough, Bryan Mayes, Matt Mackowiak, Vilma Luna, Homero Lucero, Ruben Longoria, Richard Levy, Leslie Lemon, Luke Legate, Donald Lee, James LeBas, Dick Lavine, Pete Laney, Tim Lambert, Sandy Kress, Ramey Ko, Tom Kleinworth, Richard Khouri, Robert Kepple, Mark Jones, Cal Jillson, Richie Jackson, Deborah Ingersoll, Shanna Igo, Billy Howe, Ken Hodges, Jim Henson, John Heasley, Adam Haynes, Albert Hawkins, Sandy Haverlah, Bill Hammond, Anthony Haley, Clint Hackney, John Greytok, Thomas Graham, Daniel Gonzalez, Kinnan Golemon, Bruce Gibson, Dominic Giarratani, Wil Galloway, Jack Erskine, Jeff Eller, David Dunn, Hector De Leon, Randy Cubriel, Harold Cook, John Colyandro, Lawrence Collins, Rick Cofer, Elna Christopher, William Chapman, Corbin Casteel, Thure Cannon, Kerry Cammack, Lydia Camarillo, Andy Brown, Jay Brown, Chris Britton, Steve Bresnen, Hugh Brady, Tom Blanton, Allen Blakemore, Andrew Biar, Dave Beckwith, Walt Baum, Charles Bailey, Kip Averitt, Jay Arnold, George Allen, Clyde Alexander, Victor Alcorta, Brandon Aghamalian, Cathie Adams, Gene Acuna.

Next Week

Saturday, March 31:

  • Deadline for the latest quarterly fundraising period for federal candidates (president, U.S. Senate, Congress)

Tuesday, April 3:

  • House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee meeting on Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform (10 a.m.)
  • Fundraiser: Vicki Truitt, Austin Club, 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 4:

  • Primaries are on everyone's minds, but state agencies are already starting to put their budgets together in advance of next year's legislative session. The Department of Aging and Disability Services will meet at 3 p.m. to gather input on its 2014-15 appropriations request.
  • Fundraiser: Texas House Leadership Fund, with Speaker Joe Straus and Republican House chairmen, Headliners Club, Austin, 7:30 p.m.
  • Fundraiser: Jeff Wentworth, Austin Club, 11 a.m.
  • Fundraiser: Jacquie Chaumette, Austin Club, 4:30 p.m.
  • Fundraiser: Barbara Nash, Austin Club, 4:30 p.m.
  • Fundraiser: J.M. Lozano, Austin Land & Cattle, 5 p.m.
  • Fundraiser: John Garza, Austin Club, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 5:

  • Fundraiser: Wendy Davis, Four Seasons, Austin, 8:30 a.m.
  • Fundraiser: Dan Flynn, Bill Zedler, Austin Club, 4:30 p.m.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The state’s law requiring that voters furnish a photo ID before casting a ballot won’t be in effect for the May 29 primary. Stakeholders expected as much, but the decision was solidified when a U.S. District Court in D.C. set a July 9 trial date for a case in which Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit to have the law implemented immediately. That lawsuit was filed in January, but Abbott recently amended the petition to directly challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which mandates that the Department of Justice or the federal courts review laws that affect voting practices in 16 states. Texas filed its petition for preclearance in July but was denied the request earlier this month. The department ruled that the state did not submit enough information to prove the bill would not infringe upon the voting rights of minorities, mainly Latinos and blacks.

A group of lawmakers and law enforcement officials have banded together to ask the Department of Defense for surplus military equipment. As troops are drawn down oversees, massive amounts of equipment need to be shipped and either sold or stored. Border officials think some of that equipment could be put to good use in their skirmishes against drug cartels and in preventing spillover violence from Mexico. U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, introduced a bill in the House that would direct the Department of Defense to make 10 percent of the equipment returned from Iraq available for patrolling the southern border. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and 17 sheriffs from the border regions of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona expressed support for Poe’s proposal.

The Daily Texan was drawn into the national conversation about the death of Trayvon Martin when it published a controversial political cartoon on Tuesday. Stephanie Eisner, the cartoonist, who drew a mother reading to her child, “And then ... the big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy,” said she had attempted to point out that coverage of the event had become sensationalized. The editorial board was inundated with criticism and complaints and offered a statement saying that while it did not agree with the artist, it was the board’s policy to publish the varying views of its cartoonists and columnists.

