The biggest news coming out of the Tour of Texas Senatorial Forum, put on by New Revolution Now at the King Street Patriots headquarters in Houston, happened before the candidates had a chance to introduce themselves. State Sen. Dan Patrick was on the candidate panel (although, as he made perfectly clear, NOT a candidate and not allowed to participate in the straw poll) while Roger Williams was not.
In all there were six candidates in the forum, including some of the major players in the race. Here’s my quick run-down of each candidate’s performance:
1. Glenn Addison – Addison had a pretty good message “common man” and obviously has spent a lot of time thinking about the issues, but he dropped the ball when it came to communicating those issues in a forum setting. Having a well thought-out policy on a website is one thing, not being able to condense those thoughts into campaign-ready snippets another. Not sound bytes, but meaningful, non-wordy statements that drill to the heart of the matter. Still, with his obvious skills and smarts I think he’d do well to lower his focus a tad and consider a run for the State Lege.
2. Ted Cruz – Cruz’s endorsement list is getting longer and longer by the day (including Evan from this site). In this forum I thought he had a great opening (made it about the audience, and not himself) and a great closing (his story about his father’s oppression in Cuba and “where would they go if America loses it’s liberty?” was perhaps the best line of the evening. In between that he almost seemed inconsequential to the forum. Most of this was due to the questioners ignoring him for long periods of time. I think Cruz is one of the two horses in this race that come across as Senatorial, but he needs to do better in these situations.
3. Elizabeth Ames-Jones – It’s not that I don’t like Ames-Jones, I do, I just can’t bridge the gap between TX Railroad Commission and US Senate. If Ames-Jones were a Democrat, she’s be a team leader. As a Republican however she’s fourth, fifth or even sixth string. Her “Tea Party in my heart” line drew a chuckle from me every time she said it.
4. Tom Leppert – In my opinion, the second thoroughbred in the field. Leppert had a good evening. He was thoughtful, his answers had both brevity and well-thought out detail. His big negative will be his resignation as Dallas Mayor to run for this office. I’m no fan of politicians resigning before their term is complete barring scandal. Still, this has to count as a positive evening for him, in Houston of all places.
5. Dan Patrick – As I said earlier, Dan is still not saying he’s a candidate and he wasn’t allowed to be voted for in the straw poll but the fact that he was there speaks volumes *cough*he’s running*cough* and his public speaking experience sometimes serves him well here. What Dan still needs to learn is how to turn off the radio host and turn on the Senator. At times, you could feel the audience growing weary of his moral sermonizing. Dan saves his biggest attacks for David Dewhurst and Tom Leppert, which should surprise no one.
6. Lela Pittenger – A political newcomer in every sense of the word this is Pittenger’s first shot at elected office. Like Addison, I’d love to see her channel her positive campaign and energy toward the Texas Lege. I think she’s make a great Texas Senator, but she’s going to get overwhelmed in both spending and experience in this race. She does have a great “it’s my generation’s time” hook going for her with which I identify however. Just not in this race. Texas has enough Barbara Ann Radnofsky’s we don’t need a Republican version. (Of course, the difference is the Democrats have no candidates, so Radnofsky could win the nomination, Pittenger and Addison won’t)
The crowd numbered somewhere around 200 in my estimation, although I’m not much of a crowd estimator so it could have been anywhere from 100-300. The room was approximately 3/4 of the way full. Make no mistake about it, this was a forum for the hard-core Republican, so skipping it is probably not going to hurt Roger Williams all that much in a race where all of the money is still to be spent. Still, it could have an impact in your mind if you believe the Tea Party is more than just a passing political fad.
There are several more of these forums scheduled State-wide. Check the New Revolution Now website and try to attend the one near you. If you see Roger, please tell him we missed him in Houston.
Note: I live-tweeted this event. If you want to see the tweets you can find them here.