Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Monday, February 18, 2008

Don't Be Confused By Names

Texas voters have a tradition of often voting for candidates with familiar-sounding names, whether or not they are qualified. This year there are three primary contests where this could be a factor.

For years our state Treasurer was Jesse James, no doubt because it amused people to think of the bank robber watching their money. He was followed by Warren G. Harding, sharing the name of a Republican President who presided over a notably corrupt administration -- and that Texas Treasurer was himself later indicted for official misconduct. In 1976 we elected a Supreme Court Justice with a name similar to a former U.S. Senator and a candidate for Governor -- and later that judge (called "the wrong Don Yarbrough") went to federal prison for bribery.

For two decades now many voters in the Democratic primary have been casting ballots for Gene Kelly for various statewide offices. We can be very certain that this is only because of his sharing the name of the late movie star and dancer, because this Texas Gene Kelly has never done one thing to campaign in his entire career. He spends no money, does no mailings, has no literature, and avoids even answering questions from the press -- once telling a reporter to leave a message in a potted plant outside his door. Despite this he told one person in 2000 that Al Gore needed him on the ticket to help Gore win in Texas. Kelly did win our nomination for U.S. Senate that year, declined to emerge from his home to seek votes, and ran way behind the rest of the statewide ticket. This dragged down the vote for candidates lower on the ballot, and helped cost us a victory in our one judicial race here in Dallas County. Two years ago he forced Barbara Radnofsky into a runoff for Senator, causing her to spend money she needed for the general election against the Republican.

This year Gene Kelly is running for the U.S. Senate again. He has three primary opponents. (You can find them, and links to their websites, by scrolling down to the bottom at this page. Kelly, of course, has no site.) Neither the Texas Democratic Party nor the Dallas County Democratic Party makes endorsements in these primary contests. We do think you should be aware of Kelly's history, and not cast a ballot just because of a familiar name.

Another candidate in a statewide primary contest has to hope that Democratic voter disaffection with Kelly's campaign performance doesn't sour them on other familiar names, because he has an even better-known one. Do not discount Sam Houston for someone else simply running on a misidentification. He is actually well-qualified, widely endorsed by the media and Democratic organizations, and actively campaigning across the state. He too has a primary opponent, listed on that same candidate page.

Finally, there is one local race for Judge where this year's Presidential contest may lead to confusion. Across the country primaries have been bringing out record numbers of new Democratic voters for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. One of our incumbent Democratic Judges, Don Adams, first elected four years ago, is being challenged in the primary by Larry W. Baraka (who has no web site). Considering that Texas voters once seemed to mistake "Yarbrough" for "Yarborough", it is quite possible that similar names could mislead newcomers to the primary this time. Again, make sure you check out the candidates and make an informed vote.


  • At 5:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thanks for this timely and important background information.


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