Chronicle runoff endorsements

Over the past few days, the Houston Chronicle has offered up its endorsements in each of the five runoff elections. In At-large #2, District A and District I, the paper’s original selections (David Robinson, Brenda Stardig and Graciana Garces, respectively) advanced into runoffs. However, in At-large #3 and District D, the paper’s original selections (Rogene Calvert and Anthony Robinson) did not advance. Accordingly, much like Texpatriate has been doing, it has revisited these races to select another candidate.

First, the Chronicle endorsed frontrunner Dwight Boykins in District D. The editorial lauded his strong ties within the district, as well as his ‘second chance program,’ which aims to alleviate both unemployment and crime by putting former (non-violent) convicts back to work for the City within the District. The rationale was similar to what the Texpatriate Editorial Board said not too long ago, when we endorsed Boykins.

The editorial also gave a favorable shout-out to Boykins’ opponent, Georgia Provost, writing that she would make a decent Councilmeber. What was not mentioned, however, were some of Provost’s recent –and rather distasteful– ads and campaign tactics.

Click here to read about who the Chronicle endorsed in At-large position #3!

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!

Election Watch Parties

Texpatriate will be offering comprehensive election night coverage tomorrow evening. Noah M. Horwitz will begin the evening at 5:30 (Houston time), live from Boston, offering color commentary and predictions for the final 90 minutes of Election Day. At the conclusion of voting, he will be joined by George Bailey to begin a full program, where the two will switch off between reading results and analyzing numbers. Texpatriate will be calling races and projecting victories in certain races before all votes will be counted.

Bailey & Horwitz will be joined in intermittent commentary throughout the proceedings by Andrew Scott Romo in New Orleans and Olivia Arena in Austin. Additionally, Texpatriate‘s Staff Writer Sophia Arena will be livestreaming from Annise Parker’s watch party in Downtown Houston.

We will provide a link to this livestream coverage on our website. Starting tomorrow afternoon, the first link on texpate.com should be an embedded video. Pre-coverage starts at 5:30, full program begins at 7:00 and the full program will end no later than 11:00. If there are any races still undecided at that time, Horwitz will stay on air as long as they are counting votes.

Click here to read about Candidates’ watch parties!

Why “a runoff” is good

Contrary to majority opinion, a Mayoral runoff –at least for a nominally liberal individual such as myself– is good. In recent days, we have been hearing the news from the Chronicle and other blogs that Parker has begun to pull away from Hall, and could very well garner over 50% in the November election. Robert Miller recently wrote that Parker has a “better than 50% chance” of winning outright. If you are a Parker fan, as I suspect many readers of this blog are, it would appear to be logical that this is good news. However, one could not be further from the truth.

Democrat voters are lazy. The preceding statement, while often controversial, is extremely true nonetheless. Presidential elections, those with higher turnout, see outcomes significantly more amicable to the Democratic Party in this State. As voter turnout drops into the low single-digits, Republicans become more and more successful in the heavily Democratic city of Houston.

For example, in the 2011 At-large position #5 election, the incumbent Jolanda Jones garnered a full 39% of the vote. Laurie Robinson, a likewise Democrat, earned a further 20% of the vote. According to reasonable inferences, Jones should have crushed her opposition in a runoff with close to 60% of the vote. However, when runoff election day came, Jack Christie defeated Jones with over 54% of the vote, rising over 21-points in the polls in the interim. The rise of 21 percentage points, however, was offset by actually about receiving 5000 fewer votes. This was possible because of a devastating drop in voter turnout. Without the Mayor’s race at the top of the ticket, over 1/3 of the electorate stayed home, allowing candidates severely out-of-touch from the interests of Houstonians to get elected.

Click here to read more about how this affects this year’s election!

Final Chronicle endorsements

The Houston Chronicle has made its picks in the final four City Council races, as well as for the Constitutional Amendments. All the amendments were endorsed, and the Chronicle backed two incumbents (C.O. Bradford & Jack Christie), as well as made two selections in open seats (Graciana Garces & Rogene Calvert).

First, in this editorial, the Chronicle’s board summarizes the nine constitutional amendment, offering up absolutely no commentary on the matter besides “the Chronicle endorses all nine [amendments].” If you want a little more discussion on the matter, though agree with the editorial line of the Chronicle in this specific instance, I recommend consulting Texpatriate’s endorsements on the amendments (1-5;7-9 and 6). Burnt Orange Report also announced its endorsements in Constitutional amendments yesterday, though it is relevant to mention that they disagreed with both Texpatriate and the Chronicle in opposing Proposition 3 and Proposition 7.

