Election Notes

Tidbits from the campaign trail

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has started handing out Senate committee appointments, and all three made this month were of senators up for re-election. Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, takes the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Economic Development, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, becomes chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Edu­ca­tion Finance. The biggest boost may go to Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, as the only one of the three to face a primary challenger: Mike Galloway, an oil man and the former Senate District 4 incumbent. Dewhurst has appointed Williams chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Property Tax Appraisal and Revenue Caps; this comes after he put him on the Select Committee on Public School Accountability. This primary resurrects an old rivalry: Galloway lost the seat to Democrat David Bernsen in 1998 and then lost the right to take the seat back in a 2002 primary run-off against then-state Rep. Williams. Brimer, meanwhile, faces Democrat and former Fort Worth City Council Member Wendy Davis in November. Only Zaffirini faces a clear path to re-election. – Richard Whittaker

• Now that Texas has taken on prominence in the Democratic presidential primary, Texans for Obama is opening an actual office. The grand opening is Saturday at 10am at 816 Congress. – Lee Nichols

• At press time, Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Ray McMurrey of Corpus Christi and state Sen. Rick Noriega of Houston were scheduled for a debate on the UT campus. Check our News blog at austinchronicle.com/newsdesk for a recap. – L.N.

Texans for Public Justice has asked Travis Co. District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate whether Speaker Tom Craddick used a political action committee to funnel cash illegally to the election campaigns of three state reps. On Jan. 10, the Tom Craddick campaign fund donated $250,000 to the Texas Jobs & Opportunity Build a Secure Future Inc. (Texas Jobs PAC), its first received contribution since June 2006, when it was known as the Texas Free Enterprise Fund. The next day, the PAC cut $50,000 checks to the campaigns of Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg; Kevin Bailey, D-Houston; and Kino Flores, D-Mission, all of whom have been criticized for their close links to Crad­dick. In its Feb. 11 letter to Earle, TPJ said that, as the "sole and ultimate source of the contributions," Craddick had violated the Texas Government Code by making a donation to these House campaigns while speaker and that he and Texas Jobs violated the election code by having the PAC make the payment for him. Craddick was not the only high-profile donor to the PAC: Longtime GOP moneyman Bob Perry, school vouchers advocate James Mansour, and tort reformist Michael Stevens each gave $25,000, after the three contribution checks had been cut. – R.W.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Elections, Election 2008, David Dewhurst, Kim Brimer, Judith Zaffirini, Tommy Williams, Mike Galloway, Wendy Davis, Texans for Obama, Ray McMurrey, Rick Noriega, Texans for Public Justice, Ronnie Earle, Tom Craddick, Tom Craddick Campaign Fund, Texas Jobs & Opportunity Build a Secure Future Inc (Texas Jobs PAC), Texas Free Enterprise Fund, Aaron Pena, Kevin Bailey, Kino Flores

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