Why Perry fizzled

Even if you missed the entire 2012 campaign so far, you can see why Rick Perry’s campaign failed by checking today’s Texas Tribune.

One story (“Perry Sues Over Virginia Ballot Access“) describes how the Perry campaign failed to get the signatures required to get on the ballot in Virginia and then filed suit in federal court. Apparently, the campaign was fed up with the state’s requirement to get 400 signatures from each of the 11 congressional districts and turned to the federal courts for help. This is not the best idea a states-rights candidate ever had.

A second story (“Perry Shifts His Stance on Abortion“) describes the Governor’s declaration that his opposition to abortion extends to rape and incest. Perry’s conversion may be sincere but I think voters will worry about any new position announced so close to the Iowa caucuses. You can only have so many changes of heart before your attacks on Romney as a flip-flopper generate more giggles than applause.

The Perry campaign seems to wake up in a new world everyday and has failed to project a consistent image of the candidate. Voters in Iowa might decide they like Rick Perry –if they could figure out who is really is.

A gift that keeps on giving

As the year winds down, you might think about giving to (or investing in) the Texas Tribune. While the Tribune relies on tax-deductible donations to operate, it has turned into a great source of Texas news and data that would be worth a subscription fee. They make being an informed Texan a lot easier.

Check out their story (T-Squared: More Than 5 Million Reasons to Give) for more information.

The new Texas Almanac is out!

I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but the new Texas Almanac is here.

Since the publication of the first edition 1857, the Texas Almanac has become a Texas institution by providing a remarkable collection of information on all things Texas. Whether you’re writing a textbook about Texas politics or thinking about where to do business in the state, the Almanac is indispensable. You can even look up who won state sports championships.

The Texas Historical Association provides a free online version (I was reassured by the notation: “Our records indicate that Nacogdoches currently exists”), but some us still buy a hard copy (or get one through our support of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum).

While not as widely discussed as the cover or Time or Sports Illustrated, I thought putting Willie Nelson on the cover was an interesting choice. Nelson is a great example of one of those flawed Texans that obtain legendary status. Like Sam Houston, Willie Nelson captures the Texas spirit even though his personal life has not always been a role model that Texans would point to.

Rick Perry’s retirement

It turns out Rick Perry is retired. The Texas Tribune has the best coverage (“Perry “Retires” to Boost Pension Pay“) including copies of Perry’s financial disclosure form so that you can look at it yourself. It turns out that Perry is claiming over $92,000 in “retirement” benefits every year. The Tribune also has coverage of some of the questions that have been raised about his eligibility (“Critics Question Perry’s Move To Collect Pension“).

My guess is that this finishes off Perry’s campaign. Perry’s claim to these generous benefits undermines his conservative message just as some Republicans were considering giving him another look. A candidate only gets a few chances to win over voters and it will be hard to make a small government pitch while living off a big government pension.

**Update**

We’re also playing Lt. Governor David Dewhurst about $410 every day that he serves as acting governor while Perry is out of the state. So far we’ve paid $32,000 for someone to replace a retired governor who is out looking for another job.

Poverty in Texas

Poverty in TexasThe Texas Tribune has an interactive data base of poverty Texas that lets you look at poverty by county in Texas.

Viewing raw numbers shows that there are large numbers of people living below the poverty level in the major cities. However, that can create the impression that rural areas are relatively prosperous.

Looking at the percent below poverty level reveals that rural areas often have a higher rate of poverty.

You can click on each county and see some pretty extensive statistics on poverty in that county. It’s a great tool for thinking about public policy in Texas.

There’s a worse way to think about redistricting?

The Houston Chronicle has an editorial calling on Texas to look at how we do redistricting (“There’s a better way to think about redistricting“). They point to State Senator Jeff Wentworth’s  (R-San Antonio) proposal to create a redistricting commission composed of eight commissioners from outside party ranks (4 picked by Republicans, 4 picked by Democrats, and the presiding office picked by the other commission members).

It’s not a perfect solution. But… could it get any worse than what we have? Is there anything worse than having the parties take turns hacking away at each other while the concerns of average Texans are neglected?

Should Donald Trump moderate a GOP debate?

No.

Donald Trump at Wrestlemania

In case you missed it, Newsmax.com has asked Donald Trump to moderate at debate of the Republican candidates (“Trump to Moderate Newsmax, ION TV GOP Debate“). I usually try to avoid national politics, but this is such a bad idea…

Why is it a bad idea?

  1. Trump turned himself into an entertainer (of sorts) years ago. That’s why National Review has already labeled this the Sideshow Debate. If this debate turns into a freak show it will implicate every candidate on the stage as well as the Republican party in general.
    The GOP is already underperforming and it needs to show voters that the grownups are in charge. Some in the GOP seem to believe that a bad economy means that people will vote for anyone other than Obama. More likely, nervous voters are not going to entrusts a shaky recovery to a flakey candidate. It’s a good time to be taken seriously.
  2. Trump is not neutral in any sense of the word. The day I checked the story the “Breaking News” line on Newsmax.com read: “Breaking: Trump: ‘I’m Not Running for President, I’m Backing GOP Candidate.'” Some Republicans will say, “That’s okay, he turned on Obama.” Anybody think that Obama is the last guy Trump will throw under the bus?
    Trump has been courted openly by Newt Gingrich since the debate was announced. How would you feel if you heard that LSU was paying a little social visit to the officiating crew that has been chosen to call the national championship game?
  3. It’s December 27. People are not going to tune in over the holidays. Voters have already had enough chances to hear from the candidates in real debates. I’m sure “highlights” of the debate will make the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. The rest of the debate will likely be ignored. So, no big payoff–lots of risk.
Fonzie jumps the sharkI had taken Newsmax seriously before this. However, I do not understand why a legitimate news organization would turn an event like this over to someone with no journalism training or standards. You also have to wonder why a conservative news organization would turn to what National Review describes a “tax-hike-supporting, missile-defense-opposing, universal-health-care-advocating, eminent-domain abusing, Schumer-Weiner-Rangel-Reid-donating, long-time-pro-choice economic protectionist who in 2008 called George W. Bush “evil” and lauded president-elect Barack Obama as a potentially ‘great president’ who would “lead by consensus.” In television they call this “jumping the shark.

It’s hard to say why Newsmax sponsored this stunt. It looks like a huge potential boon for the Obama campaign. Or, it could be a way of using natural selection to thin out the herd. After all, any candidate foolish enough to accept an invitation to this debate shouldn’t be president.

**** Update 12/13/11 ****

Trump has pulled out of the debate because he did not want to give up his right to run as an independent candidate after the next season of his reality television show wraps up.  Newsmax has been duped and dumped and now NBC has the problem of providing airtime to a potential presidential candidate.