The Austin Chronicle

The DINO Word Enters U.S. Senate Race

By Richard Whittaker, January 24, 2014, News

The low-key Democratic primary for U.S. Senate became discordant this week, with one candidate calling another a DINO – Democrat in Name Only – and saying she has the campaign finance reports to prove it.

The claim comes from El Paso-based lawyer Maxey Scherr, who says Lebanese-born Dallas dental mogul David Alameel "has bankrolled the anti-choice Republican agenda for years." Scherr cites specific donations to high-ranking and extremely controversial Republicans whose policies would be antithetical to many Dems: $150,000 to Lt. Gov­ernor David Dewhurst, "who led the charge to pass anti-choice legislation," $4,200 to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, "who voted to allow any employer to refuse to cover contraception or any health service," and $8,400 to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, "who sponsored an amendment that would ban any organizations that provide abortions, including hospitals, from receiving Medicaid family planning funds."

Alameel's contribution history has been erratic, to say the least, with big money donations to both Republicans and Democrats at both the state and national level. Considering his current political ambitions, some donations seem almost contradictory: Between 2005 and 2006, he gave $50,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Com­mit­tee, and in 2004 he even gave $8,000 to Sen. John Cornyn – the GOP incumbent and his presumptive opponent in November.

However, that pattern of bipartisan giving ended with the 2008 campaign: Since then, Alameel's donations have been strictly Demo­cratic and progressive. His campaign notes that he is the nation's 15th biggest Democratic donor. That includes $100,000 to the progressive Lone Star Pro­ject PAC, and almost $2 million to his North Texas Leader­ship PAC. He even mounted an unsuccessful run for Congress in the 2012 Democrat­ic primary in Dallas' 33rd District (coming fourth behind former state rep and current U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey.)

Scherr and Alameel are jockeying for position in an overcrowded Democratic field, along with three other candidates (Harry Kim, Kesha Rogers, and Michael "Fjet" Fjetland). However, Alameel has undoubtedly picked up momentum, with the Jan. 13 announcement that he's been endorsed by the leading Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

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