San Antonio approves NDO

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the San Antonio City Council has approved an encompassing non-discrimination ordinance aimed at protecting LGBT people. The vote wasn’t even close –8 to 3– and only saw objection from the most vitriolically homophobic Councilmember, including Elisa Chan.

Julian Castro can now put this elegant feather in his cap, right alongside the ‘Pre-K for San Antonio‘ measure. Houston has neither a comprehensive pre-educational program nor a non-discrimination ordinance. Castro, for his part, released this statement shortly following the votes:

“This ordinance fundamentally is about ensuring whether you’re white or black, Christan or Jew, straight or gay, this city belongs to you. This ordinance is about saying there are no second-class citizens in San Antonio.”

This ordinance is a wonderful example of Castro, and all the representatives of San Antonio, standing quite firm following terrible attacks on all fronts from the right wing. I cannot think of a single Statewide Republican who has publicly condoning/endorsed this measure. However, the conservatives lined up to oppose the measure stretches out the door.Greg Abbott, our Governor-in-waiting, strongly opposed the ordinance. All three Attorney General candidates (Dan Branch, Ken Paxton and Barry Smitherman) also opposed the ordinance. Ted Cruz too.
The Texas Tribune has more on this issue, including the possibility of a court challenge. The Tribune article notes that Greg Abbott and his buddies are planning on to bring a court challenge against the ordinance, arguing it violates the 1st Amendment (Religious Liberty).—From a very personal point of view, I am ecstatic that the ordinance was passed today, as today is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It is no secret that I am somewhat secular, but this is one of the two days of the year I go to services and spend my day predominantly in nominally spiritual introspection. For some sort of minor political development, I probably would not have taken the time to follow the news today, research this article or write this article.A number of years ago, when I was getting my “fifteen minutes of fame,” I was interviewed by KPRC. As it turned out, the only day the could fit me in was on Rosh Hashanah. I remember being somewhat apprehensive about the idea at first, but at the urging of my parents, I was told that it would be far more important to live-out the virtues of decency and justice and righteousness that you would have just spent the day promising to do in the upcoming year anyways.
Accordingly, it was an easy decision to write this article today. Again, for what it is worth, I typically do not condone gloating in reaction to political victories, but believe this is an important exception. In a normal election, there is obviously a losing party, who has been hindered. Further, on many policy issues, the same arrangement may exist (e.g., Doctors being harmed by healthcare reform). There are no losers in San Antonio this afternoon. No persons will be discriminated against, whether for sexual orientation, gender identity or religious viewpoint. No money will be lost. Only benefit comes from this issue; it is truly a one-sided issue.

Horwitz on ‘going Blue’

For some reason, there are a large number of people in this State who think that, if Wendy Davis runs for Governor, she will win. Personally, I find that statement to be utterly ridiculous, but admire the optimism from those who believe it. Even more Texans believe, once again foolishly, that Julian Castro can win the Governor’s mansion in 2018. Once again, the optimism is admired from this tired, old cynic. But I do not want to talk about how long our road to victory still is, the Editorial Board has already done that. I would like to talk about how, once Democrats break the losing-streak we’ve had since 1996, serious challenges will persist. Indeed, as long as the road to our first Democratic victory will be, the road to a Texas that is as blue as California will be even longer.

As much as I would love the peaches & cream belief that a single Democratic victory ushers in an unprecedented era of Democratic dominance, it simply won’t happen. Here’s why:

Let us assume, arguendo, that Julian Castro is victorious in his campaign to deny Governor Greg Abbott a second term in 2018, the same year his twin brother, Joaquin Castro is elected to the United States Senate by defeating first-term Senator Ted Cruz. The election will be quite notable, because while the pundits and Democratic activists had been saying it all along, the real establishment had been far more pessimistic about the entire ordeal. Accordingly, Democrats ran really poor candidates against the Agriculture Commissioner, Brandon Creighton; the Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, and; the Comptroller, Harvey Hilderbran. All these officeholders crushed the mediocre, placeholder Democratic opposition. Meanwhile, some of the Statewide spots on the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals lacked even a single Democratic opponent.

Democrats made only meager gains in the State Legislature, though one bright spot was Texas Democratic Party Chairwoman Wendy Davis defeating Konni Burton and winning back her old Senate seat.

Democrats wouldn’t make such a mistake more than once, so they will probably start running competent candidates in all the Statewide seats thereafter. They won’t win, though, for at least a few more election cycles.

