Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hidalgo v. Emmett

Before I start ripping the skin off the Texas Democratic slate (thanks to Horwitz in the comments yesterday for helping me get warmed up, by the way), I'll say something nice about the locals, .i.e. Harris County executive races.  Dr. Diane Trautman (County Clerk), this blogger being a longtime fan, and Marilyn Burgess (District Clerk) both prevailed in Tuesday's runoff and should be able to do the same against hapless Republicans Stan Stanart and Chris Daniel in the fall.

One of those is more hapless than the other, as even Harris Republicans clearly understand.

More on that race at a later date; from my inbox late yesterday came this press release and poll from the Hidalgo for Judge campaign that -- despite its D lean -- has to have surprised a few people.  Under the header "Hidalgo leads Emmett 53% to 47%" ...

The Lina Hidalgo campaign for Harris County Judge today released the results of its first county-wide poll, showing the Democratic challenger leading the Republican incumbent by a stunning six percentage points; among Harris County voters who plan to vote in the County Judge race, 53% plan to vote for Lina Hidalgo and 47% say they will vote for Ed Emmett.

The poll, conducted by Texas Democratic Party-authorized polling firm, Change Research, surveyed more than 1700 registered voters in Harris County on May 11, 12, 13, 19, and 20, and has a margin of error of +/- 3%. 

Perhaps more than the usual polling caveats apply.  There's no link to the poll in the email and none that I can find on Hidalgo's website; mighty Kuffner hasn't gotten around to this news yet.  (Speaking of slow reactions, if he ever wrote anything about the debate between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, then I missed it.  Candidly I'm of the considered opinion that his blog has gone so far downhill so fast it's not worth much of my time any longer, but YMMV.  He very rarely blogs about anything I haven't already read in the Houston Chronicle or the Texas Tribune.  Like Blue Dog Ted at jobsanger, though, Kuff coughs up his 4-6 posts early every morning, so there's that.  Consistent quantity counts for something even when quality suffers.)

More from the poll:

94% of Harris County voters report feeling more interested (56%) in or equally as interested (38%) in the 2018 election as they have felt about prior elections.

President Trump is viewed unfavorably by 60% of Harris County voters

Voters report that the three issues that will drive their voting behavior most in November are:

1. Government transparency

2. Education

3. Jobs

Hidalgo is very likely the most progressive woman on the Harris County ballot.  Bar none ... at least until Janis Richards gets qualified to run for governor as an independent, which we should know about soon, as her 500 signatures are due in Austin shortly to be verified.  But most importantly, Hidalgo and Lupe Valdez and Sylvia Garcia and all of the rest of the Latinos and Latinas on the statewide and county ballot are a reminder that 2018 is a no-excuses year for Latin@ turnout.  Nobody should be compelled to buy any keys to turnout from Marc Campos, either; he's the same moron he's always been.  (I give Campos a lot of crap, but his blog wins awards this blog has never won, you know.  So I'm jealous of all the #winning.)

David Collins, himself a previous Harris Judge contender, approves of Hidalgo, and since I have not met her yet, that's good enough for me.

Let's expect that our endorsements don't piss off any bitter #StillbornHerz so much so that they can't vote for Lina out of spite for me or Collins.  I'd like to believe those folks are bigger persons than I am about petty purity politics, after all, but with the Churchill Downs stable of horseshit and slander I read against Laura Moser and continue to read about Bernie Sanders ... well, let's just say Kuffner is wrong again, but has a chance at being right in time for November.  Maybe he can use his clout to talk some sense into his team; something like, "there's not very many of those awful progs, and we can replace their votes with Republican crossovers, so just put PDiddie on 'ignore'" or something.

Stace is happy, so maybe we'll read more there about politics and less about Tejano music.  (Really and truly, dude.  It's not as bad as Greg Wythe's defunct blog posts about Trinity Euless football, or the latest from Lakewood Church, but it's close.  Go the full La Raza or get back to what you used to do best, is all I'm sayin'.  Us gabachos lack insight into the Mexicano mindset which we can't get from Lalo Alcarez or News Taco.  Don't regress to the level of Neil A-Queen-o, for cryin' out loud.)

Okay then.  The rest of my acid gets directed at all the white NeoDemocrats running for office who will spend the next five months chasing conservative votes.  Another clarification of the definition of 'progressive' is sorely overdue.  That's on the way, haters.  Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and don't forget why we observe it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yay establishment.

Woo hoo moderates and centrists.  Clap for the conservaDems (and for that matter, the same standing-in-the-middle-of-the-road armadillos in the TXGOP.)  Dilly "pragmatists".

(Laura Moser) spent a recent Saturday walking from door to door in the Houston suburb of Cypress, trying to convince voters who rarely come out to the polls in Texas’s Seventh District to support her progressive agenda in the Democratic primary runoff Tuesday.

These are the voters Texas Democrats want to see turn out in droves during the 2018 midterms. But in past years, they haven’t had a lot of success convincing them.

“You’re the most powerful voting bloc in the country,” Moser told one skeptical resident. “If everyone voted, you would get people representing you who looked like you.”

Moser was being complimentary; it's simply not accurate to call non-voters a voting bloc.

