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17Jun/150

The Exit Door (part 3)

Well, that's one way to announce your retirement:

As others have noted, there are only three remaining GOP members of the House that helped elect Joe Straus Speaker in 2009: Charlie Geren, Byron Cook, and Straus himself. Geren and Cook are certain to have challenging primary elections. But the good news for Straus is that he's been doing a sufficient job of winning support among caucus-mates further to his right. It says something that the last two challengers for Straus' speakership were junior members of the caucus who barely knew either the House rule book or legislative process. There's a way of looking at the original base of Straus' support and seeing his time as Speaker being limited. But there hasn't really been a big hue and cry for change among the GOP caucus. So I wouldn't expect to see a change given retirements like that of Keffer, or even after a few primary losses.

Bud Kennedy gets the reaction on Keffer's announcement from Mike Lang, who had expected to challenge Keffer. I'd expect to see a few more credible names line up for the seat now that it's open.

CORRECTION: Unfortunately, former Rep. Ed Kuempel passed away in 2010 and was replaced by his son. The third member of the "Gang of 11" that remains, is Joe Straus himself. The correction has been made in the post above.

ADD-ON: It's not legislative, but it's of some intrigue - Michael Massengale (1st Court of Appeals, Place 8) will challenge Supreme Court justice Debra Lehrmann for the GOP nomination in 2016. If nothing else, that creates an open seat on the multi-county 1st CoA. That court has the same jurisdiction as the 14th CoA and here's what the 2012 and 2008 results look like for those courts (GOP results on the left column, Dems on the right column):

2012 General Election

1st Court of Appeals District
Place 2   Bland(I)      869,923  (53.3%)   Lovett       762,619  (46.7%)
Place 6   Brown(I)      871,073  (53.4%)   Silverman    758,993  (46.6%)
Place 7   Jennings      872,095  (53.5%)   Oakes        757,166  (46.5%)
Place 8   Massengale(I) 875,473  (53.8%)   Copeland     752,158  (46.2%)
Place 9   Huddle(I)     870,117  (53.4%)   Cheng        759,483  (46.6%)

14th Court of Appeals District
Place 3   Busby         851,386  (52.3%)   Gardner      777,867  (47.7%)
Place 4   Brown(I)      882,666  (54.2%)   Wrotenbery   744,530  (45.8%)
Place 5   Jamison(I)    879,147  (54.0%)   Garth        748,127  (46.0%)
Place 8   Donovan       857,843  (52.7%)   Maldonado    771,367  (47.4%)

2008 General Election

1st Court of Appeals District
Place 3   Hubbard       776,587  (49.4%)   Sharp        794,759  (50.6%)
Place 5   Higley(I)     802,668  (51.2%)   Taylor       763,840  (48.8%)

14th Court of Appeals District
C. Justice Hedges(I)    798,272  (51.0%)   Beverly      768,045  (49.0%)
Place 4   Brown(I)      806,648  (51.6%)   Moser        756,035  (48.4%)
Place 6   Boyce(I)      793,829  (50.8%)   Markantonis  768,014  (49.2%)
Place 7   Frost(I)      790,831  (50.7%)   Siegel       770,586  (49.4%)

While those numbers are close and Jim Sharp managed to win a majority in 2008, the real trick to winning this district is to see (at minimum) a 53% win in Harris County and some slight upticks in the other counties. Seeing Ft. Bend County go 50-50 would still leave you short without the smaller counties chipping in a point or two. It's still a good court to run for in the hopes that the tide turns, but it's a challenge to run with the aim of picking off your own crossover votes. Sharp obviously benefited from his last name. I worked on the Siegel campaign in 2008 and we ran cable ads in the hope of getting some crossover votes. I think I can make an argument that it happened, but it definitely didn't happen in large enough numbers. And whether you believe that the 2008 level support is there in 2016 or whether 2012 is more reflective of the new normal is definitely a factor for consideration.

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