Friday, June 19, 2009

2010 Candidates Speak At Dual Collin And Denton County Event

Arguably, the two most Republican Counties in Texas may be more in play for Democratic statewide candidates in 2010 than at any time in the last quarter century. Realizing that opportunity, several Democratic candidates preparing to run for the Governor's office, the U.S. Senate and a U.S. Congressional seat in 2010 attended a dual Collin and Denton County event for Democrats in Collin Co. Friday evening.
While each of the candidates had a turn at the podium to make a few remarks, none dived deeply into any "big" political issue. Each speaker commented that they were pleased to see so many Democrats turn out for the event.

Two Democratic candidates running for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat - when, and if, she ever decides to resign her senate seat to run for governor - Houston Mayor Bill White (picture left) and former State Comptroller John Sharp (picture right) were among the candidates attending the dual county event.

In remarks to the audience Mayor White made the point that, "TX needs leadership that is more interested in seeing the state succeed, rather than scoring partisan points and constantly looking for wedge issues - leadership who is more interested in the educating Texas children than in seceding from the union."

John Sharp made the point that Democrats strive to guarantee equal opportunity for all. That America's historic success has come by providing all citizens, not just the privileged few, with an education that empowers every citizen to secure a better life for their families. Sharp said, "Republicans believe that the best way to help auto companies is to give the auto companies tax breaks; but that Democrats believe the best way to help auto companies is to make sure Americans have the education they need to obtain good jobs with the earning power to afford to buy autos from those companies."

KVRX 91.7FM Austin: Interview
with John Sharp from 02/02/09
Sharp also explained why it is important for the candidates competing for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat to have their campaigns ready to throw into high gear at a moments notice.
Sen. Hutchison has given every indication that she will, at some point, officially announce her candidacy for the governor's office. Unfortunately, the candidates lining up to run for her senate seat are in limbo because no one knows when she will vacate her senate seat, with a letter of resignation to Gov. Perry. In fact, Hutichison could decide to hold her resignation until after the November 2010 general election and resign only if she is elected to be the next governor of Texas.

If Senator Hutchison resigns her U.S. Senate seat before the term office expires for her seat in 2012, the scheduling of a special election to fill the senate seat will be governed by the Texas Election Code. Under different timing scenarios, depending on the exact date Senator Hutchison resigns, a special election to fill the vacant senate seat may be held within 90 days of Sen. Hutchison's resignation. The special election could be held on one of the 2009 or 2010 uniform election dates set by the Texas Election Code, or, alternatively, Governor Perry has the authority to call a special "emergency election" for any date he chooses.

Texas' special election procedure has no party primaries, but lists all candidates, regardless of party, on the same ballot. As of this date two Democrats and four Republicans have announced plans to run for Hutchison's vacated senate seat. If no candidate gets fifty percent of the vote in the special election, the top two finishers, regardless of party, participate a runoff election, generally within 20 to 45 days after the final canvass from the special election. Sharp explained that candidates who do not have their campaigns ready to throw into high gear the moment Hutchison announces her senate resignation has no chance to win the special election. (more details on special elections at the bottom of the this posting)
Former Ambassador to Australia and Japan under Pres. G. W. Bush's Administration, Tom Schieffer, was also among the candidates attending the dual county event. While chatting with folks at the event Ambassador Schieffer was heard to say he plans to officially declare his gubernatorial candidacy, for the March 2, 2010 Democratic primary election ballot, on Wednesday June 24th.

Tom Schieffer, brother of CBS newscaster Bob Schieffer and Fort Worth native, told the audience, "Texas is at a critical point right now and I worry that Texas is falling behind the rest of the world in an increasingly globalized economy and we have to be a part of it."

One of Schieffer's main "global competition" talking points was on the topic of education. Schieffer said, "will a kid in first grade in Texas be able to compete in 20 years with a kid who is now in first grade in South Korea? I'm afraid the answer to that question is no."

Schieffer also commented that some people in Texas say Texas public schools will never perform to higher standards because too many of "those" kids drag down the standard of education. "Yet, I visited an aircraft carrier while serving as ambassador to Japan, and saw "those" kids, aged just 19 or 20, operating the complex and technologically advanced aircraft carriers. If the military can figure out a way to educate 'those' kids, then TX can too," Schieffer said.

Schieffer also told the Denton and Collin county Democrats that, "Democrats have a rare opportunity next year to win the governor's office because the Texas Republican Party has moved too far right and a Perry-Hutchison Republican primary fight for governor will leave the winner bloodied and vulnerable." Schieffer added that a Democratic victory is only possible if the party nominates a centrist, as its gubernatorial candidate, not someone to the left of center. “I believe the Democratic Party can be successful in Texas, if it is a big tent party that can appeal to a broad coalition of people in Texas,” Schieffer said.