Houston is Moser’s hometown, and like the rest of the state, it has diversified since she grew up here. Many people working on their lawns or sitting outside in Cypress spoke Spanish, and a group of Latino and African-American children raced their bikes up and down the cul-de-sac.

Several neighborhood residents told Moser they don’t often see candidates for Congress knocking on doors as she encouraged them to get out and vote during the May 22 election.

This lines up with how Democrats have historically tried to win races in Texas — paying more attention to voters they know will turn out reliably. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) typically backs moderate candidates who they believe will appeal to independents and Democrats, and be more competitive against Republican incumbents.

How's that worked out for ya in the last twenty years, Donks?

The DCCC is following the same playbook this year, favoring Moser’s opponent in the runoff, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. The DCCC hoped Moser wouldn’t make it this far, dropping an opposition research file on her ahead of the March primary — a decision that backfired and seems to have helped propel Moser into this week’s runoff this week. The organization has stopped short of explicitly backing Fletcher ahead of the runoff, but she’s clearly their preferred candidate.

Tuesday night (tested) which path appeals to Texas Democrats: Are they are still rooted in the center, or does their future lie in changing demographics and embracing a progressive ideology? More broadly, the TX-7 race has become emblematic of the conflict between the Democratic establishment and its newly emboldened progressive base, who wants to see the party swing left.

That question was answered emphatically: 'let's keep doing the same thing we've always done, and hope for a different result'.   Good luck in November, Mules.

Expect a #DemExit again.  It's really not an even split as the toon suggests, but the prags do get the ass.  I like the red shirts on the left, too.

I'll have a lot more about last night later.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance weeps for the families of the Santa Fe victims, the latest in America's ongoing carnage of gun violence and the predictable aftermath of excuse-making and inaction by our bought-and-paid-for lawmakers.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and Dan Patrick broke records for his creative ignorance, first blaming school exit doors, and later video games and even women's reproductive choice.  He also referred to something called a "well-run militia", which appears nowhere in the Constitution.  Brand-new NRA president Oliver North fingered Ritalin as the culprit.

(Odd that cowardice and white privilege weren't mentioned to any prominent degree.  The killer's parents -- you might have read he used his father's guns -- remain in deep denial.)

Greg Abbott claimed he might do something, and was challenged to do so, but his response so far has been long on thoughts and prayers and short on action.  HPD chief Art Acevedo got 15 minutes of social media fame by having his Facebook post picked up by the NYT.  State Rep. Gene Wu Tweeted "y'all" a couple of times in solidarity.

And it's almost time for the cycle to start anew.

A few bloggers and news sources weighed in: Somervell County Salon has Jimmy Kimmel's reaction.  Socratic Gadfly called out Abbott for both his usual hypocrisy and his egotism after the killings.  And Casey Fleming does not want to have to write about school shootings ever again.   (Good luck with that, buddy.)

Last but most importantly, No More Mister Nice Blog eviscerates the New York Times for perpetuating the myth that Texans love their guns.

All of this may be true, and the story goes on for sixteen more paragraphs in this fashion. But then we're told:

Polling shows the state’s voters are more split on guns than popular culture might indicate. According to an October poll by the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, more than half of the registered voters surveyed said gun control laws should be stricter. Only 13 percent said the laws should be less strict than they are now, and 31 percent would prefer to leave current gun laws unchanged.
My response is: So it's not "popular culture" that's misinforming us about Texans' attitudes regard gun laws -- it's you, New York Times. It's you saying that "guns are hard-wired into the state’s psyche" and quoting (as the story goes on to do) primarily Republican politicians and residents of this rural community. (Texas isn't a rural state -- it has four of the eleven most populous cities in America. City dwellers are Americans, too -- and city dwellers in Texas are Texans.)

I wish this story had examined the disjuncture between the widespread support for at least some tightening of gun laws and the political impossibility of tightening in many parts of America. In Texas, it's not because keeping the gun laws loose is the will of the state's residents -- the poll numbers make that clear -- but because the minority that resists change is dominant. The story could have made clearer that that's what's going on, rather than implying that love of unrestricted guns is essential to the entire state's culture and we liberals just don't understand.

This week's Wrangle contains some election news ahead of tomorrow's vote, and some lighter reading posted before Friday's tragedy.

Five Thirty Eight previews the Texas runoffs.

Races to watch: 7th, 21st, 23rd and 32nd congressional districts; governor

Polls close: 8 p.m. Eastern in most of the state, 9 p.m. Eastern in El Paso and Hudspeth counties

Wait, didn’t Texas already hold its primaries? Well, yes, but more than 30 contests needed to go into overtime because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. Those runoffs, between the top two finishers from March 6, take place Tuesday.

In the final days of the Democratic primary for Texas’s 7th Congressional District, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ignited a controversy by releasing opposition research against one of its own candidates, progressive activist Laura Moser. Intended to show Democrats that Moser would go down to certain defeat against Rep. John Culberson in the general election, the smear may instead have rallied anti-establishment voters to Moser’s side, and she finished second in the primary to attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (29 percent to 24 percent).

