Monday, March 26, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post and news round-up, the Texas Progressive Alliance was delighted to let the youth lead the way this past weekend.

As if the March For Our Lives events weren’t epic enough, Texas Leftist was glad to see some Houston-area high school students begin another impressive movement.  By bringing prominent Democratic and Republican leaders together in ways that political forces have fallen short, the Inaugural Day of Unity Texas is off to a great start.

Stace at Dos Centavos gives his impressions of law enforcement's and the media's portrayal of the Austin bomber.  With a corresponding POV, employs an unfortunate pun to destroy the myth of Austin as the liberal bastion of Texas.

Across social media, especially, a narrative formed that the Austin bombings were another example that media does not cover tragedies in communities of color with the same determination as disasters affecting white communities.
“When does a story pick up steam and why -- is it simply because of the volume or because the problem left East Austin,” says Kevin Foster, a professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies department at the University of Texas at Austin, and who is involved in community programs on the east side. “I don’t know the answer, but we need to ask the question. This community is used to institutional neglect and being marginalised.”

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton revealed himself to be entirely clueless about the details of the Austin bomber in multiple media appearances, writes RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly.

In his irregular curation of criminal justice stories needing more attention, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast blogged about the Fifth Circuit getting benchslapped by the SCOTUS in Ayestas v. Davis.

Both The Intercept and Down With Tyranny wrote about the DCCC's greasy thumb on the scales in Texas Congressional primaries.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer names ten Texas celebrities who ought to get into politics, a list that might have been a bit more useful before we voted three weeks ago.

Off the Kuff analyzed Harris County precinct data for the Democratic Senate primary. (zzz)

SocraticGadfly offers his thoughts on the lawsuit by Seth Rich's parents.

Neil at All People Had Value made the point that we are facing an authoritarian/Constitutional crisis.

Ted at jobsanger enjoys watching Trump squirm over the Stormy Daniels business, but thinks it's time for the country to move on.

Lewisville municipal candidates debated at the city's renovated Music City Mall, and the Texan Journal has details.

Ahead of the 2020 census, the TexTrib counts the ways Texans are getting more difficult to find and include, which has ramifications from federal funding to redistricting.

Space City Weather explains why a hurricane forecast for 2018 will be a challenge.

Bonddad advises caution in interpreting opinion polls based on voluntary associations.

In transportation blame-game postings, Jeff Balke at the Houston Press faults negligent drivers for the spate of car crashes with light rail trains in H-Town, and Mean Green Cougar Red takes a long look at the Uber self-driving car that caused the death of a bicyclist.

In another post about closing the barn door after the cows have left the building, Dwight Silverman at Tech Burger shows how to manage your Facebook privacy settings.  Just get off the crack, y'all.

And Harry Hamid writes a story about a friend who became an energy vampire.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Scattershooting springy events and developments

-- Democratic Senate District conventions are tomorrow.  So is the March for Our Lives.

The big one, in DC, will be televised; there are more than 800 others happening across the world.  In Houston there will be two marches, one at Tranquility Park downtown at 9 a.m. and the other setting off from Heights HS at 10.  Also in Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Galveston.  There's an awesome after-party this evening.  Crooked Timber has some posters you can download and print.

-- The District K Houston City Council special election loses one candidate but still has two others.  Ashton P. Woods would have been my choice, but he is deferring to "a black woman" for the post, an admirable move.  Woods still plans to be on the municipal ballot in 2019 for an at-large seat.

With that said, We can't just elect the first Black woman who steps up without vetting them to make sure they won't block ordinances that protect Black people on the fringes like the Trans community and the black LGBT community at large. We need people who will have integrity to govern with respect to separation of church and state, and the strength to be open and honest. We need people willing to do what many of the men on council have failed to do, we need someone who will represent the interests of ALL Houstonians and not their donors. It is clear that city government is going in the wrong direction and not taking the time to address racial and economic disparities in Houston's Black & Brown community. Instead, the focus is to criminalize the homeless, beautify the city, and pedal the "Houston is a welcoming city" lie.

Correct me if I'm wrong but this doesn't sound like an endorsement of Pat Frazier, the only black woman in the race that I am aware of.  Update: Until yesterday, when the late CM Green's constituent liaison, Martha Castex-Tatum, filed.  The TexTrib shows she has also worked in CM Steve Le's office.  Her website is still under construction at this update, but her press release published at Guidry News lists previous electoral experience as a member of city council in San Marcos.  Here's a brief excerpt from the Chron's (paywalled) article about the race:

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Monday to file for the District K election, which is set for May 5. The city is maintaining a list of those who have filed, and a map of the district is available here.

-- Trump communicates something (even without a comms director).

He won't veto it (the government will shut down and he'll get the blame). But even if he does, it won't be because of DACA but his precious wall.  Those shithole Democrats who, indeed, abandoned DREAMers left themselves wide open for this.  It's political kabuki, and the Democrats whose names appear in the last link just felt the samurai sword come down on the back of their necks.  It was an act of seppuku they performed last month; Trump just applied the coup de grâce (too many foreign languages?).

I'm looking at you, Bob.

Update: "I will never sign another bill like this again..."  Bullshit thick as a brick.

-- In sunnier news, the Tomball German Festival and Bayou Greenway Day and the Bayou City Art Festival are all this weekend.  And it's almost bluebonnet season.

Halfway between​ Austin and Houston, Brenham is a town that prides itself on its wildflowers. Using "Flower Watch," visitors can check in almost daily on the Visit Brenham website to see what is blooming. As of March 15, the bluebonnets are coming in a little later than usual, but there are a few clusters beginning to gather, and the town expects the season to peak at the end of March.

Among the suggested prime viewing spots is Hwy 290 East and West as you drive into Brenham; FM 1155 to 2679 in Chappell Hill; and FM 2447 and Hwy 290 at First Baptist Church of Chappell Hill (the church welcomes visitors, but requests that the parking lot remain open to members of its congregation).