The other reason a Democratic governor’s election in 2018 would be invaluable is that she or he could veto the redistricting plan. Under current maps, it would be almost impossible for Democrats to win more than 65 seats in the House, and I cannot image them winning many more than that by 2021. Accordingly, a heavily Republican Legislature will draw the maps for the 2020s. For these reasons, I cannot image Democrats taking over the State Legislature until the 2030s.

Another problem is something that the Democrats will surely face in their first defensive position, say 2022:

By 2022, the national mood will have turned against the Democrats in full force. Despite President Clinton’s re-election just two years earlier, the nation had grown weary of the 14 years of continuous Democratic rule in Washington. The frustration was taken out on the local level as Land Commissioner George P. Bush soundly defeated Governor Castro in the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans, still controlling back majorities in the State Legislature, pushed for another mid-decade redistricting plan–the second in the past three decades.

Things still hadn’t turned around by 2024, when Republicans take back the White House after 16 years, and the new Republican President’s coattails sweep a creationist into the Senate, denying Joaquin Castro a second term.

Once the Democrats start taking Statewide positions, they will be fighting hard with the Republicans to keep them for the foreseeable future. To give some background, Illinois has voted Democratic in the past six Presidential election, but the Land of Lincoln will probably elected a Republican governor next year. To this Bostonian, need I say more than Scott Brown?

So make absolutely no mistake, Texas is not going blue any time soon. The State will go purple at some point in the next 10-15 years, but I will have grey white hair before the pigment is blue.

Darkest before the dawn

About two months ago, the Editorial Board wrote that “it’s going to get worse,” that Democrats and progressive politics will continue taking blows, instead of the conventional wisdom that we have already reached the bottom. Simply put, we haven’t reached the bottom yet, and I have found some evidence of this continued decline.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an op-ed this morning discussing the plight so-called “moderate” Republicans like David Dewhurst have been along. My colleague summarized Dewhurst’s recent saga yesterday, but he by far not the only such official to find himself in such a predicament.

Avid readers of the Texas Tribune would have noticed that Jim Pitts, the only Republican to ever chair the House Appropriations Committee, is retiring. Pitts is often remembered as not-the-worst of the Republicans, being willing to work across the aisle and being able to go after Rick Perry, especially his regents. I would not be surprised if Pitts was deathly worried about facing a primary challenge from the Tea Party. This is because, after two insurgent-fueled Tea Party-dominate primary cycles, 52 of the 95 (55%) Republicans in the State House were elected in either 2010 or 2012. A mere 15 Republicans are left who take office before 2003, when Republicans took over the lower House. Of those 15, two (Hilderbran & Pitts) are already not seeking another term. Considering the rural areas these individuals represent, they will no doubt be replaced by far-right Tea Party types.

Kennedy’s opinion piece at the Star-Telegram continues by mentioning the sour place Senator John Cornyn was put into after Ted Cruz refused to endorse his re-election bid. The Dallas Morning News has the full story on that. The hypothetical primary opponent for John Cornyn at this time would be Louie Gohmert, the foul-talking Congressman with birther-tendencies. Again, the Morning News covered the issue in greater detail, as did Off the Kuff.

The op-ed uses the general theme of cynicism and doom & gloom I have been talking up for years. The night is always darkest before the dawn, and it is certainly still getting darker.

As much as I dislike David Dewhurst, Dan Patrick will almost certainly be worse in an executive position. As poorly as John Cornyn serves this State in the U.S. Senate, Louie Gohmert would be exponentially worse. The place where I break with Kennedy’s op-ed is at the end, where he has the bodacious temerity to assert the sun may be rising sometime soon:

The danger for the GOP,” he wrote, is that by the time Republicans realize they have swung too far, “it will be too late, and [Democratic San Antonio Mayor] Julian Castro will be celebrating his election as governor.”

That might be in 2018.

That’s three House election cycles away.

2018 is a very long five years away, but unless a lot of things go very right, it still won’t be a competitive election.

Elisa Chan, bigot

The San Antonio Express-News ran an exposé on a member of the City Council there, Elisa Chan, on awfully homophobic comments she made while under secret recording. The recording is from May and involves Chan’s opposition to the city’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance.

For those not familiar, the City of San Antonio is debating an ordinance that would add both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination laws, adding the categories with protected classes such as race, sex, religion and disability (among others). The ordinance was perhaps most controversial for awhile when it included a clause that would have prohibited the holding of public office for those found guilty of violating the ordinance. That clause has since been removed, because, to be fair, we do have a constitutional right to be bigoted (see: “Westboro Baptist Church”). After the revision, some major figures in the evangelical community gave their full support to the bill.

