Two Tough Legislative Races in Dallas

The Texas Observer names the dozen races that will determine who controls the Texas House next session. Two are in Dallas: District 102 between incumbent Tony Goolsby (R) and Carol Kent (D), and District 107 between incumbent Allen Vaught (D) and Bill Keffer (R). If you’re into analysis, it’s after the jump:

District 102

Tony Goolsby (R) vs. Carol Kent (D)

Democrats in Dallas have long wanted to defeat Republican Tony Goolsby. He’s been involved in a series of controversies and scandals, including accusations by Democrats that he worked to suppress minority voting in 2006. Goolsby has denied wrongdoing. He’s managed to earn reelection, though two years ago he sneaked through with just 52 percent.

District 102 is another conservative suburban area that’s slipping away from Republicans. Goolsby has employed a John McCain campaign strategy, pitching himself as the maverick voice of experience with a bipartisan record (his mailers boast of his “history of service, legacy of results”).

Democrat Carol Kent’s campaign slogan is “It’s time for a change in Austin.” With such a disgruntled electorate, you would think the “change” candidate would win out over “experience.”

But Goolsby has several key advantages. First, he has a ton of money. He began the campaign cycle with $400,000 and has continued his brisk fundraising.

For a challenger, Kent has collected a respectable amount of money. She’s raised more than $341,000 in 2008, but Goolsby still has a $100,000 edge in cash on hand. Moreover, Goolsby will benefit from the absence of a Libertarian candidate in the race. Two years ago, a Libertarian drew 2.2 percent of the vote. Those extra percentage points may help Goolsby hang on.

District 107

Allen Vaught (D) vs. Bill Keffer (R)

Everyone loves a rematch.Two years ago, Democrat Allen Vaught, a lawyer and Iraq war veteran, scored a huge upset over Republican Bill Keffer. This year, Keffer is trying to reclaim his old seat.

Keffer is a stalwart conservative and was once viewed as a rising Republican star. In his campaign, he’s advocating cuts in state spending. He wants to ditch the business tax lawmakers passed two years ago to help public schools. He also wants reductions in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Keffer will have a tough time regaining his old seat. The suburban district in Dallas County is increasingly Democratic. The district is 54 percent Republican, according to, down from 57 percent when Vaught won two years ago.

Both candidates have raised healthy sums for the race this year, more than $248,000 for Vaught and $232,000 for Keffer. Vaught, however, has slightly more money left in the bank for the final 30 days. Keffer is certainly well known in the district. But his notoriety may not be the advantage it once was. With the area tilting Democratic, a hard-liner like Keffer may be too conservative for what is now a swing district. In this rematch, Keffer is the underdog.


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39 responses to “Two Tough Legislative Races in Dallas”

  1. katie p says:

    OK, I’ll bite on District 102. I would have thought that Carol Kent would win this based on discussions with several of my neighbors who share my moderate political views. But to be frank, her campaign has been too negative in recent weeks and she has lost the vote of others in my neighborhood.

    We’ve received dark and mean-spirited mailings from Kent where she attacks the incumbent, but never offers any solid solutions – just slogans. And, one of my neighbors received a phone call from her campaign where they again use over-the-top rhetoric and were rather rude when my neighbor said she was unsure who they were supporting. Ick.

    The deal breaker for me was when I realized that the incumbent’s votes she criticizes were from 1991 – almost 20 years ago. Carol Kent had a chance to win my vote because I am ready to vote out most incumbents. But her mudslinging has caused this moderate Democrat to vote for Republican Tony Goolsby.

  2. billh says:

    I wouldn’t call this a suburban district. I’m in Casa View, I see the signs in Old Lake Highlands, and parts of Lakewood.

    I like Vaught. He’s a very persuasive speaker. I also have found his mailings and emails to constituents to actually be helpful and informative. His service in Iraq is a real plus.

    I haven’t worked the polls for a candidate in a long time, but I did for Vaught last time and plan to do that again.

  3. bc says:

    I’m a Democrat. I generally vote straight ticket – it makes for much less reading at the polls. That being said, I can’t in good conscience vote for Carol Kent. And it has nothing to do with her mudslinging campaign….

  4. Joe SIx Pack says:


    Have heard that from a lot of Democrats in Lake Highlands where I live. Can I pry and ask why? Personally, my frustration comes from the rage in her mailings and I think that is the last thing we need in Austin right now. We need some folks that can work with people, not beat people down.

  5. bc says:

    I grew up in the area when she was very (overly) involved in the PTA. She just had some very odd methods of running her and her family’s lives which then leaked over into a lot of the student’s lives through some of the policies she pushed. And if those methods translate at all in her helping dictate the laws that run our lives, I’m not supporting that.

    If you want to talk about people working well with others, all I know is she was the mom a lot of the moms didn’t like when I was growing up. I mean, if you make enemies within the ranks of elementary school parents…..

