Fort Worth school, water elections a tale of two cities -- and cash

Posted Tuesday, May. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy Never before has Dallas taken such an interest in Fort Worth.

We should be flattered. Just imagine: 30 miles away, millionaires care enough to give thousands of dollars to candidates in elections involving our lakes and public schools.

I’m sure there’s no other reason two Dallas investors gave the $205,000 behind a slate of Tarrant Regional Water District challengers, or Dallas Democrat Domingo Garcia and his political action committee channeled $20,000 to two incumbent school trustees.

Both gifts turned perennially small-time Saturday elections into big-money, high-stakes campaigns.

“I’m glad to see Domingo taking such an interest in education,” Republican consultant Luke Macias said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Dallas and Fort Worth are very tied together now, for our mutual benefit and sometimes mutual destruction.”

Garcia defended his support for school board Vice President Carlos Vasquez and former President Juan Rangel. Both backed Garcia over U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

“I believe the independent candidates who speak for the little guy are not well-liked in some parts of Fort Worth,” he said.

Challengers Jacinto Ramos Jr. and Camille Rodriguez (against Vasquez) and Ashley Paz (against Rangel) have more business establishment support.

In the water board campaign, the “little guys” found big Dallas dollars from two landowners with ranches along a proposed East Texas water pipeline.

Investors Monty Bennett and Bennie Bray made donations that wound up backing Reno challenger John Basham’s campaign. In the vote-for-three election, he is running with Mary Kelleher and Timothy Nold of Fort Worth against long-standing incumbents Vic Henderson and Hal Sparks of Fort Worth and Jack Stevens of Azle.

Macias, a consultant to Basham supporter state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, said the Dallas landowners are concerned about fair eminent domain and property rights.

To follow the money, follow the water, TCU political science professor James Riddlesperger wrote by email.

With city water coming from East Texas lakes, “there is a great deal of regional interest,” he wrote.

“Of course, the major donors have specific interests in Fort Worth water interfering with their property.”

Arlington campaign consultant Craig Murphy, not involved in either election, wrote that Fort Worth gas drilling money is also influencing Dallas elections.

“I’m confident that in this particular year, the flow is more east than west,” he wrote.

Money flows both up- and downhill.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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