Mayoral debate recap

A couples of months ago, Annise Parker demanded that there be only one Mayoral debate, and it be open to all candidates. Because you can’t have a debate without the incumbent, she ultimately got her way. That debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Public Television station, was held last night. In a word, it was a disaster. But that is exactly what Annise Parker wanted, so she was truly the big winner last night, whether the viewers knew it or not.

The debate was two hours long, divided amongst the six candidates who showed up: Parker, Ben Hall, Eric Dick, Keryl Douglas, Don Cook and Michael Fitzsimmons. Yes, THAT Fitzsimmons, the de Blassio style communist. The result was that, factoring in the time it takes for questions and other formalities, each candidate only received a little more than 15 minutes of speaking time. I reckon that none of the candidates, including the Mayor, used the time efficiently or effectively. But again, perhaps that was the Mayor’s strategy.

One by one, I will examine how the candidates performed in reverse-order of their performance. First, Fitzsimmons surprised me by actually showing up. I had a recurring joke with my friends about how many times he would say something like “solidarity” or “revolution,” and, needless to say, we were not disappointed. As an open member of the Socialist Workers Party, Fitzsimmons is about as left wing as they get in Houston. It is clear that his campaign is symbolic in nature, as he dodged direct answers of most of the policy questions, instead focusing on broad themes about “working people” or “capitalism.”

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KHOU releases Mayoral poll

KHOU has released a poll on the Mayoral election, the first of the season. The date of the poll, before the end of September, is earlier than any equivalent municipal poll from 2009.

The results of the poll have yet to be released in longform, Accordingly, I do not have much raw data to analyze along the lines of the racial, demographic or partisan trends of the voters questioned, now how likely they were to vote. The poll surveyed exactly 424, however, and the margin of error was 4.76%.

From the preliminary information, we see that the results go something like this:

Annise Parker 34%
Ben Hall 14%

Eric Dick 2%
Derek Jenkins 1%
Michael Fitzsimmons 1%
Keryl Douglas <1%
Charyl Drab <1%

Don Cook <1%
Victoria Lane <1%
Undecided 48%

For what it is worth, my gut tells me most of the “undecided” voters won’t bother to vote at all. If one were to, say, assume 3/4 of those roughly 204 people stay home, the results are somewhat different:

Annise Parker 53%
Ben Hall 22%
Eric Dick 3%
Derek Jenkins 1%
Michael Fitzsimmons 1%

Keryl Douglas 1%
Charyl Drab <1%
Don Cook <1%
Victoria Lane <1%
Undecided 19%

The Houston Chronicle has significantly more info on this topic, including an interview with Mark Jones at Rice. Both the Parker campaign and the Hall campaign released statements on the polls, wherein both declared victory. Sue Davis, representing Parker, declared:

“As the voters learn more about Mr. Hall, I think his numbers are not going to improve that much. Annise Parker is well-liked by Houstonians and voters believe the city is moving in the right direction under her leadership. We are confident she will beat Mr. Hall handily.”

Julia Smekalina, representing Hall’s campaign, wasted no time in responding to the poll herself. They declared victory, saying in no uncertain terms that the campaign believed that Parker had been harshly repudiated by the voters:

“These numbers show what we hear every day – Ms. Parker’s tenure has been repudiated by the people of Houston and she will not be reelected as the next Mayor. The slim margin that got her elected last cycle has evaporated and it is clear that Houstonians are searching for new leadership to set the city on track.

As Houstonians are beginning to see the vision Ben Hall has set forth, they are rallying behind his ideas for the city’s future. The grassroots momentum that we see supporting Ben’s candidacy is growing and will secure his election as Mayor.”

Unfortunately for Hall’s team, the record does not support this view. While one could certainly make the argument that Parker herself was tepidly received by voters in the poll, her Mayoralty itself received high marks throughout the city. 56% of voters believed “Houston’s economy will get better in the next 2-3 years,” 57% approved of Parker’s job as Mayor and a huge 62% believed Houston is “on the right track.”

