|Juan Garcia (D-Corpus Christi)|
With the Texas Parent PAC in the role of legendary coach Darrell K. Royal (well, the Austin-based innovators also drafted a good team; after their successes in the GOP primaries, Parent PAC should have a stadium named after them, too), this 11-member, bipartisan formation stormed the Dome this week:
Juan Garcia (D-Corpus Christi): A Harvard-educated naval aviator `see our coverage, “Top Gun,” September 13-19, 2006`, Garcia defeated House District 32’s Gene Seaman (a Tom Craddick ally who once imitated an erection on the floor of the House — insert jokes about penises and his surname here). Garcia’s widely considered the future of the Texas Democratic Party and drew campaign support from such heavy artillery as Henry Cisneros.
Joe Farias (D-San Antonio): Former SA Zoning Commissioner and Harlandale-school-board trustee; won an open (and GOP-targeted) seat over former Kay Bailey Hutchison staffer George Antuna in HD-118. From a Parent PAC press release: “Farias will not be beholden to big campaign contributors who seek to take money away from neighborhood public schools to pay for private school tuition in Houston and Dallas.”
Susan King (R-Abilene): In HD-71, King eked out a 107-vote victory in the GOP-primary runoff over 28-year-old Kevin Christian, who had heavy support from the Abilene Christian University community.
Valinda Bolton (D-Austin): Bolton won an open HD-47 seat (vacated by Republican Terry Keel) in Travis County over Republican Bill Welch.
Donna Howard (D-Austin): Howard beat Ben Bentzin in a February runoff for an open HD-48 seat (vacated by a Republican who dipped into Tom DeLay’s TRMPAC and chewed Craddick’s cud). The key issue was public education. She sailed easily to re-election in November against a Libertarian after Bentzin dropped out of the race.
Allen Vaught (D-Dallas): An attorney and army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Vaught defeated Bill Keffer, another House Committee on Public Education member, from HD-107.
Joe Heflin (D-Crosbyton): Heflin proved that white Democrats over 40 can still get elected in West Texas; he held former Speaker Pete Laney’s seat in a district tailor-made for Republicans.
Thomas Latham (R-Sunnyvale): In HD-101, Latham defeated the only female Hispanic Republican in the Legislature (and a chief Craddick lieutenant), Elvira Reyna, during the GOP primary in this Dallas-area district. Latham’s married to a teacher and his campaign promised to support more mid-career teacher training.
Ellen Cohen (D-Houston): Cohen defeated Republican Martha Wong, who was deemed out of touch with her district, HD-134, which includes much of the largely gay, inner-Houston community of Montrose.
Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen): Aycock won the seat being vacated by Suzanna Hupp in HD-54. Aycock, a veterinarian and former school-board member, defeated Dale Hopkins in an April GOP-primary runoff. Sources estimate as much as 81 percent of Hopkins’s campaign was underwritten by San Antonio’s most famous political checkbook, Dr. James Leininger.
Drew Darby (R-San Angelo): Darby defeated incumbent Scott Campbell in the GOP-primary runoff in a gag-a-buzzard HD-72 race that resulted in Campbell being sued for libel.
Diane Patrick (R-Arlington): A former State Board of Education member and UT-Arlington professor, Patrick could be the poster child for Parent PAC: She slew the biggest giant, mega-incumbent Kent Grusendorf, in the HD-94 GOP primary.
— Vince Leibowitz