Campaign Roundup: Political News for the Week of 12/21

Erwin Cain
Erwin Cain

• State Rep. Erwin Cain, R-Como, came into state office a year ago after trouncing incumbent Democrat Mark Homer of Paris. But redistricting was unkind — Cain ended up in the same district as fellow Republican Dan Flynn, R-Van — and he won't be coming back for a sophomore term. He's running, instead, for district judge.

Cain is the 27th member of the state House to decide not to run for re-election, a group that includes 20 Republicans and seven Democrats. A dozen of those officeholders aren't running for anything next year; the rest, like Cain, will be on the ballot asking voters for new jobs.

You counted 28? Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, resigned earlier this year and was replaced in a special election by John Raney, R-College Station. Raney will seek a full term next year, and we didn't include Brown in the tally.

• Footballer-turned-talker Craig James, a Republican, and legislator-turned-lobbyist Paul Sadler, a Democrat, joined the U.S. Senate race on the final day of filing, expanding a field that already includes Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, six other Republicans, five other Democrats and a Libertarian.

James, until now an announcer at ESPN (he quit to run), was a star at SMU in its pre-death penalty days and was the parent of the player whose alleged mistreatment helped get Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach fired two years ago.

 

Sadler chaired the House Public Education Committee during his tenure there and struck up an unlikely alliance with then-Gov. George W. Bush while working on a school finance and tax package. He's director of The Wind Coalition and a registered lobbyist for the Texas Association of School Boards. He got into the race after the most prominent of the Democrats in it — retired Lt. Gen. Ric Sanchez — got out.

• Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams filed for Congress in a district that exists on the Legislature's political maps but not on those drawn by the courts. Less than two weeks ago, when it appeared that the court maps would be used for the elections, he had all but thrown in the towel.

"I will always find ways to be engaged in public policy," he told the Austin American-Statesman. "But it may very well be that this is the end of the political road. I've had a good run, and I've enjoyed the run, and if this is the end, that's fine."

He filed this week, as did a number of others in that CD-25 race that exists on the court map: Dave Garrison, Chad Wilbanks, Wes Riddle, Bill Burch, Justin Hewlett, Dianne Costa and Brian Matthews. If the final map is the one the judges drew, incumbent Democrat Lloyd Doggett will have the advantage; in the Legislature's map, it's a Republican district.

• Former Secretary of State Roger Williams, who like Michael Williams moved from the U.S. Senate race to a congressional race earlier this year, also got drawn out of a district by the courts. But he's also filed for the April 3 primaries, apparently in the hope that the Legislature's version of the congressional maps will prevail.

• The Democrats are contesting only one of the six statewide judicial elections on the 2012 ballot, with Keith Hampton running for presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. No matter who wins the GOP primary, he'll face a member of that court. Judge Larry Meyers, whose office isn't on the ballot this year, is challenging Presiding Judge Sharon Keller in the GOP primary.

• It's possible that the primaries, already postponed until April 3, could be held later. That date is dependent on the courts approving maps for congressional and legislative elections in Texas by the end of January — no sure thing. But the current calendar is tight, with a primary in April and a primary runoff on June 5. How tight? Among other things, the primaries elect officials for state conventions, and the Republican Party of Texas' state convention begins on June 7.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.