Friday, September 20, 2019

H-Town race track 5 weeks long

All the doo dah day.

If the muni elections in Space City don't begin to gin up some enthusiasm -- and the inglorious Mark Jones is here for that -- then there will be a few Republicans who sneak through to upset wins in a few contests.  Orlando Sanchez defeating incumbent Controller Chris Brown could be one such.

Brown's done fine as the town's counter of beans, has the legacy pedigree, and certainly all the money he should need to maintain skyward trajectory toward future political success.  Didn't help his dad, RIP, beat Annise Parker, though.  In a low turnout affair -- perhaps now with Houstonians again struggling with flooded homes and cars -- and with the conservatives agitated as usual, as well as the firemen and -women working hard to eject Mayor Turner, there's a possibility Brown could get caught in a red tide of anti-incumbent sentiment at City Hall.  I'm just sayin'.

So as some local polling begins to trickle out over the next few weeks and pundits like Nancy Sims sniff and prognosticate, Democrats should start thinking about scaring their voters to the polls.

The eleven alphabetically and geographically identified city council districts:

(Since I'm not as plugged in as I used to be, these are really just best guesses as far as who is favored to be selected by their neighbors.  Again, the super source is here.)

A:  Term-limited incumbent Brenda Stardig's chief of staff, Amy Peck, would be the prohibitive favorite in this typically conservative-voting northwest-area district.  The Democrat with the best chance at pushing Peck into a runoff might be Iesheia Ayers-Wilson.

B: CM Jerry Davis, also term-limited, sees fourteen bidding for his chair around the horse shoe down on Bagby.  This is a minority/majority, Democratic district; split almost evenly now -- or at least as of 2017 -- black and Latino (48-45%).  Situated in the north and northeast neighborhoods that encompass the Fifth Ward, Greenspoint, Acres Homes, and Kashmere Gardens, District B's residents are among the oldest, poorest, and least educated in Houston.

The five I'd rate as favorites to move on to the runoff would be, in no particular order:

C:  In stark contrast to B, C is the wealthiest and most Caucasian district in town.  It's also very purple, similar to its counterpart in the Texas Lege (HD-134, represented by that most moderate of Texas Republicans, Sarah Davis).

Mayor pro-tem Ellen Cohen, also term-limited, has endorsed civil rights attorney Abbie Kamin from among the thirteen (six Democrats) running to take her spot.  Community activist and former SDEC member Shelley Kennedy has piled up endorsements from Democratic electeds and orgs.  All candidates reported a total of more than $330,000 in funds raised on their July reports, with Kamin holding $175K of that.  Of the five Republicans hoping to be in December's runoff, I'd give political advisor Mary Jane Smith and former HISD board president Greg Meyers the best odds of taking on Kamin or Kennedy.

D: Should be the funnest election going.  CM Dwight Boykins is challenging Sylvester Turner, and there's a fifteen-member scrum going after his seat.  District D, comprising the south and southeast side, is also predominantly black (Third Ward and Sunnyside) and while there are a few recognizable names in this race -- Carla Brailey, Andrew Burks, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz -- I think it would be a shock if one of the two people in the runoff weren't named Brad "Scarface" Jordan.

E: ... is a GOP district and incumbent Dave Martin has a challenger, but don't expect a surprise.

F: This far west and southwest majority/minority district (17% white, 24% black, 39% Latino, 18% Asian) has sent three different Vietnamese men to city council in the past three elections.  One of them, Democrat Richard Nguyen, returns for another try.  He was the incumbent when barely defeated by conservative Steve Le in 2015; Le is not running again, due in large part to the pay scandal surrounding his former COS.

(Nguyen's own victory in 2013 was a narrow upset over the GOP incumbent, Al Hoang.)

Because the district's races are always close -- with just a few thousand voters turning out, swinging back and forth between R and D -- give Le's new COS Van Huynh a good chance as the only Republican running.  Tiffany Thomas is the other Democrat in the race.  It's all about ground game out here; one of these three could escape without a runoff with a lot of hard work.

G: ... sweeps straight west and south of I-10 and encompasses almost everything north of the Westpark Tollway.  As you might expect of the Memorial area, it's rich, white, and oily.  Republican incumbent Greg Travis isn't being seriously challenged.