First up, the Chronicle endorsed C.O. Bradford for a third and final term at At-large position #4. The editorial board goes out of its way to compliment Bradford’s recent commitment to changing the City Charter on certain items such as giving At-large Councilmember specific portfolios. He was also lauded for drainage issues, as well as providing an acceptable response on the Chronicle’s pathological obsession with pensions (specifically, “meet and confer”).

Click here to read more about the other endorsements!

Texpatriate endorses in At-large position #3

When it comes to elected officials on the City Council, Councilmember Noriega is the dean of the delegation. She also happens to have the most experience. First elected in the middle of 2007, Noriega has served the community well in her six and a half years of service on the City Council. This November, five candidates, four we have deemed worthwhile, will be running to replace her.

This board did not reach a majority conclusion in this race, though we have unanimously eliminated one candidate from consideration: Roy Morales. Mr Morales is a perennial candidate, who has run for too many offices to count. The only office he ever successfully won, on the Harris County Board of Education, was done so because of the lack of opposition–he was unopposed. However, instead of spending even a moment’s notice on educational concerns, Mr Morales simply continued to run for other offices. Other than towing the line of the Republican Party, Mr Morales offers no unique leadership, plans or opinions reflecting the needs of our City. Accordingly, this board strongly recommends against casting a vote for him.

Accordingly, Texpatriate will not endorse in At-large position #3, but three members of this board have selected their respective endorsements. Our reasoning is listed below the jump.

Continue reading

Harris County Young Democrats endorse

Yesterday, the Harris County Young Democrats met for their endorsement meeting. I must say that it was the closest I have ever followed a breaking political event exclusively on Twitter.

The organization’s executive board recommended a slate of candidates, which a lot of opts to not endorse, many of which were overruled by the general body of the organization. The body began by endorsing Annise Parker for Mayor, followed by supporting the unopposed Democrats on the council: Ellen Cohen, Ed Gonzalez, Mike Laster and Larry Green. They went on to support some more Democrats in races where they were the only Democrat, specifically Ronald Green and C.O. Bradford.

The organization decided not to offer up endorsements in all seats where only Republicans were running, At-large 1, District A, District E, District F & District G. They then, after contentious fights, decided not to field endorsements in half the races involving multiple Democrats, namely in At-large 2, At-large 3 & District D. Although, in District, Dwight Boykins received plurality support, though still shy of the threshold to receive the endorsement. Similarly, David Robinson and Rogene Calvert received the pluralities, respectively, in AL2 and AL3.

The HCYD did, however, make some endorsements in races with competitive Democratic presences, specifically endorsing James S. Horwitz in At-large 5, as well as Jerry Davis in District B and Ben Mendez in District I.

The endorsements are somewhat noteworthy, as the group has taken a far-less cozy relationship with the Conservative members of the City Council, unlike, for example, the LGBT Caucus (I do know the caucus is officially non-partisan, but I also know its members are overwhelmingly Democratic) or the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats.

Further, the lack of an endorsement in AL2, AL3 or District D is somewhat surprising, given they could make up their mind on AL5, District B & District I. Plenty of liberal groups have supported Assata Richards in the past, so it is somewhat surprising to not even see her in the plurality there. Similarly, the straight-up endorsement of Ben Mendez turned a lot of heads, including Stace Medellin of Dos Centavos.

Overall, I thought the endorsement process was very open to the group, though many Democrats are probably disappointed by the lack of recommendations in the hard, crowded races. The Texpatriate Editorial Board has yet to begin discussing endorsements, but given our rules requiring 3/4 of the members to agree, I would not be surprised if we decline to formally endorse in some of the races.

I don’t know about my colleagues, but speaking for just myself, I know that, if any such situations arise, I will write an individual endorsement in that race.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Rogene Calvert

Editorial note: This is the eighth in our series of electronic interviews with City Council, City Controller and Mayoral candidates. We have sent 10 questions based on seven different templates: (1) incumbent City Council, (2) challenger City Council, (3) open seat City Council, (4) challenger Controller, (5) incumbent Controller, (6) challenger Mayoral and (7) incumbent Mayoral. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

Rogene Gee Calvert, Candidate for the Houston City Council at-large Position #3

Texpatriate: What is your name?
RC: Rogene Gee Calvert

T: What is your current occupation?
RC: Partner, Outreach Strategists, LLC, a public relations, strategic communications firm.

T: Have you run for or held public office before?
RC: No

T:  What is your political affiliation? We understand that City Council elections are nonpartisan, but this is a point many voters find important. If you are not comfortable currently identifying with a political party, what was the last Political Party’s primary election you voted in (a matter of public record)?
RC: Democrat

T: Open seats typically attract countless candidates. Why are you specifically running for this seat?
RC: I was born and raised in Houston and have seen it grow and change.  I am running for an At-Large City Council Seat so that I can represent the interests and concerns of the most diverse city in America.  I look forward to representing and serving a city with such a rich diversity of people and using my collaborative leadership style and coalition-building approach to bring all voices to the table so we can have a more effective government.  My greatest strength is my ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds and interests together to work towards common, mutually beneficial goals.  I have always believed in the multicultural greatness of our community, our city and our future.  I truly believe that my strong campaign and goals are dedicated to representing all Houstonians, regardless of who they are or how they came to be here. My slogan is Together for Houston – All of Houston.