    I realize that’s pretty vague (and could look petty), but without getting into the specific examples of how bizzarre she can be, I can’t really explain it. You know when you’ve met someone a bunch of times and you think she’s a little off-kilter, and then she’s running for office and you get to vote based on your past experience with her? Well….it’s exactly like that.

    Oh, and if you look at that post about the push polling from a few weeks back, you’ll see that I met Tony Goolsby a long time ago ever so briefly, and he was a nice guy. Just full disclosure here. Even though he seems like a nice guy, I’d probably still vote Democrat if it weren’t for her being the opposition.

  6. tamsterbath says:

    I see the Goolsby consultants are using D Magazine’s Blog again to spread unsubstantiated rumors about Carol Kent. The funny thing is that Tony Goolsby is the dirtiest campaigner in the Dallas County. And he tries to use that charge against his opponent. Hilarious.

  7. Dubious Brother says:

    Isn’t it strange that the Republicans are complaining about McCain being too liberal and not being a true conservative and then when a true conservative like Bill Keffer runs,he is considered a “hard liner” and “too conservative” – whatever that means. He has ideas like return the state budget surplus to the taxpayers that paid it in the first place and don’t put in a new state business income tax (cleverly disguised as a franchise tax) as it will discourage new business in Texas and penalize the businesses that are creating jobs. We need people like Bill Keffer in Austin and are fortunate that he has chosen to run again.

  8. g2 says:

    I’ve known the Kents for a long time. They are a great family. I’m a Republican, but have decided to support Carol because of all she’s done for Richardson schools. Anyone who suggests otherwise obviously doesn’t know her.

  9. John says:

    Again the Ghoulsby staffers are fear-mongering. Carol Kent has not done any mud-slinging at all. In the flyers I’ve received, they are only positive–talking about education and a need to inject new blood into the body-politic in Austin.

    No, I think that if anyone is getting negative items in the mail from “Carol Kent,” they are probably fake and coming from the Googlesby side where he’s performing Rovian tactics to make you think Carol Kent has gone negative. From what I’ve read, he’s sent out fake items before. I think that’s why he’s being sued by the previous person that ran against him.

    Personally, I’m sick and tired of the “good old boy” crony politics. Tony Goolsby is one of ’em. Time to send him and his aging frat-boys out the door, for good.

  10. Inspired In Dallas says:

    I think I have received the same mailings from Carol Kent as anyone else. I don’t get anything negative from them in the vein that could be described as “mudslinging.” I remember one piece in particular which cited the Texas House Bill numbers that Goolsby voted on. I thought this was a good way to back up the claims with facts. Now, it was in small print, but I was able to google them and see that the claims against Goolsby’s weak record on education were factual.

    I agree his record over 19 years is muddied with askew votes that don’t synch up with his campaign voice but I strongly disagree that Carol Kent is mudslinging.

  11. Ed Cognoski says:

    I’ve followed Carol Kent’s campaign and it bears no resemblance to the unsubstantiated charges made here.

    One fact that can’t be denied is that Goolsby ducked a voter’s forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters where he and Carol Kent could have faced the voters and answered questions posed by the voters’ themselves. Instead, his supporters spread falsehoods and innuendos in blogs such as this.

  12. PR says:

    Don’t you know that people post on here just to get you Kent supporters all riled up and you take the bait every single time.

    Now, instead of making grassroots calls or doing something productive for Kent, you waste your time responding and responding. Let me guess…several of you have been calling other Kent supporters in a panic trying to get your friends to post on this site.

    In the meantime, Goolsby supporters are no doubt making better use of their time out knocking on doors and making grassroots calls. Very doubtful that they even read this site.

    Looks like Carol’s consultants can’t control the inmates.

  13. Annette Maxberry-Carrara says:

    The question is, what is Goolsby doing for us? Not much. My husband asked him the other day at Fretz Park, “So Tony, what are you going to do for us?” Tony said, “The same thing, only better.” What he heck is that supposed to mean? That’s his platform? No thanks! I’m voting for change.

  14. PR says:


    Thank you for making my point.

    What your husband really meant was “What is the government going to do for me?” Pretty selfish if you ask me.

    Now hurry, call your friend Diane Birdwell and get her to post as well. She is always good to spew some hatred.

  15. Diane Birdwell says:


    You sound like the hater, my friend. You know me?

    I lOVE—ABSOLUTELY LOVE it when people try to call me out. Go ahead, baby, here I AM !!! WHO the heck are you, PR??? Hmmm? Work for Goolsby? Dallas GOP?

    What hatred do I have?

    You are right, I have hatred for people who try to destroy public education in the name of God, but really they do it in the name of business.

    I hate how people cut back on insurance for CHILDREN—CHILDREN–and call themselves the party of “family values.”

    Come on, PR. Name yourself, you coward. Are you scared of a little old teacher like me?

    Yea, that is what I thought.

  16. PR says:

    Hook, line and sinker.

    Good night.

  17. Diane Birdwell says:


    Good night Sweet Prince, I love you. Obama loves you, too.

    Scaredy-Cat. Meow.

  18. Annette Maxberry-Carrara says:

    Wow! Why are you attacking me? Did I attack you? And why on earth would you link me to Diane Birdwell? Do you know me? Do you know her? Are you some kind of creepy stalker? And seriously, since when is asking a candidate what he is going to do for his constituants selfish? What are they elected to do but serve the people they represent? Or are you saying Goolsby’s only job is to serve himself and his buddies? I think that’s the problem we have been having. Maybe it’s this misunderstanding of the role of our elected officials that has caused all the problems in Washington and Austin. It would certainly explain why Ted Stevens helped himself to all the cash and carry. I would ask the same question of any politician, including Carol Kent if I were to talk to her, and so would my husband. It’s not partisan it’s common sense.

    And guess what, PR? I’m not afraid to speak my mind and put my name to it. What’s your name?

  19. Maude Flanders says:

    Won’t somebody think of the chiiillldreeeen???

    Obama loves your kids in a creepy indoctrinate them behind your back and use them to get your vote kind of way.

  20. Scooter says:

    What’s up with Bill Keffer’s autistic child ad on TV? What on earth does his supporting a school for these kids have to do with the race? At least he isn’t smearing his opponent (as far as I know) in the grand tradition of Rovian politics.

  21. District 107 Citizen says:

    I think the Keffer ad is about he has offered innovative educational programs to get children, especially special needs kids back into public education. While Vaught, who touts his education policy has done nothing but throw more money at a corrupt system, a system which routinely cleanses special needs kids out of the schools but keeps their money. I’ve been a democrat all of my life, but there is no way in good conscience I can vote for Vaught. He is backed by everyone who wants to keep their precious paycheck rather than help kids.

  22. Louise says:

    PR talks about getting the Kent supporters to bite when Republicans spread lies. Why wouldn’t we? Getting the truth out on these blogs to counteract lies is a valid use of anyone’s time. I have seen all of Kent’s and Goolsby’s mailings. Kent sites Goolsby’s record. Goolsby accuses her of mudslinging. Goolsby’s wife has sent out a letter to complain about her husband being “repeatedly and unfairly attached by his political opponent,”. What is unfair about attacking a failed record? And, Toppy, how long ago was Tony a school teacher and coach, and just where was that? Carol has spent her whole life in education, mostly right here in her district!

  23. Cowboy Marxist says:

    Tom Delay is on TV calling Obama a Marxist.
    Tom freaking Delay.
    It is fun to watch the conservatives hang their reputation on right wing nutcases.
    They have even less integrity than I gave them credit for.
    Republicans, take your whipping like a man and stop crying like a little baby. Grow up.

  24. Slick Billy says:

    Dist 107 citizen – you are talking about Bill Keffer’s support of vouchers??? Keffer is using autistic children as a ploy to advance his voucher scheme. You should be outraged, but it seems that you have taken the bait hook, line and sinker. Do not be fooled by Keffer because the Grover Norquist “eliminate government” politicians like him are the reason our schools are so underfunded to begin with. Keffer voted against an insurance bill specifically for autistic children and voted to cut the CHIP program and advocates cutting CHIP again should he win this seat back, so it is hard to believe how you or anyone else that cares about kids could be fooled by his slick double talk.

  25. carlsbad says:


    thanks for posting the link. I saw this commercial on tv and thought it was “quite a reach.” Seemed like desperate campaigning to me. Glad to see I’m not alone.

  26. Dubious Brother says:

    How long would it take the crack heads running DISD to clean up their act if all the parents had vouchers to place their children wherever they would best be educated? Keffer is not against helping children – he is opposed to wasting taxpayer dollars on beaurocratic black holes. Our education system does not lack dollars, it lacks leadership. Keffer is for accountability which seems to be a foreign concept in Austin and D.C.

  27. out of the woods says:


    Agreed, Austin and DC should be more accountable, but vouchers ARE NOT the answer. Their are plenty of other ways to shape up DISD. Vouchers are a republican ploy!

  28. District 107 Citizen says:

    Sometimes it’s good to be a thinking Democrat. That ad is not “quite a reach” Keffer helped to bring the Texas Virtual Academy here, which is an innovative free public education. It helped to bring a lot of children back to public schools, particularly kids with high functioning autism who were being cleansed from the regular ISD’s. I didn’t see one bill from Vaught who touts his education policy helping one kid, his solution seems to be to throw more money at a broken system. It’s time to think about innovative change, not the same old, same old. Oh. and your insurance bill, it hasnt helped one family with autistic children, do your research!

