What’s going on in Galveston?

A few months ago, I was surfing YouTube, watching a plethora of random videos. One of the advertisements that popped up before the videos was a political insurgency campaign of some sorts by someone named “Don Tequila.” The video, which was set to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” played a montage of newspaper headlines outlining the many controversies a Galveston County Court at Law Judge, Christopher Dupuy, had found himself in since taking office in early 2011.

The case involving Judge Dupuy has officially blown up in the last week (I have been putting off writing this because it is still a breaking story). He has been accused of countless felonies, including abuse of power and official oppression.

An exhaustive summary of all of the controversies Dupuy has been involved in in the past roughly two years would be too onerous to detail at this time. Rather, there are three distinct issues currently affecting the Galveston Judge.

First, Dupuy was recently indicted and suspended without pay for eight crimes. These included corruption, oppression, abuse of power and retaliation. After the original arrest and indictment, Dupuy simply showed up for work like nothing had happened. It was only at that time that Dupuy was ordered by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct into official unpaid suspension.

Second, Dupuy has been historically quite erratic and possibly dangerous. A Chron article from February describes Susan Criss, another Galveston judge, fearing for her safety and the safety of her staff after frightening encounters with Dupuy. Judge Criss also claimed that Dupuy had posted inflammatory comments on his personal Facebook page, insinuating that he was carrying handguns “in a zipped pocket in his jacket” to the courthouse regularly.

Lastly, Dupuy has been involved in extensive family drama. During a recent court hearing of which Dupuy was a party to, rather than presiding over, Dupuy was alleged told his then-girlfriend that he was planning on killing his ex-wife and kidnapping his children and bringing them out of the country. FOX26 reports that this girlfriend, Tara Compton, plead the fifth when taking the stand, out of fear for her life. “I’m afraid something bad will come of this. I don’t want to end up having a bad accident after all of this. I fear what could happen to me,” the woman said. Dupuy also allegedly mailed a picture of a gun with a silencer on it to his ex-wife.

This guy is nuts. He was noted a few times to start laughing during court proceedings “when there did not appear to be anything humorous happening.” I had heard stories over the years of an absolutely psychotic lawyer my father once faced off against, but didn’t realize it was Dupuy until somewhat recently. I hope he can get kicked out of office sooner, rather than later, so that Galveston can reclaim some of their dignity.

Eiland
Speaking of Galveston, there is another newstory going on. Craig Eiland, the Galveston Democratic State Rep and former Speaker Pro Tem, will not be seeking re-election in 2014. He fought hard to win in both 2010 and 2012, so this is going to be a hard seat for the Democrats to keep. According to the Trib article on the topic, Eiland prophesied not about the importance of purple, but of brown–and obvious reference to the changing demographics.

I haven’t heard of anyone running for this seat, but it is going to be a messy race. Personally, I think this is a lost cause for the Democrats. Dems aren’t going to win this seat fighting over rural white districts. Let them go, keep your eye on the real prize: the cities and the south. Off the Kuff has more on Eiland.

Miscellaneous legislative updates

Some other things happening around the legislature.

Beer
I don’t remember covering this earlier, but here it goes. Anyways, a pair of bills that recently passed the Senate unanimously which would make things a lot easier for craft beer brewers, is continuing to advance. The Chron reported on tuesday that the House Licensing Committee voted, once again, unanimously to advance this bill. The only remaining obstacle would be to hold a vote before the full House.

As the Chronicle states, “In what would be among the biggest changes to the state’s beer laws in 20 years, the legislation would allow breweries to sell a limited amount of beer in their own taprooms for consumption on site. Another major provision would allow brewpubs to package beer for sale in groceries and other off-site outlets.” Off the Kuff has more.

SNAP
The Trib is reporting that Senator Lucio’s SB 379, which would require schools to offer free breakfasts if 80%+ of their students qualified for free lunches, passed the Senate 27-4. The four opponents were Troy Fraser (Burnet County), Jane Nelson (Denton County), Robert Nichols (Jacksonville County) and, last but not least, my Senator, Joan Huffman (Harris County). All opponents were Republicans.