The runoff has been a relatively drama-free affair, but those battle lines remain drawn, as FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone and Galen Druke discussed in a special podcast episode last week. The Fletcher-Moser race actually bears more than a passing resemblance to last week’s Democratic primary in Nebraska’s 2nd District: The two candidates agree on all issues except single-payer health care, but Moser speaks with the defiant tone of the #Resistance, while Fletcher is trying to appeal to both sides of the aisle. In Nebraska, the progressive eked out an upset win; if Moser does the same, it could deal a similar blow4 to Democrats’ chances of picking up a reddish-purple seat (in this case, R+7). In the big picture, a Moser win would suggest strong anti-establishment sentiment among Democratic voters, and the DCCC would surely think twice about intervening in a similar way in a future primary.

Texas’s 21st District is 16 points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole, but with the retirement of Rep. Lamar Smith, Democrats may have an opening. Both parties have runoffs in this open seat. For Democrats, Mary Street Wilson edged Joseph Kopser, 31 percent to 29 percent, in the first round, but Kopser, an Army veteran and tech entrepreneur, would be the party’s stronger candidate in a general election. Unlike Wilson (who has pulled in less than $100,000 all cycle), Kopser has proved that he can raise funds. For the GOP, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy (27 percent in the first round) faces off with perennial candidate Matt McCall (17 percent). Bet on Roy, whose campaign has been backed by $584,000 in TV and mail ads from the Club for Growth.

Texas’s 23rd District is the state’s most evenly matched district between Democrats and Republicans (it has an R+1 partisan lean), but it’s also the one with the least competitive primary. Gina Ortiz Jones, a gay Air Force veteran, is looking to become the first Filipina-American congresswoman. Before she can take on incumbent Republican Will Hurd, however, she will need to defeat Rick Treviño, a progressive teacher in the mold of Bernie Sanders, in the Democratic runoff. It should be an easy task: Ortiz Jones has outraised Treviño $1.2 million to $49,000, and having beaten him 41 percent to 17 percent in the first round, she doesn’t need to pick up much more support to get to a majority.

It’s a similar story in Texas’s final competitive House race, the 32nd District (R+5), in the fight to take on Rep. Pete Sessions. Former NFL player Colin Allred led the Democratic primary in March with 38 percent to businesswoman Lillian Salerno’s 18 percent, and the DCCC responded by adding him to its “Red to Blue” program. Salerno does, at least, have the cash ($666,000 raised) to make it a real race, and the Emily’s List endorsee may benefit from a year when female candidates seem to be doing well.

Finally, Democrats’ choice for governor could set the tone for Democratic campaigns statewide. Lupe Valdez, the gay Latina former sheriff of Dallas County, excites progressives with her diversity and is favored by those who believe motivating Latino voters is Texas Democrats’ recipe for success. Having received 43 percent of the vote in March, she’s the favorite in the runoff against self-described “very conservative Democrat” Andrew White. White, the son of former Gov. Mark White, has had more funds at his disposal thanks to a $1 million loan he made to his own campaign. Like in Georgia, it’s debatable whose strategy truly gives Democrats the best path in the general election. Although it could have coattail effects on down-ballot races, it’s probably academic for this one; neither Valdez nor White is given much of a chance against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

jobsanger charted the EV numbers in the D runoff from the state's thirty largest counties, and Kuff looked at the potential for online voter registration in Texas in the wake of the "motor voter" lawsuit.

Texas Freedom Network hears demagogue David Barton make a misleading case for politicizing houses of worship, while Gus Bova at the Texas Observer introduces Farris Wilks, the Texas GOP kingmaker.  (Wilks, a fracking billionaire, is an elder at a church that does not allow women to speak during church services.)

Grits for Breakfast points to a Dallas Morning News piece in asserting the state is still using junk science like 'forensic hypnosis' in death penalty cases.

David Collins blogged about the net neutrality Senate vote (passed), but cautioned about the House vote (prospects dim).

Zachery Taylor notes the feudal system incarnate in our corporate media and questions their incessant coverage of crooks and thugs.

Save Buffalo Bayou suggests that Harris County consider eminent domain for preserving greenspace to help residents survive floods and hurricanes.

Texas Vox visited the Bayou City and met with the Healthy Port Communities Coalition while touring the Manchester neighborhood and areas around Pasadena's refineries and the Port of Houston.

Bonddad has an interest rate and gas price watch posted.

Texas Public Radio's storyteller from Brownsville, Dr. W. F. Strong, is profiled by Mike McGuff and can be heard on Texas Standard-affiliated stations.

And nonsequiteuse believes there's only one way we can bring about real change going forward.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

Early voting in the Texas primary runoff elections begins today.  Unless you're still undecided, waiting to sign an access petition for the Texas Green Party, or just want to risk voting during a tropical rainstorm, the TPA encourages you to cast your ballot before Election Day, May 22nd.

(In this blog's humble O, you're better off using the Congressional endorsements of Our Revolution Texas than you are the HGLBT Caucus' -- their picks in downballot Harris County races are fine -- but the choice is yours.)

 Just don't wait for the GOP Turnout Wagon to come by and pick you up.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was one of the only Texas bloggers who wrote about the debate between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White before and after it happened.

