Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The At Large 5 contest

For those who wish to catch up, here are my posts on the state of play in the mayor's race from last week, along with AL1, AL2, AL3, and AL4.  Somebody is going to release a poll very soon in the mayoral; I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen one yet.  As a reminder, we don't talk about advertisements, or fundraising, or viability scores 'round these parts.  My humble O is that those things are by degrees undemocratic and have no place in estimating the value of potential political officeholders.  Issues, policy, clearly-staked positions, and how hard a person is actually trying to encourage people to vote for them, by their presence online and offline at various functions is how I evaluate worth.  YMMV, of course.

For you deadliners, the last day to register to vote in this election is October 5th; and early voting begins on October 19.  On to the participants in this race, listed in ballot order:

Perennial candidate Batteau was instrumental in helping CM Michael Kubosh get elected in AL 3 two years ago.  He, Rogene Calvert, Roland Chavez (running again this year in District H), and Jenefer Rene Pool (running again in AL1) all split the vote neatly enough between themselves to allow Kubosh to go into a runoff against Roy Morales (who is also running again, in AL4).  That could happen once more here in AL5.

Batteau, sixth in a field of six with 8.6% of the vote in 2013, doesn't really seem to be getting the message voters are sending him.  Perhaps he's still holding on for an Andrew-Burks-in-2011-ish miracle.  He's running the same campaign he's run in the past, which is to say nonexistent.  This KTRK piece from four years ago is evidence that some things never really change.

And then there's J. Brad Batteau. He has run for an at-large position before. He says he's the man to represent the whole city. He hasn't raised any money or posted many signs but did address his robbery conviction 30 years ago.

"It shouldn't matter because what I'm going to do for the people doesn't have anything to do with my past back in 1987. I was a teenager ... I'm now 42," he said.

It's important to note that Batteau didn't know Rebuild Houston is when we asked him.

I would be surprised if he knows anything about it today.  Name recognition and first-on-the-ballot can't be completely discounted in municipal races, unfortunately.

Conservative Republican Christie defeated two half-hearted Democrats challenging him in 2011 with 55% of the vote, and four years ago finally prevailed in a third try over incumbent Jolanda Jones in the runoff by a similar 54.2% margin... with a helping hand from former mayor Bill White.  It is never-say-die candidates like Christie and Burks who give hope to the likes of people such as Batteau.  Greg Wythe's Texas Political Almanac has a good summary of that race in 2011...

The "Jack & JoJo Show" earned its third season as candidate Christie once more filed to run against CM Jolanda Jones. While many of the ethical charges brought against CM Jones during the past two years failed to merit serious attention, the spotlight brought attention on Jones' often combative approach to representing the city. While Jones remained popular in African-American communities -- particularly on the south side -- not enough voters elsewhere saw her as an independent voice at Council. Jones was the most frequent member on council to tag items on the city agenda, delaying action for a week on numerous items. The result was not dissimilar to the previous campaign and runoff. But the one thing missing from this election was that of a well-funded African-American candidate for mayor in a runoff that would help boost turnout to benefit Jolanda.

Wythe left out the Bill White part, probably because he was a White acolyte from the get-go in the former mayor's bid for the Governor's Mansion in 2010.  But the history he did write reminds us to watch for this African American dynamic in play in this cycle's runoff.  You can rest assured that either Sylvester Turner or Ben Hall -- or both -- running off for mayor in December changes the calculus of downballot council runoffs.  Christie wanted to run for mayor this time, but was crowded out by CM Oliver Pennington, himself an early dropout.  Both men are probably kicking themselves as they watch Hall ascend to the conservative throne.

Nassif is the Democrats' standard-bearer.  For whatever his reasons, Durrel Douglas wound up not filing to run here, and that clears the field a little for the liberal activist of Mexican and Lebanese descent.  He's got all the endorsements and support flowing his way.

Sharon Moses seems to have good qualifications for a potential council member if in fact this is her LinkedIn profile, but no other web presence and no past experience in running for office works against her.  Tahir Charles' website has a good bio of him but his Facebook page was last updated in May.  Both candidates -- and Batteau, for that matter -- might bite into Nassif's tally among African American voters.