That Chappell Hill route (FM 1155) is our favorite.  You can pause at the Washington-on-the-Brazos museum at the end, then slide over to SH 6 at Navasota and take a quick shot back to H-Town.  Lots of country dining options along the way.  Go on the weekend of April 14/15 and take in the Bluebonnet Festival before your drive, but be prepared for Houston-size hordes.  Go any other time, especially a weekday (check opening and closing times) to enjoy the experience without the crowds. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Is Facebook an accomplice, though, or just the getaway car?  Do we prosecute the guns used in a shooting ... or do we regulate them more strongly so that the "bad guys" can't get them?

The news keeps pouring in about the illegal data operations of the firm Cambridge Analytica, which used a Facebook personality quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife” to mine the data of millions of users, most of whom never actually used the app. The mined data went on to be used by Republican campaigns in 2016.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a large part of the effort to mine data on American voters was overseen by Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive chairman and Trump strategist who recently utterly failed to lead a radical right-wing insurgency in the Republican party.

Bannon used Cambridge to test phrases like “drain the swamp” used in the campaign of Donald Trump and the phrase “deep state,” which became the name of the all-consuming right-wing conspiracy theory over the past year. These phrases were tested by Bannon and Cambridge more than three years before they entered the popular political discussion.

Cambridge was part of Bannon’s effort to build a right-wing populist machine on the right. But a former research director and founding force of Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie, made the depth of this connection apparent Tuesday in an interview with the Post. Wylie said that Bannon approved the $1 million operation to acquire Facebook profiles and other data in 2014.

Wylie’s account was one of several connected to Cambridge Analytica that Facebook suspended for its failure to comply with destroying the ill-gotten user data.

There are certainly some First Amendment issues at stake: people willingly, if not entirely wittingly, hand over their personal information, which becomes Facebook's property virtually forever, even if you delete your account.  Nefarious intentions of Facebook or those who purchase its data aside (a massive 'if'), has Mark Zuckerburg simply lost control of his creation, as with Dr. Frankenstein?  Should we let the invisible hand of the free market -- that would be us, since we're the merchandise and not the customer -- slap the crap out of this kid (more harshly than a $35 billion 'market correction', that is)?

How to use Facebook while giving it the minimum amount of personal data

How to delete Facebook

Maybe we should just praise Jeebus that the conversation has finally (maybe) turned away from "the Rushins hacked thuh elekshun"...

Here's your reading.

-- From the end of the GritPost link (excerpt at top):

The gravity of the legal and ethical questions about Cambridge’s actions might overshadow the practical consideration: did it even work? It’s unclear if there was much actually gained from the firestorm-generating and dubious data mining operation, with Trump digital director Brad Parscale saying the data wasn’t actually useful.

Parscale was recently tapped to run Trump's 2020 re-election campaign.  If there is one; for a variety of reasons I have my doubts as to whether that happens.

-- Washington Monthly (link from excerpt below within):

Here’s the part that stood out to me:
The company says their work with data and research allowed Mr Trump to win with a narrow margin of “40,000 votes” in three states providing victory in the electoral college system, despite losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes.
That is likely a reference to their efforts at voter suppression among Clinton supporters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. I suspect we’ll be hearing more about that story at some point.

-- Facebook and all of us are not alone on this Titanic disaster, as we know.  Our data, everywhere it is stored online, is being hacked, leaked, misused, etc. on a daily basis by every kind of bad actor.

"It’s not just the Cambridge Analytica debacle. Ethics don’t scale," Paul Ford writes in Bloomberg Businessweek's cover story.

The big picture: "What’s been unfolding for a while now is a rolling catastrophe so obvious we forget it’s happening. Private data are spilling out of banks, credit-rating providers, email providers, and social networks and ending up everywhere."

"So this is an era of breaches and violations and stolen identities. Big companies can react nimbly when they fear regulation is actually on the horizon — for example, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have agreed to share data with researchers who are tracking disinformation, the result of a European Union commission on fake news."
"But for the most part we’re dealing with global entities that own the means whereby politicians garner votes, have vast access to capital to fund lobbying efforts, and are constitutionally certain of their own moral cause."

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance takes alarmed note this morning of the fourth bombing in the minority communities of Austin, and wonders when President Trump might Tweet about them.

Here's the blog post and news roundup from last week.

Covering his ethnic base, Beto O'Rourke appeared on Bill Maher's HBO show the night before Saint Patrick's Day, and both men agreed that Ted Cruz is a giant asshole.  Relative to that ...

... Progress Texas reveals its "Humans Against Ted Cruz" website and swag.

Brains and Eggs completed his analysis of the state legislative and Harris County results, with some predictions for the May runoffs and the November general election.  He also noted the start of the ballot access petition-gathering effort for the Texas Green Party.

Off the Kuff examined the relationship between primary turnout and victory in November, Greg Jefferson at the San Antonio Current reviewed some of the many victories won by women in the primaries, and Bonddad poured a little cold water on Democratic midterm enthusiasm.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer explains how just two votes in the Texas Senate -- flipping the seats of Konni Burton (SD-10, D challenger Beverly Powell), Don Huffines (SD-16, D challenger Nathan Johnson) or Joan Huffman (SD-17, D challenger either Rita Lucido or Fran Watson, determined in May runoff) would tip the balance of power.

The fates of the three Republican incumbents in those races ... won't swing the partisan balance of the chamber. If all three keep their jobs, Republicans will have the majority of seats. Same goes if voters decide to remove all three. If any of the three GOP incumbents loses, however, that could make a dramatic difference in the ability of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to set the agenda for the Senate, which he presides over as president.

Burton, Huffman and Huffines are the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election to the Senate ... Huffman and Huffines both represent districts that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. 

A Fifth Circuit panel of three judges upheld most of the sanctuary cities law, and RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly interprets that as unfavorable for the plaintiffs challenging its legality.

Texas Freedom Network sees that the LGBTQ community -- despite US Supreme Court rulings upholding their freedom to marry -- is still forced to fight the state of Texas for those rights.

A federal lawsuit filed by Ty Clevenger at Lawflog seeks FBJ and DOJ records relating to the murder of DNC employee Seth Rich.

Grits for Breakfast blogs about the culture of cover-up at the TDJC.

After yet another chemical plant explosion, this time in Cresson (outside Fort Worth), Texas Vox wonders again why there is no statewide chemical emergency alert system in place.  It would be as simple as duplicating existing weather or Amber Alerts for missing children/seniors.

With the reported sale of the Austin American-Statesman, SocraticGadfly offers up a game of post-primary Texas mainstream media bingo.

