At long last, the Democrats have candidates for both the United States Senate and Lieutenant Governor. Unfortunately, they are not the ideal selections (the “A” team, so to speak) the Democrats were hoping for. Simply put, absent a miracle, the Democrats have surrendered the capacity to run competitive races for 2014 offices. Not win, but run competitively.
For those readers of this blog who are not also Facebook friends with me, one may not know that I am in Houston this weekend. Among other reasons, I wanted to do a little bit of campaigning for my father (James Horwitz) as well as attend the Johnson-Richards-Rayburn dinner.
I have seen a variety of familiar faces at the early voting locations, including (but not limited to) Roland Chavez, Eric Dick, Michael Kubosh and Assata Richards. Also, as I was walking out of the polling place yesterday (after voting), I literally walked into Ted Cruz. But that is another story for another day.
When I got home today, I found some campaign literature by the front door (most of which, my dogs did not eat/destroy). Among these were fairly unexciting mailers from the “Save the Dome” people and the Ronald Green campaign. The “Texas Conservative Review” came in the mail as well. Again, somewhat unexciting. The only surprise was the endorsement of Ben Hall for Mayor, and that is simply because of the sheer ubiquity of Eric Dick advertisements throughout the booklet.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Denise Pratt, a family District Court judge, has been accused of falsifying records and issuing illegally retroactive rulings.
Pratt, a Republican first elected in 2010, is currently running for re-election in 2014 to the bench of the 311st District Court. Anthony Magdaleno is currently running against her in the Republican primary. I am unaware of any Democratic candidates, though I must admit I have not been keeping up with these elections recently.
The alleged impropriety is a serious offense that, if confirmed, could lead to her removal form office. The Chronicle article notes two individuals with pending cases in her court, where the Judge would issue opinions in May, for example, with the decision timestamped as the previous January. As they note:
“Marcia Zimmerman, a 30-year veteran family lawyer based in Clear Lake, said she resorted to filing a motion after waiting for months on a ruling from Pratt. When the ruling finally came in, she was surprised to see the date listed was months before she had filed her motion.
‘I don’t think any of us believed the ruling was actually made before the petition for writ of mandamus because, why would she rule and not tell anybody?’ Zimmerman said, noting that Pratt also missed two scheduled hearings.
Family lawyer Robert Clark said he had a similar experience, arguing a case in January and then waiting five months for a ruling from Pratt that the official court record now says was issued on Jan. 30, the day before the two-day trial actually ended.”
Throughout this campaign season, I have been asking for Ben Hall to bring up some concise issues, and explain how he is specifically different form the Mayor on those issues. Over the past two days, for the first time, I have seen Dr Hall’s campaign do this.
First, Hall’s campaign sent me a press release on the topic of animal control in the City. Writing for the campaign, Hall’s press secretary noted three important facts. First, Annise Parker was an unapologetic supporter of making BARC (the pound) a no-kill shelter when she first ran for Mayor. Second, “save-rates” (that is, how many animals are not euthanized by the pound) have actually declined during Parker’s tenure in office. Instead of moving towards being a no-kill city, the Parker administration has actually moved away from that goal. Third, Ben Hall announced his support for making Houston a no-kill city.
In fact, at Wednesday’s press conference, Hall announced the support of “No Kill Texas Advocates,” an organization dedicated to pursuing this goal. Hall’s proposed solution to the problem, however, is somewhat divergent from other traditional no-kill advocates. Hall wished to implement increased privatization of the animal shelters. While it is a novel idea, I fail to understand why or how this would really solve the problem.
The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports that Joel Burns, a reputed member of the Forth Worth City Council, will not run in next year’s Democratic primary for Senate District 10. The district, currently held by Wendy Davis, will be open next year on account of the fact that Davis is running for governor. Burns was Davis’ successor on the City Council, and is a talented Democrat himself.
Back in 2010, well before anyone around the country had heard of Wendy Davis, Councilman Burns became a well-renowned in his own right. Burns, who is openly gay, delivered a tearful speech on the topic of bullying against LGBT children, drawing upon his own experiences. The speech made Burns a celebrity in the movement overnight, and it got international press. Since that time, Burns has been a major liberal in the Fort Worth area, long assumed to be aspiring towards higher office.
My friend Charles Kuffner first suggested to me the provisional candidacy of Burns if Davis, in fact, decided to run for the post, though I am sure Fort Worth insiders beat him to the point. In the three months since he made that posts, just about everyone in politics has assumed Burns would run. They were wrong.
