Bud Kennedy

Upsets afoot, and a phantom candidate in Keller

Keller school trustee Ruthie Keyes, seen here reading to fourth-graders, faces a challenger who never campaigned.
Keller school trustee Ruthie Keyes, seen here reading to fourth-graders, faces a challenger who never campaigned. Star-Telegram

Ruthie Keyes saw a lot in 25 years teaching school, but nothing like this.

The Keller school trustee is running for re-election against a phantom.

Challenger David W. Staine, who quit the campaign almost two months ago, resumed it Tuesday with Tea Party backing for the Saturday election.

Before he quit, Staine, 42, an apartment maintenance supervisor and “Overpasses for Impeachment” protester, said he was only testing Twitter reaction last year when he wrote that President Barack Obama is a “virus from Africa.”

By the way, Staine is the proud favorite in emails from NE Tarrant Tea Party and Boiling Point Tea Party leaders.

“I hope people see what he’s doing,” a surprised Keyes said Tuesday.

Or not doing.

“To me, this doesn’t look good,” said Keyes, 60. “Why make that decision at this point?”

Staine did not return a phone message left with an apartment manager.

Another school trustee, Jo Lynn Haussmann, wrote by email that some Republican precinct chairs support Staine and that she would mentor him.

Keyes joins a long list of incumbents at risk of losing Saturday, when voters generally unhappy with Washington and any government will vote in city, school and other local elections.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck’s dust-up with leading challenger Jeff Williams drew 14,812 early voters to a ballot that includes a proposal to scrap or keep red-light cameras.

Five Fort Worth City Council members face opponents, some with staunch support in far northern neighborhoods or among disgruntled police and fire retirees.

A turbulent Tarrant Regional Water District election is drawing new voters casting local ballots for the first time, leaving the fate of two incumbents uncertain along with the council members and three Fort Worth school trustees.

“I think the nastiness of the water board election is causing a lot of that,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a TCU political science professor.

“That conflict is stirring up a lot of other races.”

In 1999, the last time local elections fell in the seventh year of a Democratic presidency, Fort Worth voters re-elected council paleoconservative Clyde Picht, and a host of suburban council members were ousted.

That year, north Arlington council incumbent Joe Ewen was surprised by a little-known underdog named Robert Cluck.

This year, upsets shouldn’t be a surprise.

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

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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