Friday, August 27, 2010

Hey Boss, Can I Use You As A Reference?

Not if you are Stefani Carter and you are running for Texas House District 102. The co-founders of Sayles Werbner law firm, where Stefani Carter is employed, endorsed Carter's opponent in the race, incumbent Carol Kent.

After the jump, some conjecture on what it means.

The defensiveness of the Carter camp was swift and sharp. "Everyone knows that they are liberal democrats so it is not a surprise" was the first comment on The Dallas Morning News story. Democrats or not, wouldn't you think that if someone you work with were running for elective office and you felt you couldn't endorse her, you'd just keep a courteous silence instead of publicly endorsing her opponent? So, yes, it is a surprise that Carter's own law firm would publicly come out against her.

And what about Carter's position with that law firm? Another Carter defender says:

"First, I worked with Stefani at Sayles Werbner. She is spectacular. This little story says nothing about her work. Why would it? She's a Harvard-educated lawyer, and she wouldn't be working at the firm if anyone had bad feelings about her. Stefani can work anywhere she wants. Second, everyone at the firm knows Stefani is a TRUE conservative--she is fiscally sound. The firm founders -- love them to death -- are liberal Democrats. For example, they both publicly endorsed Barack Obama and have supported several Democratic candidates in the past."

This defense has curious things going on. First, it drops the name Barack Obama. Paradoxically, Carter simultaneously runs against Obama and seeks to subliminally remind voters of how her biography is in some ways similar to Obama's. She was caught plagiarizing lines from Obama for her own stump speech (see here and here).

Second, this defense reminds voters that Carter is a Harvard Law School graduate. Carter herself highlights her Harvard education on her campaign website. She's obviously more proud of what it says about her intellect than what she fears voters might think about her being a pointy-headed intellectual from that den of liberals, Harvard (like another Harvard Law School graduate, Barack Obama. See how that works?)

Third, this defense says Carter "can work anywhere she wants." But she has chosen to work with some supposedly liberal Democratic trial lawyers. What does that say about her? On her own campaign website, Carter highlights, not her current job, but her stint in the district attorney's office. The website says, "While not necessarily a great way to earn 'the big bucks,' being a prosecutor was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life." Apparently not rewarding enough to keep Carter from leaving and taking a job with trial lawyers. Stefani Carter, trial lawyer. How does that jibe with her carefully managed public image as a "tough-on-crime" conservative? What's Stefani Carter doing working for Sayles Werbner? Maybe the "big bucks" are more important than conservative principle? She doesn't say.

All I know of Stefani Carter is what I've learned during this election campaign. Much of it is from her own words. It's consistent with the nagging feeling that's developing that it's not conservative principles that have motivated her career. More plausibly, it's opportunism and a big dose of ambition.

Hey, I warned you I was going to offer conjecture. Unfortunately, it's all I can manage with the slim evidence available. Carter has no track record to judge her by, no elective office in local government, not even voluntary positions on some city board or commission. She wants to start her public service in the Texas state legislature. Maybe it's not her politics that her bosses at Sayles Werbner question. Maybe they just don't think she's ready for this promotion.

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