2013 results and analysis

We’re working on trying to abridge the hours and hours of livestreamed Texpatriate election return coverage into about 20 minutes of the top hits. Yesterday, our all-time view record was demolished as thousands of people appeared to come to our website to read up on candidates before they voted. Additionally, Richard Nguyen, the victor in District F, had little impact on the internet besides his interview with Texpatriate.

First and foremost, Mayor Annise Parker was decisively re-elected to a third and final term as Mayor of Houston. She cruised to over 57% of the vote, far outpacing the amount of the vote she received in 2011. Meanwhile, Controller Ronald Green also was re-elected, albeit by a much smaller margin. The only surprises amongst City Council races were in At-large 3 and District F, respectively. Otherwise, most incumbents cruised to re-election.

All nine Statewide propositions passed, as did Harris County Proposition 1 (the joint processing center/jail). The Astrodome referendum, however, did not pass, as the iconic 8th Wonder of the World now looks condemned to demolition.

Click here to see full results and read more!

Texpatriate endorses in District I

This board has long been impressed by Councilmember James Rodriguez’s tenure on the City Council, representing District I. In our opinion, he has served both his community and the greater City quite exceptionally. Now, after three successful terms on the City Council, the time has come for his successor to be chosen.

The race consists of four candidates: Leticia Ablaza, Robert Gallegos, Graciana Garces and Ben Mendez. Each candidate represents a different facet of the community, and deserves special recognition for such representation. Serendipitously, these associations perfectly mirror a recent State Senate election in District 6, a largely overlapping constituency.

First, this board has admired the honesty and bravery of Leticia Ablaza’s campaign. While we largely disagree with the political positions of Ms Ablaza, and believe they would be antithetical to the success of the district, this board is impressed by how well she has stuck to her guns, in spite of unyielding criticism and unpopularity. Simply put, we believe that Ms Ablaza would become a second Helena Brown if elected to the Houston City Council, making symbolic no votes at every opportunity, something this City absolutely cannot afford.

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Unspeakably offensive

The Houston Chronicle reports that Ben Mendez, a candidate for the City Council District I, has lost a key backer in his campaign for the City Council. This occurred in response to two serious issues that have arisen over Mendez’s candidacy.

Much like the frontrunner in the open election of District D, Dwight Boykins, Ben Mendez (a self-proclaimed frontrunner himself) has seen a plethora of attacks in the heavily Democratic district for either not being Democratic enough or for being a closet Republican. Among the many aversions cast upon Mendez is that he voted for John McCain, a partisan attack reminiscent of this debunked mailer against Dwight Boykins.

However, what caused the endorsement withdrawal in Mendez’s case was a far less venial issue. The backer, William Lawson, is a legend in both the City’s history of Civil Rights as well as its African-American community. While District I does not have a very high black population, the turnout among the community in Houston during municipal elections is remarkably high. Accordingly, Mendez has been begging for Lawson’s support throughout his campaign. Mendez does not have a “Supporters” page on his website, but if he did, I would imagine it would place Lawson’s name front and center.

In response to alleged issues with Mendez’s integrity, his campaign’s tactics and alleged comments of his, Lawson withdrew his support of Mendez in a strongly worded open letter. I have reprinted the letter below (emphasis added):

Mr. Mendez:

I have been unable to reach your campaign office by phone, and nothing in your literature gives me an e-mail address, or even the physical address of your campaign office beyond a P. 0. Box, so I have to return to the old tradition of mailed letters.

This is written with some sadness.  I am withdrawing my public support of your campaign, and will ask that you no longer use my name.  I have some serious problems regarding your position on the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl.  I am naïve, and not very sophisticated in political positions, but I am a serious advocate of the weak.  You sounded insensitive to the predicament of that child.  I don’t know the particulars of the Graci Garces issue, but I likewise have problems with negative campaigning.

I admire you as a civic leader, as a businessman, and as a friend.  I think you will make a good Councilman for District I.  I simply cannot continue to take a stand for underclasses and give public endorse-ment for someone who would ignore them.

It may be better that I could not reach you electronically.  This way you have it in writing.

With some pain,
[/s] William “Bill” Lawson

The “Graci Garces issue” that Lawson references is an item first dug up back in May, when Ben Mendez allegedly spread around an unflattering photograph of his opponent. At the time, Mendez’s campaign vehemently denied that they had spread around the photo and the issue eventually went away.

