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Slaughter of reform will heat primary

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  • Greg Cannon
    And of course Kinky Friedman has hired Jesse Ventura s former campaign manager. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3161311 April 30, 2005,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2005
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      And of course Kinky Friedman has hired Jesse Ventura's
      former campaign manager.

      http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3161311

      April 30, 2005, 9:40PM

      Slaughter of reform will heat primary
      By RICK CASEY
      Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


      The bloody slaughtering of a campaign-finance reform
      bill on the floor of the Texas House of
      Representatives last week could add considerable
      sizzle to a potential gubernatorial primary fight
      between Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey
      Hutchison next spring.

      The assassination of the bill, which was cosponsored
      by 93 of the House's 150 members, was hardly a
      surprise.

      The bill would have barred secret corporate money from
      being used in the last days of an election to attack
      one candidate or praise another.

      As I reported in an earlier column, the chairman of
      the House Elections Committee, Rep. Mary Denny,
      benefited from just such corporate money in a tough
      race in 2002.

      So, hugely, had House Speaker Tom Craddick. Millions
      in undisclosed corporate contributions were used to
      help elect members who would secure him the
      speakership. That machinery, and Craddick's connection
      to it, is under grand jury investigation.

      Bold try for direct vote
      Denny had stalled the bill into a coma until some
      backers boldly tried to directly vote it out onto the
      floor.

      Suffice it to say that if Craddick wanted a bill
      cosponsored by nearly two-thirds of the House to come
      to the floor for a vote, it would have come to the
      floor for a vote.

      But now it is dead, which has me rooting for a
      Hutchison/Perry contest if only for the entertainment
      value. Consider the likely players.

      �Dave Carney is Perry's chief political consultant. He
      is also head of Americans for Job Security, a
      Virginia-based conservative group that has spent
      millions for misleading "issues ads" in races all over
      the country.
      One was a special election last year to replace Mount
      Pleasant State Sen. Bill Ratliff, who retired from the
      Senate.

      AJS ran a barrage of ads in the days leading up to the
      election. They accused Republican State Rep. Tommy
      Merritt of supporting a sales tax hike. What they
      didn't say was that the proposed hike was to be used
      to lower school property taxes � exactly the scheme
      being pushed by the Republican leadership in both
      houses. Merritt lost but retained his House seat.

      As the member who made the motion to bring the
      campaign-reform bill to the House floor Thursday, he
      can expect a primary opponent with more secret
      corporate money behind him or her.

      Secret corporate millions
      �Mike Toomey is Perry's former chief of staff.
      Previously he played the lead role in doling out $2.1
      million in undisclosed corporate cash raised by the
      Texas Association of Businesses for the 2002 election.
      Some of it went for mailings praising Chairman Denny
      sent in the heat of the campaign only to frequent
      Republican voters.

      TAB says the corporate expenditures were legal because
      they didn't explicitly urge a vote for Denny, but they
      clearly were campaign mailings.

      So Perry can expect to have two men on his side with
      considerable experience in using secret corporate
      millions to help favored candidates and hurt those
      who, like Merritt, won't play along.

      But, I'm happy to say, Hutchison won't be entering the
      fray without a hatchet. She has hired Terry Sullivan,
      who last year directed a bare-knuckled primary
      (against a former governor) and November campaigns to
      elect Republican U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint to the U.S.
      Senate from South Carolina.

      A factor credited in the victory was an ad against
      DeMint's Democratic opponent, for the way she spent
      money as state superintendent of schools.

      It was run by Carney's shadowy Americans for Job
      Security.

      So Sullivan clearly knows what he will be up against
      in a race against Perry. Expect him to be prepared.

      Now that the Democrats can no longer provide any
      fireworks, it's good to know that we can rub two
      Republicans together and get ignition.
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