Dewhurst for Mayor?

The Houston Chronicle reports that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who leaves office this January after a dozen years in office, is thinking about running for Mayor of Houston next year.

“I ain’t riding off into the sunset, ever,” Dewhurst told the Chronicle. “I’m a real believer in the Lord’s will, and He’s got something else He wants me to do, and so I’m pursuing what I think is good for me and good for the state.”

Dewhurst, who was defeated for re-election by Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick earlier this year, must think the third time is the charm. Before being defeated for re-election, he ran for the US Senate in 2012 when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison retired. Despite being the odds-on favorite for most of the campaign, Ted Cruz won an unexpected, grassroots-based victory over him and succeeded Hutchison in the Senate.

Speaking of next year’s mayoral candidates, another name has popped up since I last profiled the plethora of pretenders to the throne, so to speak. Bill King, the former Mayor of Kemah and a longtime columnist for the Houston Chronicle, is now telling people behind the scenes that he will toss his hat in the ring. King has always been a nice guy with noble ambitions, but many of his Chronicle columns were sometimes just silly. Every single week he would repeat the same trite points about how it was absolutely necessary to gleefully crush public sector pensions or else Houston would turn into Detroit. I tend to agree that something needs to be done in the budgetary department, but the points lose their ripeness the fourth time they are iterated in a month. Additionally, being the Mayor of multiple cities (when they do not merge) just makes me uncomfortable, similar to Scott Brown’s ill-fated run for the Senate in New Hampshire this year.

Back to Dewhurst, I’m not sure how much financial support he could muster, though he is independently wealthy enough to self-finance. Moderate Republicans already have a gaggle of affluent White men competing for their support, and I’m not really convinced that Dewhurst fills any unfilled niche.

And, to bring up the obvious point, Republicans will not likely win the Mayor’s office this next election. Houston is and continues to be a ferociously liberal city. It has not elected a Republican Mayor since the 1970s, and 2015 certainly does not look to be the exception to the rule.

Additionally, though Dewhurst deep down is rather moderate and likely doesn’t care much for social issues, that side of him has been all but eviscerated in two statewide Republican primaries dominated by the Tea Party. The Republicans running for Mayor this year either openly disagree with their party on issues such as gay marriage and abortion, such as City Councilmember Stephen Costello (R-At Large 1), or prioritize other issues, such as City Councilmember Oliver Pennington (R-District G). If Houston doesn’t elect Republicans, we most definitely do not elect socially conservative Republicans. Not in 1985, not today.

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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.

Texpatriate endorses Ed Markey

I have a fair number of readers who hail from Massachusetts. I do apologize to all those individuals, for my coverage is pretty Texas heavy. But I would feel wrong if I completely ignored the big news happening in this Commonwealth in exactly two days.

Since John Kerry (unfortunately) became the Secretary of State, he had to resign his Senate seat. Massachusetts is identical to Texas in how they deal with Senatorial vacancies: the Governor appoints a replacement who serves only until a special election may be held. The Governor, Deval Patrick, nominated a former staffer named Mo Cowan, and he will not be running.

Now, a lot of people, including me, thought that this would be a pretty competitive election, because we thought Scott Brown would be running. Brown lost A LOT of votes last year because democratically leaning moderates didn’t want him to be a hypothetical President Romney’s 51st ally in the Senate. Now, of course, we are certain that both a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate will be around until at least 2014, so there was a very real chance Brown would have pulled some votes from the middle.

As it turned out, Scott Brown decided not to run. This all but assured the seat would stay in Democratic hands. Accordingly, the real contest shifted to the Democratic Primary, which became “tantamount to election” (it’s funny–if I were one generation older, I would be complaining of the Republicans from Mass and talking about tantamount to election in Texas). Thus, the primary is on Tuesday.