H: Campos client -- and Democratic incumbent of this northside, mostly Latino district -- Karla Cisneros draws three challengers, two of whom seem serious: activist Cynthia Reyes-Revilla and former Farrar and Congresista staffer Isabel Longoria.  I can't project whether they are serious enough to push Cisneros into a runoff.

(Campos is also pimping Anna Eastman for HD-148.)

I: Incumbent Robert Gallegos (also east end and southeast) has a Republican challenger but I wouldn't give him much of a shot at unseating the popular councilman.

J: Mike Laster is termed out; there are seven Ds and one R angling for the right to represent this southwest 59 wrap-around.  Once again it's hard for me to gauge favorites, so I'll guess that the Republican Barry Curtis, a former cop, makes it to December against one of Edward Pollard, Nelvin Adriatico, Freddie Cuellar, or Sandra Rodriguez.

K: My CM, Martha Castex-Tatum, isn't going to be upset by either of the two Republicans who decided to enter the race at the last minute.

I'll update this prior to early voting and offer some thoughts about local and state ballot referenda at that time.  Still need to finish my research on those.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Bi-Weekly Twenty Twenty Update, part 2

The #ClimateForum2020 livestream via Our Daily Planet and below, today and tomorrow ...

As I understand it, there will be no live broadcast other than a few snips on various NBC platforms (MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Nightly News, etc.) and that -- no live airtime -- was the off-the-record reason some candidates *cough*Warren*cough*Biden* chose not to participate; i.e. they believed they "checked off the climate box" two weeks ago w/CNN's forum.  Here, from Georgetown University, is the full schedule.

The LGBTQ forum details (it's tomorrow evening).

There's also a Green Party presidential candidates debate tomorrow afternoon.

And a piece about the GPTX in yesterday's HouChron (and San Antone Express News) ...

And from the Spectator's Daniel Bring: snark echoing the usual 'radical' themes but especially critical of the GPUS playing favorites with its White House hopefuls.

I'll have something on Friday's global #ClimateStrike, as well as the promised second part of Houston municipal elections later today or tomorrow, and perhaps more on developments regarding any or all of these events before I get to Sunday's Funnies.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

H-Town races sing dis song

Doo dah, doo dah ...

A bit more than a month from the start of early voting for November's elections, and here I am finally pulling together some recommendations for mayor and city council.  (Stace has posted his; it was in last Monday's Wrangle, too.)  Also on the ballot are three special elections to fill Texas House vacancies, two in the greater Houston area: HD-148 (Jessica Farrar-D, retiring) and HD-28 (John Zerwas-R, retiring).  The TexTrib previously listed all of those running in the jungle primaries.

Democrats have coalesced around Elizabeth "Eliz" Markowitz, who was the only Democrat to file. Markowitz, a Katy teacher, unsuccessfully ran last year for State Board of Education District 7, which overlaps with HD-28.

In HD-148, there are a dozen Dems on the ballot with two Rs and one indy; perennial loser/attorney Chris Carmona.  Carmona's been a Republican in elections past, most recently in a bid for HCRP boss as part of the Hotze Caucus opposing chairman Paul Simpson.  Carm may stand a good chance of getting into the runoff, but he stands no chance against whomever the Dems select.  Erik Manning's spreadsheet lists them all, including their campaign website and Facebook page (slide the cursor at the bottom to the right).  Anna Nunez is my pick here among a handful of good choices.

To the contest for the mayor of HTX:

I can't bring myself to help Sylvester Turner into the runoff.  I have blogged plenty about my disappointments with the mayor, just not recently.  Suffice it to say that this race comes down to 'least worst' option, depending on the two we'll be voting on in December's runoff.

Dwight Boykins, Tony Buzbee, and Bill King are solid 'no's.  I'm trying to choose between Sue Lovell, a competent and amenable yet much-too-conservative Democrat -- like the vast majority of Houston and Harris County Donks -- or the radical, Derrick Broze.  To call Broze the outsider here is an understatement.  Anti-5G is *ahem* an interesting campaign platform, despite the legit bad press about the technology.

Also still sorting my At Large potentials.  Coby has posted details about the AL candidate forum tomorrow night in Clear Lake, so if you'd like to get down that way, be sure you book time to eat some truly excellent barbecue while hearing these prospective public servants for yourself.  I've already endorsed Ashton P. Woods for AL5 and made a contribution to his campaign; I'll do the same for Raj Salhotra in AL1 in short order.

