Predictions and hopes

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that I am not much for predictions. Well, to be fair, I used to predict things all the time, but I was notoriously wrong too many times to count. Accordingly, in an effort to save face, I will  not field my own electoral predictions, which are only slightly less reliable than the Tribune polls.

Rather, I want to note what I am looking for and what I am hoping for; admittedly, they are nearly mutual exclusive categories. Within those categories, I would like to look most specifically at both the Republican & Democratic primaries, as well as both Statewide races and those in Harris County. Within these four categories, there are quite a few overlapping key points, however.

1. HOW BIG IS THE STUPID VOTE?

This is one for the Democratic primary. I am using the official academic term, of course, to describe these so-called stupid voters. They are the voters who will cast their lots for Kesha Rogers (US Senate), Lloyd Wayne Oliver (District Attorney) and Lori Gray (115th District Court), in that order. Albeit, plenty of otherwise unintelligent voters may coincidentally vote for the non-egregious candidates, but there is no way to discern them from Adam.

Click here to read all my other points!

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Civil Affairs: Judges

CIVIL AFFAIRS

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Noah M. Horwitz published a weekly column, “Civil Affairs,” in a Boston newspaper from 2012-2014He has since transferred the column’s home to ‘The Daily Texan’ in Austin.

The first time I voted in a general election (2012), I was shocked at just how long the ballot was. The presidential election had obviously garnered a fair amount of coverage, as did local races for Congress, sheriff and the state Legislature. However, what took up the vast majority of the ballot were the myriad judicial contests. Pages upon pages of district and county benches were to be filled by the voters, in partisan elections. Democratic and Republican nominees had been selected in their respective parties’ primaries to run for the posts: civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate courts.

Read the whole op-ed in The Daily Texan!

Criss to run for HD23

The Houston Chronicle reports that Susan Criss, a longtime District Judge and Democrat from Galveston, will resign her bench in order to run for the State Legislature. The astute will recall that in May, amidst my coverage of the mishegas in the Galveston court system (i.e., Christopher Dupuy), I noted that longtime State Representative Craig Eiland would be retiring. Eiland, a Democrat, represents a nominally Republican district that includes the arch-conservative Chambers County as well as parts of Galveston County. While the island itself and most the coastal mainland is still deep blue, more and more of the County has turned bright red as a result of being assimilated into Houston’s suburban community. Accordingly, this seat provides a pickup opportunity for Republicans that was not even in play in 2010.

Criss is a political celebrity in Galveston, being the next-in-line of a politically aristocratic family. He father, Lloyd Criss, is the longtime Chairman of the Galveston County Democratic Party and previously served as the Representative in the same Galveston district from 1979 to 1991. The younger Criss, to my knowledge, is the only Democrat running for the post and the Chronicle article notes that they could not find any Republicans either. The filing deadline is on Monday.

Click here to read more!

A basic recap of Legislative retirements

The Texas Tribune reports that yet another longtime Republcan State Representative, Bill Callegari of Katy, will not seek re-election in 2014. Callegari, who has been in office since 2001, is not by any means one of the most moderate of Representatives, though he is still far more pragmatic than most members of the Tea Party caucus.

Among the other retirements from the lower chamber among the Republican caucus are technocrats, pragmatists and longtime representatives. These include Harvey Hilderbran (who is running for Comptroller), Tyron Lewis, Rob Orr and Jim Pitts, among other names. Further Republicans, not necessarily more moderate, such as Dan Branch, Stefani Carter and Van Taylor, are forgoing re-election to the House in order to run for higher office.

Among Democrats, Craig Eiland is probably the only Democrat retiring whose district has been put in jeopardy (this is assisted by the fact that the Democrats, holding a pitiful 55 seats, have already been reduced to the studs. Eiland’s district, consisting of most of Galveston, has eyed a few hopeful Democrats, including District Judge Susan Criss & former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski.

From what I understand, about half the Legislature has announced intention to run for re-election, with another big share of the lower house still assumed to do so.