One of the things that REALLY stood out to me was Dick’s nonperformance. Even Roy Morales, another notable token Republican candidate in a field full of Democrats trying to attract the conservative vote, received 20% of the vote in 2009. Many of those undecided voters are Republicans still choosing between Hall & Dick. In fact, the tiny insights into the poll’s demographic background showed that more Republicans were undecided than the average, whereas fewer African-Americans were undecided.

I still think Parker’s 20 point lead is much more of an advantage to her than the incredibly high “undecided” rate is to Hall. A runoff is certainly possible, and I think there is a greater-than-50% probability of one at the end of the day, but there is still an absolutely likely scenario that Parker can wrap everything up on November 5th.

Lastly, for what it is worth, if 2009 is any indication, KHOU has a history with some untrustworthy polls. That year, the channel showed Peter Brown with a plurality approximately one week before Election Day, ten points ahead of being disqualified from the runoff. That, of course, did not happen.

Keryl Douglas’ Facebook Adventures

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Keryl Douglas, candidate for Mayor of Houston and former unsuccessful candidate for Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, has made her thoughts on a very pressing issue –the impetus of her campaign– known to a very public audience.

The campaign of Douglas has been running oddly low-key until last evening. Before September 4th, Douglas had made a mere single post since announcing her campaign in early July. Similarly, her Twitter account has remained idle for a comparable length of time. The Douglas campaign’s website is still nothing more than a shell.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I posted a status noting Annise Parker’s endorsement by the Public Employees’ Union on my personal Facebook account. Shortly thereafter, Douglas commented on the past with a statement as follows:

Lets not follow examples of Illinois and Louisiana and elect Houston officials, e.g. Mayor, who’ll soon end up in prison for corruption (check into the past conduct!) Google, research… there was an interesting Houston Press article…

Keryl Douglas, September 4th

A few hours later, Douglas again commented on my profile, this time targeting the Texpatriate article on the same topic I earlier noted. She commented again on my personal profile, after I shared the link to the article from Texpatriate’s article:

I truly believe, with great reason, one of the worst potential outcomes for Houston would be an election of Benjamin Hall III as Mayor.

–Keryl Douglas, September 4th

To this comment, I simply responded with “I would like to know more about your thoughts on the matter. Please, continue…” Douglas then did continue with her longest comments yet:

Did you research his conduct while serving as City Attorney and the real reason for his early exit? The relevant Houston Press article provides great reasons for concern and caution. Google it and consider. If true, what on earth would his conduct be with the power of the office of Mayor at his disposal, and what ruin of Houston might such potentially lead to? We are a great and growing City. Too much potential to risk. BTW, where is the former Mayor of Detroit these days?

–Keryl Douglas, September 4th

The comments that Douglas made on the initial status were somewhat more veiled, but were simple insinuations towards Hall. If it was not abundantly clear enough, Douglas made the unequivocal allegation against Hall in her second round of comments.

In response to the somewhat bizarre references made by Douglas, those popping out are most significantly the throwback to Illinois & Louisiana, two tremendously corrupt States. Further, Douglas specifically refers to the former Mayor of Detroit –Kwame Kilpatrick– who was recently convicted of 24 counts of racketeering, extortion, mail fraud and tax evasion.

The Houston Press article that Douglas mentions on multiple occasions is entitled “Boss Hall,” from 1994 and notes the challenges to Hall’s ethics he faced when departing from the City Attorney’s office. The article was been on the radar of the Parker campaign for awhile now, but has rarely seen any attempt for escalation. From what I understood reading the article, the allegations point to some ethical brushes for Hall, but nothing that is a serious breach of the law–especially one deserving of prison time.

It has been no secret that Douglas bears some disdain towards Hall, but this is the first time she has made these allegations to a public audience in a public forum. The charge of corruption is a very serious allegation to make on Douglas’ part, she needs to have additional proof if she is to continue being taken seriously.

Some candidates run for office so that they may win, some simply to make a point. Some run to help another win, but many run to prevent an incumbent from winning. This may be the first time I have heard of a candidate running for public office in an effort to specifically sabotage the efforts of a fellow challenger candidate.

