THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Goodbye, Terri Hodge. Hello, Eric Johnson?
Hodge, a Democratic state representative from Dallas, pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal charge of making false statements on an income tax return. She has agreed to resign her seat in the Texas House, clearing the way for her primary opponent Eric Johnson.
Voters, however, will still have the option of supporting the now-defunct Team Hodge because it's too late to take her name off the ballot.
Here’s more from The Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw:
The end of Hodge’s campaign doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Johnson’s. Because Hodge dropped out just a month before the March 2 primary, her name will still appear next to Johnson’s on the ballot — and could suck votes away from him. There’s no Republican or Libertarian running for the seat in the general election. If Hodge inadvertently wins the primary, both the Democratic and Republican parties would get to field new candidates of their choosing for the general election. If Johnson wins, it's over.
Dallas County Democratic Party Chairwoman Darlene Ewing said she’s hearing some precinct chairs in District 100 will continue campaigning for Hodge, in an effort to choose her successor if she wins the race.
Johnson issued a statement saying, “Now is the time for us to put aside past differences and restore the public’s trust in our ability to govern according to Democratic principles. It is my sincere hope that in response to today’s events, we will come together as a party, as a district, and as a city to achieve the improvements House District 100 so desperately needs.”
Hodge, who will still be able to receive a $40,000-a-year pension for her 14 years of public service, now faces up the three years in prison and must pay as much as $10,000 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. She has also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in relation to a case that has more than 10 defendants, including other public officials.
• Sarah Palin may have to give Gov. Rick Perry’s team a lesson in respect. Dave Carney, a Perry aide, reportedly uttered a word that, as Palin wrote on her Facebook page, is “a slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities.” U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, told CNN that Carney repeatedly used the word “retarded” during a conference call between the gubernatorial campaigns. Palin, whose youngest son has Down Syndrome, recently called on Pres. Barack Obama to fire his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using the same terminology during a closed-door meeting — she has not done the same with regard to Carney (Such terminology troubles appear to be widespread in the political world lately). Palin will have the opportunity to express her disapproval in person when she joins Perry and rock star Ted Nugent for a Super Bowl Sunday campaign event.
• Bill White, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, can empathize with Republican candidate U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. In a recent Rasmussen polling, Hutchison’s numbers slid while those of her primary opponent, Debra Medina, rose. Now replace “Hutchison” with “White” and “her primary” with “his potential general election.” Previously, Medina was the only GOP offering Rasmussen was forecasting that White could beat, but — after Medina’s post-debate bump — White is now polling behind all three Republican candidates.
“Ms. Hodge will have pleaded guilty today to a felony and will still be representing her district. I'm not real keen on that notion." — U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn on why she wants Dallas state Rep. Terri Hodge’s sentencing to occur as soon as possible.
• That's Right, He's Not From Texas — The Texas Tribune
• Medina has fundamentally changed GOP race for governor — Austin American-Statesman
• Hutchison's record is two-edged sword — Houston Chronicle
• 'Virtual' border fence plagued by glitches, long delays — Associated Press