David Collins, appropriating Mattress Mack's advertising slogan, points out that Instant Runoff Voting really will save us money (by not having to spend it on runoff elections).

Socratic Gadfly read James Comey's book and found that any "Higher Loyalty" is ultimately to himself.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast ponders the correlation between the DPS 'border surge' and the reduction in DWI citations.  In a salient posting the week before last, Henson made an excellent point about the City of Houston's budget-busting request for more cops on the streets.

Mayor Sylvester Turner wants voters to bust the city's revenue cap to pay for public safety. However, we're at a moment in history when crime is at historic lows and the demands on law enforcement are rapidly evolving. Just hiring more warm bodies to throw at an endless stream of 911 calls and false burglar alarms on patrol wouldn't be worth it. Rather, investments in the civilian side -- crime labs, crime-scene techs, evidence management, etc. -- make a lot more sense. When Houston's chief, Art Acevedo, was in Austin, he focused almost exclusively on bolstering patrol in his budget requests while our crime lab failed under his watch and all civilian functions basically withered on the vine. Houston shouldn't make the same mistake.

Christof Spieler asks what it will take for the Bayou City to become more resilient to flooding.

Texas cities are taking on climate change, writes Kaiba White at Texas Vox.

Ty Clevinger at Lawflog updates on the lawsuit he has filed against the Department of Justice for refusing to release the records associated with the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.

The Salon of Somervell County sagely observes that if something is deemed "fake news", that means that it's news that does not flatter Trump.

Robert Rivard wants San Antonio to go public with the Alamo Plaza restoration plan.

Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas argues that the best Mother's Day gift we could give would be a commitment to reducing the maternal mortality rate.

Harry Hamid explains why he hasn't been blogging much lately.

Beyond Bones presents seven things you probably didn't know about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Finally, the Texas Women's Voices Project, presented by Texas Monthly, is a must-read.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Lupe's last stand?

Maybe.  While RG Ratcliffe's cowboys-and-injuns analogy isn't appropriate, Sheriff Valdez really does need to show out well this evening.

In an election year when no Democrat with statewide name identification stepped up to run, Valdez looked like an ideal party candidate—on paper at least. She had an impoverished childhood and made something of herself by attending college and obtaining a master’s degree in criminology. She rose to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army before starting a career with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, then winning election as Dallas County sheriff in 2004 by defeating a Republican. She is also in a same-sex relationship.

A Hispanic gay woman in law enforcement who had proven herself in elective politics, Valdez seemed to have it all going for her. [...] everything except a knowledge of state government and seemed to lack a willingness to learn. Andrew White, a Houston investor and the son of a former governor, looked like he represented the Democratic Party of yore, not the new multicultural party. He finished a distant second in the primary voting, but then Valdez started stumbling. The party faithful began a debate over whether it is better to support a candidate like Valdez, who represents the party base, or a candidate like White, who might actually have a chance of defeating Abbott.

Let's set RG's record straight on a couple of things.

-- White has no chance of defeating Abbott.  None whatsoever.  Neither does Valdez, but she'll come closer than White in losing, and she helps the downballot by motivating the Latin@ vote.  White discourages D turnout over all.

We've been down this road before; with Wendy Davis four years ago, with another conservative Democrat named White before that, with a fake progressive named Chris Bell before that, and even with a wealthy Latino before that.  The blue share of the electorate has only gone in one direction over the past twenty years in midterm election cycles.  But hey, some Donkeys haven't figured out that's not working, so they're all in for Andrew.  I'm taking a hard pass, thanks.

-- That link above to the Facebook quarreling is full of the kind of Texas Democrats I have left in my rear view mirror, in both the TDP and the TPA.  Several of them used to blog but don't any more (rationales include 'blogging was so 2006' or '08 or so, among others).  The discussion, FWIW, centers around the contrasts between Lupe's competence and ability to turn out the vote versus White's, and which is more important in 2018.  As you have perhaps figured out, his competence compared to hers -- when neither stands a chance anyway -- is a non-starter for me.

This is not a debate between major contenders, though. (As of the last reporting period, Valdez had $57,000 in the bank; White, $1 million; and Abbott, $41 million.) Texas Democrats have the longest partisan losing streak in statewide elections of any party in the nation. With tens of millions of dollars at his disposal, Abbott has little to worry about from either White or Valdez, but if Valdez does not improve, if she does not study the statewide issues, if she continues to stumble, she could lead the party’s down-ballot candidates into defeat with her. 

Yeah, no amount of money on God's green Earth, Hell's half-acre, or the dry, parched ground out in Doss, where Mike and Mary Porter raise cattle, is going to knock Abbott out of his wheelchair off his high horse this year.  Good Christian folk like the Porters will see to it.

My option in November (I've said it before, but I guess Gadfly didn't hear it) is Janis Richards, if she gets on the ballot.  Anybody got a status update on the Texas Greens' ballot signature petitions?  If my counting is accurate, 75 days from March 13 leaves us at Memorial Day weekend, about two weeks away, depending on how holidays are counted.  The GPTX needs slightly over 47,000 signatures from registered voters who didn't cast a ballot in either primary nor participate in the Libertarians' nominating convention process.  I don't see any recent updates to the party's website or Twitter feed with respect to an update, a request for help gathering sigs, or much of anything else.  And I don't do Facebook any longer.  If there's news there, or anywhere else for that matter, someone post it in the comments.