Horwitz on City Council candidates

The following was a proposed Editorial that failed to receive enough support to be published under the board’s authorship. The author of the rejected Editorial has now elected to share his opinions individually:

With the 83rd Legislature now out of the way, all eyes are upon Municipal politics, specifically the City Council elections. By my count, there are currently 53 candidates for City Hall offices this November. Among these candidates are extremely diverse political ideologies, creating odd coalitions on many different issues. However, at the end of the day, partisan affiliation is still the best indicator of voting patterns and ideology on the ostensibly non-partisan City Council.

There is a Democratic Mayor, a Democratic City Controller, At-large City Councilmembers consisting of 3 Democrats & 2 Republicans and District Councilmembers consisting of 7 Democrats and 4 Republicans. While Houston has had a Democratic Mayor since the 1970s, the partisan makeup of the City Council was not always so simple, and sometimes took on odd shapes of its own. For example, between the 2007 and 2009 elections, all five At-large City Councilmembers were Democrats, while a smaller assortment of District Councilmembers consisted of 5 Republicans & 4 Democrats. This could have been easily attributed to gerrymandered maps, which, in turn, were gerrymandered for the (white) Democrats preceding the 2011 elections.

All this aside, the most perplexing idiosyncrasy of Houston’s municipal politics is the rampant, unyielding and plain troubling disregard for the 11th Commandment: Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Any Fellow Democrat. Instead of uniting against Republicans, the best and brightest tend to just go after each other, sometimes to the detriment of other, more important, contests.

For too long, two Democratic groups in Houston have gone at each others’ necks: African-Americans and White Upper-Class Intelligentsia, dominated by Gays & Lesbians. Both groups have engaged in horribly homophobic and/or racist tactics. Most Democratic-dominated contests in Houston tend to be a contest between groups, whether it be Annise Parker vs. Ben Hall, Lane Lewis vs. Keryl Douglas, Steven Kirkland vs. Elaine Palmer, Kristi Thibaut vs. Andrew Burks, Noel Freeman vs. C.O. Bradford, or old contests between Burks & Lovell or Locke & Parker.

To me, the conflict is most exemplified this year by the race in At-large #2, where incumbent Councilmember Andrew Burks is being challenged by David Robinson, a local architect. While I have had plenty of quarrels with Councilmember Burks in the past, and may very well end up supporting Robinson in November, it pains me to see such a race, not because of what decision Robinson made, but because of what decision Robinson did not make.

Burks has not been a perfect Councilmember, but he is still a nominally liberal Democrat. The at-large section of Houston’s City Council is home to not one, but two, Republicans: Stephen Costello and Jack Christie. While the former, Councilmember Costello, is extremely moderate if not progressive, the latter, Councilmember Christie, is not. Christie served for years on the State Board of Education, you know, that same organization that believes the world is 9000 years old and other such gems as the redaction of controversial, anti-Christian characters like Thomas Jefferson.

Christie is untruthful as well. In preparation of his 2011 campaign, he libeled my friend Neil Aquino of Texas Liberal, incorrectly claiming his endorsement, in a spectacle that was rebuked by the Houston Chronicle. Christie is also well-versed in the Republican tradition of uttering asinine statements, such as that “you don’t die” from influenza, and inoculations should be resisted.

Councilmember Christie, despite this troubling past and frightening tenure on the City Council, is currently running unopposed in November for a second term. This tells me that serious, legitimate candidates like David Robinson were specifically coaxed into challenging fellow Democrats such as Burks rather than Republicans like Christie.

Unfortunately, the trend is not limited to this race. Keryl Douglas, the homophobic attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Lane Lewis’ chairmanship at the Harris County Democratic Party, recently announced she would be running for Mayor, though I have yet to find one concrete piece of her platform. Again, rather than challenge the unopposed Republican on the City Council, Douglas felt it most compelling to challenge the Democratic mayor.

What is it that these Democrats find so offensive about their fellow kind? I do not want to think that, within Democratic politics, that members of the African-American community are homophobic or that members of the GLBT & Friends community is racist, but I fear it may be the case. For the sake of our city, I hope I am wrong.

UPDATE: I added a few filler words to clarify my last statement. I was not attempting to insinuate that the institutions are actively discriminatory or prejudicial, but that action of individual members of the respective communities may be based, in part, by animus.

