Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Message from Tom Love

Posted by Faith for Tom Love for U.S. Congress District 24 Campaign - Nov. 4, 2008
As we enter the final stretch of this incredible race, I want to take a minute to thank you.

This nation is built on the hard work and "elbow grease" of the American people. I have traveled District 24, meeting my neighbors. I've seen the dedication of North Texans. Despite personal struggles, I've witnessed neighborhoods and communities come together to help neighbors and strangers. You solve problems, care for your families, and work for a living, while serving others - like those who had to evacuate the Texas Gulf Coast. For some this would seem heroic, but for the "extraordinary people here in North Texas, "it's normal -- it's what we do."

It is my honor to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress for the 24th District. I have grown as I've traveled and listened and learned from you.

I give each voter, encourager, volunteer, and donor my heartfelt thanks. If the voters decide to send me to Washington, I will continue listening to you. Our nation is especially challenged right now but I am confident that the spirit which exists here in North Texas and the ingenuity and dedication of the people will prevail.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. If you have not voted yet, PLEASE GO VOTE TODAY.

If you send me to Washington, I promise that I'll be the working man on the hill fighting for the good of the folks here in North Texas.

Thomas P. Love
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress District 24

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barnett Shale puts local focus on Texas Railroad Commission race

By MIKE LEE - The Fort Worth Star Telegram - Oct. 22, 2008
The election for Texas Railroad Commissioner is usually a sleeper.

But in the midst of the Barnett Shale gas drilling boom, it’s a race to watch for North Texas residents.

The railroad commission, which no longer has anything to do with trains, has one job: regulating oil, gas and mining.

On issue after issue related to urban gas drilling — pipelines, saltwater disposal, well safety — residents have learned just how much authority the railroad commission has. And this year, the race features a Democratic challenger preaching about "corruption," and a rising Republican star who has his eye on higher office.

Michael Williams, the commission chairman, is the only African-American to hold a statewide office in Texas, and he got to make a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention. He’s heard a lot of the complaints about the railroad commission, and he says he’s working on them.

"We’ll have a range of issues that are new to the state and new to the industry because of the Barnett Shale," he said.

The challenger, Mark Thompson, said he decided to run for office after learning about a series of pipeline explosions. He has hammered Williams for taking campaign contributions from the industry it regulates.

"The Republicans messed up the banking, the energy. They haven’t done their job," Thompson said. "They’ve been so busy getting themselves elected all the time, they haven’t thought about the people."

Thompson is not the railroad commission’s only critic. In the last two years, the agency has come under fire from several directions:

The state auditor’s office issued a scathing report about the commission’s inspection practices. Forty percent of the state’s 360,000 oil and gas wells have not been inspected in the last five years. In Tarrant County, the figure is 30 percent, according to railroad commission data. And the auditors reported that state inspectors routinely accepted gifts and free meals from companies they inspected.

A series of reports by WFAA/Channel 8 and The Dallas Morning News showed that the railroad commission was slow to act when it learned about faulty natural gas couplings that were linked to fire and explosions at several homes in North Texas.

A state appeals court ordered the commissioners to reconsider a case in which they allowed a saltwater disposal well on a rural road. The court ruled that the commissioners took too narrow a definition of "public interest" when they ignored complaints about the potential for truck traffic from the well. Commissioners said the disposal well was in the public interest because it would help produce oil and gas. The case is now being appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

The railroad commission issues permits for natural gas pipeline companies, which have the power to condemn private property. But it does not review pipeline routes or exercise any significant control over the companies until after the lines are built.

Williams said he has pushed to shift inspectors to the Barnett Shale, and he has asked the Texas Legislature for more inspectors. But he said there will never be enough inspectors to do the kind of regular inspections that critics have pushed for. Instead, the agency will have to concentrate on the highest priorities.

"The greatest opportunity for harm is when you’re starting and finishing a well," he said. "We’re not like a restaurant, where you’re cooking every day."

On saltwater wells, Williams said, the commissioners believe that traffic and environmental issues are important, but "we just don’t have the authority to take that into consideration."

