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The "Ten Least Wanted" list
This is Part 2 of a two-part set. Click HERE if you have not seen Part 1.
It dawned on me after the 2014 election that cleaning house in Smith County was going to be a long-term project. I figured it would take 2-3 election cycles to drain the swamp. What I'm presenting here is a somewhat optimistic outlook, but I think it is pretty realistic. Success here hinges non only on getting rid of these scoundrels, but also on replacing them with leaders who have integrity.
The list presented in Part 1 represented the situation as of 2014, before the primary. But Skip Ogle lost. And Joel Baker subsequently self-destructed, without any help from us. So here's the current list, with the members who have already been eliminated marked out:
Matt Bingham (District Attorney)
Carole Clark (Judge, 321st District)
JoAnn Hampton (County Commissioner)
Henry Jackson (Constable)
Cary Nix (County Commissioner)
Randall Rogers (Judge, Court at Law #2)
Jack Skeen (Judge, 241st District)
Jeff Warr (County Commissioner)
So, it looks kind of discouraging, because it looks we made no progress in 2014. All we did was keep Skip Ogle out of the legislature. Buuuuuuuuuut...The 2014 election was apparently a kind of watershed here. After that, the two main news outlets actually started actually reporting useful information about local government. Coverage of "Cameragate" led to public outcry, which was what probably what convinced the attorney general to prosecute Baker. Then KLTV aired the "Sexting-gate" story, and the game was over for Baker. And my own blog, Corruption Capital USA got over 200,000 hits by 65,000 users in two years. So apparently people are starting to pay attention.
But, still, 8 of the Ten are still in office. But if you look ahead to the next election, things really start looking better.
Okay, first a word about the upcoming election. If you are thinking about running against one of the incumbents, you should have already started campaigning and raising money. After all, the incumbents get year-round free campaign advertising in the form of press releases from the county and coverage in the news for crap like taking cakes to some school teachers, so you are already behind. And listen up, students, because this is important: Remember that you are not so much campaigning for yourself as you are campaigning against the incumbent. That means that to some degree, you are going to have to run a "negative" campaign in that you are going to have to point out why your opponent needs to be removed from office. But you can't overdo it. You may have to depend on the news people (iffy) and me (a sure thing) to expose the dirt on the incumbents. It's a bad idea to communicate directly with me about "interesting" stuff voters might want to know. But, there's nothing anybody can do about maybe one of your supporters (without your knowledge, wink, wink) contacting me with truthful, verifiable information that might be useful...
Just a thought. Okay, back to the list.
Matt Bingham says he won't run again, and Randall Rogers is retiring. So we can mark them off right away.
Next, we have our token Democrats on the list, Henry Jackson and JoAnn Hampton. I'm pretty sure Jackson is done-for. After all, he is facing sentencing for some serious tax evasion convictions, which was not his first go-round with the criminal justice system. And if he runs again, I'm thinking pretty much anybody with a law enforcement license and a functioning brain stem will defeat him. Hampton is also facing a criminal charge: felony Injury an Elderly Person. I'm sure that will be downgraded to a misdemeanor somehow. But still--slapping down a 72 year-old woman over an argument about decorations? Furthermore, Hampton supported Cameragate, and she is tainted by her affiliation with--and support of--Joel Baker. So, if somebody runs against her, I think she will probably lose. That said, there is a political dynamic within these majority-minority districts that I don't quite understand, so I may be wrong. But this is an optimistic essay, so I'm going to take her off the list.
Then there's Cary Nix. On the one hand, Nix is also tainted by his association with Baker, and there is a growing anti-incumbent sentiment. The Grassroots people would not likely endorse him, and he was entangled in the Cameragate mess. So someone who is reasonably intelligent and articulate who is not a fruitcake might be able to beat him, if anyone runs. But on the other hand, no one has stepped up yet to challenge him. And, after what happened to John Furlow in the "Great Campaign Sign Caper" thing, people in the Republican precincts are maybe a little skittish about sticking their necks out. So, I think I'm going to split the difference on Nix by leaving him on the list (in parenthesis with a question mark) for this term, then remove him in 2022-2023.
Now look at the list...
(Cary Nix ?)
Lookin' good, eh? SIX of the Ten will likely be gone in less than a year and a half from now! But now let's move forward another 4 years and see what might happen:
Warr has said he will not run again. Assuming we can take his word for it, he will go away at the end of 2020. In Texas, judges who have reached the age of 75 cannot serve another term, so Skeen will be out. So, optimistically assuming Nix will have gone away by then, look at the list;
So, as of January 1, 2023, nine of the ten will be gone! That leaves Judge Carole Clark. But I'm okay with that for several reasons: Nine out of ten ain't bad! And as long as we have good leadership on the commissioners court, she will not be given a blank check to pay every attorney who comes along wanting to do ad litem work. And mostly, as long as one of the Ten is still in office, I still have work to do. I grew up believing that God does not call his faithful servants home until their work on this earth is done. Therefore as long as Carole Clark is in office, I will not die.
Long live Carole Clark!