Mayoral Debate set

Brains & Eggs reports, via a confidential source, that all the Mayoral candidates met in a smoke-filled room and hammered out a tentative deal on Mayoral debates: Just one, including all candidates. In other words, exactly what Mayor Parker wanted. B&E continues, enumerating the conditions of the debate and such:

This past week a meeting was held to negotiate a mayoral candidates’ debate among the seven declared candidates running for Mayor of the City of Houston.  This debate will take place on October 8, 2013, at 7:00 pm.  It is to be sponsored by the Bethel Family Church Empowerment Center.  The debate will take place at Willowridge High School, 16301 Chimney Rock, and Houston media will be invited to cover it.
Candidates and/or campaign staff from seven campaigns were invited to the meeting: Don Cook, Eric Dick, Keryl Douglas, Michael Fitzsimmons, Ben Hall, Victoria Lane, and Annise Parker.  Two candidates (Douglas and Fitzsimmons) were not present and were not represented by any of their staff at the meeting.
Judging from the intensity of the negotiations, it seems unlikely that there will be more than one scheduled debate, at least one that includes all of the candidates.
It was proposed that any subsequent candidates other than the seven already identified should be excluded from debating. In the discussion that followed, most participants seemed to feel that the elimination of any later candidates who were “not viable” or “not serious” because they had not declared early enough or not raised enough money was appropriate.
It was agreed that a drawing would take place ten minutes prior to the event with all candidates present to determine the order of candidates’ initial statements, and opening remarks would be 90 seconds each (in a fifteen-minute window).  Thirty minutes was allotted for the debate itself and a total of ten minutes for candidate closing statements.
I find this a little bit ridiculous. Only 90 minutes of actual debating between seven candidates? That is utterly preposterous and an insult to the intelligence and attention span of the average Houstonian. As I discussed in great detail in my previous writings on the Mayor’s debate position, more than one debate is simply a necessity for a competitive Mayoral election in the nation’s fourth largest city.
It is no secret that Ben Hall is a big proponent of the multiple-debates position, but Eric Dick is as well. The other candidates are too insignificant to make a difference one way or another on the issue. Accordingly, it is obviously the Mayor who is pushing back and forcing a single debate.
The list of multi-debate supporters in the press/blogosphere is somewhat long, though. I’ve long taken that view, and have been joined by the Texpatriate Editorial Board, Texas Leftist, Brains & Eggs, Off the Kuff and the Houston Chronicle (although everyone disagrees about how many candidates to include).
Mayor Parker is obviously not an opulent, aloof, elitist politician laughing at the peasants while riding around in a fancy limo, no matter what Eric Dick would have you believe. But the defamatory comment is still in the back of everyone’s minds, and when the Mayor does something even slightly reminiscent of it, like refuse to debate with her opponents. As Texas Leftist reminded us all, it reeks of a page out of Rick Perry’s playbook.
I’ll have more on this story when the Chronicle picks it up and we can learn more details about it.

Six Debates

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Evidently, the Ben Hall campaign sent out a press release (please see image) this morning challenging Mayor Parker to six –yes, I said SIX– debates between Labor Day and Election Day. The exact text of the announcement goes as follows:

The Honorable Annise Parker
Mayor of Houston
901Bagby Street
Houston, TX 77002

Dear Mayor Parker,

I am writing to propose that you and I share our contrasting ideas and vision for the
future of this great city through a series of debates.

Three debates should be held after Labor Day but prior to the start of early voting
and three additional debates after the start of early voting and before our November
election. Too much is at stake for us not to share our plans for Houston with her
citizens, and I hope you agree promptly to debating six times this fall.

I have instructed my staff to contact your campaign staff to begin discussions on the
details.

Please accept this invitation.

Sincerely,
Ben Hall

I have a few comments on this. First, it makes absolutely no sense to have three debates during Early Voting. That is literally one of the worst ideas I have heard from the Hall campaign this year, and that is saying something. Over half of regular voters cast their ballots before Election Day, so including half of the debates during that time is a bad idea.

