Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Election 2009

McGuff interviews the Mayor

Mayor Annise Parker discusses her social media strategy with Mike McGuff:

Interesting stuff. Among other things, the Mayor mentions that a new and improved City of Houston website is on its way. I can’t wait to see it.

Boycott us, please!

Now this is something I can really get behind.

If you think the folks in Haiti are having a rough time, just wait until Houstonians feel the economic effects of Pastor David Grisham’s boycott against our city of sin. Launched just a few days ago, www.boycotthouston.com is Grisham’s way of giving righteous Texans a chance to send a message to Houstonians that they have sinned by electing an openly gay mayor and by allowing a super-sized abortion clinic to be built here.

“The main reason for the boycott is simply because it’s about the only way that people in the rest of the state of Texas — outside of Houston — can actually take a stand for righteousness in the city of Houston,” Grisham tells Hair Balls. “Now, Jesus said that we were to preach the gospel through all the world, and that includes Houston, Texas.”

On behalf of everyone who is happy to let me speak for them on this, may I just say “Please, Pastor Grisham, stay as far away from Houston as possible, and tell everyone you know to stay away as well. Thanks very much.” Or, to put it another way, Boycott “Boycott Houston”.

Houston Area Table meeting Tuesday

If you’re getting tired of reading what I’ve got to say and would rather hear me say it out loud, come to the Houston Area Table meeting this Tuesday, January 19 and see if I sound any better that way.

Houston’s Blogger Community Weighs In On 2009 City Election:
Houston’s top bloggers will share post-election insight into how the 2009 voter mandate will shape City policy and the use of new media in political campaigns.

Panelists:

Charles Kuffner – Off the Kuff (www.offthekuff.com)
Stace Medellin – Dos Centavos (www.doscentavos.net)
David Ortez – (www.davidortez.com)

Panelists will discuss:

  • Post-Election analysis
  • The use of new media in campaigns
  • Issues that ultimately resonated w/voters
  • What the election is going to mean for Houston policy moving forward
January 19, 2010 11:30-1:00 p.m.
Networking and brown bag lunch begins at 11:30
Discussion begins at Noon
United Way
50 Waugh Drive
Houston, TX 77007
Feel free to bring a lunch and invite a friend.

About the Houston Area Table: The Houston Area Table (HAT) is dedicated to fostering communication and cooperation amongHouston area organizations and non-profits. Beginning in 2010 HAT meets monthly on the third Tuesday at the United Way. There will be no meeting in July.

Here’s a map to the location, and here’s the Facebook event if you want to join in that way. Hope to see you there!

The inauguration

Here was my view of today’s inaugural festivities:

Mayor Parker administers the oath of office to Council members

Mayor Parker administers the oath of office to Council members

Click the photo for a larger version. Tiffany and I were seated next to Martha, who has some pictures as well as a post about Mayor Parker’s inaugural address. It was an honor and a privilege to be at the Wortham Center for this historic event. We were there as guests of Council Member Melissa Noriega, to whom I would like to express my gratitude.

Here’s a roundup of the coverage that I’ve seen:

Houston Politics
Hair Balls
Bay Area Houston
David Ortez
Nancy Sims
Chron
KTRK

The inaugural concert at Discovery Green is this evening starting at 6 PM; my advice would be to dress warmly.

Two things I’ll add to all this: In Parker’s speech, she mentioned that she had been asked what city she would compare Houston to. She said she thought about it and decided it was “the Houston of my imagination”, in which (among other things) different law enforcement agencies worked together seamlessly; a robust transit system was available for all who needed it; the high school dropout rate was “insignificant”; our air was clean; and neighborhoods had the ability to preserve the things that made them special. Also, while she spent plenty of time talking about the challenges that we faced, she specifically mentioned that she “inherited a city that’s in good shape”, and thanked Mayor White for that.

All in all, a wonderful event. If you were there as well, please leave a comment with your impressions. The new Mayor and new Council get down to their regular order of business on Wednesday.

Parker to be officially sworn in today

Possibly by the time you read this, we will have a new Mayor.

In private ceremonies at City Hall, state District Judge Steven Kirkland, an old friend and former campaign manager, was scheduled to administer the oath of office [to Mayor-Elect Annise Parker], with only family and close friends in attendance.

The ceremony was a prelude to Monday’s daylong inaugural festivities, with the new mayor taking the oath again in a public ceremony at downtown’s Wortham Theater Center. City Controller-elect Ronald Green and members of the Houston City Council also will be sworn in. The new mayor plans to use her grandparents’ Bible in both ceremonies.

I will be at Monday’s ceremony and will write about it as I get the chance. In the meantime, congratulations to Mayor Annise Parker. I know you will do an outstanding job, and I join with countless other people in wishing you the very best of luck.

UPDATE: The deed is done. Here’s the official statement:

With her hand on her grandparents’ Bible, Annise D. Parker was sworn in as Mayor of Houston in a private ceremony held at Houston City Hall today. State District Judge Steven Kirkland administered the oath to Mayor Parker. City Controller Ronald C. Green also took the oath of office. Green’s wife, Harris County Justice of the Peace Hilary Green, had the honor of administering the oath to her husband. A small gathering of family and friends was present.

The private ceremony was held to meet the legal requirements of the City Charter, which mandate the transfer of power occur on January 2. The official public inauguration of Mayor Parker, City Controller Green and Houston City Council is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Wortham Theater Center.

Mayor Parker chose the private Saturday morning ceremony followed by a formal public inaugural on Monday to avoid the overtime costs the city would have incurred from having to call in police and other city employees for a weekend inauguration. She also did not want to interrupt the holiday weekend for city employees. “At a time when the city is facing budget shortfalls, we will be continually looking for ways to cut expenses,” said Mayor Parker.

The inaugural celebration will end Monday evening with a free concert from 6 to 9 p.m. at Discovery Green.

All hail the new Mayor.

Annise Parker: Texas Progressive Alliance’s Texan of the Year

The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States. This year’s winner is Houston Mayor-Elect, Annise Parker:

With the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States signaled that they pay more attention to qualifications than to sexual orientation. This news reverberated around the globe, and brought positive attention to Texas. National Democratic groups took note of a more progressive Houston than they assumed, and the talk and speculation turned to the possibilities of Texas turning blue sooner rather than later.

The Parker win was no accident. She put together a talented campaign team that ran on the strength of the grassroots, rather than City Hall insiders. Key Houston area progressive bloggers aligned themselves with Parker, and were embraced by the campaign. Blogs became an effective messaging strategy, emphasizing Parker’s qualifications, and her opponent’s weaknesses.

In the runoff, several third parties, including one longtime right wing operative who endorsed Parker’s opponent, launched a series of homophobic attacks against her, but they failed to do her any serious damage because voters recognized her distinguished service as a member of Council and City Controller, and valued her experience and financial acumen. Voters knew who she was and what she was about because she had always been open and honest about it, and that was more important than anything some agitator could say.

For her historic victory, for making the rest of the world re-evaluate its opinion of Texas, and for running a truly modern grassroots campaign, the Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to name Houston’s Mayor-Elect Annise Parker its Texan of the Year for 2009.

Annise Parker is the Alliance’s fifth recipient of its “Texan of the Year Award.” Parker joins former State Representative Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC in 2006; State Representatives Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007; and the Harris County Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign in 2008.

Also earning recognition from the Alliance were Ramey Ko, Hank Gilbert, Calvin Tillman, Texas Watchdog, and State Representative Elliott Naishtat, who were each recognized as “Gold Star Texans” for 2009.

HCAD rules for Hoang in homestead dispute

On Christmas Eve, the Chron reported that Council Member-Elect Al Hoang and his wife had claimed homestead exemptions on two separate houses, one in Houston and one in Pearland. Now the Harris County Appraisal District has verified Hoang’s explanation about the exemptions, saying that it was properly carried over from the previous owner.

Hoang had previously refused to answer questions about the homestead exemption. But in an e-mail to the Chronicle on Monday, Hoang said he never sought an exemption for the home on Bugle that he now claims as his residence within District F, which he soon will represent.

Bonnie Hebert, an assistant director at HCAD, confirmed that Hoang’s explanation was correct. State law applies the exemption based on Jan. 1 ownership, Hebert said, and a new owner benefits for the duration of the year even if he or she doesn’t technically qualify.

Hoang will not receive the exemption for 2010, Hebert said.

Fair enough. I still think this should have been reported before the election and not after it, but the Chron just doesn’t put enough resources into lower tier election coverage for that to happen.

The story follows up on the other issues that were raised last week, such as the matter of his voter registration, which was reported as being in District G:

In his e-mail Monday, he said he sent the Harris County voter registrar a form with his new address in May 2008 and went to the office in person to change it after learning his prior address, in Council District G, was still listed as his voting address.

“Maybe it got lost in the mail,” Hoang said.

Well, I can believe that the Tax Assessor’s office screwed it up, as it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

Hoang continued to insist in his e-mail Monday that two elements missing from his campaign finance reports — the dates of donations and occupations of donors who gave more than $500 in a reporting period — are not required for city election candidates. The city attorney’s office confirmed that these elements are required.

Hoang can believe whatever he wants, but I can say from having looked at every single finance report that was submitted for this campaign that no other candidate omitted the date like he did. This ain’t rocket science. He needs to listen to what the City Attorney is telling him.

