Friday, March 15, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Hellza been poppin' the past week.  Been hard for me just to keep up on Twitter.

Should I post anything serious about Bob, or just the snark?

The Berners blew up the latest Kos poll.  (They destroyed Markos' official one, you know, so he put it out of its misery).  There goes last cycle's establishment narrative for those.  Maybe someone on teevee will point that out, but you won't ever read about it on DK.

Having used the FiveThirtyEight perspective for a few weeks now -- we'll come back to it shortly -- let's check in on some GOP takes about the field.  National Review's Dan McLaughlin, "Five Lanes..."  (Go ahead and click over.  It's not too bad.)

With Beto O’Rourke’s announcement [yesterday] morning, Joe Biden is the last major contender on the fence. Eric Swalwell, Steve Bullock, and Michael Bennet have all been scouting out Iowa (Swalwell’s home state) or New Hampshire (Bennet has been running digital ads in early states). Bennet seems the least likely of these to run, given John Hickenlooper’s entry in the race (Bennet was running the Denver schools back when Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver, so their fundraising bases overlap closely). Given the palpable desire to finally put the Clinton era in the rearview mirror, it is hard to see the rationale for a Terry McAuliffe campaign. Stacey Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, has lately begun musing about a run and reversed herself Monday after appearing to shut the door. With a late start organizing and never having won election above the state-house level, Abrams seems much likelier to stick to a 2020 Senate run or plan for a rematch for governor. 

I can buy all of that, and include Andrew Gillum as the third southern Democratic 2018 Senate loser who may -- or may not -- join the fray with actual intentions of simply raising their national profile high enough to land on the ticket as VP.

Anyway, McLaughlin's five lanes are 1) race/gender; 2) age/familiarity; 3) anger; 4) ideology; and 5) the Midwest question.  Here's one more snip from the first lane.

... [T]he 2016 Democratic electorate regularly featured more black voters and fewer white voters than 2008. In South Carolina, for example, the Democratic-primary electorate was 43 percent white and 55 percent black in 2008, 35 percent white and 61 percent black in 2016. By 2016, black women alone (37 percent of the primary voters) outnumbered all white voters in the South Carolina primary. In Texas, white voters declined from 49 percent to 43 percent. That reflects overall trends within the party, especially in the South and Midwest: Older, white ancestral Democrats died off or left the party in the Obama years, while younger generations of Democrats included more nonwhite voters. Obama’s general-election campaigns also increased the registration and participation rates among African-American voters in particular. African-American women remain the most reliably Democratic of all voter demographics, and turnout among black women is now at least competitive with that of any other voter group, quite unlike pre-Obama turnout patterns. That has major implications for Democratic primaries.

McLaughlin ranks the contenders today with Kamala Harris in first, followed by Beto, Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and in sixth ... Bernie Sanders.  I can buy some of that.

-- and the superdelegates.

... [T]he prospect of a contested convention gets all the more real.

That’s because the Democratic Party changed its nominating rules over the controversial role superdelegates played in Hillary Clinton’s nomination in 2016. Now, only pledged delegates will vote on the first ballot at the national convention in Milwaukee next July -- not superdelegates. The Democratic National Committee’s rule change was meant to prevent superdelegates from casting the deciding vote in the first round of voting, but with so many candidates in the race, superdelegates could still play an outsized role. If the results of the primaries and caucuses spread pledged delegates too thin and no one candidate has a majority, it means superdelegates could still swing the nomination when they cast their preference in a second ballot vote. So in this case, O’Rourke’s relatively late entry into the field, and perhaps that of former Vice President Joe Biden soon, may not be good for the party unless some Democratic challengers drop out or a clear front-runner emerges long before next July.

-- Go on and read about your preferred candidates there.  I'm posting just this one.

Andrew Yang

Yang announced this week that he’s surpassed the 65,000 donor threshold necessary to earn a spot in the first Democratic primary debate. Provided the number of candidates who reach the threshold does not surpass 20 -- at which point candidates would then be winnowed by poll performance --  Yang will become the first Democratic non-politician to earn a spot in a presidential primary debate since Al Sharpton in 2004.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Weekly #SXSW Wrangle

Some of the Texas Progressive Alliance spent the weekend at South by Southwest, where 2020 presidential candidates lined up for the cattle call.