Second, and perhaps this is just my own personal preference, but I am disappointed in the no-debates-until-after-Labor-Day suggestion by Hall’s team. I leave for Boston on August 27th, and won’t be back until after the Runoff Election. However, I do tend to recall an August debate in 2009. That splits up the time a little more efficiently.  Cramming six debates into eight weeks reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Finally, the whole thing smells. Not the Texas Senate smell, but you get the point. I recall something similar back in 2008, when John McCain challenged Barack Obama to 10 town hall debates. The debates, of course, never happened, but there was one town-hall style debate between McCain & Obama. As I recall, Obama wiped the floor with McCain in that debate, as the old opponent had nothing memorable to say, with one key exception.

But the main point is that McCain was desperate, and so he blurted out this unrealistic goal of myriad debates, knowing Obama would have no choice but to rebuff his offer. For the record, McCain made the offer in June, not the last day of July. Ben Hall could be employing a similar tactic here.

I am looking forward to the Mayoral debates, though–although I would much prefer three debates: 1 in August, 1 in September and 1 in October. Parker has never been an especially adept speaker or talented debater. Ben Hall, on the other hand, is a somewhat good debater. I supported Gene Locke in 2009, based in large part, to his debate performance. In that election, however, all three candidates were an equal footing when it came to other issues. In 2013, that is simply not the case between Hall and Parker.

One other major point is who will be included within this debate. The 2009 debates included Brown, Locke, Morales and Parker. In that election, only three other candidates existed, and all of them were far fringe. It is arguable that Eric Dick, Keryl Douglas and Don Cook should be included in these debates.

Texas Leftist has more.

State of the Municipal Races

Daily Commentary has a somewhat exhaustive list of municipal candidates, but I felt like I needed to do the due diligence myself. Accordingly, this morning, after I left the Federal Courthouse for the day, I walked across the street to City Hall and visited Anna Russell’s office to see the Campaign Treasurer files for myself. Luckily I got out of both buildings before things went to hell. But you can watch the 6 o’clock news about all that. Anyways, I want to list the candidates and discuss each of the candidates’ financial records.

Mayor
First up, the two new candidates for Mayor. Keryl Douglas, the homophobic, bigoted unsuccessful candidate in last year’s campaign for Harris County Democratic Party Chair, has thrown her hat into the ring.  Douglas’ website is still a shell, containing nothing about the infamous Douglas Plan or her supporters. Like Eric Dick’s entrance into this race, I do not think this is really going to affect Parker’s chances. Douglas is just going to turn votes away from Ben Hall, because none of the Parker’s voters would go for the homophobe. Pardon my tone, but I will be pulling no punches against candidates for Mayor on this issue.

The other new candidate for Mayor is Victoria Lane. I found a telephone number on her from the treasurer form, but no website and no hits from I Googled her name.

The self-proclaimed Green Party candidate, Don Cook. Cook raised a little more than $10k, of which a negligible amount is still on hand. The self-proclaimed Socialist Worker, Michael Fitzsimmons, did not submit a form. I guess private campaign donations are sort of anathema to the glorious proletariat revolution, or what not. The self-proclaimed Republican, Eric Dick, did not file a form delineating his donations. He did, however, have about $11k in expenses. Victoria Lane raised about $4k.

Annise Parker’s campaign, meanwhile, raised a total of $2.2M, and only spent a fraction of that amount. But the real story is Ben Hall’s farce of a campaign. Hall raised a measly $300k or so, going significantly in the red, including a $1.5M loan. This is a far cry from his claims to be raising so much money. Oh well.

Controller
No new candidates for this race. Still a classic one-on-one fight between Green and Frazer. In this race, Green has raised about $70k, with most of it still on hand. Frazer, a Republican CPA, raised about $50k and spent close to 80% of the total.

AL1
Costello is still unopposed, as of now. The Councilmember raised a whopping $156k. Perhaps he has higher ambitions. Speaking of Costello, what the heck is his political affiliation nowadays? Once upon a time, I remember thinking he was a Republican, but between his common alignment with the Mayor and liberal takes on social issues (pro-choice and pro-gay marriage), I do not think the GOP would ever support his candidacy in this State.