There are two Democrats running, both incumbent US Congressmen. Ed Markey, who actually is the Congressman for the neighborhood college is in, and Stephen Lynch, who represents another part of Boston. Lynch is a typical blue-collar, blue-dog Democrat, he is big on the unions and the working class, but is pretty moderate on social issues. Ed Markey, on the other hand, is the quintessential Boston Liberal. He is sort of like John Kerry’s personality and Ted Kennedy’s political views. The unions (mainly the ironworkers) are pulling out all the stops for Lynch, while the students are going hard to Markey.

Even though I am not registered to vote in Massachusetts, and probably never will be, I’ve decided to make a pick in this race for the same reason I picked in the SD06 race: it will have a big affect on us all. It is my sincere belief that Markey would be the better Senator.

The Boston Globe endorsed Markey, and, for the life of me, I can’t come up with many more reasons than they did. Essentially, they argued that both candidates had good, long careers in public service, but they added some complaints of Lynch. Their main one was that he voted against Obamacare. Now, Lynch has since backed away from such a position, but it is still quite a troubling tidbit in history. In the past, Lynch was a hostile opponent of gay rights. Again, it makes it hard to support him.

In re Brown

With Senator Kerry’s confirmation as Secretary of State, speculation is on about who will succeed him. Boston (and Massachusetts in general) has gone back to elections central, as we prepare for our second Special Senate election in three years. Governor Patrick has appointed Mo Cowan, his former Chief of Staff, as a placeholder until the June election.

Now, Massachusetts is something like 25% college student, and, unlike the college students in Texas, they actually vote. A June election is awful for such a state, as all the young people who vote Democratic, are in another state. I remember people claiming that Scott Walker would have been recalled, except it was a June election, so the kids at UW-Madison weren’t voting. Anyways, who would benefit in deeply-blue Massachusetts from an election where nobody votes?

Enter the Republican former Senator: Scott Brown. Brown won by a lot in his 2010 special election, in which 2.3 Million people voted. He also lost by a lot in 2012, in which 3.2 Million people voted. Coincidence? No. Simply put, there are too many Democrats in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a Republican to win in a general election. Fortunately for Brown and the Republicans, this June is a special election. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Brown is not running.

The announcement leaves the state GOP scrambling to find a candidate, and almost assures that Democrats will hang onto the seat. Catastrophe averted for my geographic contemporaries!

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.

Cynic

One of the things I have noticed since being up here in Mass is that the liberals here are optimistic and sunny and happy. Personally, I have little respect for the Massachusetts Democratic establishment (I mean, Scott Brown, come on), but I get that they are mostly optimistic whereas Democrats haven’t won statewide office in Texas since I was an infant. I have a really that Texas has turned me into quite the cynic. For example, I think Sadler and Petty and Hampton are all fantastic candidates, but at a certain point I accept that they will not win, nor come anywhere close to winning. However, my optimism has always been towards the future, towards this abstract idea that there will be a people’s backlash at the end of the decade, spurred on by demographic changes. A coalition of Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, Austinites, and Inner-loop professions will rise up to kick the good ol’ boys out of the capitol. So here is my timeline:


November 2012 — Romney defeats Obama in electoral college, Obama wins popular vote. Republicans pick up net gain of two seats in the Senate, Democrats gain about a dozen seats in the House. Statewide Republicans all win. Wendy Davis is re-elected barely, no change in State Senate. Democrats pick up a few seats in the State House.

November 2013 — Parker re-elected.

November 2014 — Republican elected Governor (and all statewide offices). Perry might even get it again, but I would say a primary challenger will knock him off. Democrats make gains in Congress.

November 2015 — First Hispanic mayor of Houston elected.

November 2016 — Romney defeated by Democrat, Democrats retake the House. Slight gains for Democrats in the State Legislature but Republicans hold onto statewide offices.

November 2017 — Hispanic mayor re-elected.

November 2018 — Castro/Davis elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Castro ushers in new era of hispanic lead Democratic rule in Texas.