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.

Friday, September 13, 2019

#DemDebateTSU: who got chopped, who got screwed

(For those missing the reference ...  keep in mind Scarface is running for city council.)

Crews with the Texas Department of Transportation have cleared the last remaining remnants of a Greenpeace USA protest that started shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday and went into the late afternoon.

By Thursday night, all protesters who had rappelled off the Fred Hartman Bridge at the Houston Ship Channel had been arrested, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted.

Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Valentina Stackl said Friday morning said that by 1:30 a.m., everyone had been taken into custody and were now waiting to hear about charges.

Hang 'em high, said the Khronically Konservative Kommenters.  After seven hours last week of climate change talk, there were no was just one question on the topic last night.  There's always next week.

Oh yeah ... the debate.

The consensus will probably be that Julián Castro distinguished himself in Thursday’s debate, thanks to some forceful talk on immigration, a good story about hard ethical choices, and some deliciously salty exchanges with Joe Biden. Biden himself did better than before, which isn’t saying much. There were still painful moments, especially a downright bizarre ramble delivered in response to a question on his racial record; Biden implied that black parents need instructions on how to raise children, told people to “make sure you have the record player on at night,” and then started talking about Venezuela for no reason at all. I continue to believe he is a political liability who should under no circumstances be nominated.

Bernie had some excellent answers on foreign policy and democratic socialism, sadly made less forceful thanks to a hoarse voice. Unfortunately, he was also denied the chance to say anything about climate change, meaning he couldn’t explain the urgent need for a Green New Deal.

Warren distinguished herself as an explainer of progressive policies and effectively replied to the line about people wanting to 'keep their insurance' by saying “I’ve never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.” Kamala Harris continues to duck tough questions about her atrocious record as a prosecutor, Amy Klobuchar continues to offer uninspiring centrist clichés, Beto O’Rourke continues to emphasize guns and racism, Andrew Yang gets ever closer to becoming Matthew Lesko, and Cory Booker continues to be personally endearing without offering any reason to vote for him.

Spot on, except I did not see Warren so favorably.

The senator from Massachusetts started off the night with weak answers on health care, dodging the reality of higher taxes for the middle class and simply refusing to acknowledge that the “Medicare for All” plan she endorses outlaws private medical insurance. As the night went on she got better, appearing passionate and informed.

There were some plaudits but mostly brickbats for the mods.

It’s clear that Democratic debate hosts continue their disingenuous framing of socialism and the left, from asking loaded questions about what distinguishes Bernie Sanders from Venezuela’s Nicholas Maduro to repeating conservative talking points about Medicare for All. The debates are becoming increasingly redundant, with few revelations materializing among them. However, moderators Linsey Davis and Jorge Ramos asked tough questions that were a welcome shift from the tone of previous debates.

Davis unflinchingly confronted Biden on his positions on racial equality and disinterest in reparations, and she directly called out Kamala Harris’ criminal justice record. Likewise, Jorge Ramos keyed in on Biden’s support for the Obama administration’s deportations of 3 million people.

As the debate was 3 hours long, there should have been plenty of time to follow up on these questions, instead half of the first hour was spent re-litigating Medicare for All. While there were no clear winners, and the frontrunners’ positions will likely change little after tonight, at least a few pointed questions forced some to contend with their records.

I agree that the two Texans, particularly Beto, had the best night.

He managed to turn the mass shooting in his hometown into a broader, bolder argument for what the country needs and why he can provide it. That memorable line -- “Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47” -- came after he described how a 15-year-old bled out over the course of an hour because there weren't enough ambulances to get to the wounded. It’s part of his new model of throwing caution to the winds. To me it makes him a stronger candidate. But I’m not a middle-of-the-road suburban voter.

The gun nuts in the Lege erupted.  And with Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz both creeping away from Dan Patrick to his right, the momentum for pushback has been established.

Another big moment for O'Rourke came at the end of a riff on racism, when he said of Trump: "We have a white supremacist in the White House and he poses a mortal threat to people of color across this country."

O'Rourke's campaign was ready for a spike in Google searches and social media traffic that followed. His website was overhauled to feature a menacing red image of Trump with the words "The President of the United States of America is a white supremacist" -- as well as lots of links to Trump's racist comments.

I saw lots of whining about Castro being mean to Biden, which Boot Edge Edge carped about from the stage.   Castro slapped him down, too.

"Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?" Castro ... said to Biden. "Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? I can't believe that you said -- two minutes ago -- that they had to buy in and now you're forgetting that. We need a health care system where you're automatically enrolled."

Buttigieg cut in, saying, "This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable."

He continued: "This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington. Scoring points against each other, poking at each other."

