Friday, January 22, 2016

Rodney Ellis wants to fill vacancy on Harris commissioners' court

But he doesn't want the interim job.

Longtime state Sen. Rodney Ellis has begun making calls to local Democratic Party leaders and plans to run for the Harris County Commissioner seat left vacant after the death of El Franco Lee, a spokesman said Thursday night. 
County Judge Ed Emmett will announce and swear in Lee's temporary replacement in Precinct 1 on Friday and Lee's name will remain on the ballot for the primary. 
But Ellis' campaign spokesman David Edmonson said late Thursday the Houston lawmaker was not pursuing Emmett's interim appointment. Ellis has researched the statute, and has asked an aide to lay out the steps a candidate like him would need to take to get his name removed from the November ballot for senator should the Democratic Party chairs choose him as the general election candidate for the commissioner's seat.

I take this at face value; Judge Emmett will appoint someone to serve for the rest of this year who is not named Rodney Ellis, and that is a little surprising.  Whatever it means, Emmett will announce his pick at ten a.m. this morning, and I'll update here (but not until this afternoon, so watch your Twitter for breaking news at that time).

Update: It's Gene Locke, former city attorney, former mayoral challenger.

Locke, 68, a senior partner at the Andrews Kurth law firm, served as city attorney under the late Mayor Bob Lanier in the 1990s and ran for mayor in 2009, losing in a runoff to Annise Parker. 
"I plan to be a hands-on, on the ground, let's get with the program commissioner, which means that I will follow in El Franco's footsteps," Locke said. 
He added: "This precinct belongs to El Franco Lee, and anything that I do over the next several months is dedicated to him." 
Asked if he intended to run for the post in November, Locke said, "My intention is to go back to the practice of law and enjoy my family."

Locke tried the old "black, brown, and red" (names you'll recognize) route to the mayor's office in 2009, made the runoff but didn't come all that close to City Hall.  In a related development, Quorum Report notes that another powerful state legislator is thinking of challenging -- in whatever fashion that happens to take, since at this point it's the Precinct One chairs who will vote to select a permanent replacement this summer -- for the seat on commissioners' court.

... Rep. Garnet Coleman tells QR he is looking at it as well: "As chair of county affairs, it’s something I’ve looked at for a very long time. I didn’t think that Rodney would pursue it, but he decided to."

Update II:

City Councilmen Jerry Davis, Dwight Boykins and Larry Green said Friday they have begun campaigning, such as it is, under these unusual circumstances. Councilman C.O. Bradford said constituents had encouraged him to run, and he's considering it. 
A legal memo prepared for county Democratic chair Lane Lewis outlined a path by which Ellis said he could seek the (November) ballot spot. In mid-June the Democratic party chairs for Precinct 1 will vote for a candidate to replace Lee on the ballot. 
If the party chose him for commissioner, Ellis could withdraw his name from the ballot for state senator, which would trigger a second process by the Democratic leaders to pick a Democrat for state Senate.

Presumably there will be six months of schmoozing the precinct chairs with votes in the contest.  We can start the Ellis/Coleman replacement watch to ticking, and Borris Miles is allegedly the early front-runner in a potential SD-13 special election.


Gadfly said...

Not wanting the interim squares with Emmett saying (IIRC) he didn't want to give any regular candidate a leg up on the regular election, so, there we go.

Gadfly said...

Oh, that sounds interesting. What's your thoughts, from being on the ground with Dem connections, as to whether it's Ellis or Coleman for the permanent?

PDiddie said...

Very fluid considering the electorate. Both men have strong constituencies in the district, Ellis more so than Coleman on the basis of SD size compared to HD size, both men highly regarded, but there's really no way to gauge support among the precinct chairs. (Charles Kuffner will be one of those electing the heir.)

And there are precinct chair vacancies, so there will be some underground effort to fill those with supporters of one camp or the other. There is an SD-13 committee chair for this task; who that person is aligned with may be a tell.

But it's worth noting that Ellis has said he is in, while Coleman has only said he is 'looking'. It's not really a contest yet.

joseph m said...

What about people outside the political establishment that aren't black [male] democrats?

Does it realky have to be a male?

Does the person realky have to black?

PDiddie said...


African American Democrats in Houston are very, very possessive of their elected positions.

joseph m said...

OK, I understand.

But there's a thing called a platform and putting it on your website