While Houston school board member Greg Meyers tests the waters for a race as a Republican against Democratic State Rep. Hubert Vo, Democrats are debating whether they should try to clear the deck for outgoing City Council member Carol Alvarado in the district that State Rep. Rick Noriega appears ready to give up in order to run for the U.S. Senate in 2008.
The hottest potential primary race that appears to be shaping up in the state's largest city could pit State Rep. Kevin Bailey against Armando Walle in a litmus test of the Democratic incumbent's loyalty to Republican Speaker Tom Craddick. Walle is the community liaison for U.S. Rep. Gene Green and chairman of the Harris County Tejano Democrats.
A pair of Republican lawmakers - State Reps. Dwayne Bohac and Jim Murphy - could end up facing Democratic challengers in next year's general election in their respective bids for re-election in GOP-leaning districts that Democrats consider to be within striking distance. Kristi Thibaut has been weighing a possible rematch with Murphy in House District 133 while Ginny Stogner McDavid ponders whether to run for the seat that Bohac successfully defended last year in a battle with her husband, Mark McDavid.
Democrats are also keeping an eye on the seat that Republican State Rep. Robert Talton of Pasadena would be giving up if he decides to run for Congress in 2008.
Hailey also provides the backstory of the family feud among east-side Hispanic Democrats:
Alvarado supporters hoped she'd have a clear path to the Democratic nomination in HD 145. But the uncontested primary race that Alvarado forces envisioned has apparently run into some potential obstacles with State Reps. Jessica Farrar and Ana Hernandez reportedly resisting. While Alvarado has the baggage of an ongoing investigation into a scandal involving pay raises and bonuses for several employees when she was mayor pro tem, the problem that other Hispanic state lawmakers in nearby House districts appear to have with her possible candidacy for Noriega's seat seems to center more on her association with consultant Marc Campos.
The longtime Democratic strategist supported Hernandez's main rival in a special election battle for a seat that opened when Joe Moreno died in a car wreck in 2005. Farrar was arguably Hernandez's most influential supporter in the special House race. Campos has also drawn the ire powerful Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia for opposing her in a past race and backing Alvarado aide James Rodriguez against the candidate she favors for the open council seat. Alvarado has been a Campos client as well.
Hailey is pretty plugged in here. The Tejano Dems fight a lot amongst themselves (though not as much as they used to) during the primary but always come together in the general. Their more important task in the next cycle is turning out their vote.
Harris County is poised to go blue in 2008, and the Latinos are pivotal to that success. If Noriega tops the ballot in Texas -- with a vice-presidential candidate named, say, Bill Richardson -- then Alvarado, Walle, and lots of other Democrats not necessarily having Hispanic surnames are poised to ride long coattails to victory.
There's lots of work to do, though -- for Democratic activists of every shade -- in order to pull that off.