Response to a study published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzing school standardized test results has been tepid in Texas. The Texas Education Agency responded to the questions about cheating by questioning the methodology of the study and stating that the agency’s policy is to let individual districts investigate allegations of cheating. Houston and Dallas Independent School Districts, as well as several border districts, showed scores that were suspiciously high. The Atlanta newspaper has conducted similar studies in the past and uncovered patterns that led to the discovery of widespread cheating in Atlanta. Officials in the Houston and Dallas districts detailed the steps they were taking to ensure that no cheating occurred.

The King Street Patriots are not a non-profit corporation, according to a state district judge in Austin, but are instead an unregistered political action committee that has been aiding Republican poll-watching efforts. The group was challenging several of the state's campaign finance laws; Judge John Dietz upheld the laws, ruling in favor of the Texas Democratic Party. KSP will appeal. 

Gov. Rick Perry came out in favor of Pink Slime, traveling to Nebraska to show his support for a meat company that manufactures that "lean finely textured beef" that is used to stretch hamburger and other meats while lowering their overall fat contest. The product has been under attack, with the company losing customers, since publicity about it went viral this week.

Political People and their Moves

Comptroller Susan Combs hired Lauren Willis as communications director for the that office. Willis most recently served as director of public affairs for Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter.

Longtime Texas state Sierra Club director Ken Kramer announced that he is retiring July 31 after 30 years. He's the only director the regional office has ever had, holding that office since 1989 after working as a contract lobbyist for the organization.

Gov. Rick Perry was busy filling posts this week. He appointed:

Don Minton of El Paso as judge of El Paso County Criminal District Court No. 1. Minton is an attorney in private practice and a former criminal district court judge.

A. Cynthia “Cindy” Leon of Mission to chairwoman of the Texas Public Safety Commission. Leon is retired regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Toby Baker to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Baker was a policy and budget advisor to Perry and used to work for Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

• Andres Alcantar of Pflugerville to chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. Alcantar is currently commissioner of the Texas Workforce Commission, a position he has held since his appointment in August 2008. He is former deputy director of the Governor’s Office Budget, Planning and Policy Division.

• Dr. Vincent Di Maio of San Antonio to chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Di Maio is a board-certified anatomical, clinical and forensic pathologist, and a private forensic pathology consultant.

Michael Cooper Waters of Dallas as chairman of the State Library and Archives Commission. Waters is a senior healthcare consultant and former CEO of Hendrick Health System.

• Harold Berenzweig of Fort Worth to the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee. Berenzweig is a physician and vice president of medical and information management at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital.

Billy Bradford Jr. of Brownsville chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. Bradford is a certified public accountant and partner at Hales-Bradford LLP.

• Seven members to the Specialty Courts Advisory Council. Sabrina Bentley of Georgetown is a senior DWI and drug court officer for the Williamson County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. Denise Bradley of Cypress is judge of the 262nd Criminal District Court in Harris County and a former assistant district attorney there. Keta Dickerson of Richardson is a program manager for Dallas County Divert Court. Amy Granberry of Portland is director of organizational development for Charlie’s Place. Patrick McCann of Richmond is an attorney in private practice. Leon Pesek Jr. of Texarkana is judge of the 202nd Judicial District Court. Raymond Wheless of Allen is judge of the 366th Judicial District Court and former judge of Collin County Court at Law No. 4.

 Elizabeth “Christy” Jack of Fort Worth and Leo Longoria of McAllen to new terms at the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management Governing Board. Jack is chief prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. Longoria is retired chief of police for the City of Mission Police Department.

Quotes of the Week

I like Mitt Romney as much as any good-looking man can like another good-looking man and not break Texas law.

Rick Perry at Saturday night's Gridiron Club dinner, an annual roast-type event in Washington, D.C., for politicians and the media

The governor hopes that folks will vote for viable, active candidates. That does not include him.

Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Rick Perry, to the Austin American-Statesman on votes still being cast for the governor in primary contests

Our people are in the right places. They’re doing the things to become delegates.

Ron Paul to CNN on his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination

The concept of shoot first and ask questions later ... basically under the old law if somebody was in your house, that applied. The question is, do we want that in any place and everywhere and with only a presumption that someone's about to hurt you?

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, on Houston' KUHF Radio calling for the repeal of Texas' "Castle Doctrine" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida

We had to keep pumping water when we knew it was a lost cause. I knew it was a waste. Everybody knew it was a waste.

J.O. Dawdy, a farmer near the West Texas town of Floydada, on being required to water lost crops in order to collect federal insurance on the losses.

Go Cowboys!

One of the final phrases spoken by convicted murderer and sex offender Jesse Joe Hernandez before his execution on Wednesday