"If the Legislature wants to tell us we have jurisdiction over traffic issues, we’ll take over traffic issues," he said.

He said he also wants to encourage recycling of saltwater and other drilling waste, once the technology is viable.

Likewise, Williams said, it will take a new law to give cities and landowners more rights when dealing with pipeline companies.

"As a proponent of local control, I’m not opposed to that," he said.

Thompson had no political experience and voted only sporadically before he decided to run for office. He said he became interested in the railroad commission after a fatal natural gas explosion at a home in Garland, his hometown. The explosion was blamed on faulty natural gas couplings, and news reports showed that Williams and the other commissioners were slow to act on previous reports about the couplings.

"He didn’t do anything; those deaths were preventable," Thompson said in an interview.

Likewise, he said, the railroad commission should have hired more staff to prepare for the Barnett Shale boom.

"I’m surprised — all these rigs coming in and didn’t they know about it," he said. "How come it took so long to actually open an office here in Fort Worth. It’s like they finally get a clue."

Thompson got 48 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary and won the runoff with 59 percent. He said he’s successful because people are tired of the status quo.

Williams took more than $200,000 from oil and gas industry representatives in the last cycle, and accepted a pair of Super Bowl tickets from an electrical utility in 2004. He dismisses Thompson’s allegations.

Williams is open about his desire for another elected office, and he said taking campaign funds — even Super Bowl tickets — from oil and gas companies is legal.

He said he frequently votes against companies and people who have contributed to his campaign.

"The only way he [Thompson] knows about it is because it’s on my campaign report," Williams said.

He was asked what the companies want for their contributions.

"They just want good government," Williams said.

Texas Railroad Commission
The agency no longer has anything to do with trains or transportation. Its only function is regulating the oil, natural gas and mining industries in Texas. Commissioners are elected statewide for six-year terms and earn $137,000 annually.

Michael Williams (incumbent)

Party: Republican

Age: 55

Background: Williams, a lawyer, started his career in the U.S. Justice Department, where he prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members, among other cases. He later served in the U.S. Education Department and worked in the private sector before being appointed to the railroad commission by then-Gov. George W. Bush in 1999. He was re-elected in 2000 and 2002.

Goals: Williams wants to add more staff to the agency and promote clean energy such as wind and clean-burning coal. He also wants to promote compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel and encourage young people to study science, math and engineering.

Unusual: Williams has twice turned down raises that the Legislature approved. He still earns the same pay, $99,000 a year, as when he was appointed.

Mark Thompson
Party: Democrat

Age: 49

Background: Thompson was a park and Capitol policeman in Austin before he quit law enforcement to become a counselor for blind people. He decided to run for railroad commissioner in 2007, after researching a home explosion that killed two people in Garland, his hometown. He believes that the railroad commission was slow to act after learning about previous explosions linked to the same cause and that some of the deaths were preventable.

Goals: Thompson has vowed not to take campaign contributions from energy industry political action committees. He wants the state to hire more inspectors and wants to encourage companies to recycle more of their saltwater waste.

We’ll have a range of issues that are new."
Michael Williams

Those deaths were preventable." Mark Thompson, on a fatal gas explosion in Garland.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Star Telegram endorses Chris Harris

Fort Worth Star Telegram Editorial Board - Oct. 07, 2008
Chris Harris has more seniority than any other Republican in the Texas Senate. He sits on the Finance Committee, where he has influence over funding of projects and policy initiatives that are important to North Texas and the state as a whole.

His Democratic opponent, Melvyn Willms, is running for office because he wants to change laws that didn’t go his way in a 1996 lawsuit. Willms, who is not an attorney, represented himself in that suit and in subsequent appeals.

Harris has represented parts of Arlington in the Senate since 1991. Before that, he served six years in the Texas House. Willms has never been elected to public office.

Harris has a clear knowledge of the state’s needs in health and human services, transportation, education and criminal justice. He is a staunch supporter of The University of Texas at Arlington. Willms is still fighting his 12-year-old lawsuit.

The Star-Telegram recommends Chris Harris for Texas Senate District 9.

Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Neither candidate has campaigned seriously in this district. I have received no campaign contacts from either Senator Harris nor his minimal Democratic challenger.

When weighing the options, on the plus side for Senator Harris is one of the most experienced, constituent responsive staffs in either the Texas House or Senate. Senator Harris's staff does not discriminate and "underserve" those who are not Republican. On numerous times, they have responded immediately and with expertie to my inquiries.

On the negative side, I wish that Senator Harris understood how detrimental toll fees on the scale planned in the RTC's 2030 plan will be on businesses, individuals and every facet of the North Central Texas economy. Like most Senators and State Representatives from the DFW metroplex, he voted to exempt this region from the 2 year moratorium on private public partnership toll roads. The citizens have been given no opportunity to approve or veto any specific toll project. Public outcry at public meetings did not slow down the projects. The only bright ray in the financial crisis is that foreign interests cooled to participating in public Private partnerships in this region, cost of financing increased, and transportation planners have been forced to return to the drawing board and try to find other solutions to this region's transportation needs.

It is my belief that there are less expensive transportation solutions than those proposed in the public private toll projects. It is regrettable that Senator Harris, and many of his colleagues in Austin, failed to demand that TxDOT find less costly transportation solutions several years ago instead of red-stamping Rick Perry's public infrastructure give-away.

Senate District 9 is a district which stretches from Arlington to Denton County. Hopefully, after the next census this district will be redrawn to to include fewer "parts of cities and parts of counties".

Star Telegram Hits the Mark Again

Recommendation by Fort Worth Star Telegram Editorial Board - Sun, Oct. 19, 2008
The matchup in the Texas House District 97 race is familiar for voters in this southwest Fort Worth district.

Democrat Dan Barrett and Republican Mark Shelton are facing off — again. They were two of the seven candidates in the special election last Nov. 6 to replace the retiring state Rep. Anna Mowery, and moved on to the Dec. 18 runoff.

Barrett, 53, was victorious, as he should be on Nov. 4.

In the brief time he’s been state representative, Barrett has immersed himself in establishing contacts and building relationships with other Austin lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. His two interim committee assignments — Land and Resource Management and Pensions and Investments — have introduced the attorney to the mundane but important work of government, with issues ranging from eminent domain to contracts with the company that runs the state’s pharmacy benefits program.

Should voters return him to Austin, Barrett said, he will focus on the economic issues affecting the residents of District 97: reining in escalating homeowners insurance and utility rates, promoting programs that will decrease the transportation gridlock, and revisiting the state’s less-than-successful funding formula for public education.
It is on the issue of public education that Shelton, 51, is most disappointing. Moments after the physician said that he has "never been for vouchers in public schools," he told Editorial Board members that he "is in favor of 'parental choice.’ " When pressed to define that, Shelton said it is the use of vouchers for students in failing schools.

Libertarian Rodney Wingo, 60, is also running, but the Fort Worth contractor is little more than a placeholder.

The Star-Telegram recommends Dan Barrett for Texas House District 97.
Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

This time the Star Telegram Gets It Right:

STAR-TELEGRAM RECOMMENDATION: House District 96 — Chris Turner
By Star Telegram Editorial Board Endorsements - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Wed, Oct. 01, 2008 October 01, 2008

Bill Zedler has had enough time and opportunity to shine as a Texas legislator. He hasn’t.

It’s time for a change in Texas House District 96, which stretches south of Interstate 20 from southwest Arlington to Crowley. Republican Bill Zedler has represented the district since 2003, and frankly he’s had time to be a better legislator than he is.

Zedler, 65, touts his membership in the Texas Conservative Coalition as a badge of honor, often using the collective “we” when speaking of the group’s 40-plus House members and their accomplishments in “free enterprise, limited government, limited taxes and family values.”

As slogans, those terms sound good, but in practice some of the legislation pushed by the coalition and its members has been downright bad. We’d rather have seen more evidence that the District 96 representative could think and act independently rather than simply support group causes.

In the coming session, Zedler says he wants to push more of the coalition’s goals.