In At Large 2, the incumbent, David Robinson, is the only Dem.  Nobody has served with a lower profile or less distinction.  In At Large 3, incumbent conservative Michael Kubosh has drawn three challengers, but much of the focus has been on 18-year-old Stratford High student Marcel McClinton, a school shooting survivor, co-organizer for March For Our Lives Houston, and representative on Mayor Turner's gun violence prevention commission.  Janaeya Carmouche is the other Democrat.

And in At Large 4, incumbent Amanda Edwards decided to challenge John Cornyn in the Democratic US Senate primary, so eleven have filed for the empty seat.  I'd rate the favorites as Bill Baldwin, a prolific Democratic fundraiser and well-heeled Realtor; Nick Hellyar, a former city council and legislative staffer and HGLBT activist; Dr. Letitia Plummer, a dentist and 2018 CD-22 challenger (she lost the D primary runoff to Sri Preston Kulkarni, 62-38%); and Anthony Dolcefino, one of three Republicans and the prodigy of conservative muckraker Wayne Dolcefino.

I'll do comptroller, the alphabet council districts, and school board races tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The (Bi-)Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

It's #BiWeek, but nobody I know has any declarations to make.  Rather, this will be the first of at least two 2020 presidential candidate posts this week due to the heavy schedule of events.

First up:

Thursday, September 19
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Senator Michael Bennet
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Andrew Yang
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Marianne Williamson
1:45 – 2:45 p.m.
Senator Bernie Sanders
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Former Representative John Delaney
4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Representative Tim Ryan
5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Former Secretary Julián Castro

Friday, September 20
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Senator Cory Booker
10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Governor Steve Bullock
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
12:45 – 1:45 p.m.
Tom Steyer
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Former Governor Bill Weld

More from Vox.  There seem to be quite a few of the front-runners missing, you say.

Former vice-president Joe Biden and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, will miss an MSNBC forum on the climate crisis to be held in Washington later this week.

The California senator Kamala Harris, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and the Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar will also miss the event.

Organizers said most candidates who declined cited scheduling conflicts in the early voting state of Iowa, including for an LGBTQ forum in Cedar Rapids on Friday.

-- There's also a conflict with the #ClimateStrike.  Stephanie Quilao explains.

I see no reason to read any lack of commitment into any candidate's non-participation in any one event, though there will be plenty of spinning like that.  I feel the same way about the Working Families Party endorsement of Warren over Sanders; lots of sound and fury, but the endorsement itself means nothing.  WFP is just another progressive org corrupted by the establishment.

-- This event today is a big deal, however.

(Biden and Sanders) along with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang and author Marianne Williamson will speak about their labor platforms before members of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO.

The summit is taking place just two days after the union of autoworkers at General Motors in Michigan announced strike plans, the largest labor action by workers in the auto industry in a decade. ... The power of organized labor and the importance of the Pennsylvania electorate in presidential elections gives candidates a unique chance to connect with two constituencies at the same event.

-- So where is Beto this week, since he's not at any of these events?  Svitek at the TexTrib almost always knows these things.

He's sticking to his guns.

-- Bennet is pushing all in on the Hawkeyes.

Another million bucks flushed by a no-name.

-- Tulsi gets hosed again on the polls.

-- One more thing about Boot Edge Edge, from the last climate town hall.

Let's not.  Let's talk about climate chaos as a scientific emergency action issue, and let's leave your imaginary friend out of the discussion entirely.

This dipshit is really starting to piss me off.

-- Trump's in H-Town this Sunday evening.

-- Last, and updating last Thursday's Update with a new development regarding Mike Gravel's alleged endorsement of Howie Hawkins ...

If this is meaningful to you then you should a) scroll through Primo Nutmeg's Tweets for the full story, and b) follow his/her Twitter and YouTube channel for some of the best progressive news you can find anywhere.

I'll be posting a local (Houston, Austin and elsewhere in Texas) political events update as soon as I can collect a few more items.  If you have something you want to see in that post, send it to me via e-mail or Twitter DM.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance thanks state Rep. Briscoe Cain for clearly demonstrating why no civilian should own a weapon of mass murder.  (These are the best lefty blog posts, Tweets and news from around and about Texas, our Texas, collated below.)

Democrats' third presidential debate, held in Space City last Thursday, was the epicenter of state and national politics for a day or two.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged about it before and after; the Texas Observer wrote about Beto and Castro's breakout, and the Chronicle followed up on the Greenpeace protestors who were arrested after they rapelled off the Fred Hartman bridge, closing the Houston Ship Channel for most of the day.