The other issue that Lawson reference is what, as the title of this post suggests, is unspeakably offensive. The reference of the unspeakable crimes committed against an 11-year old girl, of course, are relating to the infamous Cleveland Gang Rape case that took place in 2010, and was largely prosecuted in 2012 (with all of the accused being found guilty and given lengthy sentences, including life in prison). Many in the community accused the media and many in the community of painting too sympathetic a picture of the eighteen men who simultaneously raped a child. The most famous of which was Quannel X, a local community activist, who suggested that it was somehow the young child’s fault for being gang raped. Other common calumnies in this case were that child “looked older,” “dressed older” and was a seductress who attempted to trick men into raping her. If Mendez indeed made an insensitive unspeakably offensive comment about this issue, it would have probably been along those lines of faulty reasoning.

Mendez’s campaign, for its part, has vehemently denied this association. Joaquin Martinez, Mendez’s campaign manager, provided the following statement:

Regarding the Chronicle blog on Ben Mendez, as a father he finds such suggestions abhorrent and reprehensible. As a front-runner in District I Ben Mendez remains committed to running a positive campaign based upon the issues and the needs of the district. It is unfortunate when opponents respond to the heat of competition by circulating false statements and negative attacks.

Leticia Ablaza’s campaign could not be reached for comment, while Robert Gallegos and Graci Garces’ campaigns, respectively, declined to comment.

As livid as these comments made me, and as much as I want to tear into Mendez for holding such unspeakably offensive views, we all must exercise some restraint on this issue until more information can come out. Given the dirty tactics being used thus far in the campaign, it would not surprise me if the allegations against Mendez turned out to be false. However, I will be keeping up on the issue, and if the allegations turn out to be true, I will show no mercy in my treatment of the campaign.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

District I getting heated

From the Houston Press:


Evidently, Graciana Garces is upset over the fact that Ben Mendez’s campaign has been spreading around this photo of her. Garces’ annoyance is understandable, especially considering that this isn’t Junior High. Now, there isn’t any proof to this story, but this isn’t even the part where it gets weird.

After the blogosphere and internets began blowing up over this thing, Hair Balls decided to try and get the real story. This is where it gets weird. Evidently, after frantically avoiding the Press‘ requests for contact, the Mendez campaign changed their phone number on their website. Further, the new telephone number had an unbearably broad voicemail did not identify the campaign. It is like the Mendez campaign is intentionally trying to avoid the Press.

Further, James Rodriguez, the incumbent City Councilmember for the District, is not even attempting to seem neutral. He is a full-fledged supporter of his former staffer, Garces. A recent Facebook post from Councilmember Rodriguez reads as follows:

It has come to my attention that I have exceeded my allotted number of friends per Facebook rules. Please read below and if you are affiliated or a supporter of this “wanna-be” [Mendez] please click the unfriend action to my page so I add positive people that want to continue moving Houston forward. Since I’m doing some spring cleaning anyone supporting Ablaza or Gallegos can also do the same.

Whoa. This is going to be a heated election. I tend to like Garces, she is a good fit for the district, but I loathe the idea of someone simply being served an elected office on a silver platter. Mendez and Robert Gallegos are also Democrats–they have similar political views are Garces–they have every right to be running. If Mendez has really been doing these schoolyard bully tactics, then it is absolutely right to condemn him, but I have not found any conclusive evidence to that effect.

Campos has more (about his client, of course).

District I starts up

I am so surprised that I seem to be the first Houston blogger to break this, but here it goes:

The Chronicle is reporting two candidates for Councilmember James Rodriguez’s seat: Graciana Garces and Leticia Ablaza. Garces is Rodriguez’s chief of staff and I presume the heavy favorite at this point. Ablaza used to work for Councilmember Helena Brown and was insinuated by the Chronicle to have worked for a member of the Texas Supreme Court’s re-election campaign (in the GOP primary, of course {he lost, for the record}).

The Chronicle wrote heavily upon comparing Garces with Rodriguez when he first ran in 2007. Rodriguez was his predecessor’s, Carol Alvarado, Chief of Staff as well. Rodriguez faced no stiff opposition in 2007 and was elected without a run-off, as I recall. Additionally, Ablaza looks like a pretty conservative candidate, I cannot imagine much support in the liberal district.

I can’t find a website for either of these two yet.