In other media news, San Antonio-based iHeartMedia, once known as Clear Channel Communications before a bewildering swirl of spinoffs and rebranding (but still nominally controlled by the in-laws of Cong. Michael McCaul) declared bankruptcy due to crushing debt and weak radio advertising revenue projections.  Texas Standard reported that their problems began ten years ago, in a leveraged buyout engineered by Bain Capital, of Mitt Romney repute.

The Lewisville City Council is expected to voice support for the Texas Central Railway, the Dallas-to-Houston bullet train project, and other items in its meeting tonight, reports the Texan Journal.

David Collins, an IT guy, blogs about the other IT (inverted totalitarianism).

Gus Bova at the Texas Observer introduces the socialist metalhead stumping for single-payer.

In rare bipartisan agreement, Houstonia notes that the Right and the Left are both up in arms about a puppy that died in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight.

Leah Binkovitz at the Urban Edge points to a new study out of Houston that suggests that the benefits of homeownership are also ensnared in a discriminatory appraisal process that perpetuates racial inequality.

Houston Justice covered the protest at the Texas Education Association's Austin headquarters of the proposed plans to either privatize or close several of Houston's historic minority high schools, and Raise Your Hand Texas reported from the recent public school finance commission hearing.

As always, Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly John Cornyn Houston office protest.

And Harry Hamid, at a funeral for a friend, points out that people live on in our stories about them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Harris County results, projections for runoffs, and November

This will be the last of these until shortly before May 22 (the primary runoff election date).  And what a relief.  As I've heard it said, the nation's third-largest county in terms of population has a civil and criminal court system larger than several small countries, and getting through the primary ballot -- where some civil and judicial races are left vacant -- is no small feat for the voter.

Sidebar: In the '90's I was a poll worker at a Republican primary voting location in River Oaks -- this was when ballots were still paper, and voter rolls were six pages of varying colors that the clerks had to separate into piles after the poll closed - and one overly-bejeweled woman turned around from the counter where she was marking her ballot and said with an indignant tone: "Why can't I just vote a straight Republican ticket?!"  I carefully explained that all the folks running were Republicans, and that she needed to pick her favorite.  For some reason this did not mollify her.

It's extremely difficult to make a determination beyond party affiliation about whom to select for any particular bench without knowing much about the attorneys running.  Because of the length of the ballot, many voters quit early, resulting in a high number of "undervotes", or races in which the voter picks no one running.  There's always a small -- usually tiny, in fact -- number of "overvotes", or persons selected in more than one race, which happens not on an e-Slate but on a paper 'absentee' or mail-in ballot, mostly used these days by non-ambulatory seniors.

So if you choose to examine the Harris County Democratic primary final results with me -- this is not the canvass, which certifies the election -- you can click on, then 'election results', then pick the Democratic primary from the pull-down menu and then your format (I use the .pdf and zoom in to fill my screen because it's easier on my eyes).  You can follow these results as they update live on election night, but Stan Stanart is very slow to update them, thus the #FireStanStanart hashtag on Twitter.  I've previously blogged that his predecessor, Beverly Kaufman, had this process down to a science, and Stanart has never been able to replicate her efficiency.

I've already blogged statewide and Congressional races in two parts, so what you're seeing from page 1 to the bottom of page 8 are the numbers on how those candidates performed in Harris County only; some Congressional districts are entirely within the county, some are not.  I consult the Texas Secretary of State's office for those multi-county contests, which posts statewide tallies, which are transmitted to them by county clerks and election administrators across the state on election night.

Notice that the last two statewide races, at the bottom of page 8, for Presiding Judge of the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals -- Maria T. (Terri) Jackson -- and Judge, Place 7, of the CCA (Ramona Franklin) had an undervote of nearly 38,000, against about 138K cast, or 17%.  Compare that to the undervote in the US Senate race: under 11,000 versus 156.6K, or 6.44%.  Eighteen thousand Democratic voters in Harris County have already stopped voting.  This premise isn't absolute; some people vote just for the judge, or state rep, or Congress person they know, or like, or for that matter against one they don't.  Generally speaking in a primary election, the top races are known to the voters and many downballot candidates aren't, and a couple of hours of research prior to, and a good 15-20 minutes casting their ballot -- not including time spent waiting on queue -- isn't something they have budgeted time for.

Skip on with me to page 17, but note as you do -- if you're clicking page by page -- the very small number of votes and undervotes associated with the state representative races.  All politics is local, and there's the proof.  Again as example, Hubert Vo (HD 149) had 427 undervotes, or a bit over 10% of the 3,777 cast in his race.   But Gordon Goodman, the first countywide judicial on the ballot after all those other ballot lines, was almost double that as a percentage (135.5K voted, 31.9K didn't; a 19% undervote.  Compare to Jackson and Franklin above).

And so it goes.  As with everybody else who voted, made predictions about outcomes, and so forth, I won a few and lost a few.  Notable outcomes included ...

District Judge, 185th: Jason Luong, who squeaked past Brennen Dunn by around 1300 votes out of 138.6K cast, or 50.48-49.52.  There were 28,500 undervotes (and 64 overvotes).  Virtually every card, slate, blogger, person I talked to, etc. mentioned Luong as best or most qualified, so I was surprised the race was this close.  This is where you start to wonder if the first position on the ballot, not to mention the easiest name for people to understand, is worth something at the polls.  A topic to be explored in a subsequent post.

District Judge, 189th: Scott Dollinger prevailed over my choice, Fred Cook, by slightly more than 2500 votes, very close to the same total and undervote.  Dollinger seemed to have the higher online and offline profile to me.

Again, because you don't have much to go on in selecting who might be best for these benches, it really comes down to a handful of subjective factors for many -- I would say most -- voters.  Is this a problem for our judicial system, this partisan election of our judges?  It's probably better than letting the governor pick them, which is what happens now when there's a vacancy.

My point made and my future blogging teased, click on to page 32, where you'll find the beginning of the Harris County executive contests.