The specific calumnies do not deserve the honor of being reprinted, because they are totally without substance. What is important to know is that, when the eyes of the public were away, Chan revealed her untethered hatred for the LGBT community, and then, perhaps more offensive, formulated ways to veil this hatred as a policy disagreement with the ordinance. Chan discussed, at length, her intention to write an op-ed in the Express-News explaining her opposition to the ordinance. Her candid hatred, however, would not be included.

The Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, pulled no punches when rightly criticizing Chan for her hurtful, defamatory remark. As the Mayor stated on his personal Facebook account:

Councilwoman Chan’s remarks were hurtful and ignorant. They do not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of San Antonians. Ours is a city that respects and appreciates all people.

These sorts of opinions are the exact reason why a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT is completely necessary. Sadly though, it is the reason why homophobia may continue being an ugly part of our lives well into the future.

Homophobia is not like racism. In fact, the two types of prejudice could not be more different. Prejudice exists in two different forms: institutional and overt. In years past, overt racism existed quite extensively. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act, overt racism all but disappeared except for a few unfortunate pockets in the South. Institutional racism, however, has persisted.

Now, as being gay is becoming more and more accepted within our culture, overt homophobia is rapidly diminishing, making comments like Chan’s all the more controversial. Institutional homophobia, however, is becoming non-existent. This is because, no matter what you do, no matter how you raise your family, no matter who you associate yourself with, the rich and powerful could have a gay son or a lesbian daughter.

To be blunt, Republican Senators (like Rob Portman) have gay sons, but not African-American sons. This will cause institutional homophobia to disappear within a generation or two while institutional racism (unfortunately) will persist.

When it comes to overt prejudice, the opposite is true. As big of a scandal Chan’s comments made, if she would have been this racist, she would have already resigned. Racism in public is still much more controversial than public homophobia. This is because racism is guided by culture, whereas homophobia is guided by religion, and culture is much easier to change.

I get this inkling when I see polls that say 58% of Americans support gay marriage, whereas 37% of Americans believe being gay is a horrible, horrible sin. That 37% is motivated by religion, and will be very hard-pressed to change their minds.

Gay marriage will most definitely be inevitable, but I fear nationwide acceptance will not. People like Elisa Chan sadly remind me of that.

Burnt Orange Report has more.

Wendy and Julian

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Wendy Davis, who just announced on Monday she would only run for re-election or Governor, will be making an announcement on the Governor’s election “in a couple of week.”

The phrasing of this announcement is somewhat peculiar, and it gives me the strongest inkling yet that Davis will end up running for Governor. Nobody gives a speech to announce they’re not going to do something. For example, among the many candidates who were rumored to be considering a run for Comptroller was Christi Craddick, a Railroad Commissioner and former Speaker Tom Craddick’s daughter. When she recently noted she would not be running for that position, there was no speech, no announced, absolutely no pomp and circumstance. Instead, she simply disclosed the detail on Facebook.

This is why I am now convinced, more than ever, that Davis will run for Governor. There is no way that, with the amount she has been frankly speaking on the topic, that Davis still hasn’t made up her mind. I take it she has made up her mind, meaning that if she had made the decision to not run for re-election, she would have already let that leak to the press. But perhaps we are just overanalyzing this.

In other news, the San Antonio Express-News reports that Julian Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio, will be going to IOWA. Specifically, he will be headline a “Steak Fry” put on by Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa’s Democratic Senator. In 2006, the event was headlined by an individual who had also keynoted at the most recent Democratic National Convention: Barack Obama. As the Express-News explains:

In 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama headlined the event. He told the New York Times at the event that he wasn’t running for president, a seat he would secure two years later. Two years before, Obama was catapulted into the national conscience when he presented the 2004 keynote address at the DNC.

I, for one, think there is about a 0% chance of Julian Castro running for President in 2016–maybe Hillary Clinton’s running mate. That being said, there are some significant other reasons Castro would be going to the Hawkeye State. I was going to delineate them, but but Cal Jillson of SMU, speaking in the Express-News article beat me to the point:

“When you get Cruz going to South Carolina, New Hampshire and also Iowa, that is an indication that he’s at least laying the groundwork for a presidential run if circumstances seem favorable in 2016,” Jillson said. “That’s not what Castro’s doing. What he’s doing is going to a highly visible event in one of the early states in the presidential selection process but not for the purpose of touting himself.”

It is important, however, to note that the DNC was not a one-time deal for Julian Castro and the national spotlight.