Recently, both the Houston Chronicle and KRIV (Fox) alleged that Ben Hall would not air any more television commercials before the November election. Today, just as Annise Parker’s campaign unveiled yet another attack ad, Hall proved everyone wrong. Though, to be fair, I don’t live in the Houston media market, so I have not actually seen the commercial on a television screen yet.
Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle notes the two ads, which were both released earlier today. represent the different paths that the candidates are taking. Just this morning, Morris published a front-page article in the Chronicle noting the nearly-universally negative campaign Parker has been waging on the airwaves. The article alleges that, throughout the past few months, Parker’s de facto campaign motto has become “my opponent is awful, don’t vote for him.”
Most political analysts agree that this strategy will be minimally detrimental to Parker, as she has been able to blanket the airways in comparison to her opponents. With Hall being conspicuously absent from television recently, Parker has been able to define him. Further, the attacks Parker has been pounding Hall (the tax issue) are, by and large, very true. This allows the campaign to be very direct and concise in their attacks. Hall’s team, meanwhile, has been forced to adopt a much more convoluted strategy, as the bad press against Parker is much more coated in hearsay and innuendo.
From my column, Civil Affairs, at The Justice. For astute readers of this blog, I apologize for the somewhat duplicate statements on the issue. Last week, I specifically wrote about the Texas implications of the deal. Being that my recent opinion article is in a Massachusetts newspaper, the same (sadly) could not be said again. Still, I invite you to read the article.
This past Wednesday, the leaders of the United States Senate came up with a deal to end the government shutdown that had been going on since the start of the month and to avert a government default on outstanding debt that could have occurred the next day. The deal, which solved a problem Republicans exclusively created, kicked the problem down the road until early next year, but did so without any preconditions, such as repealing part of Obamacare or implementing massive spending cuts or entitlement reforms. The measure passed by huge bipartisan margins in the Senate, before heading to the House of Representative, where it passed with mainly Democratic votes.
Accordingly, looking at the crisis post- mortem, the pundits in the media have attempted to lay blame for the 16 days the government shutdown, which caused an estimated $24 billion in lost output to the economy.
Simply put, there have been some entrances and some exits in recent Statewide Republican primaries. Namely, in the races for the positions of Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner.
Brandon Creighton, a State Representative from Magnolia who took his sweet time to announce his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, is out of the race. As far as I could figure, Creighton was the hands-down favorite in the race thus far, and his exit opened up a vacuum. Politics, of course, abhors a vacuum, and therefore a small stampede of candidates rushed into the primary, which now lacks a clear frontrunner. I never got around to writing about this last week, but Sophia discussed it in the week in review this past Sunday.
Now, the Texas Tribune reports that State Representative Stefani Carter, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner, has dropped out of the race. Carter, in stark contrast to Creighton, was not doing especially well in the race. Malachi Boyuls, George P. Bush’s business partner, has by far the most money in that race, and thus was crowned as the frontrunner by the Tribune. Carter, therefore, most likely felt her candidacy was not worthwhile.
I’ve now spent three summers walking around the Courthouses, and I like to think the insight has given me a special perspective on the decline & fall of a political party’s empire. Since the vast majority of partisan officeholders in Texas are actually jurists, it is imperative to note what is affecting the judicial institution’s elections.
Before the 1994 landslide elections –which saw total control of Harris County, among others, shift to the Republican Party– there were a plethora of opportunist Democratic judges who changed partisan label. For the first time in a very long time, we are now seeing the opposite to be true.
Judge Carlos Key, a Republican who is a County Court at Law Judge in Bexar County, today announced his transition into the Democratic Party to run for re-election. The San Antonio Express-News has the full story, including a rebuttal from House Speaker Joe Straus, who conflated the announcement with is opposition to the partisan election of judges.
The Texas Tribune reports that the long-awaited trial over HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion legislation, had begun. The lawsuit, which was filed last month by Planned Parenthood & friends, is being heard in the Austin division of US District Court for the Western District of Texas. Specifically, the suit is being heard by Judge Lee Yeakel, a Bush appointee who most famously blocked a bill in 2011 to defund Planned Parenthood.
The astute will remember that this bill, the same one Wendy Davis so famously filibustered for nearly 13 hours, is comprised of four distinct parts. First, the bill bans elective abortions after 20 weeks. Despite being referred to as the flagship component of the bill, this segment is actually somewhat non-controversial and was not challenged in the lawsuit. Further, the most far reaching provision, that clinics adhere to the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, will not go into effect for about another year. Accordingly, it will not be challenged as well.
Instead, the remaining two provisions are being challenged. These are a requirement for abortion doctors to have admitting rights at a nearby hospital and the requirement for the inducing drug (a pill) to be administered by the doctor her or himself, respectively.