Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Race for Chisum's House Seat Heating Up

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that Canadian, TX School Board President Ken King has announced he will enter the Republican primary for Texas House district 88, currently represented by Warren Chisum (R-Pampa). During the closing hours of the 82nd Legislature's special session, Chisum announced he would be leaving the post, which he has held for 22 years, to run for Railroad Commissioner. You may remember Chisum as the architect of Texas' version of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" barring recognition of same-sex marriage in Texas.

King (not to be confused withe the Polyester actor of the same name), has a key ally in his fellow school board member, and successful commodities trader, Salem Abraham. Abraham, grandson of the late Rep. Malouf Abraham (R-Canadian), has already formed a political action committee to support King's candidacy. His considerable resources, both as a successful trader and as an heir to his grandfather's oil and natural gas fortune, and his prominence as a local philanthropist in Canadian make Abraham's support invaluable.

(Incidentally, The Canadian School District Student Code of Conduct expressly prohibits students from engaging in verbal abuse that involves "ethnic or racial slurs," but has no similar protections for abuse based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. It will be interesting to see whether the school board avails itself of the anti-bullying resources that will now be available to it under HB 1942 (82-R) - the "super" anti-bullying bill passed this spring.)

Jim Landtroop
King will face freshman Rep. Jim Landtroop (R-Plainview), who currently represents district 85. After the Legislature redrew the district borders this spring Landtroop's home county of Hale was moved to district 88, it is the only county from Landtroop's previous 16 county district in the new district 88. Landtroop is a proven fundraising powerhouse. He raised over 1 million dollars during the last election cycle in his successful bid to unseat Joe Heflin (R-Crosbyton).

As a member of the 82nd Texas Legislature Landtroop initially supported HB 1942 (the "super" anti-bullying bill) before switching his position on the bill's final House vote. He also supported HB 1386 the teen suicide prevention bill. Unfortunately Landtroop's limited support for anti-bullying efforts is strongly outweighed by his positions on overtly homophobic legislation. He was a co-author of HCR 110, Paul Workman's (R-Austin) ill conceived attempt to pressure the Obama administration to defend section 3 of the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" in court. (Section 3 of DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages from jurisdictions that permits them.) He also consistently supported Wayne Christian's (R-Center) legislation to either defund or outright ban LGBT resource centers from Texas college campuses.

Gary Walker
Also in the race is former Representative Gary Walker (R-Plains) who represented district 80 from 1997 to 2003 before redistricting forced him to run in the primary against Delwin Jones (R-Lubbock), Walker lost the race. Walker was one of just 13 House Republicans (along with Chisum) who voted for the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which provides a mechanism for enhanced penalties for some crimes committed biased on a bias against the victims real or perceived "sexual preference."

District 88 is strongly Republican (since Chisum switched to the Republican Party in 1995 no Democrat has run in the district), so the winner of next spring's Republican primary is all but certain to win the seat. Under the new House maps District 88 cuts an enormous 17 county swath across the Texas panhandle. The three candidates: Landtroop, King and Walker, are distributed from one end of the district to the other. Between Landtroop's proven fundraising skills; King's backing by Abraham and the sheer challenges of campaigning over such vast geography, this could easily become the most expensive primary of the 2012 House election season.

The New District 88 with Candidate's Home Towns

View House District 88 in a larger map (locations are approximate)


  1. Ugg, sounds like we might get another homophobe in office. :(

  2. I believe you'll find that Landtroop defeated Democratic Rep. Joe Heflin, not Delwin Jones. He raised a lot of money because it was a district that was drawn R but being held by a D, so a lot of outside conservative groups thought it was a smart bet to support the R as the seat was pretty likely to flip. He may not receive that great support again in a district that will elect an R no matter what, however he may have the advantage of being a "friendly incumbent" to the lobby.

  3. Thank you for the correction - I have updated the post