Editorial note: Sophia Arena contributed reporting to this article.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Ben Hall is releasing his fifth –and likely final– television commercial before next Tuesday’s general election. The ad, unlike his some of his previous spots, are about neither issues nor the campaign per se. Rather, the 30 second video features Hall and his wife, Saundra, discussing how they met one another.
“BEN HALL: I met Saundra in church, I was seventeen.
SAUNDRA HALL: He’s wearing orange bell bottoms, white platform shoes, and I nudged my cousin and said, what is that?
BEN HALL: I was the first boy she ever kissed.
SAUNDRA HALL: I was attracted to his intelligence, but I was thinking more like pastor and pastor’s wife.
BEN HALL: April eighteenth, nineteen eighty-one, seven PM. Married thirty-two years.
SAUNDRA HALL: And he’s still never given me a proper honeymoon.”
When I voted last Friday in Houston, I had to cancel the absentee ballot that was sent to be on the account of my sojourning in Boston. I was desperately worried, given the law voting restrictions, that there would be some issue with the casting of my ballot. Fortunately, there was no issue. When my father went to vote, however, that was a different story.
His driver’s license bears his full middle name, whereas his voter registration merely contains the middle initial. Evidently, this creates the risk of voter fraud, but since the names are “substantially similar,” he signed an affidavit confirming his identity and was allowed to cast a ballot. As Burnt Orange Report reminds us, the original bill would have required these individuals to cast provisional ballots, meaning they would be forced to return to the polls to produce a different ID in order for their ballots to be counted.
Annise Parker, after three previous commercials slamming Ben Hall for alleged tax dodging, has release her fourth TV ad today, which incidentally is her first positive commercial. The ad touts Houston’s impressive job record and many of her accomplishments the last 3 1/2 years in office.
“Mayor Annise Parker is building Houston’s future today. Her Hire Houston First policy has helped create more jobs than any city in America. She’s cut millions in waste, and balanced every budget, while putting more police on our streets. More funding for after-school programs, reopening libraries, expanding parks, speeding up street repair and flood protection. Mayor Annise Parker: Making Houston a better place to live and raise a family.”
Contrary to majority opinion, a Mayoral runoff –at least for a nominally liberal individual such as myself– is good. In recent days, we have been hearing the news from the Chronicle and other blogs that Parker has begun to pull away from Hall, and could very well garner over 50% in the November election. Robert Miller recently wrote that Parker has a “better than 50% chance” of winning outright. If you are a Parker fan, as I suspect many readers of this blog are, it would appear to be logical that this is good news. However, one could not be further from the truth.
Democrat voters are lazy. The preceding statement, while often controversial, is extremely true nonetheless. Presidential elections, those with higher turnout, see outcomes significantly more amicable to the Democratic Party in this State. As voter turnout drops into the low single-digits, Republicans become more and more successful in the heavily Democratic city of Houston.
For example, in the 2011 At-large position #5 election, the incumbent Jolanda Jones garnered a full 39% of the vote. Laurie Robinson, a likewise Democrat, earned a further 20% of the vote. According to reasonable inferences, Jones should have crushed her opposition in a runoff with close to 60% of the vote. However, when runoff election day came, Jack Christie defeated Jones with over 54% of the vote, rising over 21-points in the polls in the interim. The rise of 21 percentage points, however, was offset by actually about receiving 5000 fewer votes. This was possible because of a devastating drop in voter turnout. Without the Mayor’s race at the top of the ticket, over 1/3 of the electorate stayed home, allowing candidates severely out-of-touch from the interests of Houstonians to get elected.
Back in August, when CNN covered the Mayoral election, Ben Hall brushed off a question about LGBT issues, saying “Anyone who tries to bring that issue into the campaign, I think, mis-serves the city.” Hall was correct in that position, as he was shortly thereafter when he told the Harris County Democratic Party that he supported a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for LGBT people.
Now all that’s changed.
Note: The opinions expressed by the Texas Progressive Alliance or any other blog are not necessarily those of Texpatriate or its members.
The Texas Progressive Alliance has its Halloween costume ready as it bring you this weeks’ roundup.
The Texas Tribune reports that HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill passed after Wendy Davis’ filibuster, has been ruled partially unconstitutional and had its enforcement fully enjoined. Here is the full opinion of the case, Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, which was released today by Judge Lee Yeakel (a Federal District Judge appointed by George W. Bush). From what I understand, this is a final finding of fact and conclusion of law, meaning that proponents of the law must appeal on the merits rather than simply seek an injunction/writ of mandamus.
The astute will recall that of the four provisions of this law, only two were immediately challenged in Federal Court. Those were the provision requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and the provision requiring inducing drugs to be administered in person, respectively. The former provision was completely struck down as an undue burden on women’s reproductive rights, whereas the latter provision was only struck down in instances where the doctor could deem the “life or health” of the prospective mother would be in jeopardy.
It is no secret that we have been somewhat outward with our recommendations in this municipal election. The tab marked “2013 Election” shows all the recommendations made by both this board and the individual Editorial Board members.
Texpatriate made a conscious decision to write individual editorials for each municipal office, so as to discuss every race in depth. The astute will notice that many of these editorials follow the same template, a rough process of elimination that delineates the strengths and weaknesses of all the major candidates. Most interest groups that field endorsements simply offer up names. While the Houston Chronicle does ascribe their endorsements to a detailed editorial, the format follows a very different path. Very rarely does a Chronicle endorsement go into depth about a candidate other than the endorsee.
This board does things very differently for, what we humbly believe, is a unique reason. While many other organizations that endorse do so with the intention of convincing readers and members to support their picks, we try to stimulate critical reasoning about the election and encourage individuals to make their own decisions. Sometimes they align with our picks, but often times they do not.
Our week in review