From one Mayor to another

One week from today, we’ll be swearing in Annise Parker as our new Mayor. In advance of that, State Sen. Kirk Watson, who was once the Mayor of Austin, offers a few words of advice to the Mayor-Elect. Not that there’s likely to be any shortage of that, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.

Chron raises questions about Al Hoang’s residency and campaign finance reports

The main question I have is why is this story just being published now, on Christmas Eve, and not before either of the elections?

Houston City Councilman-elect Al Hoang and his wife claimed homestead exemptions on two separate homes, according to public records that also raise questions about whether Hoang meets the city’s residency requirements.

[…]

In addition, Hoang’s campaign finance reports filed prior to the Nov. 3 election and Dec. 12 runoff fail to include certain required elements, including the dates of donations and the occupations of donors who gave more than $500 in a reporting period. The omissions are so numerous that it is impossible to determine whether donations were reported multiple times or exceeded legal limits.

I’ll point out that I noted various incongruities on Hoang’s finance reports, such as the lack of dates and the double-reporting of expenses as in kind donations, on November 2 and again on December 9. I didn’t go into a great deal of detail because I didn’t have the time or the resources to dig deeper. But surely these issues were known beforehand. And Greg brought up the matter of Hoang’s residency in a post dated December 11, though it was actually published on the 13th. So again I ask, why are we just now reading about this in the Chron? Isn’t this something that ought to have been aired before the election?

A city ordinance requires candidates for district council positions to live in the district for a year prior to the election. When he filed for office Aug. 18, Hoang listed his address as 4403 Bugle, in District F, and signed a notarized statement saying he had lived in the district for 13 months.

Harris County Appraisal District records show that Hoang purchased the home on March 3. Voter registration records show he was registered at an address in District G until September, and his registration at the Bugle address took effect Oct. 16 — less than three weeks before the election.

Hoang claims a homestead exemption for the house on Bugle, records show. Hoang’s wife, Hang Nguyen, also claims a homestead exemption on a house listed in her name in Pearland, according to Brazoria County Appraisal District records. Hoang and his wife owned the home jointly until March 5, 2008, when he transferred the deed to her, the records show.

This is the same basic situation that sunk Jack Christie’s candidacy in 2007. Like Christie, I presume Hoang will eventually have to fork over some dough to make up for the extra homestead exemption. I presume the DA will not bring charges, since that sort of prosecution never seems to happen. What I want to know is, if all this is true, how can he be sworn in as the District F Council Member? What’s the point of a residency statute if it can be so easily flouted? I’ve said before and I’ll say again, residency isn’t that big an issue for me. If people want to elect someone who doesn’t live where they do to represent them, that’s their choice. But that’s assuming they know that about the candidate in question, which may or may not be the case here, and given that we have a law about this, then surely we ought to draw a line somewhere. Is there a remedy in the ordinance for this, or is it simply a matter of Hoang paying up on his taxes? If the latter is all that there is, then what’s the point of the residency requirement?

UPDATE: Martha has more.

Runoff precinct analysis, HISD I

To wrap up my series of precinct analyses from the 2009 Houston runoffs, we turn now to the HISD Trustee race in District I. I’ve added a sheet to the Google spreadsheet I put together for the District Council analysis with the precincts from this race, again minus the trivial ones. The first thing you notice when you compare the precincts that Alma Lara won to the precincts that Anna Eastman won is that they were dealing with two different electorates.

Precincts won by Alma Lara Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 4,298 33,442 12.85% 2,669 1,284 67.5 32.5 92.0 Precincts won by Anna Eastman Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 6,527 26,159 24.95% 2,048 3,627 36.1 63.9 86.7

I skipped two relatively small precincts in which Lara and Eastman tied. It rather goes without saying that it’s hard to win when your voters aren’t showing up at the polls. This comparison reminds me strongly of the analysis I did a year ago in the HD133 race won by State Rep. Kristi Thibaut. In 2006, when turnout in Democratic precincts was lousy, Thibaut lost and it wasn’t particularly close. In 2008 when those precincts were closer to parity with the Republican boxes, she won. Lara didn’t need to be even near parity to defeat Eastman – holding all other percentages equal, a turnout level of 15% would have been enough for her to eke out a win – but she couldn’t afford to be doubled up like this.

Note that in the table above, “ballots” refers to the total number of ballots cast in those precincts, not the total number of votes the candidates got. “HISD%” represents the number of ballots cast that included a vote in this race. As you can see, fewer people in Lara’s precincts skipped this race, which along with her higher margin in those precincts is why she could have won with a lower lever of overall turnout. I bring that up because it had occurred to me that Eastman might have benefited from a wave of Parker supporters coming to the polls. Indeed, while Parker did well in Lara’s precincts, winning 2773 of 4198 votes there, or 66.0%, she really killed in Eastman’s precincts, going 5078 for 6456, or 78.7%. That may have helped drive some of the higher turnout in those precincts, but more of those folks didn’t stick around to register an opinion in the HISD race, so whatever the effect there, it was tempered somewhat.

The other thing that struck me about these numbers is how the two citywide Republican-versus-Democrat runoffs went. (I’ve not been considering Costello versus Derr for these purposes, as Costello did not run on a Republican persona.)

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Khan 5,206 53.0 Green 4,613 47.0 Christie 4,861 52.3 Jones 4,439 47.7

I’m amazed by this. There’s nothing about this district that says “Republican-favoring” to me. Indeed, it’s almost entirely contained within City Council District H, which both Green and Jones won, with three precincts in A and two more in B. Obviously, it was the rest of H that was friendly to them. I looked at these boxes to see if Eastman, who received the endorsement of Linda Toyota, the Republican candidate who finished third in November, plus incumbent Republican Trustees Harvin Moore and Greg Meyers, performed more strongly in areas won by the Republican Council candidates. The answer is Yes:

Precincts won by Christie Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 3,162 2,280 58.1 41.9 2,586 3,243 44.4 55.6 Precincts won by Jones Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 1,684 2,108 44.4 55.6 2,087 1,673 55.5 44.5 Precincts won by Khan Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 3,956 3,017 56.7 43.3 2,966 4,091 42.0 58.0 Precincts won by Green Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 1,250 1,596 43.9 56.1 1,788 857 67.6 32.4

Yes, the disparity between the Christie precincts and the Khan precincts is really that sharp. For what it’s worth, the correlation only goes one way, as both Christie and Khan won the precincts that Lara carried, though by a small margin in each case. I consider this to be further evidence of the strength of Christie and Khan’s advertising efforts, even as they fell short.

So that about wraps it up for me. I don’t think I have anything more to say about the 2009 elections. I’ll be going full steam ahead on the 2010 contests – I already am, really – and I hope you enjoyed these analyses. There will be plenty more to do in the coming months.

Another view of city voting

I’ve been showing data about how the city elections broke down by Council district, but there are other ways to look at it as well. This presentation, which was sent to me by Joaquin Estevan DeLeon, is an analysis of the way Anglo, African American, and Hispanic voters made their choices in the citywide races. It’s interesting stuff, so take a look.

Precinct analysis, District Council races

In addition to the five citywide runoffs, there were two runoffs in district Council races, in A and F. In each case, they were run in territory that, judging by the citywide results, were modestly (F) or very (A) friendly to Republicans, and in each case the Republican candidate won. But that’s about where the similarities end.

Since there are a small number of precincts for each district, I’ve created this Google spreadsheet that has a mostly complete list of each precincts from them both. I say “mostly” because I filtered out the smallest precincts, in which generally fewer than 10 votes were cast. My comments on each:

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Stardig 9,258 56.6 Lewis 7,103 43.4 Parker 11,199 63.5 Locke 6,439 36.5 Khan 10,171 61.8 Green 6,297 38.2 Christie 10,541 66.6 Jones 5,300 33.4

– In District A, the first thing you notice is that Brenda Stardig trailed the higher profile Republican candidates Jack Christie and MJ Khan, each of whom drew more votes and had a higher percentage than she did. By the same token, Lane Lewis outperformed Jolanda Jones and Ronald Green. Jones and Green each won six out of the 46 precincts in total, while Lewis won twelve. Lewis did at least as well as Jones in all but six precincts, and at least as well as Green in all but twelve. There were about as many votes cast in the District A runoff as there were in the Controller’s race, and Khan outscored Stardig by about as much as Lewis improved on Green, but in the At Large #5 runoff there were about 500 fewer votes cast, and as Jones trailed Lewis by a wider margin than Christie led Stardig, I’d guess that a sizable number of those who skipped this race might have otherwise been inclined to vote for a Democratic candidate. Consider that a success for Christie’s mail campaign, and keep it in mind as we move on. Anyway, the bottom line is that Lewis’ good precincts generally overlapped with Jones’ and Green’s, with the latter two winning only one that Lewis did not carry.