A larger share of the State House’s Republican caucus that is filled with far-right reactionaries is bound to be a brutal result for the Democrats. The most odious quality of this increased polarization is that it is not easily fixed. Jim Pitts’ successor, for example, will most likely be a Tea Party favorite out of Waxahachie. His constituents in Waxahachie will not be inclined to dump a Tea Party representative any time soon, because for the forseeable future, Republican primaries in Ellis County will be tantamount to election.

Another issue with all these retirements is that Joe Straus’ days as Speaker may be numbered. Paul Burka first prophesied this conclusion about a month ago, well before the cards of retirement started falling.

51 current Republicans were elected in the post-Tea Party era (2010 or 2012). This is added to the six currently retiring Representatives who did not take office in one of those years. After that point, only 19 of the 44 remaining Republicans are needed to oust Straus. The math does not look good for him if an organized opposition effort actually comes to pass.

What’s going on in Galveston?

A few months ago, I was surfing YouTube, watching a plethora of random videos. One of the advertisements that popped up before the videos was a political insurgency campaign of some sorts by someone named “Don Tequila.” The video, which was set to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” played a montage of newspaper headlines outlining the many controversies a Galveston County Court at Law Judge, Christopher Dupuy, had found himself in since taking office in early 2011.

The case involving Judge Dupuy has officially blown up in the last week (I have been putting off writing this because it is still a breaking story). He has been accused of countless felonies, including abuse of power and official oppression.

An exhaustive summary of all of the controversies Dupuy has been involved in in the past roughly two years would be too onerous to detail at this time. Rather, there are three distinct issues currently affecting the Galveston Judge.

First, Dupuy was recently indicted and suspended without pay for eight crimes. These included corruption, oppression, abuse of power and retaliation. After the original arrest and indictment, Dupuy simply showed up for work like nothing had happened. It was only at that time that Dupuy was ordered by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct into official unpaid suspension.

Second, Dupuy has been historically quite erratic and possibly dangerous. A Chron article from February describes Susan Criss, another Galveston judge, fearing for her safety and the safety of her staff after frightening encounters with Dupuy. Judge Criss also claimed that Dupuy had posted inflammatory comments on his personal Facebook page, insinuating that he was carrying handguns “in a zipped pocket in his jacket” to the courthouse regularly.

Lastly, Dupuy has been involved in extensive family drama. During a recent court hearing of which Dupuy was a party to, rather than presiding over, Dupuy was alleged told his then-girlfriend that he was planning on killing his ex-wife and kidnapping his children and bringing them out of the country. FOX26 reports that this girlfriend, Tara Compton, plead the fifth when taking the stand, out of fear for her life. “I’m afraid something bad will come of this. I don’t want to end up having a bad accident after all of this. I fear what could happen to me,” the woman said. Dupuy also allegedly mailed a picture of a gun with a silencer on it to his ex-wife.

This guy is nuts. He was noted a few times to start laughing during court proceedings “when there did not appear to be anything humorous happening.” I had heard stories over the years of an absolutely psychotic lawyer my father once faced off against, but didn’t realize it was Dupuy until somewhat recently. I hope he can get kicked out of office sooner, rather than later, so that Galveston can reclaim some of their dignity.

Eiland
Speaking of Galveston, there is another newstory going on. Craig Eiland, the Galveston Democratic State Rep and former Speaker Pro Tem, will not be seeking re-election in 2014. He fought hard to win in both 2010 and 2012, so this is going to be a hard seat for the Democrats to keep. According to the Trib article on the topic, Eiland prophesied not about the importance of purple, but of brown–and obvious reference to the changing demographics.

I haven’t heard of anyone running for this seat, but it is going to be a messy race. Personally, I think this is a lost cause for the Democrats. Dems aren’t going to win this seat fighting over rural white districts. Let them go, keep your eye on the real prize: the cities and the south. Off the Kuff has more on Eiland.