The Texas Tribune had a full slate of one-on-one interviews, including Amy Klobuchar, John Kasich, Liz Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Bill Weld, Jay Inslee, Julián Castro,and John Hickenlooper.  CNN live-blogged their town halls with John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Buttigieg.

The documentary about Beto O'Rourke's 2018 run for the US Senate premiered, and the candidate surprised the theater audience with an appearance, but no presidential announcement was made.  Politico quotes one insider who is no longer impressed with the extended delay.

“It’s a bit much,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with O’Rourke about working on the 2020 campaign. “The question is: Does he have a secret sauce that no one knows about — that no reporter, no operative, no strategist understands? Or is this just ‘The Beto Show’? And if this is just ‘The Beto Show,’ there’s a breaking point between strategy and narcissism.”

PDiddie's weekly 2020 wrap at Brains and Eggs is already out of date; Kuff is skeptical of early polls but notes that Trump's as-yet-unknown opponent leads him in a recent UT/TexTrib survey; and
Socratic Gadfly has a twofer from the presidential campaign trail: women candidates who pander to gender stereotypes and Feel the Bern enthusiasts who engage in conspiracy thinking.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also made a splash.

Via Latino Rebels, RAICES Texas (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) has an art exhibit at SXSW called "AbolishICEbox".

Some other anticipated feature films and documentaries opened for SXSW fans.  Texas Standard:

Janet Pierson is the director of film at SXSW and provides a guide to what’s good this year. The selection process for SXSW Film is particularly competitive, she says.

”Every year, we approach the admissions process with the same intent. We’ve got 2500 feature submissions and 5500 short submissions and we’re… looking for 130 features that will really jump out to us and 110 shorts.”

This year, the process yielded many strong films -- more than usual. The opening night film, “Us,” was an easy choice, though.

SXSW is also showing “Longshot” featuring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. Pierson says it  is a “really smart, satisfying rom-com – who knew?”

Anticipation for one of this year’s films began with a previous success.

“‘Spring Breakers’ was a huge title for us. We’ve had Harmony Korine at SXSW with a lot of different films. ‘Spring Breakers’ was one of the nights that people still talk about being the ultimate night,” Pierson says. “Beach Bum” is this wonderful revisiting to... the same place and same characters with some age on. The most incredible cast you could ever’s Matthew Mcconaughey and Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Jimmy Buffett...”

Though SXSW isn’t a regional festival, it does have a unique relationship to Texas films.

“The Texas relationship to films in the festival does seem stronger than usual,” Pierson says. “It’s always something we care about, but it’s always still a fraction of the whole. Of course, everyone is so excited about ‘Running with Beto’ ... ‘The River in the Wall’ is not to be missed. It’s this extraordinary cut -- just look at the landscape, the Texas landscape, through the whole southern border.”

In Texas Lege special elections, Christina Morales defeated Melissa Noriega for the right to represent the voters of House District 145 (Houston).

There is still one more vacant seat in the Legislature — that of former Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, now a Bexar County commissioner. That vacancy will be filled by a March 12 special election runoff between Democrat Ray Lopez and Republican Fred Rangel.

TXElects believes runoff turnout favors one candidate.

Over the five (EV) days, a total of 5,228 people voted in person, exceeding the 12-day total for the February special election, including mail ballots. ... Just under half of all votes were cast at the Maury Maverick Library. In 2018, Republicans cast 47% of the straight-party votes in the precincts contiguous to and in the precinct where the library is located. Such a turnout pattern stands to benefit Republican Fred Rangel. No Republican has held the seat since it moved to Bexar County from Harris County in 1993. We’ll have live results beginning at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday at

Justin Miller at the Texas Observer thinks Dan Patrick has decided to blow up the Lege's comity for the sake of the usual conservative extremist agenda.  And Michael Barajas wrote about how the Tea Party fueled the most recent voter-fraud freakout.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer echoed that, pointing out that SoS David Whitley is entirely within the mainstream of the RPTX.

In this very critical year for public education funding, Texas teachers went to Austin to lobby lawmakers today.

