Skip to main content

Will the Real Democrat for Ag Commish Please Stand Up?

Also, Burnam has not yet begun to fight and Villalba gets on the Straus train early.

By John Reynolds and Alana Rocha, The Texas Tribune, and Neena Satija, The Texas Tribune and Reveal
Lead image for this article

When Democratic lite guv candidate Leticia Van de Putte robo-called voters to not back comedian/author turned Democratic ag commissioner hopeful Kinky Friedman, she made the argument that Democrats should instead back the “real Democrat” in the race.

The only problem is that voters chose not to back the “real Democrat” in the race, the establishment-backed Hugh Fitzsimons III, but opted instead to put Friedman and Cleburne insurance agent Jim Hogan in the May runoff election.

And as the Tribune’s Neena Satija reported this week, it’ll be tough to claim Hogan is any more of a “real Democrat” than Friedman. Voting records show Hogan voting in GOP primaries in 1998, 2006 and 2012. He voted in the Democratic primary in 2008, although Hogan told Satija that he didn’t remember voting in that contest.

All in all, this is par for the course for a candidate who admitted in a December interview with the Tribune that the reason he chose to run in the Democratic contest was that he thought it would be easier to win.

This week, he said, “I’m really not Republican or Democrat. I really don’t consider myself either.”

That cannot be music to the ears of state Democratic Party leaders, who are looking at having as their ballot representative for a statewide office either a candidate who voted mostly in the other party’s primaries or a candidate who has had kind words for Rick Perry in recent years.


Forth Worth Democrat Lon Burnam has decided not to go gently into that good night, filing a legal challenge to the way his party primary challenger, Ramon Romero Jr., collected some of his mail-in ballots.

Burnam lost by 111 votes to Romero, a result that would end, if it is upheld, Burnam’s 18-year career in the Texas House.

The suit, filed in state court, centers on the roughly 180 mail-in ballots where the voter used an iPad to apply for a ballot. Burnam contends the method was illegal because canvassers were mailing printed applications without their own signatures, according to the Tribune’s Alana Rocha.

It doesn't take a math major to see if Burnam is successful in his challenge to the votes' validity, it'd be enough to change the overall results. And whoever wins the Democratic contest will go to Austin in January because the nominee does not have a general election opponent.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy reported in a column this week that Burnam sent out a March 14 fundraising email in which the incumbent said he planned to continue talking about contributions to the Romero campaign from a charter school advocacy group called Education Reform Now.

Kennedy reported that Burnam wrote in boldface in the email that “I have 10 months left as a state representative and I intend to use every bit of it.”


State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, chose this week to signal his support for Joe Straus continuing as House speaker next session. In a letter apparently sent to his House colleagues, Villalba wrote, “I support Speaker Straus because I am a Reagan Republican whose sole motivation is to work each day to enhance the lives of the people of Texas.”

Villalba, who has made headlines in recent days for highlighting the GOP’s challenge in reaching out to Hispanic voters, also addressed the divide in his caucus:

“With strong Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, it is often asked ‘why didn’t we do more?’ The answer lies both in the strong presence of our friends on the other side of the political aisle and in the ruddy complexion of the modern Texas Republican. So long as members loyally represent the political character of their districts, there will be a disparity of opinions — even among members of the same party.”

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Support independent Texas news

Become a member. Join today.

Donate now

Explore related story topics