Saturday, May 26, 2012

Post EV, pre-ED snips

-- Paying to play in the GOP primary.

This election season, some prominent Republicans are calling foul on the political "slate mailers" that show up in your mailbox. Critics say the mailed advertisements -- which endorse a slate (or list) of candidates -- are textbook examples of "pay for play" politics.

Three well-known Houston Republicans -- Steve Hotze, Terry Lowry and Gary Polland -- publish newsletter/mailers that have an outsized influence on election returns. But do the endorsements involve a shakedown? In the case of the Lowry and Polland newsletters, a candidate seeking an "endorsement" usually purchases a pricey advertisement that far exceeds the cost of a mailer. Hotze's newsletter doesn't carry ads, but critics claim that candidates must employ his friend, political consultant Allen Blakemore, to win an endorsement.

Recently, Houston attorney Ed Hubbard set off a firestorm when he wrote on the political blog Big Jolly Politics that "most voters don't understand that (the mailers) are not official evaluations from the local party, but instead, are paid-for propaganda from one person or organization intended to influence the outcome of the primary." Hubbard suggested that a better system would be a party-sponsored candidate guide, much like the League of Women Voters.

"Candidates are victimized by this," said Hubbard. 

First, click on the names with links above, which will take you to the HouChron's archive of stories about the high-dollar whores in the Harris County Republican Party. Second, the link to Ed Hubbard writing on BJ has been removed, but the folks at have the excerpt, and even they are embarrassed for the locals.

How low must you go to be a Republican scorned by the heirs to Andrew Breitbart's legacy? Lower than a rattlesnake's anus in a wagon rut, that's how low.

I just don't know who to feel sorrier for, the poor victimized GOP candidates or the sheep carrying the slate cards to the poll with them. To commemorate Ralph Waldo Emerson on the occasion of his 209th birthday, let's revisit his words on groupthink:

“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”

-- Alas, more political junk mail, this time from Democrats...

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is investigating how political mailers from at least one candidate running for Precinct 1 constable were sent to the home addresses of current deputies employed by that precinct.

Some law enforcement information, including the home addresses of officers, is exempted from the Texas Public Information Act.

Kyle Johnston, who is handling mail for the Alan Rosen campaign, said he was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury this week, but that his appearance was then delayed. Johnston said investigators showed him two hand-addressed envelopes containing Rosen political mailers and was asked whether he knew anything about them.

When Johnston asked what was wrong with the mailers, he said the investigators told him, “It’s who they went to and how they went about getting that list.”

Johnston said he designed the mailers as part of his work with the campaign, but did not mail the letters in question. He said he suspects the inquiry may be politically motivated and an effort to hamper Rosen.

“I do the bulk mail. I don’t do first-class stamps and hand-written envelopes,” Johnston said. “If (deputies) are getting my mail it’s because they’re a voter that lives in Precinct 1. There’s nothing in my databases that says ‘law enforcement,’ nor was I provided a list of law enforcement officers or anything like that.”

If I never have to blog another fucking word about mailers, life will be simply grand.

You realize we could eliminate many of these problems by limiting campaign spending, don't you?

-- Finally, a word about turnout in the Harris County primary elections: dismal.

Possibly spurred by a hotly contested U.S. Senate race and a presumed-but-not-final presidential candidate, twice as many Republicans showed up to vote in person - 60,347 - compared with 30,142 Democrats.

Republicans also greatly outpaced Democrats in the number of mail-in ballots requested and returned. 

Well, I suppose the Crips can hope that many of their voters crossed over to cast ballots for Ron Paul and Craig James in the Bloods primary.

-- State conventions are happening all across Texas weekend after next. The Democrats are coming together here in Houston, the Greens are assembling outside San Antonio near Bandera (they will be hosting David Cobb's Move to Amend roadshow on Friday June 8), and the Republicans and Libertarians are both meeting in Fort Worth. All that should make for lots of fun political headlines.

Happy Memorial Day weekend and don't forget the reason why we're off on Monday.

Update: Oh yeah, this is kind of important.

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it will monitor primary elections on May 29, 2012, in Fort Bend, Harris and Jefferson Counties in Texas, to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes.  [...]
Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Fort Bend and Jefferson Counties based on the attorney general’s certification.  In addition, Fort Bend is subject to a court order entered in 2009, which requires the jurisdiction to comply with the minority language and assistor of choice requirements of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the requirements of the Help America Vote Act.  The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these counties, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Harris County.  A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

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