Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Chavez-Thompson, Moody, Weems

With the Texas Democratic Party opening their state convention in Corpus Christi tomorrow, let's take a look at the introductory videos of the candidates for lieutenant governor, state Supreme Court, and railroad commissioner: Linda Chavez-Thompson, Bill Moody, and Jeff Weems.

Chavez-Thompson's life story is compelling, and offers the starkest contrast imaginable between the GOP and the Dems at the statewide level. From the TDP's candidate piece:

As a child, Linda Chavez-Thompson picked cotton to support her family and couldn’t afford to finish her education. Through years of hard work, Linda rose to national prominence as a leader for working families, and today, she is running for Lieutenant Governor to make sure every Texas child has the opportunities that weren’t available to her.

Linda Chavez-Thompson may be an underdog running against a millionaire, but unlike David Dewhurst and the Republicans, Linda knows we can’t afford to write off a generation of Texas children who must be prepared for good jobs in the new economy.

Just last year, David Dewhurst showed he was willing to write off thousands of Texans by applying a different standard to us than he applies to himself. During the debate on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Dewhurst demanded that working families re-enroll for CHIP coverage every six months instead of annually, saying he doesn’t think people “have a lot of sympathy for someone that can’t fill out a two-page application every six months.” Yet when it came to his own business dealings, Dewhurst failed to file legal forms in a timely fashion six times -- forms required to conduct his business legally in Texas.

After twelve years in statewide office, David Dewhurst may think he is entitled to special treatment, but Texans have had their fill of hypocritical politicians who use their offices for career advancement while ignoring the everyday concerns of Texas families.

Moody collected more votes than any other Democrat in 2006, narrowly losing his contest against Republican Paul Green -- who has turned in a record of near-invisibility since. From Moody's TDP candidate piece:

Judge Bill Moody is running for Texas Supreme Court, Place 5. Judge Moody was one of our most successful statewide candidates in 2006, earning more votes than any other Democrat on the ballot. In the twenty-three years he has worked as a judge, he has tried over five hundred jury trials. Over his long and distinguished career, he has earned a reputation for hard work and a commitment to ensuring justice in Texas’ courts.

The same cannot be said for his opponent, Justice Paul Green. First elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 2004, Green’s absence from the opinion-making process is a perfect example for why we need fresh ideas and committed public servants on Texas’ highest court.

Of 144 rulings issued in fiscal year 2007, Justice Green issued an opinion in only four cases. That’s right -- Paul Green issued a ruling in less than 3% of cases in which the Texas Supreme Court took action, the fewest of any Justice on the Court. (Source: San Antonio Express-News)

Green is the symptom of a much larger problem. An analysis by Texas Watch in February 2008 showed that it took the Texas Supreme Court an average of 852 days to dispose of a case -- approximately 2.3 years. Even after oral arguments were finished, it would take the Justices on the Court over a year to write an opinion on the case they heard. (Source: Texas Watch)  As Texas Watch argued in their report:

Cases in which a consumer has won at the lower appellate level comprise the majority of cases the Court accepts for review. By keeping these cases on hold for inordinate amounts of time, the Court makes it more likely that injured patients will go without recompense for lost wages and medical expenses, individuals will be forced to declare bankruptcy, and matters involving children are delayed.

The snail’s pace of Paul Green and the entirely Republican Texas Supreme Court is harmful to Texans looking to get their fair day in court. Yet while Green has shown little concern for swift justice, he has been expedient in charging Texas taxpayers for his travel expenses.

Over the course of three years, Justice Green filed for mileage reimbursements for 272 separate trips between Austin, where he lives in an Austin apartment, and San Antonio, his home town. The 272 trips totaled over $16,000 in travel expenses.  (Source: The Houston Chronicle)

This November, Texans will have a chance to change the Texas Supreme Court. The contrast between Bill Moody’s extensive experience and Green’s slow-paced and controversial behavior on the bench could not be any clearer. Texans who believe hard work and fairness should be the hallmark of a Texas Supreme Court justice should support Moody this November.

Weems, like many of the other Democrats on the statewide slate, has experience that dwarfs his opponent's. You may recall that TeaBagger David Porter edged incumbent GOP Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo in a bitter primary last spring where Carillo suggested that his Hispanic surname was a liability in the Republican party. From Weems' TDP candidate piece:

Jeff Weems brings a lifetime’s worth of firsthand experience to the Texas Railroad Commission. Republican candidate David Porter, on the other hand, is completely unqualified.

The Amarillo Globe-News called Jeff Weems’ credentials “superior.” [Source: Amarillo-Globe News, 4/11/10]  Weems is an oil and gas attorney by trade, and has worked in the oil and gas industry since high school. He worked his way through college on the rigs and as a drilling mud representative. Jeff earned a degree from the University of Texas in Petroleum Land Management and worked as a landman, negotiating complex commercial transactions. Since earning his law degree from UT, he has spent 20 years as an energy lawyer. ...

Republican challenger David Porter, on the other hand, has no experience for the job. He told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that his qualifications include working as an accountant and owning property that happens to have pipelines on it. [Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 2/17/10]

But even worse than his inexperience is that Porter has seemingly no understanding of the responsibilities of the Commission he is trying to lead -- and resorts to irrelevant partisan rhetoric to distract from both his inexperience and lack of knowledge.  He thinks global warming is a myth.  [Source:  Porter’s Editorial Endorsement Interview with the Dallas Morning News 2/10]  His disturbing misunderstanding of the role of Railroad Commissioner is evident from his “Why I am Running” statement on his website:

“The Obama administration cap and trade energy tax, the proposed changes in tax law such as doing away with percentage depletion…are a de facto declaration of economic war by the current administration on the Texas oil and gas industry.” [Porter campaign website]

Porter either doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, that the Texas Railroad Commission does not draft, enforce or otherwise deal with federal cap and trade legislation or tax law.

Porter’s campaign has focused on “anti-Washington, D.C., anti-Obama rhetoric” because he is frighteningly inexperienced and has nothing to run on but empty slogans.  As someone who thinks climate change is not real, Porter is unfit to effectively take care of our state’s vast energy resources.  Capitol Inside described Porter as “a candidate who had almost no money and even less name identification for a race that he’d entered 15 minutes before the filing deadline simply because no other challenger had signed up to run for the post.” [Capitol Inside, 4/16/10]

Texans deserve a Railroad Commissioner who understands the job, and Jeff Weems delivers a lifetime of experience.

Tomorrow: the two remaining judicial candidates Keith Hampton and Blake Bailey (there's already some about them at Burnt Orange), Hector Uribe, and Bill White.

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