He wants to require all local police departments to check the immigration status of people in their custody, without fully explaining how the state would have the authority to impose such a requirement or enforce it. He wants to train employers on how to recognize illegal immigrants and to require them to take steps to avoid being duped by fake documents used to gain employment. Putting the state in the role of chief immigration enforcer would be a legal and financial mistake.

Zedler joins the Conservative Coalition crowd in decrying the property tax appraisal system. He wants appraisers to have a freer hand to set property values lower than full market value. Doing so would result in an uneven and unfair tax system.

Opposing Zedler is Democrat Chris Turner, 35, of Burleson. Turner is young and untested, but he is smart and driven by a desire to improve the lives of the residents of District 96 and the rest of the state.

Turner looks at the Oct. 4 school property tax election and the $8.1 million in budget cuts at the Arlington school district this year and sees a common theme: The school funding plan adopted by the Legislature in 2006 has left local districts unable to meet increased costs without raising taxes or dangerously drawing down reserves.

He advocates construction of a North Texas regional commuter rail system. He recognizes funding such a system could be difficult, but the region and its 6.5 million residents are headed for traffic gridlock without it.

He also is focused on the need for transportation innovations and other measures to improve North Texas air quality.

Turner favors measures to enhance funding opportunities for The University of Texas at Arlington and other state higher education institutions.

The Star-Telegram recommends Chris Turner for state representative in District 96.

Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

KENNEDY: Texas, taxes and schools
By BUD KENNEDY - Fort Worth Star Telegram - Oct. 10, 2008
Four weeks before Election Day in a campaign that is not going his party’s direction for now, you would think that Arlington Republican Bill Zedler would avoid picking a fight.

He just picked one — aiming at, of all people, public school leaders, including those in his districts of Arlington, Crowley, Kennedale and Mansfield.

Zedler is among conservatives behind a new "Pledge With Texans." It’s published by the Texas Conservative Coalition ( www.txcc.org) as sort of a state Contract with America, a to-do list for the next Texas Legislature.

Pledge No. 1: "Cut property taxes until they are eliminated" — and one tax in particular.

"Elimination of school district property taxes must be the long-term goal," the pledge reads.


We don’t have an income tax in Texas. Basically, we have two ways to pay for children’s education: property taxes and sales taxes.

"Certainly, we could look at that as an option," he said Thursday, saying lawmakers could "eliminate property tax and replace it with a sales tax."

It’s the only option. Unless he’s got a few billion stashed in a piggybank somewhere.

How much would the Texas Legislature have to raise the sales tax to pay for Texas schools?

"It would have to be an astronomically high sales tax," said Steve Brown, Arlington associate superintendent of finance.

The Arlington school district alone — one of the state’s most thrifty — needs $200 million a year in property taxes to teach kids.

By the time the state of Texas replaced that money, it would take an extra quarter-cent in sales tax statewide to cover the bill. And that’s just for Arlington.

When Weatherford Republican state Rep. Phil King suggested a school sales tax last year, Texas Monthly said the idea was a "scheme . . . to hurt the schools." The idea is a political gesture designed to shift control to Austin and stir up opposition to tax increases, the magazine’s Paul Burka wrote.

Crowley Superintendent Greg Gibson just got turned down by his own voters for a tax increase.

Imagine if every school in the state had to ask Austin for money to raise teacher salaries or pay higher electric bills.

"It’s pretty frustrating to me to hear about proposals like this when the state is funding schools so poorly," Gibson said. "It’s all rhetoric. The money’s not there."

Zedler, a three-term lawmaker, is the vice chairman of the Texas House Education Committee.

He has always returned calls. This was no exception.

"If you can reduce the property tax, then Texans will have more money to spend," he said. "That’ll be good for the economy. And it’ll also generate more sales tax."

The Conservative Coalition is hosting town halls to promote the Pledge With Texans.

Zedler will host a meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Moore Elementary in Arlington.

"If you want to see what keeps people out of homes, a lot of it is the property tax," he said. He wants school districts to "do more with less," he said.

