Thursday, January 03, 2008

March 4 primary field is set

By JOHN MORITZ - Star-Telegram Staff Writer - Jan. 3, 2008
AUSTIN -- Texas Republicans will head into the March 4 primaries with a field of battle-tested incumbents in nearly all of the statewide races up for contention while the Democrats will hitch their fortunes to a slate of candidates still struggling to gain broad name recognition.

The deadline was Wednesday evening for entering the primaries for selecting the major-party nominees for several statewide offices, including one U.S. senator, one of the three places on the Texas Railroad Commission, three of the nine seats on the state Supreme Court and three of the nine Texas Court of Criminal Appeals seats.

All of those statewide posts carry six-year terms.

It was also the deadline for the presidential candidates in both parties to have their names included on the Texas primary ballot.

Here's a look at the field:

U.S. senator

Incumbent Republican John Cornyn is seeking a second term. He's a former Texas attorney general, state Supreme Court justice and state district judge from San Antonio. Also running is Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, a longtime activist in the anti-abortion movement who two years ago was defeated in the GOP primary for governor and two years before that lost a bid for a state House seat.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston, who served in Afghanistan and along the Texas-Mexico border as an Army National Guard officer, has the support of much of the party establishment. Corpus Christi schoolteacher Ray McMurrey will also be on the ballot. Rounding out the field are retired Army officer and perennial candidate Gene Kelly, and Rhett Smith, who two years ago ran for governor as a Republican.

Railroad commissioner

Michael Williams, a Republican who has served on the panel that oversees the energy industry and sets rates for natural gas service, is seeking his second full term. He will be unopposed in the primary.

The Democrats in the race are former San Antonio City Councilman Art Hall; Dale Henry, a former Mills County commissioner who lost a bid for a Railroad Commission seat as a Democrat in 2006 and as a Republican in 2004; and mobility specialist Mark Thompson of Hamilton.

Texas Supreme Court

Republican Wallace Jefferson, who has served on the state's highest civil court since 2001 and as its chief justice since 2004, will seek re-election to the top post without a primary opponent.

State District Judge Jim Jordan of Dallas is the only Democrat in the race for chief justice.

In Place 7, Republican Dale Wainwright will be unopposed in the primary for a second term. Two Democrats -- Houston lawyer Sam Houston and Dallas lawyer Baltasar Cruz -- will face off.

In Place 8, Republican incumbent Phil Johnson, who was appointed in 2005 to fill an unexpired term, will seek his first full term. No one has filed to oppose him in the primary. Democrats Linda Reyna Yañez, a judge on the 13th Court of Appeals in Hidalgo County, and state district Judge Susan Criss of Galveston are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The incumbent Republicans judges on the state's top criminal court -- Tom Price, Cathy Cochran and Paul Womack -- will also seek re-election. State District Judge Robert Francis of Dallas will challenge Womack in Place 4.

Democrat Susan Strawn of Houston is running unopposed for Place 3 and El Paso lawyer J.R. Molina is running unopposed in Place 4.

Presidential primaries

Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and novice candidates Hoa Tran and Hugh Cort will be on the GOP ballot.

On the Democratic side are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.

Dennis Kucinich did not qualify for the Democratic primary because he did not check the box on the filing paperwork pledging to support the party's nominee for president, Texas Democratic spokeswoman Amber Moon said. Mike Gravel did not file for the primary.

Of note

At least eight Republicans will compete for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson for the suburban Houston congressional seat that was vacated in 2006 by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.


Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Is $100-a-barrel oil good for Texas? State may get more jobs and business, but gas could reach $3.50 a gallon

By JIM FUQUAY - Fort Worth Star Telegram Staff Writer - Jan. 3, 2008
Surging energy prices create jobs in the Texas oil patch, but are they really good for the state?

Now that crude futures hit the $100 mark Wednesday for the first time, we'll find out.

"Consumers are staring at $3.50 gasoline, if not more," while higher energy prices tend to slow the economy and can especially hurt major industries like the auto business, says the chief economist of Frost National Bank.

A 2005 study by two Dallas Fed economists concluded that a 10 percent increase in oil prices produced a small increase in the state's output and no net job gain. But a 50 percent increase -- that's another matter.

How it happened

Why are oil prices so high?

Strong demand in countries like China and India has strained global supplies. Political unrest, such as recent violence in Nigeria, ia another factor. Wall Street speculators have also pushed prices higher.

How does this affect gas prices?

Every $10 increase in oil prices eventually adds about 25 cents to a gallon of gas.

Will prices go higher?

The Energy Department that predicts gasoline prices nationwide will peak above $3.40 a gallon this spring, and some analysts say they could go as high as $3.75 a gallon.

With rising oil prices come rising gas prices

$50 | Oct. 1, 2004 | Gallon of gas: $1.818

$60 | June 27, 2005 | Gallon of gas: $2.112

$70 | June 21, 2006 | Gallon of gas: $2.828

$80 | Sept. 12 | Gallon of gas: $2.596

$90 | Oct. 18 | Gallon of gas: $2.638

$100 | Wednesday | Gallon of gas: $2.867

Note: The gas prices are averages for reformulated regular grades in Texas. Source: Energy Information Administration
Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

Tarrant voters have plenty of choices this year

By AMAN BATHEJA - Star-Telegram Staff Writer - Jan. 2, 2008
It's going to be a busy election year in Tarrant County.

The deadline for candidates to file for the March 4 primary was Wednesday. At every level of government, incumbents attracted challengers.

