Not so Spare Change
State Rep. Anna Mowery’s resignation came as no surprise … and no great loss. She hasn’t done much in the way of leadership and showed ethical lapses in the way she handled her campaign finances.
A couple of years ago, she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she didn’t go to Austin to pass bills, she went “to kill legislation.” Hooray for quashing bad legislation, but lawmakers should also be proactive conduits of change. It was time for her to hit the road, but her method of leaving office has tongues wagging. Had she retired, her legislative seat could have been filled in the general election in November 2008, which would have most likely favored her fellow Republicans.
Her resignation, however, called for a special election on November 6. A local amateur political pundit speculated that Mowery’s resignation helped Republican candidate Bob Leonard, an old-money Fort Worth fellow who served as District 97 rep from 1977-1988 prior to Mowery. Leonard is one of those creatures that makes Static’s jaws clench: a legislator turned lobbyist. The pundit’s flawed theory: Fewer people vote in special elections, creating an advantage for candidates with plenty of money and support from the old guard who can turn out the vote.
Tarrant County Republican Chairwoman Stephanie Klick doesn’t see how Mowery’s resignation helps any particular candidate, since Mowery isn’t endorsing anyone. (However, her son, former spokesman Mark Lowery, is endorsing Leonard.) Nor does Klick believe a special election favors moneyed candidates. “It’s a free-for-all, and both [political] parties are on the ballot at the same time,” she said. “The person who has a grassroots edge can sometimes beat money.”
The Republican field is crowded, which might put things in Democratic candidates’ favor. As of press time, the only Democrat to announce his candidacy is Fort Worth attorney Dan Barrett. “It presents me with a unique opportunity to win,” he said. “It would help me if I am the only Democrat on the ballot.”
Mowery’s district includes the southwest part of Tarrant County, which local Democrats view as a swing district primed for takeover, citing an aging demographic with more minorities. Add the growing unpopularity of President Bush’s administration and the fallout among Republicans over the war in Iraq, and it’s enough to make Democrats giddy. “It’s a swing district that I think is going to swing our way,” Tarrant County Democratic Party chairman Art Brender said. “We can win a runoff.”
One thing’s for certain – money, time, and patience will be required of Mowery’s successor. Candidates could face as many as five elections in the next year: the November special election, a probable runoff in December, a filing for the Republican primary in March, another possible runoff in April, and then the general election in November 2008. (Note to readers: Static boldfaces words for added emphasis, but this last paragraph contains little in the way of interesting or provocative phrases. Still, a paragraph without boldface is like a day without sunshine.)