If Richards -- or an independent or party-affiliated progressive option -- is not on the November ballot, I'll probably be forced to undervote the race.  But I might be persuaded to vote for Valdez if she can acquit herself well tonight and going forward.  I still think she'll be the nominee regardless, mostly because the more I read of White, the lousier he seems.

Update: Tonight's debate is viewable live only in the San Antonio and Austin markets.  If you live in H-Town or elsewhere, you can livestream it via KXAN at this link.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Texas Democrats: Black and blue? Or just blue?

The following arrived in my inbox last Monday morning, from TSU professor, attorney, past Houston and Harris County elected official and several-times political candidate Carroll G. Robinson, under the header "Black to Blue in Texas 2".

If Democrats are going to turn Texas Blue in November, they will need strong Black voter turnout and right now there is nothing driving that turnout.

During the March Democratic Primary and May Run-Off, no statewide Democratic candidate invested significant financial resources with Black media - Radio,Newspapers, or cable stations such as BET, OWN or TV ONE - to introduce themselves and share their policy positions and commitments with Black Texans. That was a mistake.

Statewide Democratic candidates need to start introducing themselves broadly to the Black community now. Waiting until the Fall is going to be too late. There is just not enough time between Labor Day and the start of Early Voting, by mail and in person, to have voters get to know a candidate and their policy positions, especially when the candidates are being attacked in negative ads on TV, radio, in the mail and by auto-calls and emails.

For Democratic candidates, reaching out to Black voters now and caring about the issues of importance to the Black community across Texas is not pandering; it's the right thing to do. It leads to good public policy and it's good politics.

To generate strong Black voter turnout (and avoid a drop-off) in November, the Texas Democratic Party and Beto O'Rourke are going to have to invest in promoting the Black Women candidates running statewide and the Black candidates running for Congress, the Texas Legislature and county offices across our state.

Black voters, like many other voters, are going to need more than just being against Trump to turnout in record numbers in November.

Beto and all the Democratic candidates for Congress should do a group 60 second TV commercial built on the message that electing a Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation would be electing candidates that look like and represent the interests, issues and concerns of all of us in Texas.

Black voters must know that their issues and concerns are being addressed and that they, their communities and the candidates of their choice are being "respected, included and invested in."

The Texas Democratic Party slogan for 2018 and moving forward should be "Making Texas Better...for All

This, as regular readers know, has been an occasional topic mentioned in this space (most recently at the bottom of this post), so while I can't call myself a fan of Robinson's, he's making a very important point that Lone Star Donkeys had better hear as they move toward their state convention, in Fort Worth in late June, and on to November.

I'm thinking Robinson's 'demand letter' styling above isn't going to be met with a receptive audience, but even if the wrong messenger is communicating the right message too aggressively ... the threat of black Democrats sitting out another election is not too cool to contemplate.

[I could write a long and separate post about what it would take for Democrats to re-energize black turnout.  After all, they saved Alabama for Doug Jones.  But Jones has already bitten the hands of those who cast their ballots for him, a warning that the sage of hoops, Charles Barkley, issued on the night Jones won.  More recently, when Chance the Rapper responded to Kanye West's coming-out as as a Trumpet, Chance's point was clarified by Brianha Joy Gray at Rolling Stone (recently named political editor at "something called" The Intercept).  Her piece is worth the full read.

There is ... a significant group of unreservedly enthusiastic supporters for a third party challenge. To those disillusioned by both sides, it's clear that the long-term benefits of breaking up the two-party system outweigh the short-term harms of a spoiler election: Even if a third-party were to split the vote, the loss would force the Democratic Party to pay attention to the needs of all its voters.

While this argument can, at times, bear the mark of privilege, its critics tend to forget the visceral human consequences of "incrementalism" – the gradual change traditionally advocated by establishment figures – even as they rightly fear the potential havoc of conservative leadership. The "fierce urgency of now" that motivates third-party advocates, those undeterred by the possibility of spoilers, is not merely about privilege – it's also the call of the institutionally ignored.

Clarifying his earlier tweets, Chance The Rapper, who made headlines last year for donating $2 million to Chicago public schools, explained today that his frustration with Democrats stemmed from the party’s lack of investment in his hometown: "My statement about black folk not having to be democrats (though true) was a deflection from the real conversation and stemmed from a personal issue with the fact that Chicago has had generations of democratic officials with no investment or regard for black schools, neighborhood[s] or black lives." After apologizing for the timing of his remarks, he went on to argue that "[w]e have to talk honestly about what is happening and has been happening in this country and we have to challenge those who are responsible, as well as those who are giving them a pass."

Yeah, her article is actually about Ranked Choice Voting.  It's a real thing.  This is officially a digression now, so let's return to where we began; Carroll Robinson's letter and his caution to Texas Dems: stop taking black votes for granted.]

And then yesterday morning, again via email, 2018 gubernatorial candidate Cedric Davis Jr. announced his challenge to Gilberto Hinojosa for the TDP chairmanship.  Here's the entire message he sent, introducing himself again (the audience is delegates to the party's convention).

