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A Size Thing

The last Democrat who outraised Rick Perry in a governor's race — Tony Sanchez — was writing his own checks. But without lifting his own pen, Democrat Bill White raised more money than the Republican incumbent and had $3.1 million more in the bank than the governor at mid-year, according to their campaign finance reports.

The last Democrat who outraised Rick Perry in a governor's race — Tony Sanchez — was writing his own checks. But without lifting his own pen, Democrat Bill White raised more money than the Republican incumbent and had $3.1 million more in the bank than the governor at mid-year, according to their campaign finance reports.

Perry raised $7.1 million from his last report through June 30, bringing his campaign's cash on hand at mid-year to $5.9 million. That's less raised and less on hand than Democratic challenger Bill White is showing in his mid-year report; White raised $7.4 million and ended the period with $9 million in the bank — $3.1 million more than the incumbent.

With this issue in the can, we're taking our annual summer break. Daily News Clips will continue, and the newsletter will return in the first week of August. Until then!

Perry's campaign notes that their candidate had a financially competitive primary, and their spin on the mid-year numbers is evident in the headline on their press release: "Texans for Rick Perry Raises Over $20 Million for '09-'10 Election Cycle." Perry has a total of 14,837 contributors during that period, and also raised $1.2 million of his total online. White's campaign says more than 16,000 people have contributed so far, more than three-quarters of them giving $100 or less. The reports due today cover the period ending June 30.

If you had doubts, that foretells a well-financed governor's race on both sides. The heavy spending won't start for several weeks, but keep this (loose) rule of thumb in mind: It costs about $1.5 million a week to run television ads in the volume that moves votes in Texas elections. Both candidates have millions now, but they'll need more. The next reports are due 30 days before the November elections.

Perry got eight $100,000 contributions, one at $75,000, and 14 at $50,000. He raised $4.4 million of his total from 182 contributions of $10,000 or more.

White raised $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association, and $575,000 from three labor unions. White's report lists 123 contributions of $10,000 or more, totaling $4.3 million. His campaign claimed the numbers include $1 million from donors who supported U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in this year's GOP primary. We don't have a count from Perry's campaign, but his list is sprinkled with names recognizable from his recent rival's stable of political friends.

The smallest contributions on White's report were from Barbara and Ray Bunch of Mesquite: Each gave 50 cents. Perry got a penny each from three different donors: Michael McAloon of Plano, James Rutherford of Midlothian, and C.W. McDonald of Fort Worth.

Notes from the Finance Filings

You don't have to be very old at all to remember when a $100,000 House race was a big deal, but if a contest is competitive now, that's chump change. And the patterns are changing a little. Challengers often wait until after the mid-year reports to crank up their fundraising — the better to sneak up on incumbents who'd otherwise be alerted, by the reports, to serious challengers. Now, some of the challengers are showing their hands. Some examples and other notes from the mid-year finance reports:

Jason Isaac, the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, raised $169,000 in the first six months of the year. That had been advertised as a weak challenge — so much so that House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, headlined a Rose fundraiser. No more. Isaac is for real, financially. Rose is one of the Legislature's most successful fundraisers; that could be expensive on both sides.

• Rep. Carol Kent, D-Dallas, is defending her seat for the first time and has piled up $253,006 for that effort after raising $193,493 during the first six months of the year. No word yet from her challenger, Republican Stefani Carter.

Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt's challenger, Pati Jacobs, says she raised over $100,000 for her race (he's an R-Livingston; she's a D-Bastrop). His report's not available yet.

Paul Workman, a Republican challenging Rep. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, raised $100,000 over the last three months (he had an election runoff) and got to mid-year with $67,000 in the account.

• If campaign finance reports are a show of strength, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is making a muscle. He reported holding cash balances of around $3 million in his two accounts, and another $205,000 in the Texas House Leadership Fund that was set up by him and some of his chairs to hold and grow the GOP majority in the House. We haven't seen or heard the details yet, but his reports will show $259,500 in donations to incumbents and to Republicans running in open seats. Straus has said he won't campaign against incumbent Democrats.

