Thursday, July 26, 2012

Turnout remains poor, Dems plead with voters

While the TeaBaggers hold two huge rallies this weekend -- one in The Woodlands with Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, and Jim DeMint, one in DFW with Cruz, Dick Armey, and Glenn Beck -- our local Democratic party is literally begging voters to vote. Sue Mallot, a Spring precinct chair:

I'm working one of only two EV locations in North Harris Co. between Tomball and Kingwood. As of day 3 - Republicans 700+ ...Democrats 22!!!  Really - Yes - Really!!  I don't care that in most precincts there is only 1 election - Senator - it is a pretty darned important one - so Get off your Butt and Vote.  There are no could drive in vote and drive out in 20 minutes- or less.  And, And all of the voters with Hispanic surnames voted Republican and all of the young people voted Republican...What does that say about our prospects for November???

Yeah Sue, I don't know where enough enthusiasm is going to come from to overcome all the fear, bigotry, and hate these Republicans are fomenting. Maybe this morning's message from Gilberto Hinojosa will stoke a little determination in the hearts of the Dems. Its title: "This is what happens when we lose elections."

Dire. That’s the situation for Texas children. Texas ranks 44th in the nation on the overall well-being for children. More than one in four children in our state lives in poverty. That’s the reality as published by a report from the Annie E. Casey foundation. That’s utter failure.
But it’s also a reminder of what’s at stake. Elections are not just about who wins and who loses. They are about what happens to our loved ones as a result. When we don’t win, the people for whom we fight suffer. And it’s unquestionable that our children are suffering as a result of Republican rule.

These rankings are the results of Perry, Dewhurst, and their Republican buddies turning their back on our children. Republicans betrayed children by shutting down schools and by making it harder for kids to visit a doctor. There’s just too much at stake.

When we don’t win, more than one in four children in our state live in poverty. When we don’t win, neighborhood schools close. When we don’t win, nursing homes are forced to shut their doors leaving seniors with nowhere to go. When we don’t win, women lose access to cancer screenings and other vital health care.

If you didn’t cringe enough by Texas ranking 44 for the well-being of children, read the other shameful statistics and rankings for children in Texas:

  • 1.7 million Texas children – or 26 percent - live in poverty. 
  • Overall for children: 44 
  • Education: 32 
  • Economic well-being: 33 
  • Health: 42 
  • Family and community: 47 

Let's move on from the statistics, and get on with the prognostication.

For the purpose of this posting, let's assume that Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler are the two major party US Senate nominees. Where do moderate Republicans and conservative-leaning independents go? Whom do progressives and liberal independents vote for?

To me this outcome suggests a surge of sorts to the Libertarian and the Green. But how big a surge remains to be determined by the amount of traditional media coverage the two minor party candidates get (probably little to none). Whether they get to participate in the debates, for example.

However many lemmings cast a ballot in November, many will dial in one party and be done with it. What a shame. No election in recent memory cries out for voters to split their tickets than 2012, and that includes the presidential race all the way to the bottom of your ticket.

Downballot races locally will generate similar disgust among Harris County voters. The Republicans have two sheriff candidates in the runoff who have disciplinary records with the HCSO. The GOP lame duck incumbent tax assessor/collector, Don "I was TeaBaggin' Before It was Cool" Sumners, is being sued for the purpose of overturning the ongoing election for school board because he supplied the wrong map. Thus people not eligible to vote in the race did so, and some eligible to didn't have the option on their ballot.

Sumners' conqueror, former city councilman Mike Sullivan, has a worthy challenger, Ann Harris Bennett, opposing him in the fall. But those RWNJ straight-ticket sheep likely won't care. County attorney Vince Ryan has had Wayne Dolcefino broadsides leveled against him, but his opponent is Crazy Bob Talton. That alone should make it possible for Ryan to survive.

Similarly, Democrats who spin the wheel to the D will miss voting in a Texas Supreme Court race that will have either a racist or an arsonist (allegedly) on the Republican side, and an outstanding progressive running as a Green. They'll also miss one of the two Railroad Commission slots, where only an R, an L, and a G are on the ballot -- scroll down at that link to RRC Place 2.

This is both good and bad. By not voting for the Green, they can hold out hope of denying the party ballot access in 2014. Good for Texas Democrats very marginally, very bad for democracy.

It's so much easier to vote your conscience philosophically. Feels better, too. Of course it takes an extra five minutes.

My vote in the ongoing runoff is already in the bank: Grady Yarbrough for US Senate, Lissa Squiers for CD07, Erica Lee for school board trustee. (This last one is the one that will have to be revoted, and it may be in November with a wide open primary according to what I am hearing.) I don't get a vote in HD 137, but either Gene Wu or Jamaal Smith will make a fine representative. There are constable runoffs in the county for which I offer no opinion.

I encourage my readers to do your civic duty, but as you have observed I'm already looking past next Tuesday to November, when the choices don't generate quite so much angst. Or apathy.

Update: Charles Kuffner's case for turnout being fairly good locally in this runoff is well-taken.

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