Not a good night for incumbents in Dallas County or Texas

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona

Challengers did unusually well against incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Several members of the Texas House and Senate will not be returning.

Sen. John Carona, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, lost his bid for re-election to tea party favorite Don Huffhines. Carona, a moderate Republican, has served in the Legislature since 1990.

Staunch LGBT ally Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth lost his bid for re-election to Ramon Romero who has no connection to the Democratic Party and has mostly donated to Republicans, according to the Burnt Orange Report. Burnam has the endorsement of all Democratic groups, including Hispanic groups.

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, an Irving Republican, lost her bid for re-election to tea party favorite Rodney Anderson. During redistricting, Harper-Brown and Anderson were drawn into the same district. Anderson decided to sit out the last election.

Arlington Republican Diane Patrick lost her bid for re-election to Tony Tinderholt. Patrick was the author of the final anti-bullying bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. Among Tinderholt’s complaints against Patrick is a bill she authored that would have required kindergarten children to have a dental exam before entering first grade. He’s running on a platform of securing the border, gun rights and fighting Obamacare and abortion and an almost cartoonish picture on his homepage shows him with his buxom blond wife, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, in a tight red sweater.

Matt Rinaldi beat Carrollton Rep. Bennett Ratliff. Rinaldi is endorsed by Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shakelford, Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Values President Joanathan Saenz.

In other races, former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop edged out Rep. Stefani Carter. Koop didn’t receive 50 percent of the vote, so they will face off in a runoff.

State District Judge Lena Levario is one of a number of incumbent Democratic judges who lost their primary races on Tuesday. Levario held District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court last March. He was later acquitted, but his prosecutor, Tammy Kemp, challenged Levario, raised twice as much money and won the primary.

Other local judges were defeated for r-eelection by Watkins prosecutors. The list of defeated incumbents includes Lori Chrisman Hockett, Andy Chatham, Carlos Cortez, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, Bill Mazur, Michael E. Miller and Chris Wilmoth.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst received only 28 percent of the vote. Sen Dan Patrick polled 43 percent. They face each other in a runoff.

Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein lost his bid for re-election as Republican Precinct Chair 2069. Former Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez lost his race for re-election as Democratic Precinct Chair 2062.

—  David Taffet

LGBT candidates, allies win big in Texas primary

Texasprimary

Out JP candidate Sara Martinez and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, surrounded by supporters, both made it into runoffs in Dallas County. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Openly LGBT candidates and the community’s allies swept the Texas Democratic primary Tuesday, winning the party’s nomination while others made it into runoffs.

In Dallas County, out justice of the peace precinct 5, place 1 candidate Sara Martinez led in the crowded race after early voting. She secured a place in the runoff alongside Melissa Bellan. Other out candidate John McCall came in fourth in the race.

Out candidate Susan Lopez-Craig came in third in the precinct 5 constable’s race. Incumbent Beth Villarreal and Michael Orozco will face off in a runoff.

In the race for county treasurer, former Dallas Councilwoman and LGBT ally Pauline Medrano and Bennie Elnora Brown came out on top to make it into the runoff.

Queer state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, easily won re-election, defeating her only Democratic challenger, Rey Sepulveda. Gonzalez previously told Dallas Voice she expected a challenger based on her outspokenness on women’s and LGBT rights. She’s one of five openly gay state House candidates, but the only one with a contested primary. With no Republican challenger in November, she’ll serve another term.

—  Anna Waugh

Patrick uses Parker’s wedding to score anti-gay points

Parker

Annise Parker (right) and Kathy Hubbard’s wedding photo (courtesy city of Houston)

State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) took the occasion of Mayor Annise Parker’s wedding to long-time partner Kathy Hubbard to lash out at her.

In a statement, Patrick said he wasn’t shocked she decided to elope to California to obtain a marriage that’s illegal in Texas. He also reiterated Republican disapproval of an executive order extending partner benefits to married Houston city employees.

