In preparation for the paper chase, the Queque’s become obsessed with the Federal Election Commission’s new, handy-dandy, interactive presidential campaign-finance map (Fec.gov), where we zoomed in to discover this astounding fact: The largest local contributions originate with the Alamo Heights zip code. Shock! Awe! S.A.’s big-money donors, who last appeared happily united on Mayor Phil Hardberger and his pro-bond-package committee Foundation for the Future’s campaign reports, have now fractured and split along partisan and sub-partisan lines. For example:
Construction czar H.B. Zachry’s money is on Rudy Giuliani, while engineering emperor Eugene Dawson and marketing marquezz Trish Deberry are backing John McCain.
Hillary Clinton’s donor list reads like lawyer Pat Maloney Jr.’s family tree, with even self-declared “unemployed/student” Erica O. Maloney throwing $4600 at the field’s sole female candidate.
The late, great, salsa-heiress/artist/philanthropist extraordinaire Linda Pace made her possibly last political contribution of record, $250, to Barack Obama.
Speaking of Obama, he out-collected Clinton this quarter ($32.5 million to $27 million) by tapping smaller donors through online fundraising, begging the equestion: Can plebian pocket change really overpower the wealth-class and special interests? At the risk of jumping the gun, the Queque predicts that the real test of this hypothesis will be the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Senator John “Bush Zombie” Cornyn.
On Independence Day, Houston’s state representative Rick Noriega announced he’ll be filing for his Senate exploratory committee this week. On paper alone, he’s the total-package candidate: He’s serving his fifth term in the Texas House; as a National Guardsman he trained soldiers in Afghanistan and patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border; he was appointed by Houston Mayor Bill White to manage Katrina-evacuee housing. Plus, he’s Latino! In the last month, the progressive Texas blogosphere converged for a “Draft Noriega” campaign, which was followed by a letter urging him to run signed by some 49 Texas Democratic representatives, including Say-Town’s David Leibowitz, Mike Villarreal, Joaquin Castro, Trey Martinez-Fischer, and Robert Puente. With support like that, one would think he’d have the nomination hammered.
But that’s discounting Mikal Watts, the infamous Firestone Tire litigator and recent SA transplant, who launched his exploratory committee a month ago. His qualifications? A talent for talking money out of people, and not only through litigation. In April, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York sent Watts on a mission to raise $150,000 for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Watts came back with a $1.1-million boo-yah. That seems to be Watts’s magic number; on Monday his campaign issued a press release bragging that they’d raised $1.1 million from 800 supporters (that’s an average of $1,375 each) in the first 30 days. And that’s on top of the total $10 million Watts pledged of his personal dough.
Surely, you ask, there must be something else to Watts. Yes, if the goal is to defeat Cornyn, then Watts has got campaign strategist Christian Archer, who masterminded Hardberger’s come-from-behind victory against Julian Castro and Juan Garcia’s toppling of long-term Corpus Christi Republican Representative Eugene Seaman. If Archer is an asset, though, Watts also has a major liability: Press secretary Kimberly Devlin.
Where did this individual, who responded to our requests for a candidate Q&A with suspicion and antipathy, come from? Waco, originally, but she recently returned to Texas from New York, where she’d served as campaign manager to Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi over three election cycles. During Suozzi’s final race, a failed antler-ramming Democratic gubernatorial primary against NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, The New York Times reported Devlin was demoted to a “position that requires less contact with the media, with whom she has had a sometimes contentious relationship.” The July 18, 2006 article goes on to say:
“Advisers to Mr. Suozzi described a campaign in disarray and said that Ms. Devlin’s leadership had become untenable because other senior staff members, most of whom she hired, were deeply frustrated with her. The advisers, who were granted anonymity to discuss weaknesses in their own campaign, said that Ms. Devlin was overwhelmed, reluctant to let others handle communications and strategy, and that Mr. Suozzi was not being deployed often enough or in the most effective ways.”
Devlin told the NY Times it was all lies, especially the bit where an adviser described “screaming matches between Ms. Devlin and some reporters.”
We suppose we’ll find out for sure once this hits the newsstands.