Republican State Representative Dan Huberty authored House Bill 3, the school finance bill that has been introduced in the House and has been dubbed “The Texas Plan.” It proposes a $7 billion increase for public education, while the Senate’s proposal increases school funding by approximately $3.9 billion. The Senate version includes a $5,000 pay raise for full-time teachers and librarians. The House version does not includes pay raises, but does call for merit-based pay increases for teachers. 

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the Senate’s proposed $5,000 pay raise is a good start but isn’t enough because Texas teachers would need to get a $7,000 raise per year to reach the national average, according to data from the National Education Association.

For Capo, one of the downsides of the Senate bill is that it doesn’t include raises for paraprofessionals, those who assist teachers on their daily tasks, and other public school employees such as bus drivers. “The entire team is important and everybody needs to be included in some way,” he said.

Capo commended House Bill 3 because it proposes a higher increase in funding than the Senate bill, but said that too much of the increase is connected to merit–based pay systems.

He also said the state’s turnover of math and science teachers is particularly concerning, noting many are leaving education jobs because they can double their salaries in the private sector.

Grits for Breakfast collated the latest marijuana reform news, notes, and questions at the Lege.

Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly criticizes the Court of Criminal Appeals' ruling against the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Texas Vox supports making Election Day a state holiday.

Quianta Moore and Sadie Funk write for the HouChron calling for greater investment in early childhood development.

In an announcement this morning, the DNC -- aka Chairman Tom Perez -- passed over Houston and selected Milwaukee, WI for its 2020 national convention.  Pages of Victory blogged about his beef with the Democrats.

A long-form piece at LareDOS, 'A River Ran Through It', details growing up with the water of the Rio Grande (and how it has changed).

Texas Standard reports on how the state's increasing reliance on wind and solar power makes the power grid less nimble at peak usage.

 “You can’t store that wind power or solar power for when you need it.”

A sad dad's Missouri City doughnut shop got a big boost after his son's Tweet went viral.

Beyond Bones has a list of the best places to go fossil hunting that are a daytrip from H-Town.

The TPA bids a fond farewell to Swamplot, the best thing that ever happened to Houston real estate.

And Harry Hamid's occurrence at Fargo Street may not have even happened.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Please send a healing thought to Don Asmussen of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 'Bad Reporter' cartoonist.  Here's his toon from last November,  just before surgery, and his Tweet from February 24 updating his health status.

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

-- Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown became the first surprise exit from the presidential campaign yesterday.

Brown said in a statement that he was confident other candidates would adopt his political mantra — "the dignity of work" — and that he would continue working against President Donald Trump in the Senate instead of joining the crowded Democratic primary field.

"We’ve seen candidates begin taking up the dignity of work fight, and we have seen voters across the country demanding it — because dignity of work is a value that unites all of us," Brown said in the statement. "It is how we beat Trump, and it is how we should govern."

-- Yeah, why did three centrists and one progressive jump out of the hot tub?

Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor; Eric Holder, the former United States attorney general; and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon officially declared … drumroll, please … that they would not be running for president in 2020. A fourth Democrat, Hillary Clinton, also said “I’m not running” to a New York City television station.

Such is the state of Democratic fervor to challenge President Trump that the party now has a subset of politicians: the almost-rans.

Bloomberg said he felt his time and personal fortune would be better used promoting immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Holder wants to continue focusing on ending gerrymandering. Mrs. Clinton, who never seriously pursued a third primary bid, said she would keep “standing up for what I believe.” And Merkley will seek a third term in the Senate in 2020, after the (Oregon) state legislature rejected his request to allow him to run for both positions simultaneously.

For those first three, I believe it's something more obvious (though for the first two, their issues re-orientation is laudable).  Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair:

On Wednesday, Politico reported that (Joe Biden) has hired Cristóbal Alex, a high-placed alum from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the current president of the Latino Victory Fund. Meanwhile, according to Fox Business Network’s Charlie Gasparino, Biden has notified his network of Wall Street supporters that an announcement is “all but certain” in the next month. That mirrors what my colleague William D. Cohan reported last week: with Bloomberg out of the way, Wall Street executives close to Biden say, the centrist-friendly lane is wide open. And who better scratches the establishment's sweet spot between Full Socialism and Donald Trump?