County Judge: Lina Hidalgo.  I've written from early on that she was the best choice for Democrats; when she briefly had a primary opponent, to when David Collins found her worthy (Collins himself was a county judge candidate in 2014, representing Harris County Greens, and earned 16.6% of the vote when the Democrat abruptly quit and endorsed incumbent Ed Emmett).  Hidalgo is going to run vigorously against Emmett, who has a couple of strikes against him with Harris County Republicans: one being he's a moderate in a county full of right-wing freaks; two being his efforts to rehabilitate the Astrodome into something useful.

Is that enough for the HCRP to abandon him in November?  I sure am excited to find out.  Hidalgo is going to make Harvey's devastation in the west end of Harris County a campaign topic.  In particular, the horrendous decision to allow developers to build homes in the Addicks and Barker Cypress floodplains (that began in the Eighties, long preceding Emmett's tenure), the subsequent failure of the reservoirs coming under the deluge, and most specifically the decision to release water from those dams to relieve the pressure behind them that flooded out tens of thousands of Houstonians.  Lawsuits to that effect are pending.  Quick digression: for you legal eagles, the argument is related to inverse condemnation rather than negligence.  But read this from the Houston Press.

... in 1996 a report from engineers with the Harris County Flood Control District found that Harris County's reservoir system was not cutting it, a problem that put thousands of home in jeopardy. At that time the proposed solution was a $400 million underground system that would pipe water from the reservoirs to the Houston Ship Channel. However, the advice was never heeded and the report was forgotten.

"My embarrassment is that I knew enough that this was going to happen," Arthur Story, the then-head of Flood Control, told the Dallas Morning News. "And I was not smart enough, bold enough to fight the system, the politics, and stop it."

Hidalgo received 10,000 more votes than Emmett did last Tuesday.  Bad pun: it will still take a perfect storm to oust the incumbent.  Not just a large number of sour conservatives who, at the very least, stand away from him by undervoting the race or voting for the Libertarian Eric Gatlin, but including a wave of Latin@ voters showing up in the fall.

Skip to page 40 for ...

District Clerk (runoff): Marilyn Burgess (49.23%) versus Roslyn "Rozzy" Shorter (23.42%).  The most qualified candidate to take on incumbent Republican Chris Daniel in the fall is Burgess.  Shorter has been my SDEC representative and run for a few other offices, but really doesn't have enough experience to handle the district clerk's responsibilities.

County Clerk (runoff): Diane Trautman (44%) and Gayle Young Mitchell (almost 41%) split what was left after Nat West, also my Senate District chair, came in third with 15%.  Democrats MUST fire Stan Stanart, and I think that can only get done by nominating the very capable Dr. Trautman.

County Treasurer (runoff):  Dylan Osborne (38%) against Cosme Garcia (almost 37%).  Nile Copeland ran third with 25% and just under 35K votes.  There were 29,000 undervotes.  I voted for Garcia and will do so again in May.  Probably only Garcia stands a chance to defeat the incumbent -- also a two-time loser for Houston mayor -- Orlando Sanchez, in a test of which Latino is most popular.  Democratic candidates in the past have run on a campaign of abolishing the office (to no traction from Republican voters).

Democratic Party County Chair: Lillie Schechter ran unopposed; almost 38,000 voters, or 22.65% of the total, either didn't make it all the way to bottom of the ballot ... or declined to vote for her, like me (scroll all the way to the end here for the reasons why I didn't).  I don't see that there was any backlash against her (appearance of) ethical impropriety in those undervotes; the numbers were about the same as -- even less than -- some of the judicial races above her line, including statewide judicials Jackson and Franklin mentioned above, so there's that.

I may profile some of the GOP primary runoff races if anybody cares to read my take on them, so share your thoughts about that, and anything else, in the comments.

Update (3/24):  Aubrey Taylor has some profiles of of GOP and Democratic runoff participants.  Taylor discloses that he is no longer making endorsements, but still takes ads that describe the purchasers as "duly qualified" -- see the ones from Scott Dollinger (D), Linda Dunson (D), Adrian Garcia (D), Loyd Wright (R), Latosha Lewis Payne (D), and others, in the right hand column.  There is nothing that I can glean that these candidates have done (from Taylor's posting) that demonstrates how or why these folks are "duly qualified" beyond their purchase of the advertisement on his blog and his newsletter.  Since almost all of them are judicial candidates, this re-emphasizes the problems mentioned above that I have with how we elect our judges.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Texas Greens ready to begin ballot access work

The first step -- for anyone who did not vote last Tuesday -- is to find your precinct nominating convention, consolidated in the counties listed here across the state, and happening this evening.

Organizing this duty belonged to David Collins until recently, but he got mad and quit because the Harris County Greens finally succeeded in clearing out their dead wood.  You can pick up petition forms at the convention, or you can print them from the link here, or below.

This petition sheet is your tool for expanding and enhancing democracy in Texas. Make multiple copies (legal size!) of page 1. Read the instructions on page 2 very carefully. Talk to friends, relatives, and total strangers about its importance. If they are eligible to sign, convince them to sign.
In order to be valid, a signature must be gathered in the 75 days, beginning March 14th, from:
  • a registered Texas voter
  • who did not vote in any primary election this year
  • and did not sign any other party's petition or attend any other party's conventions.
Those who gather signatures need not meet these criteria. They need only be of legal age to sign their petition sheets. Each petition sheet has space for 10 signatures. A signature line contains places for the voter's full name, street address, home county, birthdate, and (optionally) voter registration number. Yes, the birthdate is required for verification.

All petition sheets submitted to the state must be signed by the signature collector in the presence of a Notary Public. The actual deadline for submitting petition sheets to the Secretary of State's office is the Tuesday following Memorial Day, or May 29, 2018.

For more detailed information about the petition drive, see this page at

Candidly, if I knew a week -- more like two -- ago what I know today, I would not have voted in the Democratic primary, and instead helped the Greens try to get on the ballot.  The factors for that change of heart include:

-- Bernadine Williams' H-Town takeover of the Greens.  After we -- she, I, others -- failed to do so a year ago, I didn't think it could be done this year.  I was wrong.

-- The extraordinarily shabby treatment of progressive candidates by the Texas Democratic establishment.  Two examples, one from this Truthout piece regarding Sema Hernandez ...

... The Texas Democratic Party push backed against Sema Hernandez, a Bernie Sanders-inspired progressive activist challenging O'Rourke for the nomination.

