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!

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KHOU releases Mayoral poll

KHOU has released a poll on the Mayoral election, the first of the season. The date of the poll, before the end of September, is earlier than any equivalent municipal poll from 2009.

The results of the poll have yet to be released in longform, Accordingly, I do not have much raw data to analyze along the lines of the racial, demographic or partisan trends of the voters questioned, now how likely they were to vote. The poll surveyed exactly 424, however, and the margin of error was 4.76%.

From the preliminary information, we see that the results go something like this:

Annise Parker 34%
Ben Hall 14%

Eric Dick 2%
Derek Jenkins 1%
Michael Fitzsimmons 1%
Keryl Douglas <1%
Charyl Drab <1%

Don Cook <1%
Victoria Lane <1%
Undecided 48%

For what it is worth, my gut tells me most of the “undecided” voters won’t bother to vote at all. If one were to, say, assume 3/4 of those roughly 204 people stay home, the results are somewhat different:

Annise Parker 53%
Ben Hall 22%
Eric Dick 3%
Derek Jenkins 1%
Michael Fitzsimmons 1%

Keryl Douglas 1%
Charyl Drab <1%
Don Cook <1%
Victoria Lane <1%
Undecided 19%

The Houston Chronicle has significantly more info on this topic, including an interview with Mark Jones at Rice. Both the Parker campaign and the Hall campaign released statements on the polls, wherein both declared victory. Sue Davis, representing Parker, declared:

“As the voters learn more about Mr. Hall, I think his numbers are not going to improve that much. Annise Parker is well-liked by Houstonians and voters believe the city is moving in the right direction under her leadership. We are confident she will beat Mr. Hall handily.”

Julia Smekalina, representing Hall’s campaign, wasted no time in responding to the poll herself. They declared victory, saying in no uncertain terms that the campaign believed that Parker had been harshly repudiated by the voters:

“These numbers show what we hear every day – Ms. Parker’s tenure has been repudiated by the people of Houston and she will not be reelected as the next Mayor. The slim margin that got her elected last cycle has evaporated and it is clear that Houstonians are searching for new leadership to set the city on track.

As Houstonians are beginning to see the vision Ben Hall has set forth, they are rallying behind his ideas for the city’s future. The grassroots momentum that we see supporting Ben’s candidacy is growing and will secure his election as Mayor.”

Unfortunately for Hall’s team, the record does not support this view. While one could certainly make the argument that Parker herself was tepidly received by voters in the poll, her Mayoralty itself received high marks throughout the city. 56% of voters believed “Houston’s economy will get better in the next 2-3 years,” 57% approved of Parker’s job as Mayor and a huge 62% believed Houston is “on the right track.”

One of the things that REALLY stood out to me was Dick’s nonperformance. Even Roy Morales, another notable token Republican candidate in a field full of Democrats trying to attract the conservative vote, received 20% of the vote in 2009. Many of those undecided voters are Republicans still choosing between Hall & Dick. In fact, the tiny insights into the poll’s demographic background showed that more Republicans were undecided than the average, whereas fewer African-Americans were undecided.

I still think Parker’s 20 point lead is much more of an advantage to her than the incredibly high “undecided” rate is to Hall. A runoff is certainly possible, and I think there is a greater-than-50% probability of one at the end of the day, but there is still an absolutely likely scenario that Parker can wrap everything up on November 5th.

Lastly, for what it is worth, if 2009 is any indication, KHOU has a history with some untrustworthy polls. That year, the channel showed Peter Brown with a plurality approximately one week before Election Day, ten points ahead of being disqualified from the runoff. That, of course, did not happen.

Mayoral Debate set

Brains & Eggs reports, via a confidential source, that all the Mayoral candidates met in a smoke-filled room and hammered out a tentative deal on Mayoral debates: Just one, including all candidates. In other words, exactly what Mayor Parker wanted. B&E continues, enumerating the conditions of the debate and such:

This past week a meeting was held to negotiate a mayoral candidates’ debate among the seven declared candidates running for Mayor of the City of Houston.  This debate will take place on October 8, 2013, at 7:00 pm.  It is to be sponsored by the Bethel Family Church Empowerment Center.  The debate will take place at Willowridge High School, 16301 Chimney Rock, and Houston media will be invited to cover it.
Candidates and/or campaign staff from seven campaigns were invited to the meeting: Don Cook, Eric Dick, Keryl Douglas, Michael Fitzsimmons, Ben Hall, Victoria Lane, and Annise Parker.  Two candidates (Douglas and Fitzsimmons) were not present and were not represented by any of their staff at the meeting.
Judging from the intensity of the negotiations, it seems unlikely that there will be more than one scheduled debate, at least one that includes all of the candidates.
It was proposed that any subsequent candidates other than the seven already identified should be excluded from debating. In the discussion that followed, most participants seemed to feel that the elimination of any later candidates who were “not viable” or “not serious” because they had not declared early enough or not raised enough money was appropriate.
It was agreed that a drawing would take place ten minutes prior to the event with all candidates present to determine the order of candidates’ initial statements, and opening remarks would be 90 seconds each (in a fifteen-minute window).  Thirty minutes was allotted for the debate itself and a total of ten minutes for candidate closing statements.
I find this a little bit ridiculous. Only 90 minutes of actual debating between seven candidates? That is utterly preposterous and an insult to the intelligence and attention span of the average Houstonian. As I discussed in great detail in my previous writings on the Mayor’s debate position, more than one debate is simply a necessity for a competitive Mayoral election in the nation’s fourth largest city.
It is no secret that Ben Hall is a big proponent of the multiple-debates position, but Eric Dick is as well. The other candidates are too insignificant to make a difference one way or another on the issue. Accordingly, it is obviously the Mayor who is pushing back and forcing a single debate.
The list of multi-debate supporters in the press/blogosphere is somewhat long, though. I’ve long taken that view, and have been joined by the Texpatriate Editorial Board, Texas Leftist, Brains & Eggs, Off the Kuff and the Houston Chronicle (although everyone disagrees about how many candidates to include).
Mayor Parker is obviously not an opulent, aloof, elitist politician laughing at the peasants while riding around in a fancy limo, no matter what Eric Dick would have you believe. But the defamatory comment is still in the back of everyone’s minds, and when the Mayor does something even slightly reminiscent of it, like refuse to debate with her opponents. As Texas Leftist reminded us all, it reeks of a page out of Rick Perry’s playbook.
I’ll have more on this story when the Chronicle picks it up and we can learn more details about it.

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.