Castro replied, "That's called the Democratic primary election, Pete. That's called an election."

This is exactly what any presidential nominee wants in a veep.  Bravo to Castro, and blue stars to both Beto and Julián.  It's about time.

I could really do without any more of Yang, Klobuchar, Mayo Pete, and Karmala, but we're stuck with them for awhile longer.  Steyer will be there in October, and Tulsi is just one more poll away.

Booker damned both Biden and Castro with faint praise, or something.

Let's note the heretofore undiscovered fault line between Bernie and Liz.

(Sanders and Warren) have been reluctant to go after each other when sharing the debate stage; in fact, they frequently end up agreeing with and supporting each other. The pair had a significant disagreement on Thursday night, though, when Warren swung a question about gun control around to announce her stance on the Senate filibuster.

"We have a Congress that's beholden to the gun industry," Warren said. "And unless we're willing to address that head on and roll back the filibuster, we're not going to get anything done on guns."


Sanders was asked afterward if he would support abolishing the filibuster as well. "No," the senator said bluntly. Sanders has said in the past that "Donald Trump supports the ending of the filibuster so you should be a little bit nervous if Donald Trump supports it," and argued that he has other ways to work the Senate rules.

But The New York Times' Astead Herndon observed that Warren coming out against the filibuster was strategic in that it "force[s] Bernie into a rare place of being an institutionalist."

Here's what's most interesting: establishment Democrats scoff at a President Sanders' chances of passing any of his agenda without at least something like reconciliation.  So this development is worth observing.  Sanders, with his decades of Senate experience, may have a trick up his sleeve, or may know something Warren, an upper chamber rookie, simply doesn't.

To the macro point:

I do not believe Warren can defeat Trump.  (I'm all but certain Biden can't.)  I find her outreach to the Democratic elites disingenuous to her presentation; it reveals her fauxgressive façade.  Bernie, in fact, is going to have to take the gloves off and go after her.

More for another day.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update: H-Town Fight Night

There will be no cursing, Beto.

I won't be on the scene this evening (despite receiving a very special invitation, details of which I shouldn't disclose) due to lingering balance and audio difficulties.  I also turned down multiple watch party invitations.  So I'm viewing at home, just like you.  And live-Tweeting, to your right; with a morning-after synopsis tomorrow.

Everybody read last week?  I'm trying not to laugh any more at this kind of thing.  Here's an update to what I posted there:

The Dementia Train is finally showing signs of slowing down.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the Democratic primary has been cut in half, according to a new poll out Wednesday, and while Biden still maintains his grip on front-runner status, the CNN poll shows Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders incrementally creeping up on him.

The CNN poll shows a drop of 5 percentage points in support for Biden in the past three weeks, to 24 percent from 29 percent. The national survey of Democratic primary voters also saw Warren jump Sanders for second place, though the two are still within the margin of sampling error at 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Texas Democrats are, as usual, a little slow on the uptake.

And this one's for that jackass at the beauty shop.

There are lots of reasons for not voting for WAR-ren piling up; it's just that EJ Bob doesn't have the right idea about what they are.

So with Biden and Warren onstage together for the first time, there ought to be some friction.

Over this past weekend in New Hampshire, all of the major candidates -- including Biden and Warren -- were in the state for its Democratic Party's annual convention. Which is where, from the stage and with thousands of loyal Democrats cheering her every word, Warren said this:

"There is a lot at stake, and people are scared. But we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in because we're scared."

If you think a) that line was accidental or b) it wasn't aimed directly at Biden's electability argument, there's a very hot video company named Blockbuster I'd like to sell you.


But Biden has prepared a counterargument.

"I expect you'll see Biden echo an important point he made during last week's climate forum: We need more than plans, we need a president who can deliver progress on the most pressing issues facing Americans -- which Joe Biden has proven he can throughout his career," a Biden adviser told CNN earlier this week.

Plans are not enough is, again, a very purposeful shot at Warren -- even though her name wasn't invoked by the adviser -- who has premised her entire candidacy on the idea that she has a detailed plan for anything and everything.

Biden's team sees the contrast between his years of fighting and winning political battles and Warren's years spent in academia and her relative lack of legislative accomplishments during her seven years in the Senate.

One of these two candidates has done things and one has talked about what she would do, goes the Biden argument.

*yawn* Sometimes Cillizza is so dense.

One of these two candidates has his right foot in the grave and his left foot on a banana peel, and the other has stolen all her plans from Bernie and watered them down with capitalism.

The sooner Biden exits, the sooner Democrats can have the real debate.

So here's where I might have posted a bunch of excerpts and Tweet embeds about Bernie being ignored or dissed by corporate media, as per usual.  I'll just do this one.