Annise Parker is not running for Governor

In case you were wondering. The question has been coming up, first in January and later in July, after her name popped up –along with that of Julian Castro, Wendy Davis and Bill White– in PPP polls for upcoming Statewide elections.

Somehow, amidst the rancor over HB2 and the drama over Campaign finance reports, I missed a tweet by the Mayor stating:

“LOL. I appreciate the encouragement to run for Governor, but I have the best job already and hope to keep it for 2 more years.-A.”

This does not come as a surprise to me, nor should it to really anyone. Parker is very obviously running for re-election, a race that will last until the middle of December if there is a runoff. If she were to run Statewide, it would require filing the signatures for the primary ballot about the same day as her third inauguration. There are some pretty outlandish politicians in Houston who would have the unmitigated temerity to do something like that, but Parker is not one of them.

I would feel like a bit of a schmuck if I wrote an entire post on how Parker isn’t running for Governor, because it is sort of like those headlines which triumphantly state that rain causes flooding: this shouldn’t be news to anyone. Instead, I’d like to read the tea leaves for what Parker’s future will look like.

I tend to think there is a very good chance (+90%) Parker will be re-elected, so this occupies her through January of 2016. She will be 59 at that point, and in no hurry to retire. The timing gives her a variety of options going forwards. First, as I predicted long ago, I think there could be a chance Parker will run for the House of Representatives, specifically Sheila Jackson Lee’s seat (though I doubt the two would actually run against each other). SJL will have been serving for 20 years by that point, though she will still be comparatively young.

The Congress option would probably be the only option where Parker would go straight into something else, politically speaking. Otherwise, she would most likely spend at least a year on a private company’s payroll, doing consulting or what not. She will have been on a civil servant’s salary for 18 years by 2016, she may want a change of pace.

Second, if Hillary Clinton runs (which I think she will) and wins (which I also think she will), Parker could easily get a job in the new Administration doing something. Again, this would be a good end-path for the Mayor.

Third, there is certainly still a chance Parker would run Statewide in 2018. Governor is probably not the most likely possibility, as I would put my money on Comptroller. The only problem with this, as I wrote back in August, is that Parker is liberal and lesbian, not the old, White, moderate man that Democrats in this State love to nominate. The African-American Democratic political community in this State has an unfortunate homophobic streak, which could complicate primary efforts. It would be a stretch, to say the least, to find Parker doing well on a Statewide ballot any time soon.

But the biggest priority right now is 2013.

Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

Perry

Adios mofo.

The Texas Tribune, along with the entire Twitterverse, reported the news shortly after 2PM that Rick Perry would not be running for an unprecedented fourth full term in 2014. The news leaves the field wide open, and essentially gifts the post to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Unfortunately, I did not get to livestream the speech. But from what I understand, Perry bragged about both his record as Governor and the so-called “Texas miracle.” He then said something along the lines of “the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership.”

Perry made no comments on his intentions for the 2016 Presidential election. It is worth stating that what finally convinced me that Perry would not run was a tweet by Dan Patrick. I get the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to leak that information this morning.

The gubernatorial election is made much more clear by this announcement. When it comes to the Republican primary, there are three candidates: Greg Abbott, Larry SECEDE Kilgore and Tom Pauken. Kilgore, as you may recall, is the Klansman Theocratic secessionist. Pauken, a former Texas GOP Chairman and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, is a little too reasonable to win a Republican primary.

Attorney General Abbott is the natural selection. This much is somewhat clear. Accordingly, the question shifts to who the Democratic candidates (and eventual nominee) will be.

First and foremost is Wendy Davis. The good Senator, as many may recall, recently reversed her longstanding pledge to not run. She is “open” to the idea, to be exact. Now that Perry is out, we may hear more in the next couple of weeks. Davis only trails Abbott by 8 points in recent polling, which is by far the smallest deficit of any of the possible Democrats mentioned.

The problem with those polls, of course, is who they mention as candidates. Julian Castro and Annise Parker are definitely not running. Bill White is another issue, as many (especially in Austin circles) believe he will run if no other candidate is found.

The other candidates that have been mentioned are State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and State Sen. Kirk Watson. The former two have already specifically taken themselves out of contention. Watson must run for re-election next year, and BOR was really wrong about this exact thing in 2010, so I do not think he is a viable candidate.

That leaves Kinky Friedman. Color me excited. While at one point he might have been the best known Texas Democrat, times have changed. As I stated a few days ago, Wendy Davis, win or lose, needs to run in order to be the “the Texas Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.”

Eye on Williamson and Burnt Orange Report have more.