T: Are you in contact with the incumbent Councilmember for this position? Would the two of you have a good relationship for a possible transition?
RC: Yes, Melissa Noriega and I are good friends.  She was among the first persons I spoke to before deciding to run. I also know her staff and have a good relationship with them. We would have a seamless transition.

T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
RC: Having had the opportunity to work in City Council for 4 years as chief of staff for At-large Council member Gordon Quan from 2000-2004, I know how an at-large office should function and how Council relates to the Mayor’s Office.  I’ve also worked in the Mayor’s Office for 6 years under Mayor Bill White, who appointed me as his director of personnel and volunteer initiatives.  I’ve worked across the city with various neighborhood and civic groups, agencies and departments.  With this experience, I know I can “hit the ground running” on day one!  I also know that I will receive many rewards serving the people of this great City and especially making their lives better.  I want to preserve, promote and protect Houston by aggressively pursuing a coordinated vision of the City that includes better transportation options, better access to health and preventative care, and a mix of stronger economic incentives to assist small business in thriving in Houston.  With this said, I know there will also be many challenges, difficult decisions to make and sleepless nights seconding guessing and pondering  one’s actions.

T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
RC: There are 3 areas I would seek the opportunity to create an ordinance:

1)      Changes in inter-governmental, local agreements to encourage and promote cooperation, collaboration and joint funding of services, programs and facilities to economize and reduce costs.

2)      Complete Streets Concept- specific policy goals will include a greater role for Complete Streets programming in our City’s transportation and infrastructure plans to make Houston friendly to all users of streets. This would speak directly to all policy areas by creating safer streets, better access for all residents, increasing mobility, and improving neighborhoods.

3)      Quality of life and neighborhood improvement/ development-Coordinating a comprehensive plan with input from citizens to coordinate various plans like housing, recreation, transportation, roads, etc. that affect a neighborhood.

T: Obviously, an officeholder strives to maintain a diverse core constituency and political base, but all candidates have interest groups they have been traditionally strong with and traditionally weak with, respectively. For you, what would be one example of each type of group?
RC: Groups who I have been traditionally strong with are progressive, forward looking and quality of life focused.  Groups I have traditionally been weak with are rigid in their mindset and extreme in their focus.

T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
RC: The most important thing I have learned in this campaign is not to take anything too personally.  In particular, when it comes to asking for support and donations, you will win a few and lose a few.

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.

Mayor
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.

Controller
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.

AL1
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.

AL2
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.

AL3
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.

AL4
Bradford, presumably running for re-election, raised $54k with most of it still in the bank.

AL5
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.

New Candidates in AL3

Off the Kuff breaks down some of the candidates for the City Council’s At-large 3 position this year. He talks about six declared candidates, and two “maybes.” I only have four candidates listed: Chris Carmona, Michael Kubosh, Roy Morales and Jennifer Pool, so I will discuss the others a little bit.

About a week ago, Dos Centavos mentioned a retired firefighter named Roland Chavez announcing his candidacy for the City Council, and, somehow, I missed it. A cursory Google search shows that he donates his money to Democrats, so I have a good feeling about his political leanings. He has a Facebook page which may be seen –> here. He also has a website –> here.

Then there is Rogene Calvert. Calvert is also a Democrat, and used to be the President of the Asian Chamber of Commerce. I can’t really find any news about Calvert, nor any website or such.

Lastly, Nancy Sims is mentioned on the Off the Kuff article as stating that Laurie Robinson, the Democrat who ran against Jolanda Jones in 2011, has been making noise about running for the seat. Additionally, a rumor was floated about Al Edwards, of all people, running for this seat. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I hope Edwards runs, actually. He would be a reliable Democrat who has great name recognition–could prevent the seat from falling into Republican hands.

I’m sorry that I could never get to writing the Wikipedia pages for these candidates, but I actually am going to start working on it this weekend.

UPDATE: Robinson posted the following flyer on Charles’s Facebook wall, very open to public view. Turns out she isn’t really running for anything this year.

Photo: Hi Charles. I hope all is well and thank you for keeping us informed! Attached is the letter I sent out to my supporters on March 1st explaining why I decided not to run this year. (Please excuse the typo in the letter. I caught it, but wanted to send you what originally went out.) I am not giving up on politics. 2016? You never know...maybe even a higher office.