Monday, October 30, 2006

Corridor Opponents Support Strayhorn

Election 2006: Notes from the campaign trail

October 30, 2006

By AP and WDL writers
Waxahachie Daily Light
Copyright 2006

Friedman to appear on Letterman

Independent candidate for governor Kinky Friedman is stepping into the national spotlight again before Election Day with an appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show, his campaign said Friday.

Friedman is taping his segment for Letterman’s CBS program Monday, and it is scheduled to air on Nov. 3, campaign spokeswoman Laura Stromberg said.

“We just hope a lot of Texas voters are going to be watching,” she said. “Being on David Letterman three days before Election Day couldn’t possibly hurt.”

Friedman faces Republican Gov. Rick Perry, independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Democrat Chris Bell and Libertarian James Werner in the Nov. 7 election.

In battling the big campaign accounts the other major candidates have, free television appearances like the Letterman show help keep Friedman’s profile high, Stromberg said.

Friedman, a mystery writer, comedian and former leader of the band “Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys,” has previously appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Corridor opponents supporting Strayhorn

Several opposition groups to the Trans-Texas Corridor have announced their support of independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

David Skrabanek, chairman of the Blackland Coalition PAC leading the fight against the Trans-Texas Corridor, believes that the corridor/freeway toll corruption issue will be this year’s litmus test.

“The corridor is now in the top three issues. But it should be No. 1,” Skrabanek said in a recent press release. “In the debate, Rick Perry tried to make it just an issue of farmers losing their land and - incredibly, claimed that we voted on this. And the Democratic candidate (Chris Bell) keeps attacking our champion - Carole Keeton Strayhorn. This is really about two-party corruption, folks.

“That’s why many Republicans and Democrats I know are splitting their ticket in November and voting for ‘Grandma’ at the top,” Skrabanek said.

Sal Costello, a Democrat and founder of People for Efficient Transportation PAC, which is also known as the Texas Toll Party, said he was recently called by Rick Perry’s spokesman Robert Black, “a front for Carole Keeton Strayhorn.”

“True to form, Black (and Perry) got things backward. Actually, Carole has been out in front of our anti-corruption movement for two years,” Costello said. “And, what a laugh. Perry’s been fronting for a foreign corporation and the road lobby, sneaking though a major corruption scandal with a secret contract - that remains secret. Now that’s a front of tornadic proportions and why we’re raising money to get our 30-second educational ad up all over the state.”

Terri Hall, founder of the San Antonio Toll Party and a Republican, after watching the debate said, “The real anti-corridor/anti-freeway toll/anti-corruption candidate in the debate stood up to Rick Perry and told the truth.

“The people never voted on this - and she said what she would do,” Hall said. “She said she would ‘bust that secret contract,’ she would go to the legislature to get the legislation overturned, and if all else fails she would ‘get out her mighty veto pen.’ There are some good Democrats running in this election who we believe are really against the corridor and tolls. And, listen carefully, they’re not the ones who are attacking Carole Keeton Strayhorn.”

Linda Curtis, founder of Independent Texans, who took a job with the Strayhorn campaign when her organization decided to support Carole instead of independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman said, “There was a game show in the 1960s called ‘What’s My Line?’ where the audience was lied to by two of three people posing in particular roles ranging from lion tamer, to international undercover agents. Within 10 minutes of questioning, the audience got to know who the real ‘lion tamer’ or ‘former CIA agent’ was by the imposters staying seated and the real candidate standing up.

“In this election cycle, it’s slightly different,” Curtis said. “The real independent is the one who’s been standing up all along.”

Perry announces criminal justiceprograms

In a recent series of press releases, Perry announced he had awarded more than $14.4 million in grants to 122 programs that focus on reducing crime and improving the Texas criminal and juvenile justice systems. These grants are awarded under the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

The State Criminal Justice Planning Fund supports programs that enhance the criminal and juvenile justice systems through essential services and assistance. Grant recipients include local units of government independent school districts, non-profit corporations, hospitals, universities, colleges, community supervision and corrections departments, law enforcement agencies and councils of governments.

Perry also announced the award of $508,809 in grants to 53 Crime Stoppers programs across Texas. These grants are awarded under the state Crime Stoppers Assistance Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

These grants are distributed to state-certified Crime Stoppers programs to support a 24-hour informant hotline and provide training for law enforcement officials, students and faculty sponsors.