Yes, there it is.

-- Meanwhile, Howard Schultz brews up a steaming pot of spoiler.  Maybe a different flavor than you were expecting, however.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has recruited at least three veteran House Republican staffers and consultants to join his presidential campaign-in-waiting, bringing on seasoned and well-connected GOP operatives who know their way around the very political apparatus helping to reelect President Trump in 2020.

They include Brendon DelToro and Matt LoParco, who served as deputy political director and external affairs director, respectively, to former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) during the 2018 cycle.

A third Schultz hire, GOP consultant Greg Strimple, founder of GS Strategy Group, has done polling and other consulting for the NRCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), according to campaign finance reports.

The hires are reflective of Schultz’s efforts to cast himself as a political centrist who doesn’t neatly fit into the rank-and-file of either major party. They also signal that Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, is likely to make a play for Republican voters should he mount a campaign for the White House.

So perhaps Democrats have less to worry about than they think ... ?  What follows is the best argument one could possibly make to a skeptical etablishmentarian to get the big money out of our political system.

Sources said Schultz, a billionaire, is throwing big money at experienced, professional Democratic and Republican operatives alike — annual salaries perhaps in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In January, Schultz hired veteran GOP strategist Steve Schmidt and veteran Democratic strategist Bill Burton.

“I would insist on $500,000 a year, plus moving expenses,” said a former veteran GOP presidential campaign staffer who has been closely watching the Schultz campaign take shape. “It’s a tremendous financial opportunity. Senior jobs in a presidential campaign don’t grow on trees, and if you are not enthused about working for Trump, it’s alluring. I don’t begrudge these people at all.”

Last cycle, DelToro and LoParco worked out of the same Republican National Committee headquarters, which Trump has now merged with his 2020 reelection campaign. The merged venture is known as Trump Victory.

I got nothing to add.  Let's see what the rest of the field did last week, courtesy as always

-- CO Gov. John Hickenlooper entered the scrum on Monday.

“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper said in the video. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”

In an interview on “Good Morning America” Monday, Hickenlooper touted his work with a divided legislature in Colorado to pass progressive policies, including environmental and gun control regulations.

On Thursday, Hickenlooper held a kick-off event in Denver, and on Friday and Saturday he’ll visit Iowa, according to his campaign, before being interviewed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday.

That last link is the TexTrib's streamer.  Here's their lineup for the weekend.

Saturday, March 9:
  • 11 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota., speaks with Kara Swisher, co-founder and editor-at-large of Recode.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Former Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks with Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss.
  • 2 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, speaks with Time contributor Anand Giridharadas.
  • 3:30 p.m.: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks with Ana Marie Cox, the host of the Crooked Media podcast “With Friends Like These."
  • 5 p.m.: Former Gov. Bill Weld speaks with Wired contributing editor Garrett M. Graff.
Sunday, March 10:
  • 9:30 a.m.: Interview with Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Washington.
  • 11 a.m.: Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, speaks with HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, speaks with BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

CNN also has three Democratic contenders on Sunday night.

-- Bernie Sanders is in Iowa this weekend; Council Bluffs last night.

Iowa City and Des Moines tonight and tomorrow night.

-- Kamala Harris is still riding rough seas.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday on a scandal that engulfed Harris’ San Francisco district attorney’s office involving a crime lab technician who allegedly mishandled evidence, leading to the dismissal of nearly 1,000 drug-related cases. The California senator took responsibility for her office’s handling of the situation, but at the time was criticized for mismanagement and failing to disclose the wrongdoing.


This weekend, Harris will travel to South Carolina for several meet-and-greet events across the state and the Charleston Black Expo Economic Empowerment Summit in Charleston Saturday.

-- Liz Warren is having a good week.

In a statement Wednesday, Warren weighed in on the controversy engulfing Rep. Ilhan Omar, taking issue with the way Omar’s critiques have been labeled.

“Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Massachusetts senator said.

Warren will hold an organizing event in New York City on Friday, participate in a conversation at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on Saturday and attend another organizing event in Dallas on Sunday.

Much more about the many vying for attention here.