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Hoang 4,662 52.9 Laster 4,161 47.1 Parker 4,612 51.3 Locke 4,383 48.7 Khan 4,870 59.8 Green 3,298 40.2 Christie 4,404 60.0 Jones 2,964 40.0

– Moving on to District F, it’s a very different story. The undervote rate was 5.96%, smaller than any race besides the Mayoral race. The dropoff in the Controller’s race – even though this was MJ Khan’s home district – and At Large #5 was considerable:

Mayor’s race, total votes = 8995
District F, total votes = 8823
Controller’s race, total votes = 8166
At Large #5, total votes = 7368

Unlike in A, there was almost no correlation between the precincts won by the Democratic candidate in the district, Mike Laster, and the Democratic citywide candidates who had Republican opponents. Laster won 13 of the 27 precincts I looked at. Of those 13 precincts, Jones won three, while Green won one. In the other 14 precincts, Jones won four and Green two. The margins of victory varied greatly as well. In the 14 precincts that Al Hoang won, he received at least 50 more votes than Jack Christie in eight of them, including five in which he topped Christie by at least 100 votes. But on the flip side, in the precincts Laster won, Hoang trailed Christie by at least 50 votes in five of them, trailing by at least 100 in two. I presume the differences were geographical, but I’ll leave the mapmaking the Greg. The point here is that I believe both Laster and Hoang had a base that supported them regardless of what they did – or even if they voted – in the other races. Lewis had this to a lesser extent, while Stardig basically rode the partisan tide, as far as I can tell. Hoang in the end had more support, perhaps due to the historic nature of the race – as Parker is our first gay Mayor, and Green is our first African American Controller, Hoang is our first Vietnamese American to serve on Council.

– One final observation is that the usual dynamic of early versus Election Day voting was flipped on its head in F. In A, Stardig won 70% of the absentee ballots, 56% of the votes cast on December 12, and 52% of the in person early votes. In other words, this race followed the partisan rhythm we’ve seen in every other race. In F, Laster actually won the absentee balloting, by a 428-337 margin, and won Election Day handily, with nearly 58%. But Hoang crushed him in early in person voting, scoring over 62% and running up an 1100 vote margin that was more than enough to compensate for Laster’s game day showing. This was a repeat of their pattern from November, except that Laster had a plurality then. Whatever Hoang did to get out his voters, it worked.

Last up, a look at HISD I tomorrow.

Runoff precinct analysis, At Large Council races

Continuing on with the precinct analyses from the runoff, here’s a look at the City Council At Large races. First up, At Large #1:

Dist Derr Costello Derr% Cost% ==================================== A 7,200 8,160 46.9 53.1 B 5,737 4,859 54.1 45.9 C 9,001 9,870 47.7 52.3 D 11,804 7,487 61.2 38.8 E 5,754 9,154 38.6 61.4 F 3,345 3,753 47.1 52.9 G 8,373 14,662 36.4 63.6 H 6,960 4,891 58.7 41.3 I 3,144 3,598 46.6 53.4

Derr did very well in her backyard of District H, and had a fairly strong showing in A and D, while Costello ran strongly just about everywhere else. I have to believe that his financial advantage, which included being on TV quite a bit in the closing days, helped push him over the top. Derr did have a slight lead after early voting – counting absentee and in-person ballots, she took a 28,373 to 27,898 lead in Harris County into Runoff Day – but her surprisingly weak showing in African American areas like District B and Fort Bend County, which Costello carried by over 500 votes, helped do her in. There was a push in the runoff to identify Derr as the Democratic candidate and Costello as not, and I can only presume that it either wasn’t received in sufficient number, or wasn’t perceived to be important enough, perhaps due to Costello’s ad blitz. You have to wonder what might have happened if Derr had spent more money on voter outreach.

At Large #2:

Dist Lovell Burks Lovell% Burks% ==================================== A 8,953 5,571 61.6 38.4 B 3,128 7,773 28.7 72.3 C 12,427 5,962 67.6 32.4 D 8,015 11,974 40.1 59.9 E 7,659 6,834 52.9 47.1 F 3,967 2,966 57.2 42.8 G 12,963 8,770 59.7 40.3 H 7,235 3,721 66.0 34.0 I 3,625 3,036 54.4 45.6

As before, not much to see here. The only places Burks did well were the African American districts, and even there he didn’t really do all that much. If he hoped to get a boost from the Hotze endorsement, I’d say Lovell’s showing in Districts A, E, and G stuck a pin in those hopes. There’s a reason why perennial candidates keep losing.

Last but certainly not least, At Large #5:

Dist Christie Jones Chris% Jones% =================================== A 10,541 5,300 66.5 33.5 B 1,658 10,673 13.4 86.6 C 10,675 9,215 53.7 46.3 D 3,681 17,653 17.2 82.8 E 10,894 4,771 69.5 30.5 F 4,404 2,964 59.8 40.2 G 18,001 6,039 74.9 25.1 H 5,011 6,531 43.4 56.6 I 3,025 4,119 42.3 57.7

You want sharp contrasts, look no further. I’m still boggling over the numbers Jones put up in B and D, which along with Fort Bend were what she needed to hang on. Christie, meanwhile, clearly got a huge bang for all those bucks he and others put into mailers that attacked Jones. All of that activity had an effect on turnout – while the other two At Large races had about the same number of votes as they did in Round One, this race had about 3000 more, with a relatively miniscule 12.64% undervote rate. This race was also a good illustration of the partisan vote patterns – Jones had by far the biggest lead in Harris County in early voting, racking up nearly an 8000 vote advantage from in-person votes, for a net lead of about 5000 overall once absentee ballots are factored in. She then lost that lead in Harris on Election Day. Again, the 2009 pattern seems to be more of what we saw in 2008, with Democrats voting heavily early, and Republicans showing up on Election Day. That may have been the nature of those particular races – the Democratic message in 2008 was long, strong, and consistent about voting early, while the lack of any Republican interest for the most part until late in the game shaped this year’s contests – but it bears keeping in mind as we head into 2010.

I will have some commentary on the two district Council runoffs and the HISD I runoff before closing the books on 2009. As always, let me know what you think.

The transition team

Meet the team that will help Mayor-Elect Annise Parker get the ball rolling.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, one of the only area political heavyweights to endorse Parker, will lead efforts on intergovernmental relations. Coleman also has been involved in community housing issues in some of the city’s tax increment reinvestment zones.

Gilbert Garcia, managing partner of an asset management firm and chair of Parker’s campaign, sits on the city’s municipal pension board and can attend to budgetary matters.

Nancy Kinder, a Republican philanthropist who played a pivotal role in the creation of Discovery Green Park, will focus on quality of life issues. Kinder, who is among the most prominent Houston supporters of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and is the wife of billionaire pipeline mogul Rich Kinder, also was a major campaign donor.

“They are there to help me cast the net widely,” Parker said.

According to a press release, which I’ve reprinted beneath the fold, the team will focus on the following topics:

Metro/transportation;
Housing and Community Development funding, contracts and personnel;
Intergovernmental Relations, including opportunities for collaboration and cost efficiencies;
Neighborhood protection involving everything from weeded lots to graffiti abatement;
Permitting efficiency and procedures;
Public works and infrastructure including streets, flooding and drainage;
Density and development ordinances to help residential neighborhoods;
Minority and women business enterprise contracting.

Quite the full plate to start off with, but I doubt anyone expected anything different. If you think you might be interested in serving on one of the panels, you should send an email to transition@anniseparker.com for more information. Miya has more.

(more…)

Runoff precinct analysis, Controller’s race

Picking up from where I left off yesterday, here’s the breakdown of the Controller’s race by Council district. For comparison purposes, here’s the November analysis.

Dist Green Khan Holm Green % Khan % Tot votes ========================================================= A 4,685 6,750 7,125 25.2 36.4 18,560 B 7,483 3,329 1,362 61.5 27.3 12,174 C 7,356 7,494 6,332 34.7 35.4 21,182 D 13,410 4,673 3,047 63.5 22.1 21,130 E 5,133 7,684 6,633 26.4 39.5 19,450 F 2,403 4,171 1,975 28.1 48.8 8,549 G 4,908 8,446 16,733 16.3 28.1 30,087 H 4,879 4,236 2,973 40.4 35.0 12,088 I 3,725 2,708 1,510 46.9 34.1 7,943 Dist Green Khan RG Pct MJ Pct RG inc MJ inc Total Nov % =================================================================== A 6,297 10,171 38.2 61.8 1,612 3,421 16,468 88.7 B 10,017 2,713 73.0 27.0 2,534 -616 12,730 104.6 C 9,951 10,878 47.8 52.2 2,595 3,384 20,829 98.3 D 16,935 5,014 77.2 22.8 3,525 341 21,949 103.9 E 6,172 10,304 37.5 62.5 1,039 2,620 16,476 84.7 F 3,298 4,870 40.4 59.6 895 699 8,168 95.5 G 8,130 17,206 32.1 67.9 3,222 8,760 25,336 84.2 H 6,616 5,513 54.5 45.5 1,737 1,277 12,129 100.3 I 4,437 2,994 59.7 40.3 712 286 7,431 93.6

Where the Mayor’s race was basically predictable, this one has a few twists and surprises. Some of the things that stand out to me:

– Clearly, people were paying more attention in Round Two. The share of the vote in every district relative to November was greater in this race than it was in the Mayor’s race. In districts B, D, and H, voter participation increased. The reason for this is simply that fewer people skipped this race the second time around. The undervote rate in November was over 15%, but in December it was 8.5%. As such, the total number of votes in the Controller’s race dropped by about 10,000, whereas the decrease was about 24,000 in the Mayor’s race.