Okay, one more.

Okay, that's it.  Let's move on.

Now is as good a time as any to reference the Three Stooges.

More on their debate here.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) are slated to appear in the Sept. 24 debate, while former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) has also been invited.

The debate will be held as part of Business Insider Today, a daily online news show from the publication on Facebook's video on demand service.

"President Trump was invited to participate but has not responded," Business Insider said in a press release Tuesday afternoon announcing the event.

Trump on Monday indicated he would not debate the Republicans who have announced bids to challenge him for the 2020 GOP nomination, pointing to their low polling figures and dismissing their bids as "a publicity stunt."

Business Insider said it would hold its debate at its New York City headquarters. The event from Business Insider, a company that launched in 2007, will be moderated by Insider CEO Henry Blodget, politics editor Anthony Fisher and columnist Linette Lopez.

I'll be more interested in this than whatever Bathroom Book Collector or Boot Edgex2 or Copmala or Last Chance Bob or Yank have to say tonight.

Booker and Castro, on the other hand, are my preferred choices for the Biden vote migration.  And not just here in Deep-In-The-Hearta.

Castro, who held a “Castro Country” rally Monday night in Houston, remains confident he can win his home-state primary once he proves himself in the earlier states.

“My plan is to work hard so that I can do well in Iowa, I can gain momentum and then by the time we get to Texas, it's going to be a different ballgame,” Castro told reporters after the rally. “What we see now in the polling is simple theory, because by the time we get to March 3, there's going to be a lot of changes in this race and I know I need to do well before Texas so I can win in Texas.”


 ... Cory Booker headlined the Texas Democratic Party’s yearly Johnson-Jordan Dinner a year ago in Austin. That appearance seemed to be on the mind of the Travis County chair, Dyana Limon-Mercado, as she introduced Booker last month at a small-dollar fundraiser for his campaign in Austin.

Booker, she said, had been “paying attention to Texas when a lot of other people weren’t.”

For his part, Booker pledged to be the kind of party standard bearer who works hard for down-ballot candidates, mentioning the U.S. Senate race next year in Texas. “And if I’m your nominee, I’m back down here helping to organize so that I win Texas and you win Texas,” Booker said.

I did finally figure out why Beto is polling so strongly with Latinxs: a handful of small reasons.

1)  Beto speaks Spanish fluently and Castro does not.  (To be clear, this can be a mixed bag, and the difference, as with Biden's support among African Americans, is generational.)
2)  Beto's actions, post-El Paso massacre, have been gratefully acknowledged.
3)  He's the only candidate doing this (so far).

This is a big switch from his 2018 Senate campaign against Ted Cruz, if you recall.

-- We have been reading for some time now that Beto O'Rourke's fate lies in the hands of these intractable non-voting, mostly RGV-dwelling brown voters.  But so does that of Gina Ortiz Jones, a little further up the Rio Grande along the Big Bend, and it appears she will suffer the same fate as Pete Gallegos did in SD-19's special election last month.

Here's the best thing I read about Gabbard this week.

Heading for the finish line with Mike Gravel and Howie Hawkins.

(On September 9) the Mike Gravel campaign urged supporters to back the Howie Hawkins campaign’s efforts to qualify for federal matching funds. Hawkins is running for the Green Party’s nomination for president.

Gravel had previously endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic primary. In Gravel’s email today he also urged support for Howie Hawkins in the Green primary.


Hawkins has admired Mike Gravel since he read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record on June 29, 1971. Gravel read the papers into the record when the New York Times was enjoined from publishing them and the issue was before the US Supreme Court.

More here from David Collins, who was with Hawkins this past Monday evening here in Houston, and photos and a post from the Dallas meetup from Gadfly.  Green presidential candidates will debate later this month.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has written this week's roundup entirely in Sharpie.

The best of the left Texas blog posts, Tweets, and news always has to include looking at what the Right is doing ... or more likely, not doing.  Last week was no exception.

The focus ahead will be presidential candidates debating in Houston, raising money in Dallas and Austin, and Republicans who've decided to challenge Trump in the GOP primary as well as a new face in October's fourth Democratic debate.

Patrick Svitek's recent Twitter posts contain more details.

SocraticGadfly took an initial look at Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins and his intra-Greens controversial statements on Russiagate shortly before his visit to Texas. A follow-up post is coming, about his Dallas stop.

But before we gaze any further ahead, let's glance back ...

We're past Labor Day, "everyone is paying attention", and the 2019 (and '20) election season is shifting into high gear.  The H-Town mayor's race is coming to a boil.

The mayoral candidate forum was just several minutes underway when the gloves came off between Tony Buzbee and Bill King, two self-styled independents seeking to win Houston’s top office behind a base of conservative and moderate support.