Eight of 10 Tarrant County state representatives attracted challengers from the opposing party. Two Republicans, Charlie Geren of Fort Worth and Bill Zedler of Arlington, have primary challengers.

District 97 is a priority for both parties. Democrat Dan Barrett beat Republican Mark Shelton in a special election runoff last month, ending 30 years of Republican representation from southwest Tarrant County. Now three Republicans -- Shelton, former state Rep. Bob Leonard and private equity manager Clint Roberts -- are vying for the nomination.

Democrats fielded slightly more candidates than in 2006 but continued a recent tradition by not offering challengers in most local judicial races.

Other races of note:

No Tarrant County-area U.S. representative received a primary challenger. All will face a general election opponent.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson will face Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn in the Republican primary. The winner of that race will go against Democrat Hank Pope in the general election.

Six of eight county constables will face primary challengers.


These candidates have filed to run in Tarrant County primaries March 4. Incumbents are marked with an *.


Republicans: Hugh Cort, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Hoa Tran

Democrats: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson

U.S. Senate

Republicans: John Cornyn*, Larry Kilgore

Democrats: Gene Kelly, Ray McMurrey, Rick Noriega, Rhett Smith

U.S. House of Representatives

District 6: Joe Barton (R)*, Steven J. Bush (D), Ludwig Otto (D)

District 12: Kay Granger (R)*, Tracey Smith (D)

District 17: Chet Edwards (D)*, Rob Curnock (R), Tim Kleinschmidt (R)

District 24: Kenny Marchant (R)*, Tom Love (D)

District 26: Michael Burgess (R)*, Ken Leach (D)


Texas Railroad Commission: Michael Williams (R)*, Art Hall (D), Mark Thompson (D), Dale Henry (D)

Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court: Wallace Jefferson (R)*, Jim Jordan (D)

Texas Supreme Court Justice, Place 7: J. Dale Wainwright (R)*, Baltasar D. Cruz (D), Sam Houston (D)

Texas Supreme Court Justice, Place 8: Susan Criss (D), Linda Reyna Yanez (D)

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 3: Thomas Price (R)*, Susan Strawn (D)

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 4: Paul Womack (R)*, J.R. Molina (D)

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 9: Cathy Cochran (R)*

State Board of Education, District 11: Patricia Hardy (R)*, Barney Maddox (R)

State Board of Education, District 13: Cindy Werner (R)

State Senate

District 9: Chris Harris (R)*, Melvin Willms (D)

District 10: Kim Brimer (R)*, Wendy Davis (D)

State House of Representatives

District 58: Rob Orr (R)*

District 61: Phil King (R)*, Charles William Randolph (D), Joe Tison (R)

District 90: Lon Burnam (D)*, Larry Keilberg (R)

District 91: Kelly Hancock (R)*, Chris Utchell (D)

District 92: Todd Smith (R)*, Kalandra N. Wheeler (D)

District 93: Paula Pierson (D)*, Bill Burch (R)

District 94: Diane Patrick (R)*

District 95: Marc Veasey (D)*

District 96: Bill Zedler (R)*, Lee Jackson (R), Chris Turner (D)

District 97: Dan Barrett (D)*, Bob Leonard (R), Clint L. Roberts (R), Mark M. Shelton (R)

District 98: Vicki Truitt (R)*, Nancy Moffat (D)

District 99: Charlie Geren (R)*, Tom Annunziato (R), Sheila Ford-Henderson (D)

District 106: Kirk England (D)*, Karen Wiegman (R)

Tarrant County

2nd Court of Appeals Justice, Place 7: Terrie Livingston (R)*

17th District Judge: Wade Birdwell (R), Mike Hrabal (R), Skip Reynolds (R), Randy Turner (D), Melody Wilkinson (R)

48th District Judge: David Evans (R)*

67th District Judge: Don Cosby (R)*, Warren Gould (D)

96th District Judge: Jeff Walker (R)*

153rd District Judge: Ken Curry (R)*

213th District Judge: Louis Sturns (R)*, Lisa Callaghan (R), Bill Ray (R)

342nd District Judge: Bob McGrath (R)*

348th District Judge: Dana Womack (R)*

352nd District Judge: Bonnie Sudderth (R)*

396th District Judge: George Gallagher (R)*

Criminal District Court No. 2 Judge: Wayne Salvant (R)*, Maureen R. Tolbert (D)

360th Family District Judge: Debra Lehrmann (R)*

Sheriff: Dee Anderson (R)*, Hank Pope (D), Bill Waybourn (R)

Tax Assessor-Collector: Betsy Price (R)*

County Commissioner, Precinct 1: Roy Brooks (D)*, Cora Mosley (D)

County Commissioner, Precinct 3: Gary Fickes (R)*, Jerry Lee Phillips (D)

Constable, Precinct 1: Jerry Crowder (R)*, Andy Bryant (R), Richard Aldridge (R)

Constable, Precinct 2: Antonio Molina Jr. (R), Robert J. McGinty (R)

Constable, Precinct 3: Zane Hilger (R)*, Jason L. McCaffity (R)

Constable, Precinct 4: Dub Bransom (R)*

Constable, Precinct 5: Sergio DeLeon (D)*, Ernesto Magallon (D)

Constable, Precinct 6: Joe Kubes (R)*

Constable, Precinct 7: Clint Burgess (R)*, Mike Arter (R)

Constable, Precinct 8: Chester Luckett (D)*, Michael Campbell (D), Chris Salone (D)

Democratic Party Chair: Steve Maxwell, J. Roddy Turner

Republican Party Chair: Stephanie Klick*

AMAN BATHEJA, 817-390-7695

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