  29. Unworthy Bum says:

    Bill Keffer got hundreds of autistic and special needs kids back in school, in addition to provide many home schooling families with the excellent K12 curriculum through Texas Virtual Academy.

    Allen Vaught supported the status quo and did nothing for the special needs families who approached him for help. Watch the protests at DISD this afternoon from the same groups, teachers unions, who support Vaught. Tell me if they look happy with all the changes Vaught has made to the “neighborhood schools”. Schools are a platform issue for Allen Vaught, but education is clearly a much different animal than the gravy train known as the public school system. Vaught is a protector of the system for groups that feed off of the system.

    No one will look happy at DISD this afternoon. That is Vaught’s legacy. These trailers are Vaught’s legacy:

    Vaught vowed to block special needs children from accessing appropriate education. Vaught didn’t get a single child back into school, despite his vague campaign promises. Who’s the slick one?

    Bill Keffer got kids back into school. Are you opposed to the Texas Virtual Academy? These are facts, not scare tactics and diversions.

  30. Dubious Brother says:

    out of the woods –
    Please specify the “plenty of other ways to shape up DISD”. It has been a disaster for the last 35 plus years and the money grab at the top continues even when under the broken microscope of the DMN. Vouchers are not a Republican ploy but a concept that would give the parents more say in a system that thrives on their lack of choice. Those that could have already voted with their feet and moved. Again, Bill Keffer wants accountability from all school systems that receive tax dollars no matter what side of the Robin Hood equation they are on. That is not a bad thing.

  31. Unworthy Bum says:

    Last session Allen Vaught boasted to the families of special needs children marginalized by the public schools of HD-107 that he was in tight with Dr. Hinojosa and could get our kids into any program we found in any of the schools in HD-107.

    He offered a secret deal to make these families go away rather than risk big PAC money by publically voicing support for legislation that would give parents the ability to do the same thing – transfer within the district and into programs in other districts. In addition, the bill, and I speak of SB-1000, provided state-level redundancy of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that mandates private placement at public expense when the public school is unable or unwilling to provide the child with a free and appropriate public education.

    Check it out:

    To recap:
    Allen Vaught is tight with Hinojosa.

    Allen Vaught tried to cut deals with autism families to avoid exactly what happened – those families switching sides and supporting Keffer, one even going so far as to do a TV ad about her awful experience trying to get help with education from Vaught.

    Allen Vaught is funded by groups that feed off of the current public education system. Can I get a show of hands – who is pleased with the current public education system?

    Allen Vaught, when approached by families whose children were unable to attend public school at all in his beloved system – and let’s be clear, schools is code for the system – turned his back on them, eventually cutting off all communication with special needs families from HD-107.

    You will see all the folks who are happy with Allen Vaught’s changes when you turn on the news tonight and see the protestors in front of the DISD Headquarters on Ross. Google “Allen Vaught autism” or “Allen Vaught special education” and see what you find. This is Allen Vaught’s legacy.

    If you’re ready for more of the same, he’s your man. If you’re ready for Vaught’s east Dallas of the future – a world of poverty and wealth with no middle class familes, he’s your man. If you’re ready to home school your kids or give up your home for the suburbs, Vaught, gain, is your man. If you’re ready to move to Lakewood or the M Streets, pay way too much for a tiny place or snout house, enjoy incredibly high taxes and still know that DISD might screw up and fire the special ed teachers at Stonewall or Lakewood Elementaries, Vaught is your man. Remember, the special ed kids don’t go away when the teachers are fired. They land in your kid’s class.

    Thanks for your support of the public school system (and lack of support for educating the kids in your district). Think I’ll take my chances by voting for absolutely anyone but you.

  32. Cowboy Marxist says:

    This is the last place anyone should be talking about political issues. This blog is for those who like to find out where you can buy the best organic fruits.

  33. Annette Maxberry-Carrara says:

    So what about this new poll that shows that 23 percent of Texans polled believe Obama is a muslim? I have to say I find this really embarrassing but hardly surprising. We must have more Fox News fans here than anywhere but maybe Mississippi.

  34. car hop says:

    Unworthy bum….do you work for Bill Keffer?

  35. Unworthy Bum says:

    No, car hop. But Allen Vaught was supposed to work for me.

  36. James R says:

    For some voters (and bloggers) it’s all about “whatcha going to do for me?” and when you don’t deliver the pork, they hang you out to dry.

    State rep races are about much more than the single issue that is being mentioned here.

    Energy & the environment; Education for all children and public safety are just a few issues that are most important to Texans.

    Look beyond the special interests with axes to grind. Read what the Dallas Morning News said when they endorsed Vaught.

  37. Bill Kweefer says:

    Yeah I fucked her. I needed the vote, she needed the cock.

  38. James R says:

    Puhleaze, a Republican supporting Carol Kent. Bah.