Schieffer's comments to the Collin and Denton County Democrats are reflected in the following podcasts from the Houston Chronicle:

Houston Chronicle interview podcast where Schieffer explains his support for President Bush's war in Iraq and his indefinite detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part One

Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part Two

Read more about Tom Schieffer in the Houston Chronicle (June 20, 2009)

The fourth candidate to speak at the event was Neil L. Durrance, an attorney in Denton, former Chairman of the Denton County Democratic Party and now candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 26th Congressional District.

Durrance commented that Democratic candidates in Texas can win elections by attracting the so-call swing voters or independents voters. Durrance asked event attendees to go talk to a friend or neighbor and explain to them the real values held by Democrats. That Democrats believe government exists to promote and protect the common good for all citizens. (See Values)

In summation, the candidates focused, for the most part, on moral boosting comments to the dual county Democrats. Collectively, the candidates contrasted the "everyone for them self" value of Conservative Republicans verses the Democratic Party's believe that government should protect and promote the "common good" of all its citizens.
In 2000 presidential candidate George W. Bush understood that Republicans were seen as heartless, selfish, and unconcerned with the plight of the less fortunate. To overcome that negative view of Republicans and attract moderate swing voters candidate Bush gave the American people a vision of "compassionate conservatism." That vision of "compassionate governance" helped candidate Bush woo moderate swing voters and win the 2000 election, unfortunately, President Bush never actually governed by the principles of "compassionate conservatism."
The candidates speaking to Collin and Denton county Democrats Friday night suggested that Republican candidates have moved so far right, have so utterly abandoned the concept of "compassionate governance" articulated by candidate Bush in 2000 and so deride any mention of compassionate, empathetic, or common good governance as socialism, that moderate swing voters in Texas are increasingly turning away from Republican candidates. The candidates each said that moderate swing voters in Texas, including in Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties, can be convinced to vote for Democratic candidates.

Related Posts:
Texas Election Code and Special Elections:
If Sen. Hutchison does step down early, Republican Governor Rick Perry will appoint a temporary replacement to U.S. Senate until a special election can be scheduled. Unlike most other states, Texas only allows the Governor to make a temporary appointment to fill the Senate seat until he can order a special election on the next uniform election date after the office vacancy occurs, on the provision that uniform election date falls at least 36 days after the governor orders the special election. If Hutchison resigns by late September, so that Gov. Perry can order a special election on or before September 28, 2009, the special election will occur on the next uniform (odd numbered year) election date in 2009, November 3rd. If Hutchison resigns after September 28, 2009, but before April 2, 2010, Gov. Perry would order a special election for the spring 2010 uniform election date, May 8th. (While Texas election law does allow a special election day to occur on primary election day, which is March 2nd in 2010, certain odd year vs. even year resignation and election scheduling specifications in the law eliminates that possibility in 2010.) And, if Sen. Huchinson resigns after April 2, 2010 and before September 26, 2010, the special election will occur along with the general election on November 2, 2010. [Texas Election Code Sections 2.025, 3.003, 41.001, 41.007, 201.023, 201.051, 203.004, 203.011, 203.003, 204.003 and 204.005]

Alternatively, the vacancy could be filled by a special "emergency election" called by Governor Perry. Under Section 41.0011 of the Election Code, the Governor has authority to schedule an "emergency election" on a "non-uniform election date" to fill a vacated U.S. Senate seat. For example, if Sen. Huchinson resigns any time between September 28, 2009 and the last primary filing date, the Governor could call an emergency election for an earlier date, such as the March 2, 2010 primary date, rather than wait for the spring uniform election date of May 8, 2010. To call a special "emergency election" the Governor must declare that an emergency exists such that warrants the earlier voting date. The Governor has considerable discretion in deciding whether to call an emergency election, and in the last four years Gov. Perry has ordered at least two emergency elections: the emergency election of February 25, 2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 106, and the emergency election of January 17,2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 48.

Since Texas started selecting its U.S. Senators by popular election in 1916, there have been just four temporary senate appointments and special elections fill a vacancy. The temporary appointee has never won a subsequent special election - twice because the appointee didn't run. Of the two appointees that did run, Democrat William A. Blakley lost to Republican John Tower in 1961, and Democrat Robert Krueger lost to Republican K. B. Hutchison in 1993.

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