And Jef Rouner, for the Houston Press, has one simple suggestion for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.

Fresh polling was released ahead of the debate: Univision's revealed the Lone Star to be a battleground state, while the UT/TexTrib survey found the #TXSen race lacking a front-runner beyond "don't know".  Both HPM and Kuff examined the two polls.

As our lead-in above points out, a pipsqueak in the Lege threatened Beto O'Rourke after he underscored that his mandatory assault-style weapon buyback policy would be a certainty.

There were many legislative developments last week:

RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly evaluated Lite Guv Dan Patrick's apparent flip-flop on background checks for gun purchases, while John Coby at Bay Area Houston called for abolishing open carry.  Rick Casey at the Rivard Report found a common thread among the Republicans targeted by the Bonnen/MQS fiasco.  And as the Lege begins the arduous process of redistricting, both the Observer and the TexTrib remind us of the problematic history of people of color attempting to cast a ballot.

H-Town muni elections stayed front and center ...

Stace at Dos Centavos released his 2019 Stace Slate.

Scott Henson at Grits made a point of following up on these false statements about crime by some of Houston's mayoral candidates.

Some climate reporting:

SocraticGadfly calls out the Dallas Observer for doing a hit job on a wind farm that's not even in its normal coverage area.

Progrexas blogs that the TCEQ finally managed to do something right.

During a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hearing, the state denied a permit request by Altair Disposal Services to construct a landfill that would take waste from an incineration facility near Houston to Colorado County, which sits about halfway between Houston and Austin, and turn it into road material that is similar to asphalt. At issue was whether the soil in the area where Altair wanted to set up the facility would prevent hazardous waste residue from leaking into the ground water or the Colorado River.

And Grist notes that Texans are actually starting to care about climate change.

Does Texas, the metaphorical oil tank of the American petroleum operation, care about climate change? About two-thirds of it does, says a new poll of Texas voters -- and we’re not just talkin’ Democrats.

Sixty-five percent of Lone Star State voters of all political persuasions are in favor of government action to combat the climate crisis, and a third are strongly in favor of it. That’s not the only good news.

Of the 1,660 voters polled by Climate Nexus, 74 percent said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports boosting federal funding for renewable energy. Among Democrats, climate change ranks right up there with the economy and jobs when it comes to issues voters care about in the 2020 election -- only health care and gun policy ranked higher. The poll was conducted in conjunction with Yale and George Mason universities.

The Texas Central Railway announced it is ready to begin construction ... as soon as it gets authorization to do so.

A planned high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas reached another milestone Friday as the sponsoring company announced a $14 billion deal to build it -- as soon as it obtains the authority to do so.

Texas Central, the private company developing the Texas Bullet Train, announced it had signed a deal with Salini Impregilo, the Italian construction giant, and its American subsidiary, Lane Construction, to design, construct and install the 240-mile high-speed rail line using Japan’s Shinkansen trains.


“We are optimistic we could begin construction next year,” said Holly Reed, managing director of external affairs for Texas Central.

(The following excerpt is specifically for Gadfly.)

Because the trains would operate at more than 200 mph, all of the route must be separated from highways and public access. Dozens of overpasses are likely as the tracks cross urban streets and rural roads in 11 Texas counties. Earthen berms at specific crossings will also be needed where tracks cross land used by wildlife and farmers.

“They are doing all of that work now so that as soon as we get the financial approvals and have approval to start construction we can move forward,” Reed said.

This Jan. 31, 2018 photo shows a utility corridor which runs through Freestone County, Texas, near Fairfield, in the small community of Cotton Gin. Texas Central Partners is planning to build its 240-mile high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas along the corridor.
Photo: Dug Begley, MBO / Associated Press

Here's where the Wrangle gets lighter ...

Some of the most colorful fall foliage in Deep-In-The-Hearta can be found in this state park.

These are some great places to celebrate Oktoberfest in Houston.

The San Antonio Current says that the debut of the Big Texas ComicCon is this weekend.  Three 'Sons of Anarchy' are headlining.

And in remembrances, the Texas Standard posted an obituary for T. Boone Pickens, the Austin Chronicle eulogized artist and songwriter Daniel Johnston ...

... while Harry Hamid's brother posted the heroes that his recently departed sibling never met.