"When I arrived to Texas Democratic Party headquarters in December 2017, I was asked if I was sure I wanted to run because there was already two other people in the race," she said.

When Hernandez paid in cash the $5,000 fee to be put on the ballot for the Democratic primary, she said that the Democratic Party official who accepted the fee jokingly asked if it was drug money. The Texas Democratic Party did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

... and the other, this reply to Tom Wakely on Twitter.

Hover your mouse over "Notorious RKGM", or click on her name, and take note that she appears to identify herself as a Tarrant County Democratic Party official.  What did I just blog the other day about Tarrant County Democrats (scroll to CD-12, Vanessa Adia).

-- And then there's that whole nasty business regarding the DCCC and Laura Moser that I won't rehash at this time.

I'm ready to #DemExit again.  Sure didn't take long, did it?  There are some cold, hard realities associated with this circumstance and the effort needed to accomplish it.

Let's be honest about this: Given the political climate and the current state of the Green Party in Texas, the prognosis for success in 2018 is not great. GPTX has undertaken five ballot access drives. It was successful in 2000 and 2010, but fell short in 2004, '06, and '08.

Even in a state where 85% of voters skip the primaries, finding willing signatories can be difficult. People who desperately want a third option on the ballot may still have trouble thinking beyond the two-party paradigm. They may also be reluctant to give anybody their addresses for fear of being sold to mailing lists.

Typically, the number of signatures gathered should exceed the requirement by 50%. Historically, about one-third of signatures collected in these drives do not satisfy all the criteria.

Even if the Greens get their ballot line back, at least one candidate must top 5% to keep the party going in 2020. However, difficult though it may be ...

... with enough volunteers and enough enthusiasm, this is entirely feasible!

The numbers are daunting.

In order to qualify (for ballot access), the Green Party of Texas must collect 47,183 verified signatures, equal to 1% of the total votes cast in the last (2014) gubernatorial election, from registered voters who did NOT cast a ballot in either primary election within a 75-day period beginning March 14th ...

If you can do something more than blog -- like me -- in helping the Texas Greens get back on the November ballot, it will be worth it to send a message to these toxic neoliberals that their party cannot, will not win a goddamn thing if they choose to keep shitting on the FDR/Bernie Sanders wing of the Donkey Party.  Twenty-sixteen's lesson was not learned, so we're gonna hafta rub these Blue Dogs' noses in their own shit again.  Maybe they'll get it in time for 2020.

Once more, consolidated precinct conventions in these counties tonight, 7p.m.:

Bell County - Killeen Fire Station #1, 3800 Westcliff Road, Killeen, TX 76543
Bexar County - Bill Miller's Restaurant, 1004 San Pedro, San Antonio TX
Collin County - Market Place, 6100 Eldorado Pkwy, McKinney, Texas 75070
Denton County - Agua Dulce Mexican Kitchen, 115 S Elm St, Denton, TX 76201
Harris County - Havens Center, 1827 W. Alabama, Houston, TX 77098
Tarrant County - Root's CoffeeHouse, 9101 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Travis County - Green Party Space, 1105 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78741

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance didn't have a vote in the Bracketville primary, but is picking some favorites anyway.  It's not just NCAA tourney week; it's also spring break, and there's even baseball in Florida.  What a time to be alive.

Here's the progressive blog post and lefty news roundup from last week's whirlwind of primary elections and the aftermath.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer thinks the biggest election in Texas is next January, and that perhaps a hundred or so Republicans may be the only ones voting in it.  In that vein, the Lewisville Texan Journal says that area state Rep. Tan Parker has thrown his hat into the ring for Speaker of the Texas House, joining extremist Phil King on the far right side of the GOP caucus, and in opposition to the more moderate Rep. John Zerwas.

Three TPA bloggers offered their post-primary thoughts: Off the Kuff, Socratic Gadfly (the Senate and gubernatorial races), and Neil at All People Have Value (focusing on Harris County).

Grits for Breakfast analyzed Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and county district attorney primary outcomes, and DBC Green Blog saw mixed results for progressives in the Democratic primary.

Ted at jobsanger doesn't believe that Elizabeth Warren isn't running for president in 2020, and is carrying a torch for her in hopes she will stop a repeat of 'Bernie's fiasco'.  Now that's what you call a sore loser.

While Ted sucked on his lemon, Sanders came to Texas and spoke at South by Southwest, at Trinity University in San Antonio (the Current and the Rivard Report were there), and in Lubbock, accompanied by Our Revolution chief Nina Turner and political satirist Jim Hightower.  It was a  rousing experience for listeners at all three locations.

The Rivard Report also watched as the Bexar County district attorney's race -- with incumbent Nico LaHood moved to the sidelines -- shifted into a more civil phase.

The Hayride, a conservative website devoted to Southern politics and culture, went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (aside to Bethany Blankley: they're trying to rebrand -- har har -- with a corporate name) and videotaped the animal rights activists protesting the treatment of the horses, steer, calves, and mutton being terrorized by rednecks.

The Texas Tribune chose to devalue the 23.7% of the vote Democratic US Senate candidate Sema Hernandez received last Tuesday, alleging that many of those votes were due to her surname.  Meanwhile, Vox covered the "raging controversy" of Rafael Cruz making fun of Robert O'Rourke's nickname, without the slightest hint of irony (or implied racism).  And Truthout reported on Hernandez's filing experience.

"When I arrived to Texas Democratic Party headquarters in December 2017, I was asked if I was sure I wanted to run because there was already two other people in the race," she said.

When Hernandez paid in cash the $5,000 fee to be put on the ballot for the Democratic primary, she said that the Democratic Party official who accepted the fee jokingly asked if it was drug money. The Texas Democratic Party did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

With respect to O'Rourke's 'problem' in South Texas, Stace at Dos Centavos doesn't think he has one.  And he also addressed the topic of Latin@s on the ballot (or rather, people with Latin@ surnames).

In Tarrant County, the Texas Standard reports on a state district judge who ordered stun belts to be attached to an uncooperative defendant in his courtroom.  That defendant has subsequently been granted a new trial.  But the question -- as with the unprofessional conduct of Harris County Judge Michael McSpadden -- remains: when defendants are pre-judged too harshly, or mistreated in court ... who polices the judges?