Perry also announced the award of $200,094 in grants to the Texas Department of Public Safety to support the Criminal Law Enforcement Reporting Information System and the Texas Amber Alert Network. These grants are awarded under the federal Byrne Formula Grant Program and the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

CLERIS affords law enforcement across the state the ability to store, access and share criminal history information through a secure database system. The Texas Amber Alert Network provides 24-hour support to local law enforcement agencies that report and investigate child abduction cases, and issues both regional and statewide public alerts for emergency child abduction cases.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

Republicans hoping to keep hold on Congress

WASHINGTON - Republicans on Sunday said a major voter turnout effort would help them stay in power after the Nov. 7 elections, while Democrats claimed momentum as they seek to tap into voter unhappiness over Iraq.

Both sides agreed that the war in Iraq was a leading, if not central, issue in the contests to decide control of the House and Senate.

“This election is becoming more and more a referendum on George Bush, his failed policies both overseas and at home with a rubber stamp Congress,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee.

His Republican counterpart, Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, said Iraq and the broader fight against terrorism were important issues, but “President Bush's name is not on the ballot.” Democrats, she said, were trying “to make it a national referendum.”

Schumer and Dole were among the politicians and party leaders who sparred on the Sunday talk shows just nine days before the elections.

Democrats need a gain of 15 seats to win control of the 435-member House and six seats to claim the 100-member Senate.

With approval slumping for both the war and the president, recent polls show Democrats have their best chance to reclaim the House since the GOP swept them from power in 1994, and a shot at capturing the Senate as well.

Democrats hope for gains in Texas House

AUSTIN - After a 30-year backslide into minority status, Texas Democrats hope 2006 will mark a new era of gains in the Legislature.

In races across the state, Democrats hope to pick up a handful of House seats and start chipping away at the Republicans’ 85-64 majority. It’s unlikely that the GOP will lose its majority hold on the chamber this year, but Democrats are looking to pick up a handful of seats.

“I wouldn’t call it a sea change, but we’ll see a sea change in the next two or three years,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, a longtime House Democrat from Alpine. “In Texas, it’s just the beginning of the wave.”

Four years ago, Republicans swept the Legislature and maintained the grip on every statewide office it had held since 1998. It was the first time the GOP led the state since Reconstruction.

When Democrats picked up a House seat in 2004, it was the first time they had increased their numbers in more than 30 years.

“It’s a good year for” Democrats, said Republican consultant Bill Miller, who has worked closely with House Speaker Tom Craddick. “I expect them to pick up a couple of seats. And any gain is a good gain.”

Miller said voters are feeling “general fatigue” with Republican leadership and said that trickles down from Washington, where scandal and opposition to the war in Iraq are threatening GOP candidates.

While Democrats don’t have a universal issue with which to hammer Republicans, they are waging some tough campaigns in individual districts.

In Houston, Republican incumbent Rep. Martha Wong, part of the 2002 Republican takeover, is facing a strong challenge from Ellen Cohen, head of the Houston Area Women's Center, a group active in women’s and family issues. The two have raised more than $1 million in campaign funds.

Like other Republicans, Wong has been criticized for her votes in favor of making it more difficult for families to enroll in the state's Children's Health Insurance Program. Nearly 152,000 children fell off the CHIP rolls in the year following the budget-tightening legislation.

In Arlington, Rep. Toby Goodman, a 16-year veteran, is in a competitive race with Democrat Paula Hightower Pierson.

On the Texas coast north of Corpus Christi, Republican Rep. Gene Seaman has been portrayed as too cozy with the insurance industry. As vice chairman of the House Insurance Committee, Seaman has been the beneficiary of campaign contributions from the industry. His challenger is Juan Garcia, a Naval flight instructor and Corpus Christi attorney.

In Houston, a once-powerful Republican is fighting to get back into office. Talmadge Heflin led the House budget-writing committee in 2003, when lawmakers slashed the state budget. He was defeated in 2004 by political newcomer Hubert Vo.

Vo enjoys the advantages of incumbency, but Heflin has the support of establishment Republicans.

In a couple of open seats, Republican candidates are waging campaigns that could jeopardize districts held by Democrats.

Former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat from Hale Center, announced his retirement earlier this year. The district is heavily Republican, but former Crosby County Judge Joe Heflin, a Democrat, is in a competitive campaign against Republican Jim Landtroop, who owns an insurance agency in Plainview.

In a competitive San Antonio district, Democratic Rep. Carlos Uresti left his seat open when he ran for state Senate. Republicans have thrown their support behind George Antuna, who is trying to upset Democrat Joe Farias.

Republican Rep. Glenda Dawson of Pearland died last month, but her name will remain on the ballot. If she wins - a likely outcome in the conservative Republican district - Perry will call for a special election to replace her.

Little change is expected in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 19-12 majority.

On the Internet

Chris Bell campaign site:

Kinky Friedman campaign site:

Rick Perry campaign site:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn campaign site:

James Werner campaign site:

© 2006 The Daily Light: