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Escape to the hills Great cabins on the beautiful Frio River Seven Bluff Cabins On River Road in Concan, TX 1.800.360.5260 SPECIAL OFFER for Observer subscribers! Slay 2 nights and get the 3rd night free. Good through Feb. 28 hears people say, “If Pete Laney says you’re alright, I trust you.” Candidates need more than endorsements to win. They need money, too. And the Republican has it. Landtroop, according to recent campaign finance reports, collected $20,000 from Houston home builder and tort-reform crusader Bob Perry. Additionally, he accepted a $15,000 contribution from Texans for Lawsuit Reform. The same group donated more in the form of a $12,815 in-kind contribution for radio advertisements, and $9,615 in in-kind contributions for consulting services. Being a Democrat and a lawyer, Heflin should be able to count on significant money from trial lawyers, but so far it has yet to appear. He says he remains confident that traditional Democratic funders will come through in the end. GOP IN THE CROSSHAIRS Republican moderates in swing statehouse districts are looking over their shoulders in Texas this year. Democrats are optimistic about their chances against two Dallas-Fort Worth Republicans with a combined 32 years of experience in the Legislature. Representatives Toby Goodman of Arlington and Tony Goolsby of Dallas have both attracted strong opponents. Democrat Paula Hightower Pierson, a former Arlington city councilwoman, is taking on Goodman, and Harriet Miller is challenging Goolsby. Goodman would be vulnerable to any serious candidate given his narrow victories in 2002 and 2004, when he received 55 percent of the vote over a Democrat who didn’t run a real campaign. Pierson is a well-known Arlington community leader with eight years of experience as a councilwoman. The district is trending Democratic. Goolsby, like Goodman, is running as a lawmaker with friends in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. But the Texas House as controlled by Speaker Tom Craddick is a lonely place for a GOP moderate. In recent sessions, the Republican leadership has pursued a radical agenda without compromise. And in an election cycle where Democrats are energized and Republicans are fighting off scandal, the partisanship these two legislators have tried to bridge, usually ineffectually, grows more pronounced. Miller has run, and lost, to Goolsby before. Two years ago, she earned 47 percent of the vote on a shoestring budget of $80,000. This time, she’s more seasoned and is a stronger campaigner. She’s also raising a lot more money. She says she is expecting to rake in $350,000. That should be enough to make up 3 percentage points, she believes. Goolsby, who had about three times as much money as Miller at the end of July, says Miller’s extra cash won’t make the difference. “You don’t buy elections,” he says. “You impress people with what you do.” And in Craddick’s House that hasn’t amounted to much. HE’S BACK El Paso Sheriff Leo Samaniego is at it again. After a public outcryand a lawsuit by an indigent citizenSamaniego halted six months of controversial roadblocks in June. By then deputies had detained 860 undocumented persons and turned them over to the Border Patrol, sending fear through communities where residents are a mix of U.S. citizens, legal residents, and undocumented relatives. On October 10, Samaniego announced he plans to restart the checkpoints. Samaniego was unrepentant during the halt, despite claims that he was enforcing federal immigration law \(not and jeopardizing public safety because local residents are wary now of contacting authorities about any crime, including domestic abuse, for fear of being asked for papers. Samaniego denied the assertions. Around the time of the announcement, Samaniego, a Democrat defenestrated in April by the local party for supporting Republicans, began to appear in a TV campaign ad striding alongside Republican Texas Senate candidate Dee Margo. Margo’s Democratic opponent, 10-year incumbent state Sen. the roadblocks earlier this year and urged Gov. Rick Perry to set guidelines to prevent further abuse of Operation Linebacker, the governor’s $10 million program for border sheriff’s departments. “This is a public safety issue, not an immigration issue” and has “nothing to do” with Linebacker, said Samaniego about the resumption of stops. Rights watchdogs say they will keep a sharp eye on the sheriff, while taking a waitand-see attitude. Traffic stops are legal; what’s out of bounds is using them as subterfuge for immigrationlaw enforcement. Carl Starr, 49, the man who sued Samaniego, will be one of the sharpest eyes of all. He lives on a remote patch of unimproved land east of El Paso. When a deputy stopped a bus Starr was riding last spring and removed six persons, the disabled part-time law student got off, too, and asked if the deputy was with Linebacker, to which he answered “yes,” according to the civil complaint Starr filed against the department. “I thought, ‘My goodness, this is a public bus, I have standing, my Fourth Amendment rights have been violated,” Starr said. In a July settlement, the sheriff agreed to train officers in civil immigration law-what they can and cannot doand awarded Starr $500 in damages. “If I hear he has broken the contract, I can go back into court,” Starr said. NOVEMBER 3, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5