A federal lawsuit filed in Amarillo charges that the city is forcing homeless persons out of their gathering place on the outskirts of town and into shelters against their will, according to Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer.

Zachery Taylor sees a trade war as a massacre for the middle class.

The Rag Blog advanced the International Women's Day Music Fest in Austin last Thursday.

And Texas Vox collected signatures on an open letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, requesting partnership in the battle against pollution and climate change.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

#TXLege results and analysis from last Tuesday

This won't be as exhaustive a review of the Texas House and Senate as the Congressional profiles I completed last Friday.  (Sometimes I get the sense those posts are TL;DR for many of you, and wonder why I bother.  Then I remind myself that it's a resource for me.)  Once again, see the TexTrib's great summary of election results for each district.

A few links and excerpts:

-- The Texas Observer's Forrest "For the Trees" Wilder, helping me out with HDs 46, 37, 104, 116, 118, and SD 19, as they appear in order here.

—Dawnna Dukes, who has long represented a rapidly gentrifying East Austin district, managed just 10 percent tonight, handily losing to former City Council member Sheryl Cole and immigration attorney José “Chito” Vela. Cole and Vela now head to a runoff. Dukes has been in the local news for years for her chronic absenteeism at the Capitol, criminal indictments for abuse of office (she was later cleared of charges) and run-ins with standing desks.

René Oliveira is going to a runoff with Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez. As Gus Bova recently reported, Oliveira’s two challengers hammered the 17-term incumbent for doing little to bring jobs and education to the Brownsville-area district.

—Roberto Alonzo, who’s held the Dallas seat since 1992, lost in a landslide to Jessica Gonzalez, a 37-year-old attorney. Alonzo was known as a perennial backbencher.

Trey Martinez Fischer narrowly bested Diana Arévalo in this San Antonio district. Arévalo had served just a single term before TMF, as he’s known, decided to make his path back to the Legislature, where he previously served for 16 years, right through Arévalo’s incumbency. TMF had tried to move up to the Senate but lost twice to José Menéndez. But TMF is a consummate brawler, an almost comically intense tactician at the Lege. Arévalo was simply a casualty of his need to get back in The Game.

—Tomas Uresti… we barely knew you. Uresti lost to the little-known Leo Pacheco. Though Uresti was known in the Lege as a bit of a dud, his biggest liability may be his name. The Uresti family is well-known in San Antonio, and while that used to be a good thing, it probably didn’t help Tomas’ career that his brother, Senator Carlos Uresti, was recently convicted of 11 felony fraud charges; is facing another criminal trial for bribery and conspiracy and money laundering related to a disastrously-run private prison for immigrants in West Texas; and has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (HD 119) has announced his bid to challenge Sen. Uresti .... in 2020.  I believe the odds are short that Uresti will be outside the long arm of the law in order to defend the seat.  In the meantime, Rep. Gutierrez will return to the Texas House, having had no D primary challenger and with no R opponent in November.

-- Besides Vela (above), Gus Bova from the Observer relays that the Berniecrats, aka Democratic Socialists who won or made the runoff in their statehouse races include Fran Watson in SD17, Steven Kling in SD 25, Erin Zwiener in HD 45, and Andrew Morris in HD 47.

With respect to the Texas Republicans ...

-- They're going to keep dancing with the freaks that brung them.  Overreach in various ways by the MFIC is still obvious; let's note that Greg Abbott's gambit in the Texas House went 1 for 3, which he probably thinks is still good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.  Scott Braddock at Quorum Report -- his personal blog has been added to the right hand column -- clarifies.  The subheadline (or maybe it's an excerpt from behind the subscriber paywall) is his point.

Speaker Straus set the stage for rational House Republicans to run the table; Governor Abbott’s losing two of the three races where he challenged House incumbents. If the House GOP bows down to Abbott & Patrick next session, it won't be because voters in their districts told them to.

To refresh: Abbott spent nearly a quarter of a million bucks trying to defeat three incumbents: Sarah Davis in HD-134 (West University, Bellaire, etc.) which he lost 44-56; Lyle Larson in Bexar County's HD-122, the governor beaten 40-60;  but helping Mayes Middleton knock off HD 23 incumbent Wayne Faircloth in Galveston County.  The TexTrib first pointed out last August that all three state reps had crossed swords with him over what they believed were severe ethical lapses on his part: appointing cronies to state boards after they gave bigly to his campaign coffers.

I think it's way too early to speculate about statehouse dynamics, especially since there's gonna be a new Speaker in town next January, but let's run with Braddock a bit farther here.

Four years ago, if you asked how to win a GOP primary in Texas, the answer would be for the candidate to try to get to the right of Sen. Ted Cruz.

Since then, Cruz did violence to his relevance by flaming out at the Republican National Convention when he refused to endorse the ticket, only to later completely crater with those who were still on his side by doing the one thing they respected him for not doing: Endorsing Donald J. Trump for the White House. Cruz has mostly regained his footing among Republicans, but some polling has shown his numbers remain weak among self-identified independents.

Tonight, Cruz lost a Texas House race in the Piney Woods after endorsing the challenger to Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall. Paddie stomped his opponent 63 to 36 even with Cruz and the Wilks Brothers against him while Empower Texans blanketed his district with negative mail.

In 2018, Republicans are largely following the leader, but it ain’t Cruz.

That's all you get from Harvey Kronberg without paying.  Is this defeat really on Cruz, though?  Why didn't Abbott jump in roll in with his moneybags in HD-9 as with Davis, Larson, and Faircloth?  What are the differing tactics of Abbott versus Empower Texans from a progressive/liberal/establishment Democrat perspective beyond degree of right-wing freakishness?  And is this too 'inside baseball' for you?  Because it is for me, and I'm a baseball fanatic.

My main disagreement with Braddock's contention is that Cruz, as a federale, isn't as tainted by an Austin endorsement gone sour as are Abbott and his ilk, who tried very hard to muck up the Lege with more Freedumb Caucusers.  The MQS/Dunn/Wilks/EmpT thugs were mostly a fail against incumbents Tuesday night ...

Meanwhile, two vulnerable Republicans looked likely to survive tight challenges from the right in races that Abbott sat out.

