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LeVar Burton, Formerly of Star Trek, Just Waded into a Texas House Race

Insert clever Star Trek reference here.
Insert clever Star Trek reference here.

Chart Westcott's campaign to replace Dan Branch as Highland Park's representative in the Texas House is barely two months old, but he already boasts a ridiculously impressive donor list. Billionaire Harold Simmons and his wife have each chipped in $25,000, as has former Cowboy Troy Aikman. Tom Hicks and Jerry Jones were slightly less generous, giving $20,000 and $5,000 respectively. The Hunt and Crow families each make a cameo.

All told, he netted a more-than-respectable $736,559.75 in 45 days. Not bad for a 28-year-old taking his first shot at political office.

Westcott does have certain built-in advantages. A not insignificant chunk of the campaign cash, about $63,000, came from his family and their company, Westcott, LLC. And his parents, Jimmy and Carl Westcott, have extensive connections in the Park Cities, which goes some way toward explaining his fundraising prowess.

But look closely at Westcott's campaign filings, and you'll notice a name that doesn't belong: actor and director LeVar Burton, who chipped in $250.

Burton lives in Thousand Oaks, California, 1,500 miles west of the Park Cities money pot. I wondered briefly if Burton's pleasantly reedy voice had been secretly (and futilely) planting the seeds of conservatism in my impressionable young brain during marathon Reading Rainbow sessions while dolloping cash on Republicans in random state legislative races.

Not the case. A brief search of campaign finance records turned up no other contributions in either California or Texas. Barack Obama is the only candidate who's earned his financial support in a federal race, first in his 2004 Senate bid, then four years later when he ran for president. The other explanation that came to mind -- that Burton is a big fan of the name "Chart" -- seemed unlikely.

Turns out, Burton is a family friend. "Believe it or not my brother ... was on an episode of Reading Rainbow back in the day," Westcott tells Unfair Park. "I think we still have the tape laying around somewhere."

And with that, Westcott just locked up the all-important Reading Rainbow voting block. This election is over.

(h/t Park Cities People)


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