According to the Tribune article, the bill is “cost-neutral and potentially profitable,” I’m guessing, because it’s the Feds and not the State that pays for free school lunches (SNAP). Accordingly, I don’t quite understand why even the Tea Party would oppose this. If the Democrats aren’t too freaking lazy to run a candidate against Huffman in 2014 (like they were in 2012), this is the stuff they should be talking about in their commercials.

Romeo & Romeo
The Dallas Voice reports that HB 2403, Mary Gonzalez’s House equivalent of Sen. Whitmire’s bill to expand the “Romeo+Juliet exception” to both Romeo & Romeo and Juliet & Juliet, has passed the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee 5-3. No idea on the roll call as of now. This means that the legislation has passed committee in both Houses of the Legislature. I can trust Whitmire to force the thing through the Senate, but am less optimistic about the chances in the full House. Time will tell, I suppose.

Tax Office update

I met with a plethora of public officials this past week, both in Houston and Austin. Mainly Democratic officials, though. The one exception, however, was this past afternoon, when I had the pleasure of meeting with Mike Sullivan, the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. Sullivan has always been extraordinarily non-controversial in comparison to many other Harris County Republicans. I endorsed Sullivan last year, and was happy that he won.

Sullivan talked to me about a variety of subject relating to his office, but two topics stood out. First, he told me that his office is working on allowing the use of credit cards for transactions at the Tax Assessor’s office. It actually took me by surprise that it wasn’t already like that–you can use plastic at the District/County Clerk and for most City transactions. Allowing the use of credit cards for such an operation, that is, in a place where the rubber really meet the road on Government (taxes and titles), is a good no-nonsense first step that reminded me of Mayor White synchronizing the lights downtown.

Second, Sullivan went to lengths talking to me about making the Voting Registrar segment of his office more accessible to the public. This was done by some symbolic gestures (such as opening the blinds on the office’s windows), as well as more concrete steps (making it easier to find out how to register and stopping the dead-but-not-dead voter purges). The way I see it, the Voting Registrar’s office (if it has to be an elected office), should be quite visible to the community. Sullivan is making good inroads to do that.

The beauty of a County or City office, be it even the partisan ones, is that the issues are very local. Far too many Democrats in local offices lost in 2010 because they were wrongly connected with all of Obama’s policies. That was wrong, and it would be wrong to write-off all local Republicans because of the bad apples in the Tea Party. I would have a little reluctance to Sullivan’s candidacy to the State Legislature or Congress, as we disagree on some more national issues (gun control, for one), but as long as he is managing the Tax and Voter departments, I have no disagreements.

But, anyways, back to Boston tomorrow.

White leads possible challengers against Cornyn

Public Policy Polling, the Democratic-aligned polling firm that has been notoriously accurate recently, has put out a new report on the state of the 2014 Senate election in Texas. Senator John Cornyn leads his four hypothetical opponents: Julian Castro, Wendy Davis, Annise Parker, and Bill White by good margins. The poll showed that Cornyn is not popular nor unpopular, but still relatively unknown, although Texas is still a solidly Republican state. I’m going to break down the results below.

Obama approval rating–47% (approve) to 51% (disapprove)
Cornyn approval rating–34% (approve) to 30% (disapprove)
Castro approval rating–29% (approve) to 24% (disapprove)
Davis approval rating–15% (approve) to 19% (disapprove)
Parker approval rating–16% (approve) to 17% (disapprove)
White approval rating–34% (approve) to 24% (disapprove)
NRA approval rating–46% (approve) to 40% (disapprove)
Obama impeachment approval–39% (pro-impeach) to 50% (anti-impeach)
Obama or NRA: trust in re guns–43% (Obama) to 47% (NRA)
Banning assault weapons–49% (support) to 41% (oppose)
Police officers in schools–47% (support) to 39% (oppose)
Arming teachers–31% (support) to 56% (oppose)

Cornyn vs. Castro–48% (Cornyn) to 41% (Castro)
Cornyn vs. Davis–48% (Cornyn) to 37% (Davis)
Cornyn vs. Parker–47% (Cornyn) to 36% (Parker)
Cornyn vs. White–45% (Cornyn) to 42% (White)

How it is possible that a majority of Texans support the President’s gun control measures, yet almost 40% support his impeachment (for what?), I will never know. Otherwise, it seems the President’s approval ratings have seen a bounce in Texas for his second inauguration.