Prediction for the general: If the four Democrats -- one establishment (Nassif) and three unorthodox (Batteau, Moses, Charles) succeed in canceling each other out, then the odious Christie goes back to council for a third term.  If the best hope for Democratic liberals, Nassif, can force the incumbent -- whose ceiling in past elections has been around 55% -- into a runoff, they should raise their expectations for knocking off the Republican on council.

Scattershooting Adrian Garcia and Hillary Clinton, two of the worst possible options for public office

-- Chris Bell reminds everybody in Houston again that Adrian Garcia, much like Hillary Clinton, is simply unfit to serve as a public leader.

"If you're leading what you call the largest mental health institution in our city, then how those inmates were treated becomes a very significant issue," Bell told a packed auditorium at the University of St. Thomas, where candidates had gathered for a mayoral forum on behavioral health. "You were supposedly the leader of that jail, and how could you have created a system where nobody told you of such a horrific incident?"

In response:

"It shouldn't have happened. It definitely should not have happened under my watch. But when I found out about it, I took full responsibility. I took action," Garcia said. "I put policies and procedures in place to keep it from happening again."

That's an admission of guilt. While a noble gesture, it still disqualifies him from office.

-- Speaking of Clinton...

While she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote and sent at least six e-mails using her private server that contained what government officials now say is classified information, according to thousands of e-mails released by the State Department.


The extent of the redactions in e-mails sent by Clinton and others, including ambassadors and career Foreign Service officers, points to a broader pattern that has alarmed intelligence officials in which sensitive information has been circulated on non-secure systems. Another worry is that Clinton aides further spread sensitive information by forwarding government e-mails to Clinton’s private account.

Benefit of the doubt:

But it also highlights concerns raised by Clinton and her supporters that identifying classified material can be a confusing process, and well-meaning public officials reviewing the same material could come to different conclusions as to its classification level.

Yes.  Why hasn't someone ever fixed this since email became prevalent (at a minimum of) fifteen years ago?

Is Hillary Clinton as president the person most capable of fixing it?  If you think so, there's a bridge in the desert on sale with your layaway tag on it.

-- More and more people are coming to the inevitable, inexorable conclusion that she is one final, small disaster away from fumbling the White House to the Republicans.  They're still imploring other Democrats to join the race.  I don't think any more candidates are needed personally, but whatever.

She is still going to beat Trump, or Carson, or Bush, or Cruz, or whatever other piece of flotsam the GOP floats.  But she is also in the excruciating process of beating herself, and the outcome of that fight is still to be determined.

More lighter, funnier fare on emails from Vox.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The At Large 4 contest

Now that we know ballot order, let's go forward listing the candidates that way.  As a reminder, Kuffner has audio interviews with a lot of these folks posted already, and Wayne is posting questionnaires returned to him from those responding.

It might be worth repeating (scroll to the end) that Houston blacks consider AL 4 to be theirs, and that is likely to hold true in this cycle with Edwards and Robinson, both African American Democratic women with solid networks of support.  They present as the best qualified and most progressive choices.  Robinson ran for AL 5 previously in 2011, finishing third behind then-incumbent Jolanda Jones and now-incumbent Jack Christie.  She is the chief executive of a high-profile management consulting firm.  Edwards practices law at Bracewell & Guiliani, and has a wide-ranging background of political and social justice efforts.  Blackmon -- this Chron piece thinly describes him as a retired school teacher active in local politics -- also carries a good resume' and the endorsements of three black Texas House members; he's been overshadowed to some degree by Edwards and Robinson.  Edwards has racked up most of the endorsements from Democratic clubs and groups to this point.

Either of the three has the skill set to be an effective council member.  But two of the three are unlikely to be in a runoff together, so we must handicap the likely (conservative) challengers.

Morales is a name we all know and distrust by now.  He's lost more city council and mayoral general elections and runoffs than I care to document.  But his Republican activism and Latino surname may once again be enough to get him second past the post.

