Texpatriate endorses in CD2

Editorial note: A previous version of this editorial inadvertently misspelled Mr Letsos’ first name. We have fixed the typo with apologies to Mr Letsos.

Texas’ 2nd Congressional District is a remarkably unique creature. Historically situated in deep East Texas, it has been occupied by some of the great behemoths of Texas politics, namely Jack Brooks and Charlie Wilson. In 2004, under the stewardship of Tom DeLay, the Texas Legislature gerrymandered the district into an entirely new creation, combining swaths of East Texas with not only northeastern Harris County, but the working class neighborhoods of Beaumont. A prominent Criminal District Judge from Houston, Ted Poe, received the Republican nomination and handily defeated Congressman Nick Lampson, the Democrat who had represented the Beaumont area for many years.

This board has always been cautious about Poe’s tenure as a Congressman. All in all and most generously, it is best characterized by relentless adherence to majoritarian principles and interests of constituents. Still, we have historically been impressed by his steadfast dedication to justice. As a District Judge, overseeing felonious cases, Poe was renowned for handing down bizarre sentences that “fit the crime,” including requiring thieves to march around the establishments they store from with signs notifying the public of their crimes.

Perhaps most importantly, Poe has been a tireless advocate against human trafficking. Specifically, this board has been wowed by his introduction of the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act in this most recent session of Congress. The bill increases appropriations for Federal law enforcement agencies to fight the heinous crimes and increases penalties for all those involved with the despicable practice. It has unanimously passed the House of Representatives, under Poe’s guidance, and is now waiting for action in the Senate.

Furthermore, Poe has incessantly been a valued representative to his constituents, even in areas not necessarily prone to voting for him. During 2011 redistricting, the 2nd District was rearranged once again, with the East Texas and Beaumont precincts being swapped out for inner-city Houston, namely Montrose and Timbergrove, two Democratic neighborhoods. This board has been particularly impressed with how Poe has been receptive to his new constituents desires, unlike their previous Congressman, John Culberson.

While Culberson continues to be at the behest of special interests trying to stymie an invaluable expansion of Light Rail throughout Montrose, Poe calmly polled his constituents and –upon learning they overwhelmingly supported expansion– began fighting for their interests. Poe sets an example for all his contemporaries, Democratic or Republican.

Of course, we are not without our criticisms. Poe is sadly somewhat right-wing on many social issues, and his views on immigration and foreign policy are sadly out of touch. However, even in representing these poor positions, Poe manages to successfully channel the desires of his constituents.

While we like Poe’s Democratic opponents, Niko Letsos, we believe he simply lacks the experience for Congress. The job requires someone without the need for on-the-job training, as well as an individual with a complex grasp of the myriad issues facing this State and this Country. While we may give Letsos the benefit of the doubt on the former, even a cursory glance over his website will show a somewhat superficial grasp of the issues. We likely agree with Letsos on some issues over Poe; predominantly those aforementioned social issues. However, this election ultimately comes down to a decision on experience and engagement. This board believes Poe decisively possesses both.

Noah M. Horwitz wrote an individual addendum to this editorial
I share my good friend Andrew’s views on the positive qualities Poe brings to his district, as well as the concerns over Letsos’ inexperience in the realm of politics. However, I do believe that he undervalued the importance of issues themselves.

Poe is a great representative for his people, but should this publication merely validate what is popular and not what is right? I disagree with Poe on abortion, on gay marriage, on Obamacare, on immigration reform, on taxes and on the general way that Congress should be run. These are significant points for me and, if I were to live in Poe’s district, they would make voting for him difficult.

Obviously, it would be easy for Letsos to say that he disagrees with Poe on the flashpoints while sharing his commitment to ending human trafficking. All the members of the House ostensibly shared that commitment, but it took Poe to actually craft a bill that attempts to solve a very terrible problem. Poe’s go-getter attitude on this issue and others is, in my opinion, his strongest attribute.

I don’t know how I would vote if I lived in Poe’s district. I honestly cannot see myself voting for the Republican in good faith, given their position in national politics. Alas, I don’t live in the 2nd district. My good friend Andrew does, though, so I will listen to what he has to say.

The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston, Luis Fayad of College Station and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the voting board.

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Playing dirty in District D

I logged onto my Facebook today to find this interesting ad on my newsfeed:

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First of all, this is a hilarious photo of Boykins. I cannot find it on his account, for the life of me. While the ad itself did not appear to be the work of any other candidate in the race, one such contended, Larry McKinzie, wasted no time in sharing the ad to his Facebook (which is how I stumbled across it).