I have a few comments about this poll. First, it seems sad that, in all likelihood, none of the Democrats mentioned will run. Second, 2014 is still a LONG ways out, and I seem to recall 2009 polls once upon a time that said Rick Perry was dead in the water. But that’s a whole other story. Third, this poll didn’t seem to measure what I am truly curious about: the GOP primary for the seat (because, in all honesty, that is the only possible way the seat would change hands next year).

Castro has already disavowed any 2014 plans, plain and simple. Davis will be doing something else next year: running for re-election. Parker, as I discussed a million years ago, would most likely not bother with a Statewide, and it is, in my opinion, far more feasible for her to run for Congress. White has been hiding under a cave or something for the last three years, so he is sort of a non-starter in the discussion.

Also, these things are a ways off, and thus, through no fault of the polling house, are unreliable. I recall a 2011 PPP poll which had Cruz trailing, and a June 2010 PPP poll had White & Perry tied. Twenty-two months is an eternity in politics, so a lot will change.

Finally, I was disappointed by how the Republican primary was not discussed. Just as how Cruz came out of nowhere to snatch up a nomination that was, in the eyes of the establishment, Dewhurst’s for the taking, I would not be surprised if a Tea Party like challenged Cornyn in the spring next year. Personally, I’d love to see John Cornyn have to battle someone as reality impaired in a primary as Steve Stockman, but he would make Senator Cruz look sane if he won.

Bottom line, the Democrats need to find a candidate for the Senate. I nominate Tommy Lee Jones. Seriously.

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.

Musings on the election

First up, Congrats to President Obama! Four more years! The President won Harris County by a few hundreds votes. Democrats expand their majority in the Senate to 55 and lessen the Republican majority in the House. All fantastic news.

Statewides
Republicans keep the Railroad Commission and the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals–no surprise there. However, Keith Hampton got clobbered, which is upsetting.

Courts of Appeals
1st and 14th stay all Republican, which is not surprising.

State Senate
Wendy Davis got re-elected. The composition stays at 19-12. Mario Gallegos re-elected posthumously, which means we will see a special election.

State House
Democrats pick up six or seven seats. Composition is at 95-55. Ann Johnson was defeated, again disappointing.

County Judges
11th–Mike Miller (D) re-elected.
61st–Al Bennett (D) re-elected.
80th–Larry Weiman (D) re-elected.
125th–Kyle Carter (D) re-elected.
127th–R.K. Sandhill (D) re-elected.
129th–Michael Gomez (D) re-elected.
133rd–Jaclanel McFarland (D) re-elected.
151st–Mike Engelhart (D) re-elected.
152nd–Robert Schaffer (D) re-elected.
164th–Alexandra Smoots-Hogan (D) re-elected.
165th–Josephina Rendon (D) defeated by Elizabeth Ray (R).
174th–Ruben Guerrero (D) re-elected.
176th–Shawna Reagin (D) defeated by Stacey Bond (R).
177th–Ryan Patrick (R) re-elected.
178th–David Mendoza (D) re-elected.
179th–Randy Roll (D) defeated by Kristin Guiney (R).
215th–Elaine Palmer (D) elected. Damn.
333rd–Tad Halbach (R) re-elected.
334th–Ken Wise (R) re-elected.
337th–Herb Richie (D) defeated by Renee Magee (R). Again, damn.
338th–Hazel Jones (D) defeated by Brock Thomas (R).
339th–Maria Jackson (D) re-elected.
351st–Mark Ellis (R) re-elected.
County Court 1–Debra Mayfield (R) re-elected.
County Court 2–Theresa Chang (R) re-elected.

Of the nineteen Democratic Judges: 14 win re-election and 5 lose.
Of the six Republican Judges: 6 win re-election.
Final Tally: 14 Demorats, 11 Republicans.

County Officials
DA–Mike Anderson (R) wins. No surprise.
Sheriff–Adrian Garcia (D) re-elected. Again, no surprise.
County Attorney–Vince Ryan (D) re-elected. Great News!
Tax Collector–Mike Sullivan (R) wins. However, it is close and Bennett hasn’t conceded yet.

