Saturday, October 06, 2012

Brainy Endorsements: Vince Ryan

Vince Ryan is running for re-election to Harris County attorney. He was elected in 2008's Obama wave and faces Republican Bob Talton to return to office. If you don't count Wayne Dolcefino as political opposition, that is.

The Chron beat me to this endorsement (as slow as they are, I am disappointed I let that happen) and while gathering plaudits for Ryan's work and experience, drops in this intriguing paragraph.

We have noted, however, that partisanship has on occasion been taken to unhelpful lengths in blogs written by high-profile members of Ryan's team. These reflect on the county attorney himself and do not always promote civil and respectful relations with the many elected Republican officials at the county.

I can't find what they refer to here. Anyone?

GOP Godfather Gary Polland, something weird calling itself Texas Patriot Statesman, and Big Jolly have made the usual partisan appeals, but anything critical of Talton and supportive of the Ryan campaign "from high-profile members" of his team eludes my searches.

And Charles Kuffner -- from his continuing series of paeans on the inexorable power of money to get elected -- queried his readers in the spring about the rift among Republicans in the primary. No one appears to have answered his question.

I'll give that a whirl, without being able to confirm some of my supposition.

Talton earned the nickname "Crazy Bob" when he was in the state legislature. Talton, in fact, was so crazy that he bucked Tom Craddick -- hard and often -- when he was in the statehouse, which at the time was virtually a suicidal act. Jolly alludes to this in the link above (at the end).

Talton kamikaze style was so feared, in fact, that no less than Representatives Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar, state Senators Mario Gallegos and Rodney Ellis, former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, former state representatives Scott Hochberg and Rick Noriega, all refused to support the Democrat that ran against Talton in 2006, Janette Sexton. It's worth excerpting a small bit...

(S)everal Houston-area Democratic legislators made promises of help of all kinds, but when she called to take up those offers, her calls went unanswered and unreturned. There were some people who leveled with Padilla-Sexton: state representative Garnet Coleman told her that he and his colleagues had discussed her race and come to the conclusion that they could not assist her because “they had to work with Bob Talton on regional issues”. (I contacted Phillip Martin, Coleman’s chief of staff, for a response but my queries went unanswered.) Mostly she got the cold shoulder: Rep. Jessica Farrar was effusive in her initial offers of assistance, but declined to return phone messages when the time came to help. Padilla-Sexton also reached out to Harris County commissioner Sylvia Garcia (mentoring), Sen. Rodney Ellis (about an air quality question), Rep. Scott Hochberg (regarding state education funding), Sen. Mario Gallegos (for adding credibility to her campaign) and Rep. Rick Noriega (for general help and direction), but none of those people returned her calls, either.

There were obviously conversations between Craddick's many enemies, Republicans among them, in 2006 about how to take him down. This may have earned Talton the respect so many Democrats showed him, as well as some enmity from conservatives of a Craddick-loving stripe. After all, there were over a dozen Texas House Democrats lining up behind the former Speaker in January 2007. Given that, how could any conservative fall out of formation and not be accused of heresy?

What this tells me -- and what it should tell you -- is that Democrats are such a beaten-down minority that they don't hesitate to throw one of their own under the bus if they can find a Republican to make a deal with. That's classic battered-spouse syndrome, folks. But the more important question is: what's the difference between the two parties, again?

I have a post prepared that is going to talk more about these local concession-tenderers, as John Behrman has referred to them. I may run it before Election Day... if I want to burn the last bridge between me and the Harris County Democratic Party. Suffice it for now to say that this is precisely where the roots of the problem for Democrats are dug in: with the oligarchs who are collecting markers, waiting for their next electoral opportunity.

But all of that is a digression from the low-quality opponent Vince Ryan has, as well as from the fine work he has done. Let's get Ryan back downtown to keep working as a check and balance against the worst of the Republicans on Harris County's Commissioners Court.

Brainy Endorsements so far include the following...

Nile Copeland for the First Court of Appeals
Alfred and GC Molison for HD 131 and SBOE, respectively
Henry Cooper for HD 148
Keith Hampton for Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Barbara Gardner for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Don Cook for Congress, 22nd District
Max Martin for Congress, 36th District
Remington Alessi for Harris County Sheriff
David Courtney for Texas Senate, District 17
Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector
Ann Johnson for HD-134
Mike Engelhart, Larry Weiman, and Al Bennett for the Harris County bench
Mark Roberts for Congress, 2nd District
David Collins for United States Senate

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