– Green did well where he needed to do well. The people in B and D certainly got the message, where the former saw some Khan voters convert to his side. He held his own reasonably well in the Republican districts, a fact which will be more clear when you see the runoff analysis for the At Large Council races. It feels to me like he maybe could have done better in C and even H, but the cause isn’t clear. It may be that Democratic voters in those districts didn’t turn out at as high a level as the Republican voters, and it may have been the result of Khan’s financial advantage, which he used in large part on a TV ad blitz. Hard to say.

– It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Khan could have won this race. Had there been the kind of turnout in the Republican districts that might have made the Mayor’s race less close, I think Khan would have won. Looking at the dropoffs in A, E, and G supports the conclusion that Republicans as a whole were less into the runoff without one of their own at the top of the ticket. They didn’t stay home in droves – indeed, each of the three Republican citywide candidates carried Harris County on Election Day – but they didn’t turn out at the same levels, at least in some parts of the city. I’m a little surprised to see that Khan didn’t do any better in his home district of F than he did, but given that he didn’t get a majority there in Round One, I suppose I shouldn’t be.

– Overall, Khan improved on his performance from November by more than Green did, picking up 20,172 extra votes in Harris to Green’s 17,871. But Green started with a lead of over 4500 votes, so he held on here and padded the lead with the results in Fort Bend, which were about the same as in November.

Next up, the Council At Large races.

Runoff precinct analysis, Mayor’s race

All right, I now have a copy of a draft canvass report from Saturday’s election, courtesy of the Harris County Clerk’s office. As before, I will be going through it to see what I can learn from it. First up is a report on the Mayor’s race broken down by City Council districts. For comparison, here was the same analysis from the general election, from which the first table below comes:

Dist Parker Locke Brown Morales AP Pct GL Pct Tot votes ================================================================== A 7,450 2,601 4,937 6,312 35.0 12.2 21,300 B 1,537 8,774 2,931 681 11.0 63.0 13,923 C 10,439 4,522 5,224 4,156 42.9 18.6 24,341 D 6,185 11,928 4,642 1,007 26.0 50.1 23,762 E 5,741 3,147 5,734 8,084 25.2 13.9 22,706 F 2,714 2,079 3,026 1,935 27.8 21.3 9,754 G 11,183 4,985 7,643 9,881 33.2 14.8 33,962 H 6,011 3,119 3,082 2,143 41.9 21.7 14,355 I 2,650 2,815 2,215 1,582 28.6 30.4 9,262 Dist Parker Locke AP Pct GL Pct AP inc GL inc Tot votes %Nov ======================================================================= A 11,199 6,439 63.5 36.5 3,749 3,838 17,638 82.8 B 2,219 11,395 16.3 83.4 628 2,621 13,614 97.8 C 15,248 7,152 68.1 31.9 4,809 2,630 22,400 92.0 D 8,181 15,223 35.0 65.0 1,996 3,295 23,404 98.5 E 9,893 7,733 56.1 43.9 4,152 4,586 17,626 77.6 F 4,612 4,383 51.3 48.7 1,898 2,304 8,995 92.2 G 17,902 9,429 65.5 34.5 6,719 4,444 27,331 81.1 H 8,575 4,854 63.9 36.1 2,564 1,735 13,429 93.5 I 3,879 4,135 48.4 51.6 1,229 1,320 8,014 86.5

As a reminder, all data is Harris County only, and does not include provisional ballots or any corrections that may be made, but it’s plenty close enough for these purposes. As before, Locke finished first in three Council districts – B, D, and I – while Parker won the rest. On the flip side, Locke improved his performance by more than Parker in each district except C, E, and H. Her gains in those three districts were large enough so that she increased her total in Harris County by about a thousand more votes than Locke did. Even counting the Fort Bend numbers, Parker picked up more support than Locke did, adding 27,786 to her November total compared to a 27,430 boost for Locke.

Basically, the runoff followed the tried and true path of each candidate turning out his or her voters. There were some new participants – about 15% of the early voting pool – but I don’t think they had a great effect. Compare these maps from Round One, which show how Parker and Locke did individually, to this map from the runoff, which shows Parker’s performance. In that sense, the final numbers should be no surprise.

In looking at the turnout levels from November to December, it strikes me that the pre-Saturday conventional wisdom that Locke needed a higher level of turnout to win was wrong. I guess there might have been another 10,000 net votes for him to get in B and D given whatever extra resources his campaign thought it might have needed, but I think he wrung pretty close to maximum value out of them. You’d need for such an increase in turnout to be concentrated in the places where Locke did well for there to be a chance of a different result. As you can see, Parker surely would have benefited from more people showing up in A, C, and G. It’s not at all clear to me that a 180,000 vote runoff wouldn’t have given Parker a 55%+ win.

So that’s the Mayor’s race. I’ll have more to come soon.

Chief Hurtt to step down

We all knew this was coming.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt is planning to resign at the end of the year, two days before Mayor-elect Annise Parker takes office.

Hurtt, who has been Houston police chief for almost six years, confirmed this evening that he told his command staff today that he intends to resign Dec. 30 because a new mayor is taking office.

This is no surprise, as Parker has been saying for months now that she intended to replace Hurtt. KHOU suggests a couple of possible replacements.

Parker is expected to promote from within the ranks. Sources tell 11 News the frontrunners include assistant chiefs Tim Ottmeyer and Vicki King.

“That’s an honor that I haven’t been visited about but to serve with the men and women of the Houston Police Department in any capacity is truly an honor,” King said.

We’ll know soon enough.

Still more on Parker’s win

Hereare a couple of photo slide shows from the Annise Parker victory party on Saturday, from TPM and Hair Balls, the latter of which has some pix from the Gene Locke event as well. And BOR has a recording of a voice mail message President Obama left for Parker to congratulate her on her win. There’s a mighty nice thing to have.

We don’t have precinct data yet – at least, I don’t have it yet – but the Chron takes a stab at analyzing Parker’s support.

She was the policy wonk, a community activist who had won hard-fought elections for city council and controller and who had been a city official for a dozen years — and who, by the way, happened to be gay. Although she wasn’t a particularly exciting candidate, she ran a cohesive, focused campaign that relied on her years-long practice of grass-roots politics and her lengthy experience grappling with neighborhood issues at City Hall. She sought the endorsements of the same heavyweight political groups that swung in behind her opponent, but when the checks went the other way she countered with what turned out to be a more potent coalition of interest groups: liberals and progressives, feminists and gays, civic activists and moderate Republicans, particularly female Republicans.

In the end, Annise Parker’s name identification and years-long experience as candidate and elected official were too much for Gene Locke to overcome. What looked like a close race just a few days before Houstonians went to the polls turned out to be a relatively easy win for Parker, who got 53 percent of the vote to Locke’s 47 percent.

I suspect that when the precinct data becomes available, it will look a lot like it did in November, with Locke dominating Districts B and D, and Parker leading everywhere else.

Mayor Parker hits the ground running

Mayor-Elect Annise Parker talks to the Chron and tells us again what she intends to do after she’s sworn in.

“One of the reasons I’m not having that big, excited, happy feeling is that there is a lot of work to be done, not because there are problems undone with the current administration, but because the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves are very, very fluid,” she said in a wide-ranging interview with the Houston Chronicle. “I’m going to be the mom telling you to eat your vegetables and you don’t get dessert. I’m trying to make sure you have enough food to eat.”

[…]

She said repeatedly that she plans to “leave it all on the table” in her efforts to bring lasting change to the city, noting that she does not aspire to higher office.

Her ideas for budget cuts, better policing and other issues seemed well formed in her mind, and she appeared to be under no illusions about the wide array of challenges she will inherit.

The first, the one that will permeate all the others, is the budget, which has been challenging enough to take up most of White’s last year in office. The city continues to have a $3 million shortfall, according to Parker’s latest finance report, one that has just grown with the need to audit the Houston Police Department’s fingerprinting unit, a contract that may cost several million dollars.

White said he has left behind a detailed draft budget for 2010 that will not “compromise city services.” The new mayor will face several constraints if lower-than-anticipated property tax appraisals come in next year and the fallout continues in municipal bond markets from the Wall Street meltdown last year.

Needless to say, the state is facing these same issues. Since the next budget at that level doesn’t have to be written until 2011, one response you’ll hear is to hope that sales tax revenues will rebound over the holidays. If that happens it will presumably be good for Houston as well. Hope may not be a plan, but you’d better believe everyone in government is hoping.

The most pronounced changes in a Parker administration may come in the Houston Police Department, which she routinely called out for having a 40 percent budgetary increase in the past six years without adding any new police officers.

She first intends to name a new police chief from within HPD “who understands that we can’t keep doing things in the same way.” Parker reiterated her intent to “shake up” the department and “take apart old and outmoded ways of thinking,” and relying more on technology and decentralizing police work.

“New York and Los Angeles have a decentralized model that really pushes accountability down to the neighborhood level,” she said. “Every neighborhood in the city of Houston, every area in the city of Houston, has a different set of public safety problems and potentially different public safety solutions. Let’s think about how we do policing at a much more granular level with the authority and the responsibility pushed down more to the men and women on the street.”

If any of this isn’t familiar, you weren’t paying attention during the campaign. Nonetheless, you can see why the HPOU really went nuts on her during the runoff. Change is coming, and they don’t think they’re going to like it. Ought to make for some interesting contract negotiations, that’s for sure.

The real fun begins in January. Parker says she’s willing to push things through on close Council votes if that’s what it takes. Well, everybody who ran for Council this year spoke about the need to deal with the budget, so at the very least this will be a test of their determination. It always gets harder when specifics get proposed. We’ll see how it goes.