King, the originator, said he might agree to exempt low-income Texans from the sales tax. (A sales tax is often criticized because it’s like an income or property tax in reverse: The poorest Texans pay the highest percentage of their income.)

Zedler’s opponent, Burleson Democrat Chris Turner, said a school sales tax would be "a dangerous path." It wouldn’t produce enough money in the event of a sales recession, he said.

"It’s a horrible idea," he said.

Right or wrong, this is a horrible time to be talking about taxes.

Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Attacks ramp up in Texas Senate District 10 race

By ANTHONY SPANGLER - The Fort Worth Star Telegram - Oct. 18, 2008
FORT WORTH — If you thought the attacks have been harsh in the
presidential race, get ready for some tough TV ads and biting
accusations by candidates vying for Texas Senate District 10.

Democratic challenger Wendy Davis started running TV advertisements
Friday that paint incumbent state Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, as a
servant to special interests and a deadbeat who defaulted on a loan.

A narrator uses the phrases "Brimer prefers the shadows to the
spotlight" and "The more we know, the worse it gets."

Just hours after airing its first TV commercials attacking Brimer, the
Davis campaign found itself Friday fending off allegations from Brimer’s
campaign staff and consultants that she is a "ghost employee" at
Republic Title in Fort Worth and that she was paid bonuses for steering
business to the company through her position on the Fort Worth City Council.

Surrounded by campaign workers at her camp’s Fort Worth headquarters,
Davis denied Brimer’s allegations, calling them blatant "lies."

"Kim Brimer is filing trumped-up legal charges and hiding from the
voters because he does not want to talk about his record," she said at
the news conference. "I am challenging you [Brimer] today to stop lying
and filing phony legal actions."

The complaint, mailed to the Texas Insurance Department by Brimer’s
campaign manager, Jarod Cox, contends that Davis was paid bonuses by
Republic Title that violate state law and that she does no work for
Republic Title. A spokesman for the department said the agency has not
received any complaints regarding Davis or Republic Title.

A vice president of the company who answered the phone Friday at a Fort
Worth office of Republic Title said that Davis is an employee and has a
direct extension but that it is easier to reach her on her cellular
phone or at her campaign headquarters.

According to documents obtained by the Star-Telegram, Davis had the
city’s law department review her contract as chief executive of
Republic Title’s Fort Worth division, including her $180,000 annual salary.

Fort Worth City Attorney Davis Yett wrote in a Nov. 9, 2004, letter
that Davis’ "employment agreement provides for compensation in the form
of salary, without any incentives or commissions."

Davis said she is the only executive at Republic Title in Fort Worth who
does not receive bonuses.

"I never accepted any commission or incentives from Republic Title, as
Brimer would have you believe," she said. "I revised my contract to
remove any commission or incentive payments on the advice of the [Fort
Worth] city attorney."

Although Brimer’s TV campaign ads focus on his endorsement by Fort Worth
Mayor Mike Moncrief and the 18 other mayors in the Senate district,
Davis said Friday that Brimer’s campaign has been full of negative
attacks in the form of "trumped-up complaints."

Davis also criticized the Brimer campaign for trying to remove her from
the ballot through a lawsuit challenging her eligibility as a candidate.
The case was rejected this month by a Dallas appeals court.

Brimer’s campaign officials say they are running a positive campaign.

"Ms. Davis’ actions today are kind of like a hubcap thief that steals
the hubcaps and then gets caught, comes back and puts them back on and
says there was no crime," Cox said. "We’ll let the complaint speak for
itself. If she wants to claim things at Republic Title were on the up
and up, then she should release those pay stubs going back to 2004. ..."

Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dallas lawyer Fred Baron allowed to use experimental drug in cancer fight

By JEFFREY WEISS - The Dallas Morning News - October 16, 2008

Dallas lawyer and Democratic Party fundraiser Fred Baron has won his fight to gain access to an experimental cancer drug, according to an e-mail sent out by his son late Thursday afternoon.
Lawyer Fred Baron in Dallas in September 2006.
View larger More photos Photo store

According to the e-mail from Andrew Baron, his father was given the drug, called Tysabri, in hopes that it would reverse what doctors say is an otherwise incurable case of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

Tysabri has been approved to treat multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease but not cancer. Researchers began preliminary clinical trials testing the drug on patients with multiple myeloma only six weeks ago and don’t yet know whether it works.