The Democratic Blue Wave is sweeping across many states in our nation. I am excited to be a part of this energetic historical movement by the people to make government and party officials more responsive to needs and concerns of the people. After finishing third in the 2018 Democratic Gubernatorial Primaries, the level of energy of those looking to transform our state and nation to people-oriented governments is unmatched! That is why tens of thousands of Democrats around Texas has personally challenged and encouraged me to seek the chairmanship of our party. After considering the people’s challenge to me after the March primaries, I filed to run for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. I am running to continue being a viable voice for those who have been disenfranchised, to continue bringing forth inspirational messaging, fight the Republican Leadership with new aggressive progressive strategies and tactics, and to ensure the Democratic Blue Wave finds its way to Texas!

I am a proud native of North Texas who is the father of five, a Desert Storm Veteran, an alumnus of Sam Houston University (B.Sc. CRIJ), and Tarleton State University (Graduate Studies in Public Administration). I am a Master Peace Officer, Police Instructor, and Investigator. I have served the public in a public safety and security role for more than 30 years. I currently teach pre-law, criminal justice, and law enforcement to the students of Garland ISD.

I have over three decades of political activism and community involvement experience as a North Texas political and community figure. I enjoy motivating individuals to be active on municipal, and state boards and commissions which also includes encouraging individuals to run for local and state offices. During the past three decades, I have had the pleasure of advising, managing, and assisting in fundraising for campaigns on the local and state level. I am proud to have served as Mayor of Balch Springs, Texas. As your Chair, I will work to help find a Chairperson for every County of Texas and find additional funding sources to support Chairs of rural areas with newer communication technologies such as current web-pages and universal Wi-Fi so our democratic messaging reaches the entire state.

As a former Mayor, Police Chief, School Board Trustee, and EDC Board of Director and many other community Boards and Commissions have made me viable and battle-tested in the importance of diversity in governance, education, and the workforce within our state and country. During our 2018 campaign travels around the state, we found many communities were more accepting to my presentation of new strategies and ideologies that would empower more Democrats into political offices, that would support current and new community and social programs, add job creation, encourage new voting blocks to become Democrats. Our message was embraced more often than none because I possessed the experience of being on the ground long before I ran for governor; that’s what mattered to the people. My public service leadership record of having a “Real Soldier” mentality when fighting for people and their community’s tower above the other candidates. I have been able to organize, moderate, and speak on issues of social justice and political empowerment with little to no resources. I plan to use my extensive experience to help our party unify our base of voters and energize new blocks of voters to elect Democrats across the state!

These are a few reasons why I believe African Americans, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Women, Veterans, Teachers, and others of the poor and middle class have continued to support me in bringing their message forward. Because people prefer responsiveness and transparency over political games, I would be honored to have your vote at the 2018 State Convention. I look forward to talking to you soon!

Now Davis is somebody I do like, and not just because he's running against the worst TDP chair in a long list of bad ones.  This blog's second most-clicked post, with more than 13,000 hits, is about El Patron and his South Texas (alleged) corruption.

I would imagine some collection of Hinojosa stooges, perhaps including Puss in Boots Horwitz, is whipping the number of brown and black delegates to the June convention.  You can count two Caucasians from SD-13 in Davis' column.

Whether Davis prevails over Hinojosa or not, Democrats (not just in Texas, mind you) had better be paying attention to the message they're being sent.  It ain't just black voters -- though this caucus is the most critical to their 2018 blue wave hopes -- and it damn sure ain't "Not Trump".

Monday, May 07, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post and news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes Governor Greg Abbott to the New McCarthyism, a domain of paranoia and fake news previously occupied exclusively by sullen Hillary Clinton bitter-enders.

Here comes the stampede!

Both Justin Miller and Chris Hooks at the Texas Observer piled on Abbott for Jade Helm.  Miller ...

For anyone with at least one foot planted in reality, it was clear that Jade Helm 15 wasn’t actually an Obama-orchestrated Trojan Horse meant to implement martial law in Texas, take away all the guns and lock up political dissidents in abandoned Walmarts. But that’s the narrative that was drummed up, supposedly backed up by a U.S. military map that depicted conservative states Texas and Utah in “hostile control.”

... then Hooks (defenestrating the former CIA director who made the claim).

It’s also the case that Hayden, who last held an official position in the American intelligence community in 2009, six years before Jade Helm, has no reason to know anything about this, unless someone who knows has told him. But Hayden doesn’t claim that — he uses words like “I’m figuring” and “I think.” It sounds like conjecture. And it’s also the case that Hayden is an inveterate liar. He was a top intelligence figure during the Bush administration, and has spent his retirement as an apologist for torture and mass surveillance. When the Senate torture report was finally published in 2014, the committee dedicated a special 36-page appendix to documenting the ways Hayden had lied to Congress in his official capacity. There is no reason to believe anything Hayden says about anything.

Abbott had a pretty bad week over all, as former US Rep. Blake Farenthold told him he wasn't paying for no stinking special election in TX-27, and then the gov'nah got caught in another hyperbolic half-truth by PolitiFact (in the San Antonio Express News) about the contards' favorite boogeyman, George Soros.