Referendums
METRO Prop passed, City props passed, and all the Bond measures passed.

City Council
Martin wins without a runoff.

Discussion comes later.

Tomorrow night

I am going to attempt to livestream on youtube my thoughts during the election returns. I will be giving live updates on the Presidential election, Senate elections, House elections, Texas legislature elections, and Harris County elections until they stop counting for the night. Look for me under either “Noah Horwitz” or “Texpatriate”.

I apologize for the lack of activity recently. I have been engrossed within the Presidential election but could not bring myself to vote for it. It will be a long night tomorrow. But after that, I will immediately start discussing the 2013 elections.

Harris County Poll

The Chronicle is reporting on what may very well be the only Harris County poll of the election cycle. Let us look:
President
Barack Obama (D)–46%
Mitt Romney (R)–41%
Gary Johnson (L)–2%
Jill Stein (G)–1%
Undecided–10%

Senator
Paul Sadler (D)–44%
Ted Cruz (R)–42%
Undecided–14%

Sheriff
Adrian Garcia (D)–51%
Louis Guthrie (R)–32%
Remington Alessi (G)–2%
Undecided–15%

District Attorney
Mike Anderson (R)–41%
Lloyd Oliver (D)–36%
Abstain–2%
Undecided–21%

This is a pretty useless poll because it does not accurate state how much influence those who vote for the President will have upon downballot races. Obviously, the top two spots will  be won by the Democrat, but it gets a little tricky down the ballot. The Sheriff and District Attorney elections are the two elections that are infamous this cycle for split-ticket voting, so they tell us absolutely nothing about how the other countywide elections, or judicial elections, will go.

A poll on the County Attorney race, which does not look feasible at this time, would give us exponentially more data to work with.

What I think will happen

Keeping in touch with my self-imposed moratorium upon Presidential election coverage, I will not even mention that race (You can see what I had said previous in my post “Cynic“). However, I think this will be a good way for progressives to brace ourselves for what may come next.

Every statewide seat (except Keller’s): SAFE Republican
I think this is a no-brainier here, considering that the Democrats did not even bother to field candidates in some of these races. I really do like Michele Petty and Paul Salder, but this is not going to be a repeat of 2008, and even in 2008 we got our butts kicked.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Position 1: TOSSUP
Keith Hampton, especially in the (unlikely) event of a major Obama victory, could build enough of a coalition between Democrats, Independents, and pragmatic Republicans to victory. Keller is relying on people to simply vote straight Republican, which they probably will.

14th Court of Appeals, 1st Court of Appeals: SAFE Republican
Same logic as the statewide seats.

134th State Representative: LEAN Republican
2012 will not be as good of a year as 2006, which is the last time an incumbent in this district was unseated. Also, Davis is a much more civil campaigner than Martha Wong.

215th District Court: LIKELY Republican
Ken Shortreed is depending upon enough angry Democrats (like me) to vote for him. It will probably push him over the top.

Remaining local judicial races: LEAN Republican
Harris County will probably go red, especially in downballot races.

Sheriff: LEAN Democratic
I think Garcia can put together enough of a coalition with moderate Republicans to avoid defeat. The endorsement of the “C club” didn’t hurt either.

District Attorney: SAFE Republican
Self-explanatory.

Tax Collector: LIKELY Republican
Even in 2008, tax czar and DA went Republican. Additionally, CM Sullivan is a popular incumbent who has attracted quite a few Democrats (even endorsed by the JHV).

County Attorney: TOSSUP
Vince Ryan has some cross-party support, but again the Republican tilt on the election does not help.

City Council, E: LIKELY Martin
Martin has the establishment support from Sullivan, who is still quite popular.

 

Again, Democrats need to donate to Garcia, Ryan, and Hampton–NOT Obama. Obama has enough money, he is out-raising the Koch brothers!

Presidential Election

From this point on, I am no longer going to comment on the Presidential Election. The Republican Party has decided to wage a war of horse***t, which they are winning, because the ambivalent eunuchs in the media and the Democratic Party decline to make a big deal out of baldfaced lies. I will start my thorough discussion of the 2013 Houston municipal elections and 2014 Texas elections soon.