The drug is not available to other cancer patients without the permission of the manufacturer, Biogen Idec. As of Wednesday night, the company was refusing to give that permission. A Biogen spokeswoman said that allowing Mr. Baron to use the drug could jeopardize its use by thousands of other people.
Also Online

Link: Son's plea to drug company

But Mr. Baron’s family enlisted some of their well-known friends to lobby the company. The list included Lance Armstrong, the bicyclist and cancer survivor; Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass; and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who has brain cancer.

Andrew Baron, founder of the Web video company Rocketboom, posted a letter with details of his father’s condition on his personal blog. His plea that his father be allowed to get Tysabri was picked up by the online technology community, which posted links on several other well-known blogs.

Andrew Baron sent out a brief note late Thursday afternoon:

“Thanks to the persistence and hard work of so many friends, Frederick has received Tysabri. The Mayo Clinic working with the FDA found a legal basis for this use. We have every expectation of a positive result.”

Access to the drug was not granted by Biogen, a company spokeswoman said.

“The FDA did notify us late yesterday they were working directly with the Mayo Clinic to try and resolve the situation,” Naomi Aoki said. “It wasn’t through us.”

Mayo Clinic officials declined to comment.

Neither members of the Baron family nor representatives of the FDA were available to provide additional details about how Mr. Baron obtained the drug.

Most prescription medications can be used for “off-label” treatments without additional approval. But Tysabri was pulled from the market once because of its connection to a rare brain infection, and any off-label use must be approved by Biogen.

Biogen officials said they feared that if Mr. Baron had bad side effects from the drug, the company would have difficulty getting approval for its use by other cancer patients. It also feared that doctors would become reluctant to prescribe the drug for MS and Crohn’s.

In his letter, Andrew Baron said that Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, head of the Food and Drug Administration, had given “special approval” for his father to get the drug. His letter also said that the FDA had agreed “that there would be no legal risk and no negative consequences” to Biogen if something went wrong.

An FDA spokesman said Biogen’s president had called Dr. Eschenbach but that no such immunity had been given to the company.

“FDA has provided no such assurance to the company,” Christopher DiFrancesco said in an e-mail. “We recognize and appreciate that expanded access programs involve less-controlled use of experimental treatments than the well-controlled environment of a clinical trial, and thus we would consider information that might be obtained in this instance within that context.”
Read more in the Dallas Morning News

Monday, October 6, 2008

By GROMER JEFFERS JR. - The Dallas Morning News - Monday, October 6, 2008

John McCain doesn't plan on spending a cent to carry Texas: No offices, no staffers, no television commercials and no campaign appearances.
"Senator McCain is going to win Texas," said former Secretary of State Roger Williams, chairman of the statewide coordinated campaign effort led by the Texas Republican Party. "I can see why he isn't spending any time" in the state.

But for states not in the heat of the presidential fight, seeing the candidates at the top of the ticket offers more than just a glimpse at history. It helps down-ballot candidates and energizes party activists in the party.

So while Mr. McCain's absence signals that Texas is solidly red, it leaves local, more vulnerable GOP candidates to grind alone. He'd be the first GOP presidential candidate in years not to campaign here in the general election.

In contrast, Barack Obama, who acknowledges that he will probably lose Texas, has placed paid staffers in the state to work with thousands of volunteers. Many of them are being sent to battleground states to campaign.

"We are the Alamo, and I'm Col. Travis," said Dallas County Republican Chairman Jonathan Neerman, whose party was buried in a Democratic landslide in the 2006 election. "We don't have the benefit of Senator McCain campaigning here, but this is our county, and we have to take responsibility for winning it."

Confident of victory

The McCain campaign says that because it's confident of winning the state – and because the coordinated campaign has done such a good job – it doesn't plan on spending any money in the state.

"We're all working together, hand in hand," said Tom Kise, a McCain spokesman. "Every state is important, and Texas is going to be won by John McCain."

