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October 20, 2004

Statesman Endorses BOTH Strama and White

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Surprising us here at the Burnt Orange Report, the Austin American Statesman has issued endorsements for both Kelly White over Todd Baxter and Mark Strama over Jack Stick.

Some clips from the White endorsement in TX-48

The race for the legislative seat from House District 48 in parts of West Austin and Western Travis County appears to be much tighter than might have been anticipated.

White is the better candidate to represent District 48, and she gets the American-Statesman's endorsement. ...Baxter is inundating the community with attack ads, but White is getting traction making an issue of Baxter's campaign contributions from political action committees and corporations under indictment by a Travis County grand jury.

White, 51, is a popular candidate who has raised more than half a million dollars to challenge Baxter. She says the top three issues are school finance, school finance and school finance. ... If elected, she says she will push for more accountability in campaign financing laws and for a nonpartisan redistricting committee. White knows the issues and understands the district. She should be elected from District 48 on Nov. 2.

And from the endorsement of Strama in TX-50...

Democrat Mark Strama, 37, a former staff member in the state Senate who started and sold an Internet company, is challenging Stick in this GOP stronghold. Strama is a smart, accomplished and experienced candidate and receives the American-Statesman's endorsement in the Nov. 2 election.

He is deeply knowledgeable about the legislative process and has strong positions on school finance, closing tax loopholes and restoring money for children's health. In addition he wants all House votes to be recorded and an independent commission to oversee redistricting, the issue that ripped the Legislature apart last session. His proposals could improve state government.

...Stick, 37, stumbled badly in his first term. He tried to take away the Travis County district attorney's power to prosecute state officials and give it to the attorney general, a move he now says was a mistake. He also voted to cut money for children's health programs, money he now wants to restore...And in a clear ethical breach, he sought campaign contributions from members of the insurance industry meeting in a state office building to discuss insurance legislation last month...

Stick's first term should be his last. He let down his constituents and failed the people of Texas. Strama promises a much better future for the residents of District 50, and voters should send him to the Capitol on Nov. 2.

[Update: Byron here. I'm pleasantly surprised here. Democrats in Austin-area competitive state representative races are four for four in receiving the Statesman endorsement. Not only that, but Strama and White were also endorsed by the Daily Texan today as well]:

State Representative District 50: Mark Strama

Jack Stick is just wrapping up his first two-year term, and he's already given students plenty of reason to make it his last. Stick voted for tuition deregulation, which led to (for now) a $720 increase in tuition. In addition to typical partisan good-old-boy-ing, Stick received a $35,000 check from the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC when he ran in 2002. Two leaders of that PAC have since been indicted and accused of taking corporate donations and distributing them to Republican candidates. While Stick has not been accused of any wrongdoing, he also refused to do the stand-up thing and return the money out of principle.

Coincidently, Mark Strama's platform focuses on holding "public officials accountable" - making him a perfect foil to Stick - and he's already begun developing his plan to do so. Strama has provided a detailed proposal ranging from creating an independent redistricting commission to cracking down on political corruption. This is Strama's first stab at public office; maybe he can make a difference before he gets stubborn and jaded. We don't know if his proposals can work, but were willing to let him give it his best shot.

State Representative District 48: Kelly White

Todd Baxter also voted for tuition deregulation, taking money from students' pockets. And, just like Stick, Baxter accepted $35,000 from TRMPAC and - although he wasn't accused of anything - has failed to show his ethical strength by returning the money.

Democratic challenger Kelly White has been leading non profit businesses for 25 years. She's spent the last 10 in Austin helping victims of rape and domestic violence as executive director of SafePlace. Under White's leadership, SafePlace won the 2003 Samaritan Center Ethics in Business Award for nonprofits. She has called for reforms in the way Texas conducts redistricting and has promised to make all of her votes public. White promises to bring the nonpartisan transparency Baxter has failed to provide. Her experience aiding others and championing the underdog will serve her well in the Capitol.

They endorsed Elliott Naishtat as well, even though it won't make too much of a difference.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at October 20, 2004 08:20 AM | TrackBack


That's amazing; two strong endorsements for two deserving candidates.

I had the privilege of seeing Kelly White tonight. She has hit her stride and is ready to be the next state representative of District 48.

Let's make sure both her and Mark are elected.
Volunteer this weekend: www.austinforchange.com

Posted by: Marcus Ceniceros at October 20, 2004 03:26 AM

Where are these negative ads by Todd Baxter? I'm just wondering, because I watch a decent amount of TV, seen many positive and negative ads by both sides, and yet have not seen a negative ad attacking Kelly White.

Also, since Democrats are 4 for 4 in endorsements by the Statesman, am I safe in assuming that you will now be referring to the Statesman as a left-wing daily?

Posted by: Drew at October 20, 2004 03:10 PM

I saw one of the negative ads by Baxter last night where he attacks White for taking trial lawyer money, etc.

As for the Statesman - perhaps they're just pissed off with the current legislative leadership - even if you lean conservative, you have to admit it's a joke. Balancing the budget on the backs of kids who don't have health insurance... three special sessions for redistricting and nothing accomplished on school finance?

The Statesman endorsed Bush in 2000 as well - they've yet to endorse this year, and I'm honestly not sure which way they'll go.

Posted by: Byron L at October 20, 2004 04:54 PM

If you've seen one, I'll have to take your word for it. I was just saying that I hadn't seen one.

The current state leadership is not that good. I will admit that. That's why I'll be voting for either Hutchinson or Strayhorn in the primary for governor. I'd rather vote for "One Tough Grandma" over "One Stupid SOB."

Dewhurst has, in my opinion, demonstrated more leadership than all the other Republicans in state government combined, and I hope he stays in the Lt. Governor's spot for years to come.

When it comes to redistricting, while it was legal and within the bounds of the state legislature, I thought it was ill-timed and unwise. Having said that, I thought the representatives and senators who left the state demonstrated a profound cowardice in the face of their duty as legislators.

And school finance reform IS a joke.

Posted by: Drew at October 20, 2004 05:29 PM
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