Facing a room of Republicans Wednesday at the ritzy Walden Country Club off Lake Houston, Buzbee and King took their most direct shots at each other yet: King, casting himself as a “technocrat,” pressed the case that Buzbee is unprepared to become mayor, while Buzbee suggested King would never truly reform the city’s system for awarding contracts, as both candidates have promised.

Buzbee also scoffed at King’s argument that the next mayor should not have to “rely on a bunch of experts” or be trained on the job.

“I’ll surround myself with the smartest people,” Buzbee said. “Maybe I’ll even hire Bill.”

In "They Persisted", Megan Kimble at the Texas Observer profiled three women who are back for another swing at a Congressional seat.

Six Democratic challengers to John Cornyn debated in Frisco last Thursday; both the Dallas News and the Houston Chron provided an account.

Follow the link in the Tweet and you should be able to jump the paywall.

The TexTrib had state Sen. Royce West's financial disclosures -- revealed because he's running for US Senate -- analyzed and found a lot to be concerned about.

Ross Ramsey's take underscores the laxity of the Lone Star State's oversight in this regard.  And Cornyn may get another challenger in the primary.

Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who ousted longtime Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) in the 2018 Republican primary, announced he was exploring a primary challenge of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) from the right. Fallon said he would meet with voters and Republican leaders over the next few days.

Fallon is not up for re-election until 2022, so this would be a "free shot" for him. Fallon’s ability to self-fund -- He kicked off his state Senate campaign by loaning it $1.8M -- and appeal to more conservative factions within the party [emphasis PDiddie's] could make him Cornyn’s most difficult primary challenger since his 1998 run for attorney general.

Cleveland business owner and 2014 primary challenger Dwayne Stovall and Plano investment advisor Mark Yancey are already in the race. Cornyn was held under 60% of the vote in the 2014 primary by Stovall (19%), former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (11%) and five other candidates. Cornyn received 81% and 77% of the vote in the 2008 and 2002 primary elections, respectively.

Svitek at the TexTrib also reports that there are 27 candidates who have filed to fill three vacant seats (HD28, HD100, and HD148) in the Texas House for special elections -- which means jungle primaries -- on this November's ballot.

More from Austin:

Quorum Report's Scott Braddock traveled to Angleton Monday night for the local Republican party's referendum on their hometown boy.

Strong at home: Brazoria County GOP rejects resolution condemning Speaker Bonnen

Vote was 23 to 9 as the GOP executive committee in Bonnen’s home county agreed with the argument that MQ Sullivan and Empower Texas should have to “do their own dirty work.”

“Pray for Dennis Bonnen. That’s the best thing you can do,” said Brazoria County GOP Chairman Shayne Green after the executive committee he leads voted down a resolution calling on the scandal-plagued Speaker of the Texas House to resign.

After a debate that was at times tense in a small un-airconditioned room in the county courthouse annex, the Brazoria County GOP Executive Committee voted 23 to 9 to reject the resolution that read, in part, "Corruption and bribery within our state government shall not be condoned.” The rejected language then reads: “we call for the immediate resignation of Speaker Dennis Bonnen.”

The debate was limited to about 20 minutes after Chairman Green said it would be possible for him to allow it to run as long as midnight.

Local Republicans were not in the mood for that.

The Texas Signal is skeptical of Dan Patrick's seeming willingness to consider more background checks for gun purchases.

Off the Kuff discusses some strategies for dealing with the latest voting restriction ploys.

Better Texas Blog worries about lower Medicaid and CHIP enrollment numbers.

And out in west Texas ...

And in Houston:

Urban Edge examines the connection between wealth and tree distribution in American cities.

This op-ed in the Chron ...

... received an indignant rebuttal from Tory Gattis.

Some lighter fare, starting with a little mockery.

Danny Gallagher at the Dallas Observer says that the second year of the Plano Comedy Festival is going to be bigger, better, and funnier.

The San Antonio Current reviews a new animated series set in the Alamo City.

And KISS shouted it out loud one last time at Big Greasy's Toyota Center.

In the end, as with so many of their other shows, the band was unsentimental and workmanlike, and there were few references to the fact this was to be the band's final show in Houston. Aside from a few references to playing at the Music Hall and the Summit, there weren't any pauses to soak up the adulation.

KISS came, KISS saw, KISS coordinated an efficient performance. Long live KISS.

Personal Bias: Dressed as Ace Frehley for 3rd grade Halloween. I think that's all that needs to be said.
The Crowd: Lots more kids than I was expecting.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Do you need to sit down, dude?"
Random Notebook Dump: "Some of you weren't born when this song came out; it's about cunnilingus."