Sunday, June 03, 2007

Who Is The Real Mikal Watts?

It’s a valid question because there are those of us in Texas who have never heard of him, or have had only a passing knowledge of who he is or what he does. But now, since he has formed an exploration committee to test the waters in a run against John Cornyn for US Senate, it really is incumbent on us to find out about this guy. He could be our next Senator.

What we know is that he is a smart guy. He finished his batchelor’s degree at the age of 20 after two years, and finished law school after only 2 years, both at UT Austin.

What we know is that he is a very successful trial lawyer. Very successful

For example, Watts has had at least 3 important victories in 2005 against Ford Motor Company in SUV rollover cases, with awards totaling over $100 million. He had at least 40 more cases to try against this one auto maker. Prior to that was his significant 2001 victory over Bridgestone/Firestone for $13.7 million.

We know that he is a huge contributor to campaigns, for the most part, Democratic campaigns as illustrated by the 2006 TEC filings that list the following direct-to-campaign contributions from his PAC, the Good Government Political Action Committee.

Trey Martinez Fischer Campaign $10,000 D
Toby Goodman Campaign $2,500 R
Roberto Alonzo Campaign $1,000 D
Patsy Perez Campaign $1,000 D
Abel Herrero Campaign $500 D
Carolyn Moon Campaign $1,000 D
Pete Gallego Campaign $2,000 D
Chris Bell for Governor $25,000 D
Chris Bell for Governor $50,000 D
Jimmy Rodriguez Campaign $32,875 D
Judith Zaffarini Campaign $1,000 D
Peggy Banales Campaign $1,000 D
Richard Raymond Campaign $10,000 D
Jimmy Rodriguez Campaign $11,000 D

But the record is spotty. Watts also contributes to the Dark Side. In addition to his contribution to State Rep Toby, a Craddick crony, I found two $50,000 contributions to Hillco PAC on September 30th and November 8th 2004. Hillco is a PAC that funds largely Republican campaigns. Homebuilder Bob Perry is it’s chief contributor. In addition I also found a $10,000 contribution to the campaign of Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s campaign on October 7, 2004. But the very next entry shows a $1,000 contribution to the campaign of Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles (D - Alice). I never did find the contribution to Phil King (R-Craddick) mentioned in the Chron blog.

So from just this, there are things we can rule in and rule out about Mikal Watts with regard to his political persuasion.

It doesn’t look like he has Democratic ideals. He may vote with Democrats on issues, but I doubt that the reasons are ones of political or moral conviction. I think the word expedience might be a useful one to describe his politics.

Now I’m not for him nor am I against him at this point. I think I understand where he comes from a little better; I think what I cannot count on with regard to Watts is a position based on moral convictions or political ideals.

So, finally, I have to ask myself why would Watts want to be a US Senator? The pay is lousy and he doesn’t appear to have any deeply-held political convictions.

The answer to that question is not a comfortable one for me, a political idealist.

No, not comfortable at all.


Anonymous said...

I have heard ex-Rep Vilma Luna claim that she was the person who directed the funds contributed by the Good Government PAC and Watts was just one of several contributors.

If you look at who Watts contributes to and who Luna has supported in the past, and compare that against the Good Government PAC's contributions, the notion that Luna directed the funds has great credibility.

CouldBeTrue said...

Thanks for the thoughtful, informative post.

Anonymous said...

Watts has also raised a lot of money for John Edwards's presidential campaign.

Rick Holstein said...

Unlike most of you, I know Mikal Watts. I met him a couple of years ago during a judicial race on behalf of a good Democrat. Since then I have watched him help elect other Democrats like State Rep. Juan Garcia and State Sen. Carlos Uresti.

Mikal Watts is a strong Democrat and anyone who says differently is just plain wrong. Watts has given more than $3.5 million of his own money to Democratic candidates and the Party since 2002. He has been a tireless fundraiser, in addition to the $1.1 million for the DSCC, he has personally raised or spent over $3 million for Democratic candidates since 2002.

Rick Holstein

Hal said...

One could argue that the $1.1 million raised recently for the DSCC was raised in his own self interest, but that aside, he does seem to have a knack for attracting money. He has a nearly spotless record in campaign contributions, but he has nothing else on the table. No voting record.

On that, I wonder what he and his handlers are going to do about the GOP attack ads with regard to him being seen as trying to buy a seat in the Senate?

Not saying that he's a bad democrat, just saying he's going to have some baggage.