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, fended off a repeat challenge from Bo French in perhaps the House’s ugliest primary race. In a repeat of a bitter 2016 primary, French challenged Geren from the right, hoping to unseat the nearly two-decade incumbent. French had the backing of conservative groups, including Empower Texans.

Weeks before Tuesday’s primary, Empower Texans sent out a mailer from the invented “Texas Ethics Disclosure Board” warning constituents that Geren is married to a lobbyist. French has also alleged that a political operative working for Geren asked Child Protective Services to investigate French’s family.

And Dan Flynn, R-Canton, beat challenger Bryan Slaton with a small margin — 52 percent to 48 percent. That race is a rematch of the 2016 primary when Slaton, a conservative challenger, lost by only about 600 votes of 30,000 cast. Flynn, who’s been in the House since 2003, hired a political consultant in the race for the first time.

But a third — Dallas Republican Jason Villalba — fell to challenger Lisa Luby Ryan, an interior designer who came at him on the right with the backing of Empower Texans.


Villalba, one of the most moderate Republicans left in the House, was one of the only members of his party who spoke out vocally against the “bathroom bill” raised last session that would have regulated the use of certain public facilities for transgender Texans. Luby Ryan raised more money than Villalba and picked up several key conservative endorsements.

... but they did hold their own crew's ground, managed well in open races, and are poised for runoff success.  Go on deeper in the weeds as far as you like (scroll down past the excerpt from above).  I'll be here when you get back.

Beyond these contests, I'll wait to post a more thorough analysis of the Lege and the potential forces at play for 2019 until after the May runoffs.

Still to come: Harris County results and thoughts.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, March 09, 2018

Your new Texas Congressional delegation (part 2)

(Note: Part 1, with profiles of Congressional District races 1 through 7, is here.  Two updates to the "statewides" post have been made pending developments in those contests since Wednesday.  And  the special election to replace my city councilman (RIP) has been called by Mayor Turner for May 5.  That's less than sixty days away.  While two state reps have already declared they intend to be the next state senator from the East Side (replacing the pending CongressLatina for CD-29, see below), I hear of no candidates for District K yet.  Perhaps out of respect they are waiting until services for CM Green, scheduled for Sunday, are past.)

CD-8: Incumbent Republican and House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady versus sacrificial lamb Steven David in November.

CD-9: Al Green has no GOP challenger in the fall.

CD-10: Michael McCaul, House Homeland Security chairman, will face either Tawana Cadien for the fourth consecutive time or, more likely, Mike Siegel, who got 40% in a seven-way Democratic primary.  Since Cadien lost in 2016, 2014, and 2012 -- topping out at 38% two years ago -- this district's badly gerrymandered Democrats, scattered between northwest Houston and southeast/north Austin, might want to try something different.  The definition of insanity being what it is.

CD-11: Michael Conaway (R) against Jennie Lou Leeder.  Nothing to see here.

CD-12: Kay Granger versus Vanessa Adia, a teacher who supports Medicare for All.  It's a damn shame this district is mostly Tarrant County; Democratic voters there just rejected a progressive, Allison Campolo, in favor of conservaDem Beverly Powell to face off against SD-10 Republican incumbent Konni "Out LGBT School Children to their Parents" Burton.  The D primary vote was 62-38 in favor of the Wendy Davis-endorsed Powell.  What few Democrats there are on the west side of the Metroplex -- this summer's TDP convention is going to be held in Fort Worth -- are as far to the right as Democrats can be without being Republicans.  And Tarrant County Republicans are already about as bad as can be.

I'd like to be more hopeful for Adia, the kind of candidate who deserves support from Democrats.

CD-13: Mac Thornberry (R, incumbent) against D Greg Sagan.  Sigh.

CD-14: Progressive darling Adrienne Bell is taking on dirtbag incumbent Randy Weber in Southeast Texas, the coastal district that runs from Freeport to Beaumont.  Maybe Harvey crushing the residents here, along with Weber's feeble response associated with the disaster, can impact this race.  Weber has whined and tried to blame others for Trump's FEMA dragging their feet over the last six months.

... Weber is one of eight Texas GOP congressmen who voted against providing much-needed aid to New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy -- a group now being dubbed the "Comeuppance Caucus."

Bell needs more of Weber's incompetence and another miracle or two to pull off the upset.

CD-15: Rookie incumbent D Vicente Gonzalez draws R challenger Tim Westley for the second time in this South Texas (straight south, from the San Antonio eastern suburbs and exurbs all the way to Edinburg on the border).  Westley got under 38% two  years ago riding Trump's threadbare coattails; don't expect him to perform any better this time around.

CD-16Veronica Escobar will join Sylvia Garcia as the state's first two Latina Congresswomen, a story both overtold and a circumstance long overdue.  She will defeat her R opponent Rick Seeburger and replace Robert "Beto" O'Rourke in Congress.  I expect her to vote more progressively than the man currently in that seat.

CD-17: Bill Flores, R incumbent, over a token D challenger, Rick Kennedy.

CD-18: Sheila Jackson Lee will return to Washington after beating R Ava Reynero Pate.

CD-19: Jodey Arrington, also a Republican first-term incumbent, is unlikely to lose to D Miguel Levario in this West Texas district that includes Abilene, Big Spring, Lubbock, Plainview, and points further west and in-between.

CD-20: Congressman Joaquin Castro will be unopposed in the fall.

CD-21: In one of the more closely-watched races in the the state, a minor upset sent progressive favorite Derrick Crowe to the sidelines when his 23% of the primary vote was only good for third place.  Establishment Dem Joseph Kopser and surprise vote leader Mary Street Wilson go to the May runoff.  The Texas Observer, with the graphic and the story.

Mary Wilson, a former math teacher running for Congressional District 21, raised a measly $40,000 over the last year. She had a handful of profiles in Science magazine, Dame, and KUT. In comparison, Joseph Kopser raised about $770,000, received a slew of endorsements and a ton of press coverage. Derrick Crowe, a former Nancy Pelosi staffer, and Elliott McFadden, the former Travis County executive director, also raised far more than Wilson and received endorsements from prominent groups.

Still, Wilson is the one headed to a runoff with Kopser. In fact, she received almost 1,000 more votes than Kopser.