Mr. McCain had a much different view of the role of Texas when he visited Dallas for a June fundraiser at the Belo Mansion.

"I don't believe it's fair or appropriate to come here and ask for your money and then not campaign here," he said after promising to make regular visits to Texas. "I'll be back to the great state of Texas on several occasions. Not just for fundraising, but because I think it is an important state for the future of this nation."

Since his remarks, Mr. McCain has not been back to the state, nor have many of his surrogates. And he's had to reconsider his efforts in other states as well. Last week, the campaign said it was pulling up stakes in Michigan, conceding the state to Mr. Obama.

So Texas supporters must watch the campaign on television.

And when they want to participate by buying yard signs and other campaign gear, they must either drive to a battleground state, purchase it through Mr. McCain's Web site or rely on the local party's scarce stashes.

Mr. McCain is hardly the first Republican who didn't run an active campaign here.

In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush didn't spend significant resources in Texas either.

Then, as now, the presidential ticket was pushed by a statewide campaign.

Mr. Williams said Texas Republicans are having success selling Mr. McCain, as well as state and local candidates.

"We're helping Senator McCain a lot," he said. "We're helping everybody else down the ballot."

There are "victory" operations in the Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas. Those campaigns are funded by the state party, with input from local Republicans.

In the past several months, they have had 50 sessions to train volunteers.

Hometown races

But unlike Mr. Obama, who sends many of his volunteers outside Texas, Republican volunteers are used almost exclusively for hometown races.

Mr. Neerman said the McCain campaign had pledged not to take valuable campaign workers out of Dallas County. He says he needs them to help with local races.

But Mr. Neerman and others were hoping for more, including public rallies by both Mr. McCain and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Ms. Palin visited Dallas on Friday for a fundraiser attended by more than 1,000 people.

And hundreds more lined the streets outside of the Fairmont Hotel and along the path of her motorcade.

The private luncheon allowed down-ballot candidates like former Irving Police Chief Lowell Cannaday to feel the energy brought by Ms. Palin's stardom.

He met her but didn't mention his race for sheriff against Democrat incumbent Lupe Valdez.

"That would not have been appropriate," he said. "It was her day."
Read more in the Dallas Morning News

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


By Amir Taheri - The NY Post - Sept. 15, 2008
WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open." Zebari says.

Though Obama claims the US presence is "illegal," he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the "weakened Bush administration," Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.

While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a "realistic withdrawal date." They declined.

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet.

Supposing he wins, Obama's administration wouldn't be fully operational before February - and naming a new ambassador to Baghdad and forming a new negotiation team might take longer still.

By then, Iraq will be in the throes of its own campaign season. Judging by the past two elections, forming a new coalition government may then take three months. So the Iraqi negotiating team might not be in place until next June.

Then, judging by how long the current talks have taken, restarting the process from scratch would leave the two sides needing at least six months to come up with a draft accord. That puts us at May 2010 for when the draft might be submitted to the Iraqi parliament - which might well need another six months to pass it into law.

Read more in the NY Post

By GEOFF EARLE - Post Correspondent - September 16, 2008

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama said yesterday he didn't urge Iraq to hold up an agreement with the Bush administration over the status of US troops serving in Iraq.

"Obama has never urged a delay in negotiations, nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades," said Wendy Morigi, an Obama spokeswoman in response to a column in yesterday's Post.

Morigi cited "outright distortions" in an column by Amir Taheri, but the Obama camp did not specifically dispute any of the quotes in the piece.

The article quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in an interview saying Obama said it might be better to delay an agreement.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said.

Zebari said Obama wanted congressional approval of a deal, and said it was better not to have the agreement negotiated while the administration was in a "state of weakness and political confusion."

John McCain's senior adviser, Randy Scheunemann, called Obama's statements "an egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas," citing the "possibility" that Obama tried to undermine negotiations.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tarrant County: Judge Candidate

Maureen Tolbert on "How Cases are Tried":

Tolbert on "How Tolbert is Different":

Tolbert on "How Judge is Referree":