“I am not shocked that Mayor Parker decided to elope to California for a marriage that is unconstitutional in Texas,” Patrick said. “This is obviously part of a larger strategy of hers to turn Texas into California. She waited until after her November election to decree that the City of Houston will recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The Texas State Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman and Mayor Parker cannot change that. I fully support the lawsuit challenging Parker’s edict and look forward to protecting conservative values as the next Lt. Governor.”

A lawsuit filed by Republicans against the executive order is expected to be thrown out of court because those filing the suit have no standing.

Patrick is running for lieutenant governor.

Other Houston Republicans also criticized Parker’s marriage.

“I think it’s all about her political agenda,” said Jared Woodfill, the chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

Parker said she waited to issue the executive order until after the city attorney had time to study how the federal government and other jurisdictions were interpreting the Windsor decision which declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Houston’s mayor may legally issue executive orders, which Patrick prefers to call edicts and decrees.

Parker said she and Hubbard married to set an example for their teenage daughters. Although Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, the couple gains a number of federal benefits including filing joint income tax returns.

KHOU-TV in Houston reports that Parker and Hubbard are on their honeymoon.

—  David Taffet

Senator who wants to ban DP benefits in Texas was subject of gay rumors

Sen. Dan Patrick

If state Sen. Dan Patrick is a closeted homosexual, he’s doing a pretty horrible job of hiding it.

That’s because if there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that the most rabidly anti-gay public figures often turn out to be gay themselves. See Roy Cohn et al.

On Friday, Houston’s Patrick made a major anti-gay move by requesting an opinion from the attorney general’s office about whether domestic partner benefits offered by local government entities violate Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. According to the Houston Chronicle, Patrick is declining to comment on his own views on DP benefits until the AG’s office issues its opinion. (As if we don’t already know what Patrick’s views are. Why would he seek such an opinion if he isn’t against DP benefits?)

Anyhow, even though it’s true that closeted politicians tend to be anti-gay, being anti-gay probably isn’t sufficient grounds to assume that a politician is a closeted homosexual. But in Patrick’s case, it turns out we have more to go on than just that.

Back in May, one of Patrick’s fellow Republicans in the Texas Senate, John Carona of Dallas, pretty much accused Patrick of being homosexual. After Patrick sent an email to every single member of the Senate saying Carona was spreading rumors about his marriage, Carona responded by writing, “Though I have heard rumors regarding your marital status and sexual preferences for a while now, at no time have I told anyone that you are either separated, divorced, or gay.”

—  John Wright

Anti-gay state senator wants to outlaw domestic partner benefits in Texas

Dan Patrick

Here’s why you need to get out and vote on Tuesday if you haven’t already.

In the same week that Dallas County voted to offer health insurance vouchers to the domestic partners of employees, a tea party-backed state senator from Houston is seeking an opinion from the Texas attorney general about whether such benefits are legal under the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s office wrote in a press release on Friday:

In 2005, the Texas Constitution was amended to clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman. The “Marriage Amendment” went on to prohibit government entities from creating or recognizing anything identical or similar to marriage. The Marriage Amendment was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Texas legislature and ratified by more than 75 percent of Texas voters.

However, government entities across the state are gradually recognizing and extending benefits to domestic partners including the cities of El Paso, Austin and Fort Worth. Recently, Pflugerville I.S.D. became the first school district to extend benefits.

“I am submitting this request to the Attorney General in order to clarify whether or not these entities are violating the constitution and circumventing the will of the people,” said Senator Patrick.

Other entities in Texas that offer DP benefits include the city of Dallas, which has had them since 2004, and Dallas County, which as I mentioned added them this week.

Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney for the LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal, told Instant Tea that Patrick’s letter seeking an opinion from the AG’s office doesn’t surprise him.

“I was wondering when someone would do that,” Upton said. “It was just a question of when. Texas is too big of a state, and there are too many people who hate us.”

Upton said there have been similar challenges to domestic partner benefits in other states with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, including Ohio and Michigan, with mixed results. But he said the issue could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Arizona case that Lambda Legal is handling, Diaz v. Brewer. Both the district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled in Lambda Legal’s favor, but Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who wants to strip DP benefits from state employees, appealed.

