Kubosh for Congress?

kubosh

Texpatriate reports that a concerted effort has begun to draft City Councilmember Michael Kubosh (R-At Large 3) into running for congress, specifically within the 7th District. Kubosh would challenge the incumbent congressman, John Culberson, in the Republican primary, if he were to run. Kubosh’s office did not immediately return a request for comment, but sources close to the councilmember confirmed that he is intently thinking over the decision to run and he has specifically not ruled it out.

Granted, the 2016 primary is still more than a year away, and a whole lot can happen between now and then. But Kubosh would instantaneously have the superb name recognition needed to run a credible campaign against Culberson, who is not exactly a sterling representative of his constituents.

Culberson, a former state representative first elected to congress in 1998, is an astonishingly lightweight politician. In most sessions, he introduces only a handful of pieces of legislation (sometimes none at all) and does little to nothing to see those bills through the process. His sole claim to fame is grandstanding against the proposed Richmond Avenue light rail line, which he has successfully blocked through bullying, intimidation and dirty tactics for many years. Even though the area in question is no longer in his district (it is in Congressman Ted Poe’s), he has gone to possibly unconstitutional lengths to deny federal funds for light rail expansion. He has also, more recently, set his sights on blocking a bus rapid transit line on Post Oak Road in Uptown.

Ostensibly, this is because of a dedication to property rights. But in literally any other instance, Culberson is a lousy defender of the people against claims of eminent domain, namely when the Katy Freeway was recently expanded. It is obvious he sheds crocodile tears on this issue. Sources close to Kubosh, on the other hand, intimate that he would be more amenable to light rail expansion, much like Poe.

All this is to say that Kubosh would be a remarkable improvement just as a result of not being the incumbent. But since taking office on council in January, Kubosh has served in his own right as an effective and well-intentioned officeholder. Whether or not you agree with him on specific issues, his dedication to the job is nearly unmatched among his colleagues.I have, overall, been a big fan of his tenure and would be most excited to see him run for congress.

A bail bondsman by trade, Kubosh first got his start in politics by organizing the successful referendum effort against red-light cameras. He later lead the charge against an asinine ordinance that criminalized feeding the homeless on public property. Historically associated with Republican causes, many within the political establishment feared that he would be a right-wing rabble-rouser on the council. However, his tenure has proven to be anything but, as he has become a steady, compassionate and articulate voice on the council.

I’d like to see Kubosh in Washington. But, given the choice between Kubosh and Culberson, I’ll pull out all the stops to retire the incumbent congressman.

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Texpatriate endorses in CD7

In previous editorials, this board has lamented the sorry state that Congress is in today. Invariably, we criticized the Republican majority for their hypocrisy, malice and obstinate attitude. We think Congressman John Culberson of the 7th District exemplifies all three of these poor qualities, and that voters would be wise to toss him out of office in favor James Cargas, the Democratic candidate.

In this western Houston suburban district, which was once held by former President George H.W. Bush at the start of his political career, Culberson has held office in 2001. Previously, Culberson served in the Texas House of Representatives for fourteen years.

Now, if you were not aware that Culberson has been present in Houston politics for well over a decade, you would be forgiven. Culberson apparently no longer lives in Houston, given how little time he actually spends in the district. Nor is his participation in Congress especially noteworthy; in his seven terms in Congress, he has only introduced a handful of bills, and even fewer have actually gone anywhere of consequence. As Texas Monthly would call it, Culberson’s level of participation in the political process is virtually indistinguishable from his tables and chairs.

Of course, when Culberson does participate in the process, it isn’t much better. Perhaps the most infamous example of Culberson’s meddling is with the expansion of the Metro Light Rail on Richmond Avenue. Despite overwhelming community support, Culberson has stood in the way of expansion for the needed mass transit project. He cloaked his small-minded opposition to mass transit as faux-grassroots support of the community. Culberson has even taken this position to its absurd extreme by passing a specific amendment in a transportation bill that denies Federal funding for the expansion project, an action that even drew the ire of fellow Republican Congressman Ted Poe.

And, it almost goes without saying, this board strongly disagrees with many of Culberson’s core political views, including those on social policies, immigration and foreign policy.

Considering all these grievances we have with Culberson, it was a welcome respite to find such an experienced, qualified and sensible opponent in James Cargas. An attorney with the City of Houston, Cargas has a broad background in Oil & Gas that makes him an ideal representative for the centrist district. Furthermore, Cargas shows an expansive and impressive breadth of political knowledge on the pertinent issues. We thoroughly believe that he is more than ready for prime time.

We agree with Cargas on Metrorail expansion, as well as the typical laundry list of political flashpoints. However, perhaps most importantly, we think that he would be an amazing communicator with his prospective constituents, a very welcome change from the incumbent. In a possible Cargas tenure, the people –and not the special interests– would be put above all else.

The residents of District 7, including three members of this board, have a very simple choice to make. Either continue along with a Congressman that shows minimal-effort and maximum-malice on most issues, or pick an alternative that does not. We are wholeheartedly going with the latter.

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.

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.

Another Anderson for DA?

The Houston Chronicle reports on the growing draft movement of Devon Anderson for Harris County District Attorney. Devon Anderson is the widow of Mike Anderson, the late District Attorney who passed away last month after a battle with cancer. Shortly thereafter, the first assistant DA, Belinda Hill, became the official Acting District Attorney. It is the ultimate responsibility of Governor Perry, of course, to appoint a replacement to serve until a Special Election may be held next November.

Jared Woodfill, the Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, made the official suggestion in an open letter to Governor Perry. As the Chronicle reported, Woodfill said: “The person who would be the best to fill Mike’s shoes, and they’re big shoes to fill, would be his wife. I’m hopeful that the governor will appoint her to carry on Mike’s legacy. She’s very, very qualified for the position.”

Devon Anderson is not just the widow of the previous officeholder, she is a very experienced attorney and jurist in her own right. A longtime prosecutor herself, Devon Anderson served as Judge of the 177th District Court (Criminal felonies) for one term, from 2005 to 2009. At that time, she was defeated by Kevin Fine, a Democrat (Fine later resigned mid-term; his replacement, Republican Ryan Patrick, was re-elected in 2012).

Reportedly, (acting DA) Belinda Hill is also interested in maintaining the office permanently. KTRK notes a list of four other candidates being discussed by local Republicans. Given that Perry makes the call, it is a forgone conclusion that a Republican will get the nod. The other names include Marc Carter, the Judge of the 228th District Court (Criminal felonies).

Jim Leitner, a key Lykos aide, and Rachel Palmer, both prosecutors, were other names mentioned. Palmer has some skeletons in her closet relating to being investigated for criminal wrongdoing and pleading the fifth. Leitner was also involved in this controversy.

The last name mentioned by the KTRK article is Ted Poe. Being a Congressman with unbelievable job security, and being a mere 65 years of age, I cannot understand why Poe would consider leaving Capitol Hill for this job.

When all is said and done, it will be Perry’s decision. In the State’s largest County, Perry (& his advisers) probably have quite a few opinions of his own, so I do not think recommendations from the local level will affect the outcome all that much.

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.

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.