• The Associated Republicans of Texas aren't constrained by Straus' pledge to leave incumbents alone. In fact, they're not contributing, at this point, to incumbent Republicans — only to challengers. They gave to Cindy Burkett, who's running against Rep. Robert Miklos, D-Mesquite; to Connie Scott, who's running (again) against Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi; Dee Margo, challenging Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, in a rematch; Erwin Cain, against Rep. Mark Homer, D-Paris; Jim Landtroop, against Rep. Joe Heflin, D-Crosbyton; former Rep. Jim Murphy, trying to get his seat back from Rep. Kristi Thibaut, D-Houston; Jose Aliseda, challenging Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, D-Alice; Sarah Davis, running against Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston; and Stefani Carter, against Rep. Carol Kent, D-Dallas. Each got $20,000 from the PAC. ART also gave $5,000 to Lanham Lyne, the former Wichita Falls mayor running for the seat now held by Democrat David Farabee, who's not seeking reelection.

Bill Flores, the Republican running against U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, raised $613,142 during the second quarter (federal candidates report every three months) and ended the period with $415,333. That's a little better on the income side than the incumbent, who brought in $609,706. Edwards has a bigger piggy bank, though: His cash-on-hand at mid-year was $2.1 million. It's a target race for the national Republicans; an important defense race for national Democrats.

A New Senate Org Chart

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is reshuffling eight Senate committee chairmanships (and of course, he'll reappoint committees in January and could mix it up all over again).

Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, will replace Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, as chairman of Senate Administration. Williams, in turn, will replace John Carona, R-Dallas, as chairman of Transportation and Homeland Security. Carona will take over Business & Commerce, replacing Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, who now becomes the chairman of Natural Resources, which was previously run by Kip Averitt, R-Waco, who resigned.

Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, will chair the Select Committee on Veterans Health. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, will cease to chair Nominations and will now head up Economic Development, where he will replace Chris Harris, R-Arlington. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, will take over for Jackson on Nominations, and Harris will become the chairman of Jurisprudence, formerly chaired by Wentworth.

About That Last Committee Assignment

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, says he's talking to the Texas A&M University System about a vice chancellor's job there, but says the issue is "unresolved," and that the public conversation about his intentions "is really premature."

He talked with A&M Chancellor Mike McKinney on Sunday, adding fuel to talk that he might join the university system and leave the Legislature. And Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst shuffled committee assignments yesterday, leaving the veteran senator without a standing committee chairmanship. Wentworth says it's not a done deal, but it sounds pretty far along. "He [McKinney] is interested in having me on board and I'm interested in coming on board," he said this morning.

An interesting side note: Wentworth said he'll remain on the November ballot whether he takes the A&M job or not. Leaving early would leave the nomination in the hands of party officials, and he thinks that's undemocratic. He'd stay on the ballot, presumably win (it's a Republican district, and his only opponent is a Libertarian) and then decline to take the seat. That would set up a special election where the candidates weren't chosen by party elders. "So the people could pick my successor," he said.

As recently as April, he was denying rumors that he might leave the Senate. He was the runner-up — behind former Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano — for the chancellor's job at the Texas State University System. He had been attributing the departure rumors to that episode. And later, he sent a scorching and very public letter to the chairman of the TSUS board, scolding the regents for choosing McCall over him.

Survey Says...

Gov. Rick Perry leads Democrat Bill White 50-41 in the latest poll from Rasmussen Reports. That's comparable to the 48-40 split the same pollsters reported last month, and with the exception of April (when they were four points apart), it's about where Rasmussen has had this race all year.

According to Rasmussen, 55 percent of Texans approve of the job Perry is doing as governor. And he's leading White with men, with women, and with independents, according to the survey. Perry is regarded "very favorably' by 17 percent of voters and "very unfavorably" by 20 percent. The corresponding numbers for White are 24 percent and 18 percent.

More than half of the respondents (51 percent) rated the economy as "poor" and only 12 percent rate it as good or excellent. Two-thirds oppose the federal health care bill, and about that many disagree with the U.S. Justice Department's decision to challenge the Arizona immigration law (Texas has joined other states opposing Justice on that issue).

Rasmussen polled 500 Texans on Tuesday, July 13. The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.5 percent.

Straddling the Border

Gov. Rick Perry won't give his full support to Arizona's new immigration law, but he's all for the 10th Amendment, and said via nighttime press release that he supports Arizona's right to do something. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is joining other state attorneys general to stop federal efforts to undermine the Arizona law. They contend the states have the right to take care of their citizens if the federal government won't; that the Arizona law is an effort to fill the breach left by the feds' failure to enforce immigration laws.