Husband Thompson is the widow of astronaut Ron Husband, who perished in the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster.  That's pretty much it for her online campaign as a prospective city council member.  No website, no Facebook page.  There's a story here about how she met, courted, and married her second husband, and too much for my digestion about the strength of their faith.  I'm going to presume, until she says otherwise on the record, that she's a Christian conservative and an opponent of HERO.

That leaves Hansen and Murphy.

Hansen is your basic pro-business, inherited-wealth, pull-yasef-up-by-ya-bootstraps Republican.  He recently engaged in some good old-fashioned political ball-busting of Murphy on HERO, without revealing his own position on the ordinance.  Murphy is the "pro-family fiscal conservative" in the contest, and I would surmise based on his flip-flop on HERO -- as detailed at Hansen's blog -- that he indeed does have the requisite hypocrisy needed for Houston's worst Republicans to vote him into the runoff.

Prediction for the runoff: Toss-up between Edwards and Robinson (with a small chance given to Blackmon) squaring off against Murphy.

HEROes and haters

The Chron chronicles a thirty-year of history of proud homophobia in Houston city elections (too much alliteration?), and outs the 'Bathroom Caucus' on your ballot in November.

A flurry of candidates opposed to Houston's anti-discrimination ordinance finalized bids for City Council in the waning hours before last Monday's filing deadline, setting the stage for a multi-race campaign against the controversial ballot measure known as HERO.

With the latecomers, the fight to repeal HERO now is poised to extend into all of the at-large and most of the district council races, in addition to the mayor's race.

At first glance, the lineup harkens back to the "Straight Slate" of 1985, when conservative power broker Steven Hotze organized challengers to run against incumbent council members who supported job protections for gays employed by the city.

Dr. Hotze, you haven't evolved a bit since 1985.  That was the year Louie Welch's "shoot the queers" comment went viral without an Internet, and in one night, "Don't Shoot Louie! T-shirts became best-sellers.  Read Mayor Annise Parker's account of the irony of representing the city of Houston (as comptroller at the time) at Welch's funeral in 2008.

"We have been approached by candidates who oppose the bathroom ordinance," said Jared Woodfill, spokesman for the anti-HERO campaign. "And we have encouraged people to run who oppose the bathroom ordinance, as have other organizations who have the same goal of defeating the ordinance."


Of City Council members running for re-election, five oppose the ordinance... They are joined by at least 11 council hopefuls, many of whom launched their bids before it became clear the ordinance would be on the ballot.

Others, such as pastors Willie Davis and Kendall Baker, as well as former teacher Manny Barrera and Siemens sales executive Carl Jarvis, filed to run on the last day.

Emphasis mine.  If you need to reminded why it's important to tax the churches...

Houston Area Pastor Council Director Dave Welch, who is helping to run the anti-HERO campaign's church-based efforts to rally voters against the law, said his group does not "officially enlist or recruit candidates."

He added, however, that he did broadly encourage those active in the church to seek office.

"In general, we encourage people to run for office and be politically involved," Welch said. "It's pretty hard to have a good government if you don't have good people in government. (HERO) certainly, it certainly provided an inspiration and motivation for some of the folks in our churches to run."

It reminds me of Ken Paxton's brethren and sisteren asking their local TeaBagger sheriff candidate why more lethal force is not used at the border.  But that's a digression.

You should go and finish Rebecca Elliott's and Kat Driessen's article; Chron municipal election coverage scores a D- in my gradebook, but the blind hog found a few acorns in this piece.  Nothing against the two reporters; responsibility for the newspaper's continued failure to cover local news adequately rests higher up the Hearst food chain (another digression).

Just note the names in bold above, and ask the question every chance you get of any candidate: "Do you support or oppose the equal rights ordinance?"  Everybody running for office needs to be on the record.

Texas Leftist posts the map and the list of all the American cities that have similar ordinances on the books (dozens) and the instances where a transgendered woman assaulted someone in a bathroom (not once).  And TransGriot reminds us about the potential economic losses associated with repealing the ordinance, which reminds me that it's time to remind you to sign this petition.