The ad raises some serious allegations about Boykins. First, I would like to know how many Republican primaries we’re talking about. I can’t think of many people more yellow dog Democrat than my father, and he voted in GOP primaries prior to 2006, back when absolutely 0 Democrats ever had a chance in Harris County. I would not be surprised if Boykins was doing the same thing. I know some people affiliated with the HCDP have some special Obamaesque spying technique that allows them to figure out exactly which primaries Boykins voted in. I’d like to see how that goes.

But his campaign donations are public knowledge, so I decided to investigate that angle. Boykins donated a lot of money to Democrats; the GOP money is dwarfed in comparison. Further, when that money is examined, a pattern appears. Boykins donated to incumbents like Ted Poe, Kay Granger and Pete Olson, who faced only token opposition. Boykins donated to David Dewhurst, which I can’t blame him for considering who he was up against. Boykins donated $500 to Randy Weber, but he donated three times that amount to the Democratic opponent, Nick Lampson.

Fellow “blogger o’ the left” Erik Vidor also posted his two cents on the two entire issues. Vidor commented:

Dude has only voted in one Republican Primary (2010) going back to 2000. Every other time it was for the D’s. The contributions are interesting fodder but it’s important to recognize that Mr. Boykins line of work requires working from both sides of the aisle. And upon further examination of campaign reports, he’s been pretty even in his giving to both parties.

I do not know if Vidor is getting his information from the fancy Obama spying software I previously mentioned, but if he did only vote in the GOP Primary in 2010, I cannot really blame him. Except for a few delusional liberals, everyone knew the Democratic Party was going down in flames that year. It made much more sense to nominate less-evil Republicans who would be sure to win in the general election.

All in all, I do not see much in the way of substantial attacks against Boykins. While nothing in the ad is untrue, it is somewhat misleading. I will be doing a somewhat more thorough investigation on this in the coming days. Otherwise, there is no real scandal here. Larry McKinzie has officially lobbed the first stone, and campaign season has begun.

10 most important elections (besides the Presidency)

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. He sets the foreign policy, has tremendous influence over Congress, and can nominate Justices to the Supreme Court. Obviously, the race between President Obama and Governor Romney is much more important than anything else. However, the media already devotes all of its energy to cover this election, so I would like to focus on the 10 most important other elections.

10. Houston City Council, District E
Dave Martin is the widely assumed favorite, but Elizabeth Perez could very well pull an upset. What we have here is not an election between Democrat and Republican, it is an election between an old-guard Republican and the recalcitrant Tea Party. Martin will surely follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, and perhaps also be like Councilmember Pennington. However, Perez would most like imitate the habits of Councilmember Brown. It will be interesting to watch, but I’m not throwing any of my money at it.

9. Washington gay marriage referendum
There are actually four referendums, but Washington’s has the best chance of approval. Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota also have referendums, but I am less optimistic. Especially Minnesota, I think the traditional midwestern social conservative state has been given up on. Maine is a tossup, and Maryland similar. Maryland has a large African-American population which has ranged from tepid to hostile on the issue. However, Washington has a fairly good chance leading into the home stretch. Most importantly, this could finally break the curse of states approving gay marriage bans.

8. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 14th district
Control of the House is not especially up for grabs this year, but this election will essentially make-or-break Nick Lampson’s career. A second loss in a row would be disastrous and most likely put an end to the former Congressman’s political aspirations, which could be quite valuable for Texas Democrats.

7. Texas House, 134th district
Sarah Davis seems to represent an average Tea Partier, completely inexcusable for my home district. Texas Democrats NEED a solid number over 50 in the delegations, and Ann Johnson will be the way towards that goal.

6. United States Senate, Indiana
The control of the Senate is up for grabs, and every election counts. This seat, held by longtime Senator Dick Lugar, is now open after Lugar was defeated in the GOP primary by an extremist. The Republican, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is now trailing in polls against the Democrat, Congressman Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is a strong candidate who I may even donate some money towards.

5. United States Senate, Massachusetts
I believe this election (Scott Brown vs Elizabeth Warren) is important in more ways than one. Massachusetts, arguably one of the most liberal states in the union, is faced between a very liberal Democrat and a very moderate Republican.

4. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 23rd district
Again, the House is not up for grabs, but this election is important for another reason. Congressman Canseco and Representative Gallego are competing in the heavily Latino district. A loss by Gallego would be truly embarrassing for a Texas Democratic Party attempting to court Latinos.

3. Harris County Sheriff
Sheriff Adrian Garcia is perhaps Harris County’s best chance of retaining a countywide Democrat. His opponent is a crook, and Garcia has done a fantastic job while in office. This election will answer that question he had on November 3rd, 2010 in Houston. Can it get any worse?