Perry's with Abbott, but as he's done in recent appearances (as recently as this week in an appearance on FOX), he didn't endorse the Arizona law. He supports Abbott, he says, on the 10th Amendment argument.

• Perry also has made overtures of support to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, saying he would only attend an annual conference for border governors if it stayed in Arizona. Brewer cancelled the meeting after every Mexican governor invited backed out in protest of the state's law.

• A large majority of conservative Hispanics who identify themselves as Republicans or Libertarians disapprove of Arizona's immigration bill and want immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Seventy percent firmly oppose the measure, according to a recent poll conducted by LatinoMetrics and commissioned by LULAC and the Hispanic Federation. The data was collected from 504 respondents in late May and early June and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

About 70 percent favor federal immigration legislation with a pathway to citizenship, compared with 85 percent of Democrats or Independents. And 75 percent favor the immediate deportation of immigrant felons. About half also support increased law enforcement on the border and physical barriers or fences. The numbers come as Democrats and Republicans ramp their attempts to court the Latino vote. About 60 percent of the respondents are registered voters and a quarter of those who are not intend to register before the November election.

• According to 2009 census data, Hispanics are already the largest ethnic group in three of Texas' five largest counties (Harris, Dallas, and in Bexar, where they are in the majority) and hold large majorities in the seventh and eighth largest, El Paso and Hidalgo, respectively.

No Foolin' Bipartisanship

A Third Court of Appeals race has the GOP endorsing over party lines. Former Republican Supreme Court Justices Tom Phillips, Craig Enoch, and Scott Brister — all Republicans — came out in support of Kurt Kuhn, a Democrat running for the seat Jan Patterson will leave on the Austin-based court.

Phillips, who served as chief justice on the state's highest civil court from 1988 to 2004, declines to attach any importance to the cross-party nods. "Most of us believe the judiciary ought to be nonpartisan anyway," he says, adding, "The only thing significant about it is that people actually think it's news."

Kuhn faces Melissa Goodwin, a Republican who has served as a criminal district judge and as staff attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Phillips cited her mostly criminal background, compared with Kuhn's extensive appellate experience (he is a former assistant solicitor general and currently chairs Brown McCarroll's appellate practice) as the reason for his endorsement. "It's nothing against Judge Goodwin," he says.

When asked about the former justices' endorsements by Texas Lawyer, Goodwin said: "They're going to do what they are going to do."

Thank You for Holding...

Almost two years into his administration, President Barack Obama has made his first nomination to a federal district bench in Texas. He recommended Diana Saldaña for the open seat for the Southern District Court, and if confirmed, the current U.S. magistrate judge will fill one of two vacancies on the Houston-based court. Four more seats on federal courts stand open in San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Beaumont.

To date, all of Texas' four U.S. Attorney spots remain unfilled, too. The party divide between the state's Republican senators, who traditionally recommend candidates for the spots, and the Obama administration, has members of the Democratic congressional delegation striving for control of the process. In Saldaña, however, the two sides have reached a consensus. Cornyn, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he supports her nomination and "will urge [his] Senate colleagues to expedite a confirmation vote." U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, whose constituents live in part of the Southern District, said she also has the backing of Democrats.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Before the polling and the fundraising you already read about, Rick Perry and Bill White were courting the Texas Farm Bureau — the group that helped Perry win statewide office in 1990 and fell out with him over highways and eminent domain and a hotly contested 1998 race for Lite Guv against Democrat John Sharp. Perry made a showing. White's hoping they'll endorse him, or at least stay out.

BP might perhaps possibly hopefully be getting a lid on its Gulf oil leak. Meantime, the science department reports that tar balls that showed up on Texas beaches were, in fact, from the BP spill.

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott says he's willing to drop a "Growth Measure" that upgrades the apparent performance of public schools based on projections of how currently failing students might do in the future. If people are confused and unhappy about it, he says, he'd be "happy to scrap it."

Gambling might be fun or popular but it won't solve the state's fiscal problems, the state's chief revenue estimator told a House committee last week. Promoters are hoping the $11 billion to $18 billion hole in the state's purse will make it easier to expand legal gaming in the state to include more bingo, slot machines, casinos, or some combination.

