THE BIG CONVERSATION:
For some Texas politicians, it’s a dawning of a new day. For others, it’s the end of an era.
Yesterday’s runoffs were tough for incumbents in the Texas House, who went 1 for 3.
In El Paso, Democratic state Rep. Norma Chavez lost to challenger Naomi Gonzalez after a long, expensive, and particularly nasty race. In Lubbock, Republican state Rep. Delwin Jones, the oldest member of the Texas House, lost his seat to Tea Party-friendly rival Charles Perry. The one incumbent who managed to hold onto his position was state Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, who easily sailed to victory over Gerald "Buddy" Winn. There’s no Democrat for him to face in November, so Brown is coming to Austin.
The same thing is true for Van Taylor, also who defeated Mabrie Jackson in the Plano race to replace state Rep. Brian McCall.
In another open seat — this one back in Lubbock — John Frullo upset establishment candidate Mark Griffin in a bid to replace retiring Republican state Rep. Carl Isett.
Frullo, Perry, and Taylor all had significant support from Tea Party members and from voters upset with incumbents in general.
Democrat Valinda Bolton didn’t have a race last night, but found out that she will face Paul Workman in the fall. He defeated Holly Turner.
Outside the Texas House, other noteworthy battles include the Texas Supreme Court race between Rick Green and Debra Lehrmann. Green’s colorful past and lack of judicial experience may have proven too much for voters. Lehrmann defeated him and will face Democrat Jim Sharp in the fall.
In the State Board of Education Race, career educator Marsha Farney easily defeated social conservative Brian Russell for the seat currently held by Cynthia Dunbar, weakening the power of the conservative bloc that currently holds sway on that panel.
• “It just doesn't feel right.” That’s the reason Barry Smitherman, the chairman of the influential Public Utility Commission, gave for deciding not to seek the top job at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — which the PUC regulates. He had been kicking around the idea for the last few weeks.
• U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, is already getting into it with his general election challenger, Republican Bill Flores, who won his primary runoff last night. Edwards released a statement this morning saying, "This race will focus on two key facts. First, I am a champion for our veterans and military families and have worked effectively on a bipartisan basis for jobs and economic development for our district. Second, Mr. Flores has been recruited by Washington, D.C. insiders to try to buy our district’s congressional seat with millions of dollars he has made as a Houston oil executive, even though he has never once voted in a general election in our district—not even once.” Surely, Flores will have a different view.
• The State Preservation Board’s approved two new renovation plans for the Governor’s Mansion, leaving it to the Texas Historical Commission to make a final decision. They also approved new security measures at the Capitol, including X-ray machines and metal detectors, over Gov. Rick Perry’s objections. With all this talk of renovations, Democrat Bill White's campaign pulled out a 2007 clip of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee displaying his temporary digs while the Arkansas governor’s mansion was under construction — a donated triple-wide trailer. Texas’ Gov. Rick Perry, as the White campaign would have you know, has been living in a $9,000-a-month mansion for the past two years.
"I really want Rick Green to know that I appreciate him and what he's done for the state of the Texas in his own way" — Debra Lehrmann on her defeated primary opponent.
• Perry ducked state law on disclosing some stimulus money — Austin American-Statesman
• Low turnout and low interest for runoffs — Houston Chronicle
• Dallas County officials vote to seek ethics ruling on DA Watkins — The Dallas Morning News
• "The School-to-Prison Pipeline" — The Texas Tribune