Thursday, June 07, 2007

Texas Hold ‘Em: Is Mikal Watts Trying To Buy The Pot?

Have you ever been in a friendly game of Texas Hold ‘Em and one of your supposed friends “bets the pot”? This is defined as when a player places a bet that is exactly equal to the amount of money that is currently in the pot. Makes you kind of angry, doesn’t it?

This is exactly what Mikal Watts did yesterday. To fund his “exploratory committee”, Watts robbed his piggy bank of $1.9 million and loaned the committee another $1.9 million, totaling $3.8 million, exactly matching the pot represented by US Senator from Texas John Cornyn’s campaign fund.

Ostensibly, Watts did this to “level the playing field”. Now that they are head to head in campaign funds, the race is on to bring in additional funds through campaign fundraisers.

But to every Yin there is a Yang, and Watts’ sunny slope also has a shady place.

Implicit in Watts’ highly publicized move, is a message to all who want to come to the primary table next March: “I have the money to make this work, and the fundraising ability as well. DO YOU?

That’s pretty clear. Message received.

Watts’ has the money. Watts has the connections to money. Witness his one-night wonder soirée last April that brought in $1.1 million to the DSCC.

But what does Watts lack that no amount of money can buy? I think he lacks demonstrated commitment to public service. All of his adult life he has spent his time getting huge cash awards for his clients, and spreading some of his contingency fees around to worthy Democratic candidates (and unworthy Republican ones, as well).

But at no time has Watts served in any public office. He has no track record. There is no way Texans can judge what Watts stands for or behind.

We have all seen this before. Texas oil and gas millionaire Tony Sanchez spent $60 million in an effort to buy himself a temp job with a rent free stay in the Governor’s Mansion. Texans didn’t buy into that and as a result we now have a governor who polls at 39%.

Given all of that, it pains me to see Mikal Watts’ set out on the same path. He could easily donate to a more credible campaign to his federal limit, and then use his fundraising prowess to guide campaign contributions to a campaign that has real promise.

Outside of Dallas lawyer Emil Reichstadt, no one else has stepped up. But it’s early in the game, and I think we will see some real quality candidates emerge. Candidates with a track record of public service.

Candidates who don’t scare easily.


CouldBeTrue said...

Good point about public service. that's what it should be all about.

YaGottaLoveIt said...

Good post. I also don't like the lack of a public service track record. And I'd really like a choice in the primary. Why bother to vote in a primary if it's just to rubber stamp a predetermined slate.

Anonymous said...

Remember Richard Fisher? He came out of nowhere and spent all his money getting the Texas U.S. Senate nomination and then flamed out big time. He cut TV commercials saying that he didn't have Washington experience and he didn't WANT Washington experience. And . . . he flamed out, which prevented him from getting ANY Washington experience--musta made him sooooo happy.

Anonymous said...

The discussions surrounding Mikal Watts’ contribution of 3.8 million dollars of his own money to his United States Senate campaign, overlooks the fact that the Republican party is capable of raising a war chest of over 30 million dollars for John Cornyn. If Mikal Watts intends to be successful not only in the primary, but also the general election, both of which he certainly does, he must raise every dime he can, everyday of this election to offset that bankroll. The contribution of 3.8 million dollars by Watts to his campaign does two things. First, it levels the field at the start. Instead of allowing the Republican candidate to begin this raise $3.8 million ahead, he has merely leveled the playing field by allowing the Democratic candidate to begin the raise with the same amount of cash-on-hand as the incumbent. Second, it is a pledge to the people whose support and money he is asking for, of his own personal unequivocal commitment to this race and the Democratic party. Mikal Watts is a hard working and tireless fighter. He has embarked on a race that ends in November of 2008, and to ask him to make less than his best effort on any day of this race is to ask him to let Mr. Cornyn win.

Hal said...

Yeah, Rick.


Anonymous said...

Surely "public service" is not to be so narrowly construed as to be the exclusive domain of those who get themselves elected to some position!
When a person identifies a pattern of conduct that results in our fellow citizens being mangled, brain damaged, crippled and even killed and successfully thwarts such further mayhem, does that not count as a "public service"?
When our own state/federal government's agencies and institutions charged with protection of we the people prostitute themselves to the detriment of public health and safety and an unelected individual's efforts successfully advance public health and safety, does that not count as a "public service"?
Mikal Watts has labored in the vineyards of "public service" for many years and done so far more effectively than most "electeds". His venue has been the judicial system. And his role has been advocate...a position that, while not elected, is indispensable and crucial to the success of our justice system. Thus, what our appointed or elected "public servants" could not achieve via the executive or the legislative, he achieved via the courts as an advocate. Now international pharmaceutical corporations no longer manufacture certain dangerous prescription drugs that, although FDA approved and unfettered by legislative oversight, damaged heart valves; induced suicides; decimated internal organs. Similarly, tire and auto manufacturers have been held accountable for blowouts, rollovers, and unstable vehicles. His contribution to the public good resulted in major companies producing healthier and safer items for "we the people".
No doubt there will be other very fine people enter the Democratic primary. Some may be past or current elected officials with impressive records. We count ourselves exceptionally blessed to have such great men and women as Democrats in Texas. But please never equate the absence of an elected post on a candidate's resume with a lack of public service. There are many ways to serve.

Hal said...

Oops, hit a nerve I guess.

Actually, it's just that Senator is what is considered to be "high office" and I just think that those who aspire to high office should be ones that have been serving in offices that are further on down the ballot.

I supported Barbara Ann Radnofsky whose only office held before her Senate run was Precinct Chair. I had a lot of trouble defending her for that very reason and I had to come up with some interesting analogues like John Glenn, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan.

So I guess for that reason, I'd like to see someone running for Senate who has a track record and a record of service.