Some special election results include Martha Castex-Tatum's victory in a nine-candidate field Saturday to represent District K in southwest Houston, and the re-election of Lewisville's mayor, Rudy Durham, with a runoff slated between a current and a former city council member.

Meanwhile a runoff between two Republicans to complete the unexpired term in Texas House District 13 -- seven mostly rural counties between Austin and Houston -- will be held sometime this summer.  The Democrat came in third.  Former Grimes County Judge Ben Leman and Bellville businesswoman Jill Wolfskill are also in the May 22 runoff to fill the seat for the full term beginning in January, 2019.

In Euless, Salman Bhojani defeated a Tea Party candidate who was well-financed by maniacal statehouse Rep. Jonathan Stickland -- by just 37 votes -- for a seat on that city's council.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that his opponent's campaign attacked Bhojani for being a Muslim and a "lifelong Democrat", among other terrible things.

Brains and Eggs isn't too excited about the gubernatorial debate coming this Friday night, and Kuff interviewed the Democratic candidates in the primary runoff for CD22, Letitia Plummer and Sri Kulkarni.

At the Kay Bailey Hutchison Coliseum in Big D, where protests outside ruled the day as the NRA's national convention raged inside, Stephen Young of the Dallas Observer donned his hazmat suit and went in to hear Wayne Pierre proclaim that the end of the world is nigh.

The Rag Blog has news about 'Rhapsody in Blue', a convergence of culture and resistance politics, happening this Thursday in Austin and jointly sponsored by Progress Texas and the New Journalism Project.  And Downwinders at Risk advances a fundraiser for cleaner air in Joppa, Dallas' most enduring Freedman's Town.

Ted at jobsanger -- who is an atheist -- found a poll that reveals most Americans of all religious persuasions object to the discrimination of LGBTQ people by commercial enterprises.

RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly considers two very different local responses to our state's Confederate history.

Whether they are destined to become pets, or boots, or meat in a market, Texas Standard reports that the smuggling of wildlife across the southern border is widespread, and most of the caimans, iguanas, and tigers that are are discovered entering Texas illegally are from Latin America.

Grits for Breakfast reminds us how shitty Ann Richards and Texas Democrats were on criminal justice issues back in the day.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his response to the note left on his car regarding his Democratic Socialists of America bumper sticker.

SocraticGadfly takes a break from politics to offer a salute to Astros nemesis and Rangers killer Albert Pujols on his 3,000-hit milestone.

And after a nearly-five-month blogging hiatus, Somervell County Salon returns with some Trump Swamp updates.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

A debate, finally

On a Friday night.  Before Mother's Day weekend.  Nice going, schedulers.

This will work to Average White Guy's advantage, as Valdez -- I don't care for Gadfly's play on words w/r/t her name -- has demonstrated repeatedly she is not up to the task of running for statewide office.  She's not even able to defend her record adequately (whether or not it can be defended is a different story).  For that, just read Tilove's piece in the Statesman from Monday.  I'm excerpting from the middle so you might want to click over for the question she was answering in context.

Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

One could fairly hear Abbott strategist Dave Carney’s  YEEHAH! echoing from his lair in Hancock, New Hampshire, off Skatutakee Mountain, the 1667 miles to Austin, Texas, above the low hum of Abbott Oompa Loompas working through the night to churn out a new line of 100 percent cotton T-shirts with an image of Lupe Valdez and the words, Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

It’s not just that that’s not a policy. It’s that it’s exactly what Texas Republicans think, or their leaders would like them to think, is the actual Democratic thought process on immigration – fight for as much immigration as possible to help turn the state blue over time.

Two weekends ago, the last time I saw Valdez in Austin, she introduced her Abbott tracker to the crowd and then, after brief remarks, had this to say in answer to a question about debates.

Asked by a Democratic activist at a campaign event at North Austin brewpub Black Star Co-op on Friday night if she was going to debate White, Valdez replied, “I’m open to any kind of debate, but my staff are the ones who are going to take care of all of that.”

Pressed for a firmer answer, Valdez said, “You know there’s only certain decisions that they let me make, and most of them have to do with policy. … I can’t even tell you where I’ll be in the next few days. They’ll tell me. So they’re taking care of that.”

I can appreciate her candor and naivete', but the sad truth is that the Valdez campaign is a rocket that has exploded on the launching pad repeatedly.  Almost every single time it's been placed there.

Still ... no way I'll vote for White.  The 2018 gubernatorial race was not, has not ever been about winning; only about limiting the damage elsewhere.  White brings nothing to the table in terms of boosting blue turnout downballot, which is all Valdez can hope for in November.  More significantly, if the statewide ticket reads Beto O'Rourke, White, Mike Collier, Justin Nelson, Kim Olson, and a few token black and brown faces from there, then the over/under for Texas Democrats (other than those named Bob) moves from around 38% four years ago to about 35% six months from now.

