Top 10 Election Gaffes

1) If You Can't Legislate, Litigate State Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, decided it was easier to fight through the courts to keep Democrat Wendy Davis off the ballot than to face her on the stump. The result? Davis hung tight and took the seat with 50% of the vote.

2) Primary Madness As in any family feud, picking a candidate gets mean, fast. For the Democrats, Austin Rep. Dawnna Dukes and challenger Brian Thompson threatened to sue and countersue over each other's TV ads, while former Rep. Glen Maxey charged Travis Co. Tax Assessor-Collector Nelda Wells Spears with all manner of incompetence in his unsuccessful attempt to oust her. Mean­while in House District 52, Republican Bryan Daniels smeared adversary Dee Hobbs as a gun hater. And that was only March.

3) Big "L" vs. Small "l" Party Libertarians thought they could poach votes from U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's free-market-friendly revolution. Then their own presidential candidate, Bob Barr, upset Paul by offering him the party's vice presidential nomination – after he had already rejected the top slot. The eternal contrarian snubbed both Libertarians and his own GOP by endorsing Constitution Party ("pro-life, pro-gun, pro-Amer­ican") hopeful Chuck Baldwin.

4) Dead Air When most people want to become a YouTube sensation, they film a sleepy cat or take a wicked nut shot. Sen. Kirk Watson went to all the effort of getting booked on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, then blanked out in prime time when asked to name any of Sen. Barack Obama's legislative achievements.

5) Go Steelers, er, Packers Even his worst enemies would never accuse Sen. John McCain of using his time as a prisoner of war for political advantage. That is, right up to the moment when he changed his story about reciting the starting lineup of the Green Bay Packers to his torturers to that of the Pitts­burgh Steelers ... because he happened to be in Pittsburgh.

6) Sarah Palin

7) Bettencourt Drops Ball While everyone else predicted record turnout for the Novem­ber election, Harris Co. tax assessor-col­lect­or (and voter registrar) Paul Bettencourt was insisting, "The interest level in this election is not as high as people thought it would be." Then 100,000 voter-registration applications got turned in at deadline, catching the Repub­lican flat-footed and still scrambling to process 13,000 applications on the first day of early voting.

8) Loose Lips John Cornyn campaign manager Rob Jesmer making conversation with Holly Shulman, spokeswoman for Democrat Rick Noriega, asked about her father's New Jersey congressional race and called the Republican incumbent in that contest "a nut." It never occurred to Jesmer that the recording of their conversation would reach the New Jersey media.

9) Um ... Never Mind GOP House District 47 candidate Donna Keel may think the best defense is a good offense, but there are limits. In August, her brother-in-law Patrick sent Democratic incumbent Valinda Bolton an e-mail asking her not to run an ad claiming that Keel had bounced a check; that was just an unfounded rumor, he said. Um, okay, replied Bolton's campaign – easy enough, since they had never heard the rumor and had no such ad in production.

10) Copywrong Does copyright law mean nothing to politicians? In the spring, Discount Electronics owner Rick Culleton ran ads supporting City Council candidate Jason Meek­er using photos that were actually property of photographers for The Daily Texan and the Chronicle. In fall campaign ads, John Cor­nyn's campaign used Chronicle-owned video, House candidate Tim Kleinschmidt swiped a photo from MeanRachel.com, and Rep. Michael McCaul's website helped itself to a full reprint of a Capitol Annex blog posting.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Kim Brimer, Wendy Davis, Dawnna Dukes, Brian Thompson, Glen Maxey, Nelda Wells Spears, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Kirk Watson, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Paul Bettencourt, John Cornyn, Rob Jesmer, Donna Keel, Valinda Bolton, Rick Culleton, The Daily Texan, MeanRachel.com, Michael McCaul

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