Dukes: HillCo No Problem
Rep. Dukes people talk down big PAC donation and the Craddick connection.
By Richard Whittaker,
10:34AM, Thu. Nov. 15, 2007
When Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, received a $10,000 donation for her campaign from the HillCo political action committee in September, it seemed she was being hit with a double-whammy. The PAC, primarily funded by Houston-based building magnate Bob Perry, has been a big advocate of tort reform (i.e., reducing the right of private citizens to sue corporations) and other right-wing shibboleths. It’s also been linked with Speaker Tom Craddick, and both are seen as making a Republican fair game in the next general election or a Craddick D a reasonable target in the primaries. But Dukes’ office is saying the check not a target on her back.
"When we heard about it, we both did a triple-take," said Dukes’ communications director Colin Strother. "She didn’t solicit it, didn’t see it coming. She was in utter disbelief she would receive a check from them, never mind one this big."
There had been some moves to find a primary opponent, but none emerged, and Strother blamed a "nameless, faceless opposition” from outside the district who concentrated on her Craddick connection. He added there was no appetite to remove Dukes, and, "Anyone runs against her, we’re gonna out-block-walk ‘em, out campaign ‘em."
Strother pointed out that many Democrats, including Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, have received money from HillCo, and it had only become an issue for a handful. But he did note the Craddick association was having an impact. In his role as spokesman for Democrats for Reform, the Craddick Ds' organization, Strother complained they were being shut out of caucus events.