The winner will face either Chip Roy, a former COS to "Carnival" Cruz, or Matt McCall, who challenged retiring incumbent Lamar Smith twice, in 2014 and 2016.   It's worth noting that Roy doesn't live in the district.  That didn't slow him down much; he posted a ten-point advantage over McCall on Tuesday.  Whichever GOPer prevails in May will be favored in November.

CD-22: Fort Bend/Sugar Land Republican incumbent Pete Olson waits for his Democratic opponent in the fall, one of Sri Preston Kulkarni or Letitia PlummerSteve Brown, former county chair and the Texas Democrats' Railroad Commission nominee in 2014 and the 2016 HD-27 nominee (sadly, he couldn't beat the unbelievably corrupt Ron Reynolds) finished third by less than 1000 votes.  Might be time for a line of work outside politics, Steve.

Fort Bend County, the nation's most diverse, is very slowly turning purple, but like the rest of Texas, still lags GOP turnout.  This is the kind of suburban battleground Democrats must win in 2018 if there's going to be any blue wave to speak of.

CD-23: The only swing district in the state until Democrats got enthused following Hillary Clinton's strong showing in CD-7 and CD-32 in 2016.  Will Hurd defeated Pete Gallego twice in the past four years, both times with less than 50% of the vote.  (Gallego won 50-45 in 2012 over incumbent Quico Canseco.)  This time there are two progressive Democrats who will battle in the summer runoff to face Hurd in the fall: Gina Ortiz Jones and Rick Treviño.  Either candidate should be marginally favored to take the seat away from the GOP.  Democrats turned out over 44,000 voters in the sprawling Big Bend district while Republicans managed just under 31K.

Update: This article delves into some detail about Ortiz Jones' military intelligence experience.  It will be 'spy vs. spy' if Ortiz Jones makes it to the general against Hurd, himself a former CIA agent.

CD-24: R Incumbent Kenny Marchant will be heavily favored to beat D Jan McDowell.

CD-25: Progressive Ds Chris Perri and Julie Oliver will run off to face incumbent Roger Williams.  Hill Country Democrats, as with their counterparts in CD-23 above, rejected the centrist establishment candidates in their primary.  This makes me hopeful, but the real test will be how things go for the May winner in November.  The seat is rated 'safe' or 'solid' for Republicans.

CD-26: The Berniecrat, Linsey Fagan, eked out a win over the Clintonite, Will Fisher, 53-47 in this North Texas seat held by incumbent quack Dr. Michael Burgess.  Rs outvoted Ds in their respective primaries 55K to 16K.

CD-27: Both parties will hold runoff elections to nominate a standard-bearer to replace Blake "Animal House" Farenthold in this south-Austin-to-Victoria-and-Corpus district.  The Dems have Raul Roy Barrera, who was beaten by Farenthold 62-38 in 2016, and Eric Holguin; the Repubs, Bech Bruun and Michael Cloud.  The two Democrats boast good positions on healthcare; there isn't much I could find that would tell me about whether these Republicans were freaks or something less so.  This report from the Caller Times told me nothing; this report from KRIS-TV was helpful with regard to all of the carpetbaggers who were in the race and has links to all candidates, pre-election day.  The district has a  Cook PVI R +13 rating.

CD-28: Henry Cuellar, the shittiest Blue Dog Democrat in all of Congress (with regular appearances on Fox News, including recently defending the NRA) had no primary opponent and has no general election Republican challenger.  This is disgraceful.

CD-29:  Much already said, written, and videotaped about Sylvia Garcia, having outhustled her moneybags challenger Tahir Javed, the other Garcias, and my pick, Hector Morales, to go on to Congress after she vanquishes her Republican challenger, either Phillip Aronoff or Carmen Maria Monteil.  The scrum has already begun to replace her in the Texas Senate.

CD-30: Eddie Bernice Johnson will go back to DC for her fourteenth term in the US House after winning her primary.  She faces no R challenger.

CD-31: MJ Hegar and Christine Mann will battle each other in May for the right to move on to face Republican John Carter in November.  Both women are solid, but Mann has the progressive bonafides.  The district is safe for the eight-term incumbent to make it nine.

Update: Read this piece in the Greanville Post about "CIA Democrats", which includes brief profiles of Hegar (above) and Ed Meier (next).

CD-32: Pete Sessions was re-elected in 2016 by a 71-18 margin over a Libertarian (no Democrat entered the race that year; the Green and my friend, Gary Stuard, got 10%), but because Hilary Clinton carried it by 2 points, 49-47, it's considered a pick-up opportunity.  Accordingly, seven Democrats bid for the nom, and former NFL player Colin Allred (39%) and progressive champion Lillian Salerno (18%) emerged from Tuesday's primary as the top two.  Neither raised very much money in defeating better financially-supported centrists and establishment candidates with higher name recognition, like Dallas TV broadcaster Brent Shipp and Ed Meier, the former Hillary Clinton transition team co-chair (LOL).  The district is R+5, and the Dallas-region Ds turned out 40,000 voters on their side of the primary, while the Rs managed just a little more, at 41.3K.

l. to r.: Allred, Meier, Salerno, Shipp

Allred's popularity may be enough to get him to November, and Sessions might be in big trouble.

CD-33: D incumbent Marc Veazey easily won his primary and will probably do the same in the general election over R Willie Billups.

CD-34: Incumbent Filemon Vela was unopposed in the D primary, as was his R challenger, Rey Gonzalez.  I would not expect to see this seat flip.

CD-35: Longtime Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, with no primary opponent, will face -- and defeat -- Republican David Smalling.

CD-36:  Rock Goddess Dayna Steele moves on to November in a match with the Republican incumbent, Woodville dentist Brian Babin, for this Houston suburbs/East Texas seat.  The district scores R+26, but Steele's celebrity status and Babin's complete lack of visibility and charisma could put it in play.  Babin was trapped in his house during Harvey.  Even my 94-year-old mother was able to evacuate ahead of the storm, alone, which ultimately flooded and destroyed her home.  I have long gotten the distinct impression that Babin is one of the more inept Republicans in the Texas delegation.  I certainly hope the voters of the 36th -- not known for their intelligence, since they sent Steve Stockman back to Congress before he flamed out a second time in a swirl of corruption -- can see fit to elect a voice of reason this go-around.

Moving on to Austin representatives and Harris County races this weekend.