How others are viewing the election

This AP story about the Mayoral runoff election contains a paragraph you won’t see very often.

Houston became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker after a hotly contested runoff.

Several other U.S. cities, including Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., and Cambridge, Mass., have openly gay mayors, but none are as large as Houston.

Outside of Randal O’Toole’s obsession with Portland, you’ll almost never see Houston mentioned in the same breath as those other cities. As I said last night, I believe people’s perceptions of Houston are going to change, and that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, the Chron rounds up some other national coverage of the race, from the NYT, Bloomberg, MSNBC, and the Christian Science Monitor. The latter adds some of the larger context.

Houston chose Ms. Parker, the city controller, over Gene Locke, a former city attorney, with 53 percent of the vote. Yet, in the past, Houston has voted against extending benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian members of the city government. And Texas has outlawed gay marriage.

The distinction neatly sums up the American mood. As gays and lesbians become broadly accepted in society and politics, that acceptance is marked by a firm boundary beyond which voters do not yet appear willing to cross: same-sex marriage.

[…]

In some respects, Harris County – which includes virtually all of Houston – does not align perfectly with typical Texas politics. In the 2008 presidential election, it gave Barack Obama 19,000 more votes than Sen. Jon McCain – this in a state where Senator McCain won by 950,000 votes. Moreover, both candidates in Saturday’s nonpartisan election were Democrats.

Harris County is, of course, about twice the size of Houston, which as we also know is strongly Democratic. I don’t really expect the nationals to grasp this, but I included that paragraph mostly because it makes me happy to see Harris’ Democratic trend noted like that.

Much like last year’s Presidential election, Parker’s election is historic and brings with it a lot of hope for a lot of people. And much like that election, I think a lot of that hope is sooner or later going to run into the reality of the economy, and the fact that like Barack Obama, Annise Parker is much more of a pragmatist who will try to solve the problems in front of her than a crusader who will try to advance an agenda. The former is what I think we need right now in each case, and I believe that in a few years we’ll look back and see that they have accomplished much, and along the way done a lot to make things better as well. At least Parker gets to say what gets done, and only has one majority vote to overcome to get it done. The challenges are there, but so I believe is the path forward. I feel good about where we’re going. Nancy, Martha, Erik, Stace, and South Texas Chisme have more.

Initial thoughts on the runoffs

I’ll go through them one race at a time, with the unofficial vote totals minus Montgomery County for each. Once I have precinct results, I’ll go through those and do a more detailed analysis.

Mayor

Annise Parker – 81,971, 52.78%
Gene Locke – 73,331, 47.22%

This was perhaps a bit closer than one might have thought given the most recent poll. At a guess, given the Fort Bend County results, I’d say that African American voters broke more strongly to Locke than had been previously indicated, but that there just weren’t that many of them in the end. Certainly, all the predictions that turnout for the runoff would exceed that of the general were way off. There were about 87,000 votes cast Saturday in Harris County, far less than the 112,000 predicted by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman. In the end, 67,653 early votes were cast in the Mayoral race, or 43.8% of the final Harris County tally of 154,618. In other words, this runoff was just like the last three runoffs in terms of early vote share compared to that of the general. I called it right, and I’m going to gloat a little about that.

Parker’s election has made the national news, and she’s a trending topic on Twitter. Lots of people are going to be talking about this for a long time. I don’t think we fully realize yet the impact her election will have. I think this will make an awful lot of people take a second and third look at Houston, and may finally make some of my progressive colleagues outside of Texas realize that there’s more to the state than just Austin.

Oh, and Parker made history in more ways than one, too. Go Rice Owls!

Controller

Ronald Green – 74,262, 51.48%
MJ Khan – 69,991, 48.52%

Green won early in-person voting by a fairly wide margin, but trailed in absentee ballots and also in Harris on Election Day. This suggests to me that as was the case in November, the early electorate was much more Democratic than the Election Day electorate. That was the case in Harris County last November as well. I sure hope the local Democratic strategists are paying attention to that. Green carried Fort Bend by 2,016 votes but would have won anyway. Oddly, I was more nervous about his chances going into today than I was about Parker’s, but less so about them once the early results were in. I figured if there was an African American surge that could carry Locke to a win, it would bring Green in its wake as well.

City Council At Large #1

Stephen Costello – 67,842, 52.15%
Karen Derr – 62,249, 47.85%

I had no feel at all for this race. The only thing that would have surprised me was a not-close result. Derr led coming into Election Day, but Costello pulled it out. If I had to guess, I’d say his late TV blitz – after not seeing any of his ads in months, I saw it four times this week – was a factor. Surely having such a large financial advantage should mean something. Costello had a fair amount of crossover support, and while I’m sad to see Derr lose I think he’ll make a fine Council member.

City Council At Large #2

Sue Lovell – 68,676, 54.08%
Andrew Burks – 58,317, 45.92%

Lovell has the easiest win of the night in the race with the highest undervote. Make of that what you will.

City Council At Large #5

Jolanda Jones – 69,763, 50.61%
Jack Christie – 68,080, 49.39%

Let this be Exhibit A for how hard it is to unelect a sitting Council member in Houston. It’s hard for me to imagine conditions more favorable for Jack Christie going into Election Day. Ultimately, he could not overcome the Democratic tilt of the early vote. Jones won early in person voting by a 58-42 margin, easily the widest of any candidate, but Christie ran strongly on Saturday, capturing Harris by 53.5-46.5, which combined with the absentee vote put him over the top in this county. Unfortunately for him, Fort Bend was to Jones what it was to Lee Brown in 2001, and that was enough for her to hang on. I voted for Jones, I’m very glad she won, but I have nothing bad to say about Christie, who ran a clean and honorable race. I sincerely hope that Council Member Jones uses this experience to help her channel her considerable talent and smarts more productively.

Houston City Council, District A

Brenda Stardig – 9,258, 56.59%
Lane Lewis – 7,103, 43.41%

Houston City Council, District F

Al Hoang – 4,681, 52.72%
Mike Laster – 4,180, 47.28%

The City of Houston proved its Democratic bona fides, but Districts A and F remained Republican. I’ll be interested to see how the citywide candidates did in each of these districts. Beyond that, my congratulations to the winners and my condolences to the losers. Oh, and in my favorite bit of trivia for the evening, Laster and Hoang split the Fort Bend vote evenly, with 19 ballots apiece.

HISD Trustee, District I

Anna Eastman – 4,959, 50.99%
Alma Lara – 4,766, 49.01%

HISD Trustee, District IX

Larry Marshall – 6,295, 51.15%
Adrian Collins – 6,012, 48.85%

A bad night for the Houston Federation of Teachers, as both of their candidates lost. Conversely, a good night for the HISD Parent Visionaries, who ultimately went three for three in the Trustee races. Lara had a slight early lead, which Eastman overcame, while Marshall led all along for yet another close escape. Again, my congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to the losers.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll have more when the precinct results are in. Chron coverage is here, here, here, and here. Let me know what your thoughts are about this election.

Runoff results open thread

As tonight is Lights in the Heights, I will be paying attention to things other than election results this evening. Assuming you’re not at an election night party, you can follow results as they are posted here or on the interwebs in various places like Mayoral Musings, Houston Politics, KHOU, and on Twitter via the #houmayor hashtag. As I will be only periodically online this evening, please use this as an open thread to post whatever observations you’ve got. I’ll add in results as I can.

UPDATE: Early results are in:

Parker – 33,945 votes, 50.99%
Locke – 32,623 votes, 49.01%

Gonna be a long night. Ronald Green leads MJ Khan by 53.13-46.87%, Jolanda Jones and Sue Lovell also lead by similar amounts, while Karen Derr has a less than 500 vote lead on Stephen Costello.

UPDATE: 99 of 738 Harris County precincts are in. Adding in Fort Bend early results.

Parker – 40,890
Locke – 38,994

No clue about Montgomery. Slow, slow slow…

UPDATE: 256 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting, Fort Bend all in:

Parker – 53,174
Locke – 50,162

FB turnout in November, 2780. FB turnout in December, 2932. Don’t think that’s gonna do it for Locke, but as yet I’ve no idea which precincts in Harris have reported, so who knows. Still no clue about Montgomery.

UPDATE: 317 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting:

Parker – 57,875
Locke – 54,006

Parker’s election day lead in Harris is 55.75% to 44.25%. Sure wish I knew which precincts were in.

UPDATE: Coming in a bit faster now. 389 precincts in Harris County reporting:

Parker – 62,684
Locke – 57,939

Parker leads Harris County by a 53%-47% margin.

UPDATE: 497 Harris County precincts reporting. Here are all the citywide results so far:

Parker – 71,326
Locke – 64,076

Green – 65,192
Khan – 60,594

Costello – 58,690
Derr – 55,020

Lovell – 60,310
Burks – 50,694

Jones – 61,471
Christie – 58,647

The difference between Andrew Burks and a candidate with a real base of support can be seen in the Fort Bend results. Locke, Green, and Jones all won Fort Bend by 2000+ votes. Burks won it by 1004 votes. Not that it would matter, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

UPDATE: It’s over. All precincts are in, Locke has conceded, Annise Parker has been elected Mayor of Houston. Hot damn! Read her statement here. My congratulations to Team Parker for a job well done, and my thanks to Gene Locke for his service to Houston and his gracious concession speech.