AL2
Councilmember Burks has three opponents: David Robinson, Trebor Gordon and Carolyn Evans-Shabazz. Burks, for his part, raised $41K and only spent a fraction of it. Robinson raised over $80k, but, as Dos Centavos points out, he probably has to retire some old campaign debt. Accordingly, he only has about $50k fit for spending. Still more than the incumbent.

Trebor Gordon is not a name I had heard in connection with this race before. He has a website as http://www.treborgordon.com/ and is an avowed Republican. It will be interesting to see what he does. The other name is Carolyn Evans-Shabbaz. A cursory Facebook search reveals a deep dissatisfaction with the Trayvon Martin case and close frienship with Assata-Nicole Richards, both tell-tale signs of a Democrat. Gordon raised about $1500, while Evans-Shabbaz did not submit a return.

AL3
Here comes the mess.

First up is Michael Kubosh, who raised over $100k ($108k, to be exact). Right next to this total is Rogene Calvert, who raised $84k and retained most the cash.

Roland Chavez raised about $27k, and only spent a couple thousand. Chris Carmona is completely destitute. Roy Morales raised $37k and spent $35k of that. This is surprising, and not just because Dos Centavos originally called him broke as well. Morales did not run for anything in 2011 or 2012. That’s like a new record for him or something.

Jenifer Pool, who seemed to have filed late, raised $34k and spent most of the total. Al Edwards, who still in unofficially officially in the AL3, did not file a return.

AL4
Bradford, presumably running for re-election, raised $54k with most of it still in the bank.

AL5
Jack Christie raised a whopping $95k, with over 2/3 still on hand. Even worse, he has not a single opponent. Personally, I think Robinson should run against Christie. Sure, Burks is a little odd and sometimes frustrates progressives, but Christie is legitimately a Conservative Republican who goes on anti-vaccine rants.

Once upon a time, I had heard of quite a few possible candidates for this race, from former State Reps, former City Councilmembers, activists to lawyers. I think I even read my father’s name mentioned for this one. Alas, no one will step up. I’d put my own name on the ballot if push comes to shove, but I feel there will be at least token opposition.

District A
This race really boils down to a third-person race between the incumbent, Helena Brown, the former one-term Councilmember, Brenda Stardig, and Amy Peck.  Ron Hale, Mike Knox and Catarina Cron are the other candidates I have hard from in this race. This is still no Democrat in the race.

Brown raised about $67k, spending a little under half of the total. Stardig, meanwhile, did not report raising any money. Peck  raised a pitiful $4k. In this regard, it looks like the incumbent may not have that hard of a time after all.

Ron Hale picked up $2.5k, while Knox took in a whopping $41k. Cron did not submit a report.

District B
The incumbent, Jerry Davis, will be facing some opposition next year within his own party. For his part, he raised about $53k and spent a negligible amount.

He has two declared opponents: Joe Joseph & Katherine Blueford-Daniels. I can’t really find anything on the former candidate, but Blueford-Daniels does come up with a few searches. She is being supported predominantly by Carol Mims Galloway, the former Councilmember and School Board member in that district and NAACP leader. This, of course, begs the question of how much other support Blueford-Daniels has.

Joseph did not file a return, but Blueford-Daniels did. However, she only raised $5k.

District C
Ellen Cohen could very possibly draw some opponents, including Brian Cweren, her biggest 2011 opponent. However, the only other candidate who has filed a campaign treasurer or campaign report is Pete Sosa. For the life of me, I cannot find a Facebook page or other meaningful internet footprint.

Cohen raised $128k, with most of it still on hand. Sosa did not file any sort of report.

District D
The District D race might actually have more people in it than the AL3 one. Dwight Boykins, who is backed by much of the old guard political establishment including Mayor Brown, raised $150k with over $100k left unspent.

There are a few other well-known candidates, Assata-Nicole Richards and Georgia Provost. The former raised $37k with half on hand, while the latter raised $21k with little on hand.

Onto the new candidates, the first is Kirk White. White has a Facebook page for his campaign, but it doesn’t go into very much detail about anything. I have no idea if he’s a Democrat in the Democratic district, or not. He filed a report of less than $1k in contributions.

