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Congratulations are in order for Hector Nieto, the tireless, effective communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, who today was named the Chief of Staff for State Senator-Elect Wendy Davis out of Tarrant County, pictured at right. "This was going to be a good opportunity for me," says Nieto. "Senator-Elect Davis was an outstanding candidate, and I'm confident she's going to be an excellent senator."
In the November elections, Davis, a former Fort Worth City Council member, authored one of the biggest upsets in the state when she upended Kim Brimer, one of the most entrenched Republicans in Austin. Davis ran a smart, if savage, campaign painting her cigar-chomping opponent as unethical, out-of-touch, and in bed with the insurance interests who bankroll his campaign. For his part, Nieto recognized early on that Davis had a decent chance at victory. In conversations with him in August, when Brimer appeared unbeatable, I remember Nieto singling out Davis as a formidable candidate.
Nieto also made the drive from Austin to Dallas when Brimer took Davis to court in a futile attempt to throw her off the ballot. The Dallas Court of Appeals ruled against Brimer, and with Nieto and Davis at the scene, they gave reporters plenty of triumphant quotes for their stories. It was just one of several occasions when a Brimer ploy backfired because the Davis camp knew exactly what to do next.
Meanwhile, the Texas Dems are going to miss Nieto. Unlike Hans Klinger, his Republican counterpart, Nieto was accessible even when the story wasn't good. He was honest, knowledgeable and disciplined too. At least with me. I know I couldn't get him off the record. But I'm no Paul Burka. --Matt Pulle