Vote today!

Today is Runoff Day. If you did not vote during Early Voting, this is your lasr chance. The following is from the Harris County Clerk’s office:

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, the chief elections officer of the County, made available a list of important election related facts voters should be aware of as they go to the polls to participate in Saturday’s Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election:

  • On Saturday, Dec. 12th, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • To participate in the Joint Runoff Election a person must be registered to vote in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire or District 1 or 9 of the Houston Independent School District.
  • Eligible voters that did not vote on Nov. 3rd may vote in the Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election.
  • On Election Day a voter must vote at the poll the precinct where he/she is registered to vote is voting.
  • There will be 11 elections on the Joint Runoff ballot. However, the address in which a voter is registered will determine the number of contests that will appear on the ballot. A voter may visit the Tax Assessor Collectors website to find out which political subdivisions are connected to the voter’s address:http://www.hctax.net/ASP/streetguide/frameset.asp.

  • Acceptable forms of identification to vote include: 1. A voter registration certificate; 2. a driver’s license or personal identification card issued to the voter by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the voter by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired; 3. a form of identification containing the voter’s photograph that establishes the voter’s identity; 4. a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the voter’s identity; 5. United States citizenship papers issued to the voter; 6. a United States passport issued to the voter; 7. official mail addressed to the voter, by name, from a governmental entity; 8. a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
  • State law provides that a voter may bring someone of their choosing to the polling place to provide assistance. The person providing assistance must sign the Affidavit of Voter Assistance and print his/her name on the poll list, to attest to the fact that they will not unduly influence the voter.
  • Individuals who go vote on Election Day and are not found on the poll book may vote provisionally. [The acceptance of the provisional vote will be determined by an independent Ballot Board during the period that falls between Election Day and before the results are made official by the governing authority (City of Houston) who ordered the election. Some, but not all, of the factors the Board considers in making a determination on the provisional ballot include, is the person in question actually registered voter in one of the political subdivisions who had items on the ballot? And, did the person vote at the correct polling location?]

For more information pertaining to Election Day polling locations, voters may call 713.755.6965 or visit the Harris County Clerk Elections website, www.harrisvotes.com. To check on voter registration status, voters should call the Voter Registrar at 713-368-2200.

Do be aware that for runoffs, some polling places that were open for the general election may not be open this time around. Here’s a message about that from the Harris County Democratic Party:

The Harris County Democratic Party wants to remind voters that they may confirm their Election Day polling location by visiting our website, www.hcdp.org, or by calling our office at (713) 802-0085. Our hardworking volunteers and staff will be happy to assist you in locating your polling location for the runoff election this coming Saturday, December 12. The polls will be open from 7am to 7pm.

With every election, we hear countless stories of voters discovering too late that their polling locations have changed. Polling locations tend to change or move during runoff elections. Several precincts can be combined and assigned to a single polling location during runoff elections.

The Runoff Election on Saturday, Dec. 12, is being conducted for races in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire, and the Houston Independent School District.

The Harris County Democratic Party urges all voters to call the office at (713) 802-0085 or visit our website at www.hcdp.org and confirm your Election Day polling location.

Here’s a reminder from the Chron about why you should vote, and a reminder about who they think you should vote for. Hair Balls has more.

Mayoral miscellania

A few links of interest about the Mayor’s race. Because I know you haven’t read enough about it already.

Nancy is ready for all the third-party attacks in the race to stop.

Here’s an interview with Annise Parker at Open Left. Thanks to BOR for the tip.

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s Gene Locke signs illegally placed on public rights of way.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is always worth reading.

Steven Hotze in his own bigoted, hateful, ignorant words. Compare what he says to what Rick Scarborough, who is also trying to foment the anti-gay hate, says about The Gay Agenda. Small minds think alike. And then recall that Hotze’s hatchet man Allen Blakemore was also responsible for this piece of racist crap from last year’s election. State Rep. Garnet Coleman has called on Locke to reject Hotze’s endorsement. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen.

Finally, if that’s not enough links for you, Martha has some more.

Chron on the Jones pileup

Here’s the Chron story about the mailers being sent out opposing Jolanda Jones.

The effort by five council members to oust Jones, arguably the most controversial and well-known figure on council, was virtually unprecedented in the past several decades, according to several City Hall veterans. The only comparable moment came in 1989, when supporters and colleagues of Councilman Jim Westmoreland fled after he made a racial slur during a council discussion on a memorial for the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland.

“I’m running my campaign based on issues voters care about and have no comment on the actions of some of my fellow council members,” Jones said Wednesday. “I think voters care about issues. … If the people need for me to speak up for them, then I’m happy to serve them in that way.”

I remember that incident. Westmoreland lost that year to Beverly Clark, who turned out to be a bit of a nut herself. She drew multiple challengers in 1991, and lost in a runoff to Gracie Saenz after leading Round One by a 42-19 margin.

Democratic political consultant Keir Murray said the public repudiation of Jones “is, at best, highly unusual and may prove problematic” for Lovell, an elected statewide member of the Democratic National Committee.

“Council member Lovell is in her own runoff race in which the outcome is not assured for anyone, so it defies logic that she would expend campaign resources on a race other than her own,” said Murray, who is unaffiliated with any council races this year but worked for Lovell’s opponent in 2005. “The rule is, you take care of your own business before you worry about anybody else’s.”

Lovell said the mailer has nothing to do with party politics but is one council member calling out another for making “inappropriate” comments. She also said the piece should not be seen as an endorsement of Christie, only an effort to support Houston firefighters.

All due respect, but that’s disingenuous at best. Jones is in a runoff. Any support she does not get as a result of Lovell’s mailer, which I will note did not mention Jack Christie at all, helps Christie. If enough people follow Lovell’s recommendation, Christie will win. Had this been sent prior to the general election, when there were four candidates running for At Large #5, you could reasonably claim to be not endorsing any specific opponent. In the context of a two-person race, when people are actually voting, saying “Don’t vote for Candidate A” is an implicit endorsement for Candidate B. There’s no two ways around that.

Of course, Lovell couldn’t send her mailer out any earlier than she did, because she knew there would be a backlash against her for doing so. Indeed, I have heard a number of people express regret for having voted for her. You can view her action as a courageous stand against an unworthy incumbent, or you can view it as a crass act of vindictiveness fueled by the feud between the two that Lovell denies but everyone knows about. It’s mostly a matter of how you feel about the two principals. You know how I feel about it, and at this time that’s about all I want to say. More from the Houston Politics blog and from KHOU. You’ll note that they mention my blog in that story. I got a call from Courtney Zubowski yesterday afternoon asking if they could use the images from the mailers, which they had found here, and I said yes. That’s all there is to that.

KHOU/KUHF poll gives Parker a big lead

This was the top story on the 5 PM news.

The final 11News/KUHF Houston Public Radio poll shows Controller Annise Parker has a 13-point lead over former City Attorney Gene Locke.

In the poll, which was conducted this week by the Center for Civic Engagement at Rice University, likely voters pick Parker 49 percent of the time, and Locke 36 percent of the time. Fifteen percent of likely voters remain undecided. (See more poll data from the Center for Civic Engagement here.)

“Like in the general election, voters are breaking late,” said 11 News political expert Bob Stein, who conducted the poll.

“In order to win, Gene Locke needs to get a much higher turnout in the African-American community than we are projecting, which is 29 percent of the vote,” he said. “I think he also needs to start taking a bigger chunk of those undecided voters.”

The poll consists of telephone interviews with 442 registered Houston voters who described themselves as likely or very likely to vote in the mayoral race, or who told pollsters that they had already voted. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

If you look at the crosstabs, it shows that 35% of the sampled respondents had already voted. I think that’s on the low end for what proportion of votes have already been cast, but it’s certainly a plausible and quite possible number. And it’s very nice to know that they’re not just depending on self-reporting for voter likelihood. I’m more confident about this poll than any of the previous media polls as a result of that.

What struck me as odd was that the sample was 66% female. That’s more than one would expect. Interestingly, in this poll, Parker’s lead among women was smaller than it was in the Chron Zogby poll, but she had a strong lead among men, whereas she’d been tied in that group before. Make of that what you will. It would have been nice to know how Parker did among those who have voted versus those who plan to, but I don’t see that data anywhere. KHOU has more.

Endorsement watch: Another takeback

Got a press release yesterday from Lane Lewis announcing that he had won an endorsement that had previously gone to his opponent.

HARRIS COUNTY COUNCIL OF ORGANIZATIONS RESCINDS STARDIG ENDORSEMENT

Houston, Texas – City Council District A candidate Lane Lewis has earned the endorsement of the Harris County Council of Organizations (HCCO) after the HCCO rescinded their original endorsement of Brenda Stardig.

“The Harris County Council of Organizations is happy to get behind Lane Lewis and his campaign for City Council,” said DeWayne Lark, HCCO President. “HCCO sees Lane as the candidate with the integrity and experience to get the job done in City Hall. Lane will be a full-time Council Member dedicated to solving problems and that is what District A needs.”

“I am proud to have the backing of the Harris County Council of Organizations,” said Lewis. “I have the support of fire fighters, multiple police organizations, and the Houston Chronicle because they all know that I am the only candidate with the proven experience to take on flooding, crime, and over-development.”

