SORRY TO UPSET YOU, DEE

State Sen. Dee Travis has made it official – he is running for Texas’ 5th U.S. Congressional District seat. No surprise; he seems to have spent more than $43,000 of our state tax funds mailing us newsletters and other literature that would help him win May’s Republican primary. (“Travis Takes Our Money and Runs,” October.)

Travis has issued a press release saying that he mailed his two newsletters only to inform his constituents. Maybe.

But Travis was curiously silent on the other interesting aspect of his state-funded mailings: his purchase of what appears to be a list of Republican primary voters from a political consulting firm called Campaign Systems Inc. Travis insisted that the computerized list contained the names and mailing addresses of “interested voters,” and had nothing to do with party politics.

But Campaign Systems specializes in selling lists of voters in party primaries – the very thing Travis would need to get on the good side of Republican voters before the Congressional primary. Its computers can tell how “interested” a voter is only by the number of times that voter has cast a ballot in different types of elections.

Party precinct chairmen serve as election judges and vote in everything, so they would look exactly alike to the computers except for one thing: the party primaries in which they voted.

D called 32 precinct chairmen and asked how often they received letters from Sen. Travis. All 12 Republicans said they heard from Travis frequently, receiving newsletters as well as typed or photocopied letters. Several recalled getting the two items that Travis said he sent with the Campaign Systems names. None of the 20 Democrats recalled getting more than a newsletter or two.

The Senator seems to be more interested in staying in touch with his Republican constituents than their Democratic neighbors.

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