Then there is a Keith Caldwell. Caldwell is an activist in the Democratic Party, serving positions at both the Precinct and Senate District Level. He has a website and big social media presence already. His campaign, however, raised a measly $2.75k with full expenses.

Travis McGee, the past Sunnyside Civic Group President, has also been conducting a campaign. He’s raised nearly $5k and spent about all of it.

Not filing reports but registered as candidates anyways are Anthony Robinson, Larry McKinzie and Lana Edwards. Robinson just has a shell of a website. Though his Facebook page is more active and suggests he was involved in the big Trayvon Martin protests yesterday. I guess it is safe to assume he is a Democrat.

McKinzie, who now has a website, previously ran against Adams in 2009. Another Democrat.

Edwards has a little shell thing here, but I can’t figure out much else.

District E
At this point I think Councilmember Martin is just running unopposed. He has raised $53k with $23k on hand.

District F
Likewise, Councilmember Hoang has yet to draw any opposition. He raised just $13k with just $11k on hand.

District G
Councilmember Pennington is not unopposed, however. Pennington raised a very impressive $189k for his campaign, so it will probably not be a credible threat.

I had been wondering if Clyde Bryan would make another run for his seat, again with the bandit signs and such. He is not, Bryan will be working on Dick’s campaign. But a candidate named Brian Taef is running. I could not find any trace of him on Google, but Taef did file a campaign report. He raised $150, for the record.

District H
At this point, it looks like Ed Gonzalez will be unopposed for yet another term. He raised close to $80k with most of it still on hand.

District I
We start things off with the pseudo-favorite, Graci Garces, Councilmember Rodriguez’s Chief of Staff. Garces raised about $19k with most of it still on hand. Her main competitor, Ben Mendez, raised a huge $94k.

Robert Gallegos, yet another Democrat in the race, got about $17k. The lone Republican, Leticia Ablaza, got $27k with about $16k on hand still.

As Dos Centavos points out, until March Garces, and Gallegos were competing with the SD06 race for donors. Accordingly, their numbers may have been retarded in comparison with the Republican candidate. Although that does not explain Mendez.

District J
Councilmember Laster, with $66k in donations and $81 on hand, is unopposed.

District K
Councilmember Green, with $93k raised and most still on hand, is likewise unopposed.

That’s all, folks. Off the KuffDos Centavos and Greg’s Opinion all have a lot more. They’ve been doing this stuff since before my Bar Mitzvah, so I highly suggesting consulting their work too.

Texpatriate Person of the Year, 2012–Lane Lewis

2012 was not a good year for Democrats in Harris County. However, it was not the horrible butchery many were expecting for the Democrats, and it was not a repeat of the debacle of 2010. We here at Texpatriate believe that, more than anyone else, Lane Lewis has been the embodiment of this Democratic resilience.

When the year began, people had been predicting another horrible shellacking at the ballot box for the Democratic Party. Lane Lewis, the (at that time interim) was facing an uphill challenge for his office from Keryl Burgess Douglas, a prominent attorney. I don’t know if the LGBT political community is allegedly racist, or if the African-American political community is allegedly homophobic, but the two political communities always seem to have to run against each other. In May 2012, the two high profile elections were Lewis vs. Douglas, and the Elaine Palmer/Steven Kirkland contest. In a split result, Palmer and Lewis won. However, stakes looked pretty bleak for the Democrats. They even managed to nominate a sketchy, Republican loser as the Democratic Party’s candidate for District Attorney.

Then came the election. The Democrats retained a majority of the Judgeships up for election, including 2/3 of the incumbent Democratic judges. They retained the County Attorney and Sheriff. Additionally, the Democrats also picked up a few seats on the County Board of Education, now commanding a majority. We must admit that we were very pleasantly surprised by the results, and were considering at first giving the award to the “Harris County Democrat.” However, we soon realized that the Chairman of the Party is a better recipient (I do not like abstract awards).

Some would argue that Helena Brown had a more individual impact upon City affairs, but I do believe that the Chairman has certainly had the most insightful, long-lasting impact.