I thought it was a bit unusual for an endorsement to be rescinded out of the blue, so I got in touch with DeWayne Lark and asked him about it. He said they re-screened after the general election – he said they didn’t always do that in the event of a runoff, but did it some of the time – and they were very impressed with Lewis, whom they had not spoken to before. He said they thought Lewis had some great, progressive ideas for the city and that he was very well-informed on the issues.

He also said that the organization was troubled by the fact that Stardig had been endorsed by Steven Hotze and had not rejected it. “That’s not the kind of endorsement you want to be associated with,” he told me. “We likened it to being endorsed by the KKK.” I reminded him I was going to blog about this after he said that. He said he knew.

So there you have it. A nice endorsement for Lane Lewis to get, and evidence that Steven Hotze is bad news for people other than just Gene Locke.

One last look at the early voting numbers

Here is a copy of that Johnston report I’ve been referring to, updated through the end of early voting. A few things to note.

– The total number of people who voted in the City of Houston election through the end of early voting is 63,560, which is really not that much different that the 62,641 that showed up early in November. Actually, that latter number is a bit inflated, since it includes all mail ballots collected through Election Day; ultimately, the 63,560 figure above will climb by a few hundred as the stragglers arrive at the County Clerk’s office. Still, my point remains that either you believe the December voters have voted early in a higher proportion as the November voters as has been the case in the last three city runoffs, or you believe that this runoff is different and the proportion will be different as well. How you project final turnout is closely related to that belief.

– Sadly, I cannot provide any information about the 2001 runoff. According to the response I got from the County Clerk’s office, they just don’t have the early voting numbers from 2001. Annoying, and a bit weird, but that’s the way it goes.

– The D/R ratio among early voters is 61/28. That is the strongest factor in favor of Ronald Green and Jolanda Jones. Barring a Republican surge on Runoff Day, if they can hold Democratic voters, they ought to win.

– The female to male ratio among early voters was 55-45, with the split among voters who hadn’t participated in November being even more pronounced at 59-41. That strikes me as being favorable to Annise Parker, as the crosstabs from that Zogby poll showed that her lead came entirely from an advantage among women.

– The percentage of African-American voters who had not voted in November is slightly higher than overall, at 33-29. That’s favorable to Gene Locke, though it’s not that big a deal. Look at it this way: Of the 10,250 new voters, 3382 were African-American. Had this pool of voters looked the same as the whole thing, that number would be 2972. Assuming they go for Locke at an 80-20 clip, which given that Parker got 20% A-A support in the Zogby poll isn’t unreasonable, and he nets 2030 votes in the actual sample versus 1784 in a 29% A-A sample. That’s a pickup of 246 votes total, which seems unlikely to be a difference-maker. Of course, a surge on Saturday and it’s a different story. We’ll see how it goes.

I think I’m mostly numbered out till after the election. Hope you found these posts useful.

Holmes fibs about his donation history to Hotze

As we know, Ned Holmes, the finance chair for the Gene Locke campaign, made a $20,000 donation to Steven Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Harris County PAC just before Hotze sent out his homophobic mailer to voters. Holmes claims that the timing is coincidental because he’s a longtime supporter of Hotze. How that’s supposed to make me feel better about the Locke-Hotze relationship is unclear, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s also not true.

Reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, however, show that prior to his Nov. 24 contribution of $20,000, Holmes had donated to the PAC only once in the past eight years. He made a $2,000 contribution on April 20, 2000. Holmes denied to Olson that his most recent contribution was connected to the mail piece.

Well, I guess that one donation in 2000 was a long time ago. And maybe he always intended to be a once-every-9.5-years kind of longtime supporter. Which he kept secret from everyone, including his candidate. Yeah, that must be it.

Rick Casey is not impressed.

According to Hotze’s report, his committee was flat broke as of three weeks ago. Since then he raised $56,000, of which $40,000 came from Locke’s two backers.

Hotze’s report shows about $9,700 in expenses for the mailing in November and a balance of $44,285 in the bank.

I hope there are some unpaid bills for the mailer. I don’t want it on Locke’s conscience if his backers inadvertently bankrolled Hotze’s next hit piece.

I think Nick Anderson sums it up the best. I’ll just leave it at that. Nancy Sims has a few related words.

Eight days out finance reports, District Council candidates

To wrap up our tour of the finance reports for the city runoffs, here’s a look at the two District Council races. First, District A, in which Lane Lewis is up against Brenda Stardig:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Lewis 42,439 33,765 0 19,401 8,250 19.4 Stardig 41,495 41,638 0 40,264 18,800 45.3 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field Other =========================================================== Lewis 0 0 19,600 0 0 852 Stardig 0 2,040 32,041* 0* 0 1,930

Pretty even in terms of how much was raised, though Lewis got a higher proportion from individuals than Stardig did. Stardig ran some ads on KSEV and spent more on mail. The asterisks are because one expense line item, for $19,069.08, has the explanation “Robo call to seniors, Senior mailer to 65 and older, Republican mailer, Early vote mailer to all of District A plus R women”. That means that she spent less than I indicated for mail, and something greater than zero for phones, but I can’t tell how much of one should be shifted to the other. And speaking of “Other”, this category refers to print ads. Lewis spent his money on an ad in the Leader News. Stardig had two such ads, worth $1238, and the rest was spent on an ad in Houston Community Newspapers, presumably one of the Examiner papers. Stardig also spent another $4466 on signs.

Here’s the who’s who among their donors:

Lewis – State Rep. Garnet Coleman (250), former Council Member Rob Todd (150), Galveston County Democratic Party Chair Lloyd Criss (25), Council Member Sue Lovell (500), State Sen. John Whitmire (1000)

Stardig – UH Board of Trustees Chair Welcome Wilson (250)

Rob Todd was the Council member in District E before Addie Wiseman. He now lives in District A. Whitmire is the Senator for that district. I did not see any donations from elected officials to Stardig, just from Welcome Wilson, whose name appeared on several reports.

And finally, District F:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Laster 40,553 39,648 500 46,901 23,308 57.5 Hoang Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field Other =========================================================== Laster 0 500 30,131 0 0 0 Hoang

Al Hoang’s campaign finance report was posted last night on the city’s webpage. As was the case with his previous reports, it is cumulative from the beginning, and there are no dates listed on any individual item, so you cannot tell by looking at it what has been done since the last reporting deadline. As it was not up when I began researching the reports, I emailed Hoang’s campaign advisor Eric Weinmann on Monday to inquire about this and was told they needed to file their report. He sent me a document that listed some donations, which I presume are those that came in since October 26. I’ve made it available as a Google doc for your perusal. He also forwarded an email that listed a few expenditures, from which I can determine $9950 was spent on three separate mailers, plus $1250 on an ad with KSEV. A couple other entries aren’t really clear to me as to their nature, but I can at least say that much.

As for Laster, he raised, spent, and retains a decent amount, with nothing that stood out as being unusual. Here’s who gave to his campaign:

Laster – Former At Large candidate Zaf Tahir (250), HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg (500), Coleman (250), State Rep. Scott Hochberg (1500)

Rep. Hochberg is the State Rep. for Sharpstown, where Laster lives. I’ve now gone through Hoang’s entire report, and there were no names that I recognized among them. I saw one small donation that appeared to be a PAC, and several mostly small donations that appeared to be from businesses. Again, it’s a bit hard to say for sure.

I hope you found this exercise useful. Let me know what you think.

Runoff EV wrapup

The final tally is in, and after 13,534 in person votes were cast today, a total of 66,909 have been counted so far. This compares to 80,516 early votes for the November election.

Except it doesn’t, since that total represents all of Harris County. In reality, 62,641 early in person and mail ballots were cast in the Mayor’s race last month. But the total for the runoff is an overstatement as well, since West U Bellaire has a runoff going, too. Going by the Johnston report, a hair over 95% of the ballots through Thursday were actually City of Houston. Assuming that same ratio holds for today, I calculate 63,600 early votes for the municipal races. Which is to say, not much difference.

So the question at this point is whether you believe the ratio of early votes in the runoff will be less than, the same as, or greater than the ratio from the general election. As we know, 35% of all votes in November were cast before Election Day. For the last three municipal elections, this is how the ratios compare:

2003 Nov = 25% early
2003 Dec = 36% early

2005 Nov = 27% early
2005 Dec = 37% early

2007 Nov = 30% early
2007 Dec = 46% early

If this year holds to pattern, something like 45% of the vote has already been cast, which pegs us at a total city turnout of about 141,000. I think that’s a little low, but it wouldn’t shock me. If we get the same proportion of Election Day voters this month as we did last month, we’ll have about the same number of total voters. I think that’s less likely, but it wouldn’t shock me, either. I do think it’s unlikely we’ll get much more than that, however.

You may ask, What about 2001, the last time there was an African-American candidate in the runoff? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you. The County Clerk’s elections results page has the November election result, which shows that a mere 20% of the vote was cast early, but for reasons unclear the December result is unavailable there. I’ve put in an inquiry, since the Houston City Secretary’s page only has the final number, without the early/election day breakdown; I’ll post something when and if I get the data. I suppose it’s possible that there could be a surge in African-American voters on Saturday as there was eight years ago to keep Lee Brown in office. I don’t see any evidence of it in the early voting numbers, but it could happen.

Anyway, that’s what the numbers suggest to me. What do you think the final tally will be?