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, is the latest politician to get caught on camera blowing his stack after an audience member taunted him during a town hall meeting on the federal health plan and prodded him to "tell the truth." He's in a competitive race this year and Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco has been busy promoting the video. Rodriguez apologized publicly for losing his temper.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll has the president at a new low in terms of public opinion — only four in ten voters have faith in Barack Obama to make the right decisions for the country. He's not on the ballot, but other Democrats are warily watching numbers like those. Incumbents, too: The same poll says six in ten Americans are ready to "look around" when it comes to who they're supporting in November.

Political People and Their Moves

After ten sessions as a Senate staffer, Joe Morris is retiring and says he'll become a lobbyist. Morris is currently Sen. Jeff Wentworth's chief of staff (his decision to depart — and the internal announcement of it — preceded talk that Wentworth might resign to work at the Texas A&M University System), and worked for Bill Sims before that. James Morris, his dad, was the Senate doorkeeper for years, and his late mother, Jeanne, worked for then-Gov. Coke Stevenson and got the family started in the government business. Morris is a free man on August 1.

New Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, announced the formation of Helms, Johnson & Diaz LLP, a Dallas-based law firm with his new partners Manuel Diaz and John M. Helms, Jr.

Gov. Rick Perry has been busy appointing people:

Robert Davis Jr. of Coppell, Malachi Boyuls of Dallas, and Sheryl Swift of Galveston to the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.

Robert J. Choate of Wiergate as the Newton County Criminal District Attorney for a term to expire at the next general election.

Laura Duran, the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium, and Diana Juarez, director of staff development and interim director of elementary education for the Laredo Independent School District, to the Communities in Schools Advisory Committee.

Margaret Barnes as judge of the 367th District Court in Denton County for a term to expire at the next general election.

Beverly Ashley-Fridie of Edinburg, Aranda Cooper of Nacogdoches, Charlotte Keany, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott of Austin, and Charles Wall of San Antonio to the OneStar National Service Commission.

• Three new members to the Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Nora Castaneda-Rivas of Harlingen is marketing director of Treasure Hill Imaging Center. Ryan Matthews of Holliday is president of Trans Star Inc. and director of Trans Star Ambulance. Robert Vezzetti of Austin is a physician at Emergency Service Partners.

• And three to the State Board of Trustees of the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System. Gracie Flores of Corpus Christi is a pension plan administrator for the Corpus Christi Firefighter's Retirement System. Virginia "Jenny” Moore of Lake Jackson is an office manager for Starboard Industries. Dennis Rice of Canyon is a sergeant and fire marshal for the Randall County Sheriff's Office.

Quotes of the Week

Oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, on the consequences of failing to use natural gas as an energy source, quoted in the Texas Tribune: "We will go down as the absolute dumbest crowd that ever came on the streets."

Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, on the results of a survey she conducted for Texas Freedom Network, which found most Texans want schools to teach contraception and separation of church and state, quoted in the San Antonio Express-News: "People are actually quite practical. They want the best education for their kids."

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on why he won't support Elena Kagan's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court: "Solicitor General Kagan's testimony before the Judiciary Committee did not assure me that she agrees with the traditional understanding of the proper role of a judge. Judges should strictly interpret the written Constitution."

Accused hit man Cristian Rosado Mendoza, on how the shooting death of Chihuahua Assistant Attorney General Sandra Ivonne Salas Garcia was allegedly facilitated by someone from her office, reported by the Associated Press: "Somebody on the inside who was with her, someone close to her, told us at certain times she would go out ...We didn't know if it was a person in her (bodyguard) escort or someone close to her in that department."

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, on whispers around the capitol that he might be retiring to take a job at Texas A&M: "The rumor mill in Austin is very efficient."

El Paso Mayor John Cook to the Texas Tribune on the economic effects of Mexicans fleeing Juárez for El Paso: "While the rest of the country is calling this the ‘Great Recession,' we're calling it the ‘recession that's making us great.'”

Gov. Rick Perry on his relationship with the White House in an appearance with FOX News' Neil Cavuto: "We don't get a lot of calls from this White House. I have frankly never had a call from them ... This is an Administration that clearly has Texas on its radar, and it's in a bad way.”

Contributors: Morgan Smith, Reeve Hamilton, Julian Aguilar

Texas Weekly: Volume 27, Issue 27, 19 July 2010. Ross Ramsey, Editor. Copyright 2010 by The Texas Tribune. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. One-year online subscription: $250. For information about your subscription, call (512) 716-8600 or email For news, email, or call (512) 716-8611.

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