2. United States Senate, North Dakota
The funny thing about the Senate is that no matter how small the state, the Senators hold equal power, so this election is just as important as the one in California or Texas. Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat, is running against Congressman Rick Berg, the Republican. The seat has long been held by Democrat Kent Conrad. Heitkamp CAN WIN, and she will if she can raise enough money to compete against the outside money being funneled in by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. I will surely be donating some money to Ms. Heitkamp and I suggest y’all do the same.

1. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Justice
Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important as the Presidential election. Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important the Presidential election–it is important enough to say twice. Sharon Keller is a travesty to justice and our state. Mr Hampton has been endorsed by quite conservative papers and individuals for a very simple reason: he will restore honour to our highest court.

Also, RIP Arlen Specter. You were a good man in a profession full of wrong-doers.

…and they’re off!

Nick Lampson is on the air, launching his first tv ad. Here‘s the link.

I find this interesting as, besides the Obama or Romney ads on national television, this is the first general election ad I have seen in the Houston area. I saw tons of Dewhurst and Cruz ads during the primary, and I think even one for James Cargas. However, since July 31 I have not seen any local politics on the television. I’m guessing Lampson/Weber will be the only congressional race in the Houston area to actually warrant any sort of heavily advertisements, but I would not be surprised if a few State House races (Davis/Johnson) warrant them, as well as some county spots. Ed Emmett will probably have a cameo where we says “hunker down”, and Ted Cruz might make an appearance too.

Counting down the days until a Weber response…

The curious case of the Fourteenth

So I’m stuck here. As far as I can tell, there has been one poll in the fourteenth congressional race, and it has put Lampson ahead of Weber by a few points. Therefore, I would have considered this race to be a tossup. However, EVER major congressional reporting service lists it as “safe Republican”. I would like to hypothesize two reasons for this:

1. National Organizations are too cynical. The main reporting services I am running on are The New York Times, 270 to Win, and Cook. Real Clear Politics also puts in the “likely GOP” category, which is a little better–but not much. The school of thought here would be that the good people working the computers here are lazy, see a seat which has not put up a serious Democratic challenger in years, and just write it off. This seems quite feasible.

2. Burnt Orange Report, in their original article about this poll in question, implied that Lampson’s campaign was the one who released the poll. Now, there may be a chance that Lampson has become so inundated with the Austin spirit that he would put out excessively naive polls like the ones that showed Rick Perry was beatable. For the sake of one of my favorite Democrats in Texas though, I hope not.

Further, for the sake of our country, I hope the poll stands true. As I have said before, the District is quite favorable to Lampson. However, it will all boil down to how much Obama wins (or loses) by. If droves of people show up to the polls in Galveston and Beaumont to vote for the President, and pull the lever for the Ds, Lampson will win. If not, the fourteenth district is sending another wacko to the Washington.

In re Lampson

In re Lampson

What can I say about Nick Lampson, that hasn’t already been distorted and twisted by his opponents: Ted Poe, Tom DeLay, Pete Olson, and Randy Weber. Well, I can repeat some truths, but this isn’t about yesterday it is about tomorrow.

Lampson, a Beaumont native, is now running again to represent Beaumont, along with Galveston and Brazoria County. A recent poll shows Lampson leading 47% to 45% against his opponent, Randy Weber. Now, while this is indeed the 14th district, the same district Ron Paul currently represents, it is a very different district now. Paul’s hometown of Lake Jackson is still in the District, but the vast majority of the District, the coastal region stretching from Brazoria to Rockport, is gone. District 14 now stretches to the east.

This is a great district for Lampson, perhaps the best opportunity he has. Lampson is not a Houstonian politician, nor will he ever be, his chances for success lay outside the city limits. So if you said, “Noah, design a district in East Texas for Democrats without using any of Houston”, this is pretty much exactly what I would come up with. Jefferson County, with its heavy African-American population, is still strong for Democrats and is Lampson’s hometown. Galveston, despite heavy losses in 2010, will still be a reliable post for Democrats in a presidential year. Brazoria is a pretty strong Republican stronghold, but the want is for Lampson to cancel out the influence by strong showings in the east.

The 14th District will not vote for Obama, but depending on how well Obama does in the district could make or break Lampson, who despite doing better than the President will still be inevitably connected to his performance. Minorities and the Poor, those disproportionately affected by the Voter ID Law (which has struck today), will need to show up in droves in both Beaumont and Galveston for success. For our sake, I hope they do.