UPDATE: Bellaire, not West U, has a runoff going. My apologies for the confusion, and my thanks to Corbett Parker, who is actually running in one of those Bellaire runoffs, for the correction.

Jolanda versus the world

If you’re on Carl Whitmarsh’s mailing list, you’ve probably seen this, which is one of several mailers being sent out by the Jack Christie campaign. That one is going to the Heights, Montrose, and District C. The others are this one, being sent to voters in Council Districts A and G; this one, being sent to voters in District E; and this one, also being sent to voters in District C.

Looking at all of these, I think it’s safe to say that Council Member Jones has alienated a number of her colleagues. I can’t recall anything like this in recent years, where sitting members have openly support a challenger to a colleague. (Did anyone do this to Shelley Sekula Gibbs in 2003 when Peter Brown ran against her?) What’s damning about it is that much like the earlier mailer Christie sent out, it uses Jones’ own words and actions against her. I like CM Jones. I think she has a lot of talent, I think she represents a constituency that otherwise doesn’t have much of a voice, and I think she has the potential to do a lot of good. But she has definitely provided her critics with a lot of ammunition, and it’s stunning to see so many of her fellow Council members try to oust her like this. If she does survive, it’ll be very interesting to see what her relationship with these members will be like going forward. I’m thinking it’ll be awkward for awhile.

With all that said, I don’t think anyone has too much trouble with CMs Lawrence, Clutterbuck, Sullivan, and Holm, all of whom are on the opposite side of the political fence as Jones and none of whom are currently involved in an election of their own, supporting a fellow member of their party. The mailer by CM Lovell is the explosive one. It’s a little bizarre to think that at this time in 2007, Lovell was working to help Jones get elected. The relationship fell apart pretty quickly after the election, and the two have been feuding ever since. I happen to think that Sue Lovell is also a pretty good Council member, but it’s no secret that she is not the forgiving type. She has reportedly been telling donors not to contribute to Jones. I’m not going to defend what Jones said about HPFFA President Jeff Caynon, which is the basis of Lovell’s attack on her, though I will note that Jones did get a $1000 contribution from the Houston chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters. But I believe Lovell crossed a line here, and judging from what I’ve seen elsewhere, that may be one of the more restrained reactions to this. If Lovell was still thinking about running for County Clerk next year, something that already seemed unlikely with the entrance of Sue Schechter and her show of strength early on, I’d say her odds of getting nominated just got a lot longer. Not to mention the fact that she still has an election of her own to win. She’s certainly stuck her neck out, I’ll say that much.

I guess what really bothers me about this is precisely that both Jones and Lovell are talented Council members. All of this is just a needless distraction and a waste of energy. I wish Jones had not put herself in this position but had instead channeled her energy and passion on Council in more productive ways. I hope that should she survive this election, it will spur her to do exactly that. I wish Lovell would learn to put things behind her and focus on what’s ahead. I hope whatever happens in their respective races, the next City Council finds a way to work together and help the new Mayor deal with the challenges that we face. Surely we all deserve that.

UPDATE: The Lovell mailer was sent out by her campaign, not by Christie’s. My apologies for the confusion.

Eight days out finance reports, At Large candidates

Continuing on with our look at the eight days out reports, here’s how things stack up for the At Large Council candidates in the runoffs.

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Derr 26,692 13,034 5,000 5,487 8,650 32.4 Costello 193,225 165,200 15,000 16,065 71,000 36.7 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Derr 0 0 0 0 250 Costello 125,000 0 0 4,200 6,000

First, if I didn’t already know Costello was an engineer, I might have guessed it from his exceedingly orderly finance report, in which PAC and corporate donations were separated from individual ones, and each were alphabetized. As with the general election, he continues to raise money like gangbusters, and is putting a lot of it into TV ads. I have no idea what Derr is doing beyond having a presence at the early vote locations and all those yard signs that have been in place for months. It’s almost bizarre comparing the finances of these two candidates, in that if you knew nothing else you’d expect Costello to win without breaking a sweat. But Derr has nearly all of the establishment Democratic support, and with the primary history of early voters being roughly 60D/30R, with the rest having no primary history, that may be enough. Here are the current and former officeholders and candidates who have donated to each:

Derr – State Rep. Garnet Coleman (500), State Rep. Ana Hernandez (100), former At Large #4 candidate Deborah Shafto (50)

Costello – Lonnie Allsbrooks (200), former Council Member Gracie Saenz (75), UH Board of Trustees President Welcome Wilson (250)

Coleman’s name will appear on the report of every candidate he endorsed. Rep. Hernandez’s husband Greg Luna also chipped in $100 to Derr. Allsbrooks held a meet-and-greet for Costello at Beer Island over the weekend, according to a postcard I got in the mail from Allsbrooks. That’s more mail than either candidate has apparently sent recently.

Moving on to At Large #2:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Lovell 75,104 59,791 0 102,896 39,758 52.9 Burks 12,030 13,118 10,000 964 1,750 14.5 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Lovell 51,255 0 1,500 0 0 Burks 0 1,959 3,000 1,250 430

Again, no real contest in terms of who raised what, though in this case it really is the case that Lovell ought to win, if not that easily. I confess, I don’t get why she’s sitting on $100K in cash – that $51K won’t buy that much TV time (though I did finally see one of her ads on the air, during “The Closer” last night), and there’s little else to her outreach. I might have sent some mail or done some phonebanking or something. We’ll see how it goes for her. Here’s the officeholder/candidate list for each:

Lovell – Coleman (1000), Council Member Jarvis Johnson (100), Don Large (100), District Judge Randy Roll (50), State Rep. Ellen Cohen (50)

Burks – Dexter Handy (100), Justice of the Peace Zinetta Burney (100), Constable May Walker (250), Farouk Shami (1000)

I have no idea what the Shami-Burks connection is. Anyone want to guess?

And finally, At Large #5:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Jones 80,248 33,016 0 49,957 22,358 27.9 Christie 42,925 68,714 500 35,844 10,500 24.5 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Jones 0 8,000 20,000 0 0 Christie 0 956 56,267 5,310 0

Jones has raised a respectable amount, but Christie has spent more, putting a huge sum into an effective attack mailer. She’s still got to be the favorite based on partisan affinity, but this may be the tightest race of the bunch. The list of who gave what to whom contains a couple of interesting bits:

Jones – Burney (150), Saenz (50), Handy (100), Coleman (1000), Ron Reynolds, Democratic candidate for State Rep. in Fort Bend, (250), State Rep. Kristi Thibaut (1000), District Judge Steve Kirkland (250), State Sen. John Whitmire (1000), State Rep. Sylvester Turner (400), Saenz (75), John Sharp (3000), US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (250), Wilson (500), Roll (50), former State Rep. (running again in 2010) Borris Miles (1000)

Christie – Council Member Anne Clutterbuck (10,000), Chase Untermeyer (250), State Rep. Beverly Woolley (500)

Clutterbuck’s $10K donation from her campaign fund is by far the biggest donation from any of the politicos, and is nearly 25% of Christie’s total haul for this period. It’s also the only example I saw of a Council member donating to the opponent of a sitting member. That could liven up some future committee meetings. I guess I have to take back what I said about Ronald Green getting the most donations from colleagues, as it sure looks like Jones has him beat on that score.

Just the district Council races to go. I should have those tomorrow.

Locke backers funded Hotze

Nice.

The finance chairman and a finance committee member of Gene Locke’s mayoral campaign helped bankroll the conservative political action committee that sent out an anti-gay mailer targeting City Controller Annise Parker and other municipal candidates earlier this month, according to Texas Ethics Commission documents.

[…]

Locke has been dogged by Parker, her supporters and some uncommitted Democrats for seeking the endorsement of conservative activist Steven Hotze, who has a long history of opposing gay candidates and causes. A mail piece Hotze sent out last week urged voters not to choose Parker and several others seeking municipal offices because they were “endorsed by gay lesbian political action committee,” a reference to Houston’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Political Caucus. It labeled others as “radical liberals” and supported some candidates based on a record of fiscal conservatism.

According to financial documents, Hotze’s political action committee received a $20,000 donation about a week before the mail pieces went out from Ned Holmes, finance chairman of Locke’s campaign, and $20,000 from James Dannenbaum, who is on Locke’s finance committee.

Hotze’s PAC, Conservative Republicans of Harris County, lists $56,000 in donations between Oct. 25 and Dec. 2. Only two other donors, who contributed a total of $16,000, are listed.

Martha has scans of the Hotze mailer, while Erik has the finance report for Hotze’s GPAC, which shows the contributions. Surely no one thinks the timing of the donations is a coincidence, right? Maybe Hotze could have found some other sugar daddies to help him peddle his bigotry, but he didn’t. It’s now clear why Locke never denounced Hotze.

As for the countercharges from Locke’s campaign that Annise Parker helped pay for the Roy Morales mailer, well, that’s true. You can see the disclaimer on the mailer that it was paid for by his campaign and hers. Roy’s a twit, but he’s no Hotze. Team Locke complains in the story that Roy demanded an unreasonably large fee, which they claim and he denies would have gone towards Roy’s campaign debt, to be included in the mailer. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know. If their objection was the price, they’re not claiming a parallel to Hotze. The answers Parker gave on Roy’s mailer are consistent with what she’s been saying on those issues all along, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Stace and John have more.