Vol 30, Issue 30 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst lost his bid for U.S. Senate more than a year ago, but his campaign still has outstanding bills — to the tune of nearly $1 million. Among the people the multi-millionaire owes: Republican consultants Dave Carney, Mike Baselice and Jim Bognet. Dewhurst’s camp blamed the alleged embezzlement by former campaign manager Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield. A spokesman said Dewhurst is vigorously pursuing the return of those funds, which should’ve been used to make those payments.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has said she’ll either run for re-election or run for governor. But Democratic groups aren’t waiting for her answer. Annie’s List launched WeWantWendyDavis.com, a site aimed at lobbying the filibustering senator to run for governor. And Battleground Texas, the Lone Star Project and the Texas Democratic Party have all emailed supporters with separate petitions to encourage Davis to run.

From the folks who brought you Make Us Great Again — the fundraising arm for Rick Perry's failed presidential bid — comes Americans for Economic Freedom, an organization to help the outgoing governor promote Texas' business climate and feel out a possible second run for the White House. The Dallas Morning News reported that former Perry chief of staff Mike Toomey and top-dollar donor Brint Ryan are heading up the group; they want to transfer Make Us Great Again's remaining $200,000 to Americans for Economic Freedom. 

A state district court judge banned a small Hill Country school district from using lessons produced by the controversial and highly politicized curriculum tool CSCOPE until the State Board of Education can vet them. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst; state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands; and conservative activists lauded the court order against Llano ISD at a news conference.

A new report from the Legislative Budget Board finds that state spending will have dropped by more than 11 percent between 2002 and 2015 when population growth and inflation are taken into account. The Houston Chronicle reported that the findings bolster the claims of Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who had fired back at a contrary Wall Street Journal story.  

It's getting increasingly difficult to find a white male Democrat in the Texas House. The Dallas Morning News reports that next year's elections could leave five or fewer of them in the lower chamber, mirroring a national political trend. In Texas, this is largely the result of the disappearance of the conservative branch of the state Democratic Party.  

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Rick Perry has named Kathy Walt his chief of staff and Jonathan Taylor his director of economic development and tourism. Aaron Demerson is Perry’s senior adviser for economic development.

Walt, a longtime Perry adviser who previously worked as his deputy chief of staff and press secretary, most recently served as executive manager for governmental affairs at the Lower Colorado River Authority. Taylor was director of enterprise projects at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and previously directed the Texas Emerging Tech Fund. Demerson has been with Perry’s economic development team since 2003, and previously managed the Texas Tomorrow Fund in the comptroller’s office. 

State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, has announced his candidacy for agriculture commissioner. Reliably, the state sovereignty fan said that Texas farmers and ranchers “have never before had to deal with the kind of overreaching federal government that we have in Washington today.” So far he has at least two Republican opponents: Eric Opiela, a former executive director of the state Republican party, and J Allen Carnes, the mayor of Uvalde.  

Ted Seago is considering a run for HD-16, Brandon Creighton’s current seat. Seago is an educator and the senior pastor of Grace Community Church at Fish Creek, and has been active in efforts to pass more restrictive anti-abortion legislation in Texas. 

Mike VanDeWalle, a Republican, is running for former Democratic Rep. Mark Strama’s Austin seat. VanDeWalle, a chiropractor with a Travis County practice, describes himself as a fiscal conservative “with strong concerns about the damage now being done to the American health care system.”

Dennis Golden, a Carthage optometrist on the medical staff at East Texas Medical Center, is considering a run for HD-9, the seat currently held by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall. Golden is one of Gov. Rick Perry’s appointees to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Golden said he’ll make an announcement after Labor Day. 

Stuart Spitzer, a Kaufman surgeon, is running for the Republican nomination for HD-4, currently held by state Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell.  

Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who was severely wounded in Afghanistan, will run as a Republican in North Texas' HD-102, which is an open seat since state Rep. Stefani Carter is running for the Railroad Commission.