Saturday, January 05, 2008

Travis DA race websites and some presidential comparisons

We have posted already on the first two candidates who filed for Travis County District Attorney, Rick Reed and Gary Cobb (read that first post here). Now the field is complete after two other candidates joined the race, Rosemary Lehmberg and Mindy Montford.

A couple of us from TMN were at the meeting Thursday of the Capital City Young Democrats and we heard two of the DA candidates speak on the campaign trail for the first time. Rick Reed and Rosemary Lehmberg were both in attendance and each spoke for 3 minutes, along with candidates for various other races. This is going to be an exciting race, for one reason all the candidates are likely to be good at public speaking since all of them are lawyers with lots of trial experience. The winner is likely to be the one that Travis County voters perceive as most closely reflecting their progressive values and priorities. This is likely to be a year when voters demand "change", so we will see which of the candidates runs the most "change" oriented campaign.

For fun, some presidential race comparisons

Since the race is only just started and we don't have much to go on yet, let's play the game of making some broad comparisons to the presidential race.

Lehmberg is a woman and because she was Earle's top assistant, she is the most closely identified with Earle, so she might be perceived as the most "establishment" candidate, sort of how Hillary Clinton is perceived in the presidential race. Of course, some of the wind went out of the Clinton "most experienced" based campaign in Iowa, where "change" was what the voters seemed to want. Can Lehmberg craft a campaign based on "most experienced" and also "change".

A friend of ours said they ran into Gary Cobb at the annual dinner of the Texas Civil Rights Project recently and they had a conversation that indicated Cobb might be a "change" candidate, but so far, we haven't heard any public comments from Cobb that would confirm he is the "change" candidate. Of course, there hasn't been much reporting on the race at all yet in the media to really judge anybody at this point. That conversation at the TCRP dinner we heard about was promising though. More later.

So, if it works out that Lehmberg is the Clinton-like establishment candidate, and Cobb gets compared to Obama, and not just because he is also African-American but if he picks up on the "change" theme that is central to the Obama campaign, what about the other two?

Rick Reed might have to be the John Edwards of the DA race if he is going to compete. Meaning, he should run the kind of populist-themed campaign that Edwards has been running. Both Edwards and Obama are identified with "change", but in Edwards many people have perceived a slightly more progressive stance on some issues compared to Obama. That is what has kept Edwards in the race. So, Reed could take a cue from Edwards and would probably do well if he runs as progressively as the Edwards campaign has done. Hint, hint to Reed: if you want to appeal to progressives in the Democratic primary, be the first candidate to endorse a moratorium on death penalty prosecutions.

That leaves Montford, who so far seems to be the most conservative person in the race. Maybe she is the Lieberman of the race. Ha Ha. Lieberman is the formerly Democratic Senator who lost a Democratic primary because of his support for the Iraq war, but won re-election to the Senate as an independent and now has endorsed McCain for president. The Statesman said Montford "worked in the Harris County district attorney's office before becoming a felony prosecutor here in 1999." The Harris County DA's office is one of the most pro-death penalty, scandal plagued DA offices in the nation, so she has got some explaining to do about what she learned there. We hope she took some sort of delousing bath after leaving the Harris County DA's office.

Race for the First Website

Gary Cobb has won the race for the first DA candidate to have a complete website up. His website does not allow you to bookmark specific pages, though, which is kind of annoying. His intro page is also annoying, so you will probably end up hitting "skip" on the intro if you go to his site more than once. He has an impressive list of supporters, (we would link to the list, but his site doesn't let us link to specific pages). One of his supporters is a well-known Austin progressive, Jim Harrington of the before-mentioned TCRP.

Reed comes in second in getting something up on the web. It's not much yet, but "check back in a few days for more information." He does have a donation link up, which can be directly linked to.

Montford has a one page site up that says "COMING SOON! Please watch this space for upcoming announcements".

Lehmberg doesn't have anything up so far, although there is a domain name that was created on Dec 27 and now points to a wordpress theme at Don't know if that is where her official site will be, but so far it is the only sign of any website for her.

We didn't take out the video camera at the CCYD meeting, because we thought we would let the candidates get their feet wet on the campaign trail before we put them on YouTube, but they can be warned, next time we see them speak, we are probably going to have a clip to post afterwards.

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