“Our position is if you decide that a benefit of employment is insuring your spouse, and then you turn around and say as a gay person, you don’t get that benefit because you can’t have a spouse, then you violate equal protection,” Upton said.  “We’ll know in November whether [the Supreme Court is] going to take that case.”

Upton said any opinion Sen. Patrick receives from Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office would be advisory in nature. However, Upton said he suspects that the AG’s office — which has intervened in recent years to block gay divorces — could find a way of bringing a legal challenge to DP benefits in Texas. Upton said he doesn’t like the LGBT community’s chances in front of the conservative Texas Supreme Court, which could ultimately be charged with interpreting whether the marriage amendment bans DP benefits. But Upton said that from a legal standpoint, he’s less worried about the issue than he once was.

“I think the [U.S.] Supreme Court in Diaz could decide it once and for all,” he said. “The bottom line is this whole thing is so much farther long than it was three or four or five years ago. Time is on our side.”

Read Patrick’s press release and his letter seeking an opinion from the AG’s office below.

—  John Wright

Houston senator calls gay attack by Dallas Sen. John Carona ‘vicious,’ defends his marriage

Dan Patrick

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, clarified Thursday that he and his wife are not having marital problems after rumors spread that he is gay.

Emails leaked earlier this week revealed that Patrick had emailed state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, about rumors he believed Carona was spreading.

In a response sent to multiple senators, Carona denied the rumors, writing that though he “heard rumors regarding [Patrick’s] marital status and sexual preferences for a while now,” he did not share rumors that Patrick was “separated, divorced, or gay.

Patrick’s response demanded an apology.

He told the Texas Tribune that his marriage of 37 years is not breaking up and confirmed notions that he and Carona were at odds over replacing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

John Carona

“I love my wife and she loves me,” Patrick said, adding later that is mistake was thinking the emails would be kept private. “If I made a mistake in this, it was believing that emails between senators, which are almost always private, would have stayed private.”

He said he did not call Carona after the gay allegation because he didn’t want a confrontation, saying “his response was an admission of guilt” because he was not shy about sharing his comments.

“Suddenly he repeats them and he adds another vile comment. Vicious,” Patrick said of the gay reference.

Admitting that he and Carona have “competing visions,” Patrick said he wants conservative Republicans senators to have more of a say in Dewhurst’s replacement, denying that he wants the position. Carona has been called a possible favorite for the position.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

State Sen. John Carona suggests colleague, likely opponent in lieutenant governor’s race is gay

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, has allegedly spread word throughout the Texas Senate that fellow Republican Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston is having marital problems.

Leaked emails published by political news website the Quorum Report reveal that Patrick was upset that Carona had allegedly told fellow senators that he and his wife Jan were separated and possibly divorcing, along with “a few other negative comments about me in an obvious attempt by him to discredit me,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

Carona’s emailed response to state senators mentions that while he “heard rumors regarding [Patrick’s] marital status and sexual preferences for a while now,” he did not share rumors that Patrick was “separated, divorced, or gay.

Dan Patrick

Patrick then responded to the gay remark by writing that Carona needed to apologize to his family for his initial comments and “owes me an apology for his latest smear, another fabrication by Senator Carona.”

The motive behind the emails could be the ambitions of both men to serve as lieutenant governor following the possible election of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to the U.S. Senate. Both Carona and Patrick are likely candidates for the election in 2014, with Carona the leading contender to be Dewhurst’s interim replacement.

Carona could not immediately be reached for comment.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The accusation from Patrick, in part, in an e-mail to fellow senators:

I was in Dallas last week and learned that Senator Carona has told people outside the Senate that Jan and I are separated and may get divorced. He added in a few other negative comments about me in an obvious attempt by him to discredit me for some reason. … There is no excuse or justification for his actions. He could have easily checked the story out to see if it was true. He didn’t care if it was true.

The response from Carona, in part, also in an e-mail to fellow senators:

The email which you blasted to our colleagues and then provided to the media is false and you would have known that had you called or emailed before sending it. …Though I have heard rumors regarding your marital status and sexual preferences for a while now, at no time have I told anyone that you are either separated, divorced, or gay.

 

—  Anna Waugh