State Rep. Wayne Faircloth blasted a campaign forum planned today in Galveston as a “ruse” and an attempt to discredit him.
The forum has been advertised for days, including in paid ads in The Daily News. The ads were paid for by the Galveston County Tea Party. The ads included a picture of Faircloth and his primary election challenger, Mayes Middleton, and claimed both men would be there. It was to be held at 6:30 p.m. at Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant in Galveston.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Faircloth issued a news release saying he had never agreed to appear at the forum. “The HD 23 forum that has been advertised in the paper and in social media … is a ruse,” Faircloth said.
Faircloth said that he had a scheduling conflict Thursday and could not attend.
Less than an hour after Faircloth’s statement, Galveston County Tea Party Vice Chairman Robert Buchanan said the representative had never actually agreed to appear at the forum.
The group had reached out multiple times to Faircloth, but couldn’t confirm a time when he would appear, Buchanan said.
Galveston County Tea Party Treasurer Jay Arrington said the group had asked Faircloth whether he would appear at an event in January — although he couldn’t confirm that dates had actually been settled on.
“My impression was that he’d agreed,” Arrington said.
Had both candidates shown up, they wouldn’t have appeared on the stage at the same time. One candidate would be on stage and answer prepared questions, while the other waited in a green room, Buchanan said. They would then switch places.
“I wouldn’t call it a formal debate,” Buchanan said.
Faircloth said he offered to answer written questions and have a representative read them to the group, but that was turned down.
“This is misleading and very poor statesmanship on their part,” Faircloth said. “This is another attempt to discredit me and my supporters.”
The Galveston County Tea Party doesn’t endorse candidates, both Buchanan and Arrington said. Middleton’s campaign is being supported by Empower Texans, a tea party-aligned group.
Arrington confirmed that the group would not accept written answers to the questions.
“We said that’s just not the way we do things,” Arrington said.
The event is still planned, with only Middleton appearing, Arrington said.
LOCAL BALLOTS OPEN UP
Local cities on Wednesday began accepting applications from candidates who want to run for public office in May’s election. Candidates have a month to get a spot on the ballots for city councils and commissions.
Some candidates got a head start on their opponents by filing for their spots on the ballot.
Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough has already declared his intention to run for a third and final term. He turned in his paperwork Wednesday, as did incumbent council members Craig Brown, Frank Maceo and Carolyn Sunseri.
Jason Hardcastle has declared his candidacy for the open spot in Galveston City Council District 4. (Incumbent Mike Doherty is not seeking re-election.) Shrimp ‘N Stuff owner Jeff Antonelli is running for the District 5 seat opened by the departure of Mayor pro tem Terrilyn Tarlton-Shannon, who is leaving because of term limits. David Collins is running against Maceo in District 3.
In Hitchcock, Mayor Dorothy Childress said she was planning to run for re-election. She was appointed mayor in November to replace Anthony Matranga, who resigned because of illness. Two of the four seats on the city commission also will be up for election.
In Texas City, Mayor Matt Doyle is seeking another term in an office he’s held since 2004. All the other seats on the city commission will be up for election. Commissioners Bruce Clawson, Dee Ann Haney and Jami Clark had all submitted paperwork by Wednesday afternoon.
Haney is out of jail on bail over an intoxication manslaughter charge. She is accused of killing two men while driving on the Galveston Causeway on July 3.
In La Marque, Mayor Bobby Hocking and council member Robert Michetich, of District C, had filed their paperwork. District A Councilman Keith Bell is also up for re-election.
In Santa Fe, the mayor’s seat and council places No. 2 and No. 3 are up for election. No one had filed paperwork by Wednesday afternoon.
In Friendswood, council seats held by Steve Rockey and Jim Hill will be up for election, as will Mayor Kevin Holland‘s seat.
League City will not have an election in May. Its elections are held in November. Dickinson’s city secretary did not respond to a call seeking comment about filing on Wednesday.
Local candidates have until Feb. 20 to file for a place on local ballots. Local elections are May 5.
State Rep. Wayne Faircloth was named the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Galvestonian of the Year on Friday evening, at the chamber’s annual gala.
The award comes at an interesting moment in time. Faircloth is in the middle of a primary campaign against Mayes Middleton, a newcomer with backing from hard line conservatives.
Middleton’s name has been everywhere for the past few months, including on Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce emails — where Middleton is listed as an “Admiral Level Member” of the chamber. That means he paid $10,000 to be recognized at all chamber events, gets “first tier” table placement and complimentary email blasts.
Middleton received an endorsement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week, and soon after, a chamber-branded email shared that to its members.
Hours before giving Faircloth its award, the chamber sent another email to its members.
“With another big election season on the horizon, the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce would like to remind all members that email blasts are sent as a service for chamber members,” the email said. “Please be advised that any political campaign advertisement is sent on behalf of a chamber member as a benefit to their membership investment, and not a political endorsement by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
TRUMP DOC HAS
On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, a U.S. Navy doctor, made headlines while giving a public update about President Donald Trump‘s physical health.
Trump could use more exercise and a better diet, Jackson said, but said the president’s eyesight, heart and cognitive health were fine. The update was seemingly done to respond to speculation and questions about Trump’s health.
Jackson is the latest character to take to the White House briefing podium. NPR described him and his presentation as “all business,” “folksy” and “matter-of-fact.”
Turns out, Jackson has some Galveston connections. He is a graduate of both Texas A&M University at Galveston, where he earned a marine biology degree, and the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he received a medical degree.
Jackson has worked at the White House as a doctor since 2006, and was named physician to the president by President Barack Obama in 2013.
He also served in Virginia and North Carolina, and worked as an emergency medicine physician during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE DELAYS
Campaign finance reports for races on the March primary ballot were officially due Tuesday. But with Galveston County facilities closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, candidates, and intrepid reporters, were unable to get to Galveston County Clerk Dwight Sullivan’s office to file and gather the proper paperwork.
Candidates will have at least until the end of the day Thursday to get their paperwork in.
Despite the few extra days to complete their reports, Sullivan said he expects most candidates to file their paperwork late in the day Thursday.
We’ll be on pins and needles until then.
ON THE SCHEDULE
Galveston County Judge candidates Mark Henry and Lonnie Cox are both set to appear at a forum hosted by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce this afternoon.