Big Jolly's interview with Collier seems to recognize the lite guv challenger to Dan Patrick will have some ability to poach -- a word I like better than 'crossover' or 'split ticket', and a hell of a lot better than 'siphon' -- whatever exists of a moderate GOP persuadable caucus.  That aside, there are targets for the Donks that don't involve attracting so-called moderate Republicans (an oxymoron, IMHO): Olson could over-perform, especially with some party help, against Sid "Jesus Shot" Miller, and Nelson, were he to say something out loud about Ken Paxton's latest legal action, could start to move Latin@s in his direction.  But by holding their convention in Fort Worth (the most conservative urban area in the state, and the site of their 2006 conclave, which produced the second in a long line of losing streaks) Texas Democrats are happily giving the finger to the progressive base.  They're essentially trying to smother the state's left movement in its crib.  Having knocked the Greens off the ballot in 2016, there's no place for Lone Star progressives to go but for the lonely Democratic Socialist here and there.  (More on this later, when my carpal tunnel eases.)

There's more pain than just in my forearm over the past few weeks.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to exercise your freedom of electoral expression in ongoing special elections, and in the upcoming primary runoffs.

Here's last week's lefty blog and news roundup from around the state!

In lieu of any scheduled debates between Democratic gubernatorial sacrificial lambs competitors Andrew White and Lupe Valdez, some candidate fora happened during the past week where both were questioned about their campaigns and plans for the state.  At the Jolt Texas (Latin@ youth) convention in Austin, that organization endorsed White after Valdez "came across as ill-prepared or -informed", according to Patrick Svitek at the Texas Tribune, in explaining her record with ICE as Dallas County sheriff.  White and US Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke came in for some tough questioning as well.  (Good on the Jolt Texans for doing the job that our state's corporate media -- taking too many campaign advertising dollars, or perhaps simply lacking the will -- can't get done.)

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture of the violence initiated by HISD board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones against lawful and peaceful citizens advocating for Houston school children at a recent meeting, and Durrel Douglas at Houston Justice reported on the outcome of that meeting: the minority schools in question will not be loaned out for privatization.  And Stace at Dos Centavos saw the tactics employed by the board to silence dissent as the same old, same old.

In yet another example of the DCCC doing its best to purge progressives and support the most conservative of Democrats in contested races across the country, Lee Fang at  the Intercept talks to a CO-6 candidate who taped Steny Hoyer's obnoxious and condescending talk with him about not just exiting his race, but to hush up saying mean things about his corporate lawyer opponent.  (Shades of TX-7 and TX-32, and other runoffs in Texas, as we know.)  Likewise, Amy Bolguhn at Rewire notes the DCCC supporting a New York Congressional candidate with poorly-reasoned views on reproductive choice.

With a searing and spot-on diagnosis of our ailing one-party-with two-sides political system, David Collins wonders if Medicare for All will cover post-Democratic Party rehab.

The Contributor links to the list of mayors of more than a hundred US cities -- including San Antonio's Ron Nirenberg, Austin's Steve Adler, San Angelo's Brenda Gunter, and Shelley Brophy of Nacogdoches, but NOT Sylvester Turner of Houston or Mike Rawlings of Dallas -- who support defending the open Internet as the deadline for repealing net neutrality approaches.

Speaking of Dallas, that city is simply not ready yet to remove its Confederate statuary.  Morgan O'Hanlon at the Texas Observer says that the city council has deemed the effort too expensive ... but wants to add a memorial to a victim of lynching instead.

Grits for Breakfast suggests there's a lesson to be learned for Texas legislators in a ruling of unconstitutionality of a revenge-porn statute by the Tyler-based 12th Court of Appeals.

Off the Kuff is all about the redistricting arguments at the Supreme Court.

SocraticGadfly offers up a profile of gadfly lawyer Ty Clevenger.

Elliott Morris at The Crosstab interprets the most recent Congressional special election results.

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current has some fun with Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's rants about the Alamo City bidding for the 2020 GOP convention.

Better Texas Blog brings good news and bad news on family planning.

Texas Living Waters Project wonders if reservoirs are an outdated approach to meeting the state's water needs, just as the Texas Standard reports that a majority of the Lone Star State has slipped into drought status.

In examining the recent and unanimous vote to allow a homebuilder to begin construction in one of the Bayou City's floodplains, Chelsea Thomas at Free Press Houston reveals the hypocrisy downtown on Bagby.

Earlier this week, Houston’s City Council unanimously voted to give Arizona-based real estate developer Meritage Homes and Houston-based land developer MetroNational the ability to create a Municipal Utility District for a proposed development deep in North Houston’s most-recently ravaged floodplain. Why? Because Harvey apparently taught us nothing, politicians are afraid of losing development dollars, and Houston is a flat, bleak expanse that only beige sprawl-burbia will improve.

The worst part about this whole thing? It was sort of unavoidable. Disapprove and the developers build even more recklessly, approve and it’s reckless anyway. It’s an example of floodplain catch twenty-two. We disapprove, and previously-inundated homes are destroyed once again. Approve, and it’s a subtle dog-whistle to corporate developers Houston’s still a zone-less free-for-all and will allow your McMansion bullshit as long as you keep money in the coffers.
The Rivard Report blogs the sounds of San Antonio's Fiesta celebration.

And Harry Hamid took a field trip with Blind Father Tom underground; underneath the seminary.