Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Texas Democratic candidate updates

-- Farouk Shami is a candidate to dye for, according to the Texas Tribune. His recent political contributions are what stand out to me, however ...

Shami's (hair care products) business, founded in 1986, took off when he signed a distribution deal with Austin-based Armstrong McCall. John McCall is a part owner of Farouk Systems now, and the two men — particularly McCall — were the biggest contributors four years ago to Kinky Friedman's campaign for governor. Shami gave Friedman $24,400 for that run; McCall was in for $1.3 million and was listed, until last February, as Friedman's campaign treasurer.

Shami also contributed to former Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, who lost a 2006 race to Democrat Ellen Cohen. And in May of this year, he gave $5,000 to Republican Ted Cruz, who had his sights set on a run for attorney general. In federal races, he's contributed to candidates of all political stripes this decade, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, Houston Mayor Bill White (for the U.S. Senate race), Ralph Nader (in 2004 and 2008), Tennessee Democrat Graham Leonard, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the same month he gave to Cruz), and the Republican National Committee (most recently in 2007).

My, it's just like Peter Brown all over again.

-- Elliot Shapleigh is still hem-hawing about a run for Austin ...

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, asked recently to respond to those who say Democrats can't win statewide, today poured forth a torrent of reasons Rick Perry can be beaten.

Is Shapleigh thinking of running for governor in the March Democratic primary? It sounds like it.

"The key is turnout," Shapleigh said in an email this morning. "If turnout matches March 2008, Rick Perry gets retired. When he leaves Austin, people not predators, polluters and paid lobbyists run the state. We believe that most Texans thirst for that message and that day."

LIEUTENANT Governor. Please. Kuffner has more on Shami and Shapleigh.

-- Hank Gilbert's campaign is really hustling:

How does an 8-cents-a-gallon increase in the gasoline tax to fund transportation sound? What about state recognition of same-sex civil unions with the same rights as traditional marriage, a $5,000 teacher pay raise, and bigger penalties for polluters?

They're certainly not all politically canny positions (who campaigns on new taxes?), but give Democratic candidate for governor Hank Gilbert this much: He's already offered detailed proposals in some half-dozen areas affecting Texans. That gives Gilbert something other gubernatorial candidates largely don't yet have less than four months before the primary.

“Serious candidates issue serious, comprehensive policy statements,” said Gilbert spokesman Vince Leibowitz. Gilbert hasn't yet proposed how he would pay for his education initiatives but plans to do so Nov. 24. There's little detail yet from most others hoping to oust GOP Gov. Rick Perry.

Gilbert's team has also appointed an Asian-American senior staffer. Be sure and note Kinky Friedman's response.

-- Speaking of gay marriage, that constitutional amendment banning it in Texas that was passed in 2005 may have a little problem in the wording ...

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the Texas Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by Texas voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the trouble-making phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.

But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

She calls it a "massive mistake" and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.

Abbott and his Army of God respond with the usual sniffing disdain but in the wake of a Dallas civil court's decision last month that the state's ban of gay marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause, the issue of codifying discrimination in Texas should warm up nicely as a 2010 election talking point.

-- We have a candidate for the Texas Court of Appeals, and his name is Keith Hampton. More on Hampton and the CCA from the Austin Chronicle.

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