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Maria Selva

January reports for SD06 candidates

Stace beat me to the punch in reporting on the January campaign finance reports for SD06, so I’ll have to one up him by being more obsessive thorough in bringing the numbers. So here we go.

Seven of the eight candidates filed a January report for the race. Susan Delgado was the lone exception, but she will play a role in this story. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, the big two candidates, beginning with Carol Alvarado:

Raised $343,653
Spent $426,934
Cash $304,349

Notable contributions: Several of her current and former House colleagues, plus one former Senator, kicked in – Burt Solomons, Ellen Cohen, David Farabee, Kip Averitt, Diana Maldonado, Rep. Marisa Marquez, and Rep. Richard Raymond, to the tune of $10K; the others all contributed modest amounts. Other big numbers that caught my eye include $26K from HillCo PAC, $23K from HPOU PAC, $13,500 from HPFFA PAC, $10K each from Kamoru, Kase, and Mickey Lawal, $10K from Bob Perry, and $10K from Bill and Andrea White. As Stace noted, Alvarado received a lot of support from various police and firefighter groups – a firefighter PAC from Fort Worth chipped in another $2,500. Alvarado, who mentioned in her interview with me has filed legislation to expand gambling in Texas, also got $2,500 from the Chickasaw Nation and $1K from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Finally, Alvarado has a direct connection to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast through her sister Yolanda, and has a $145 contribution from PPGC CEO Melaney Linton to show for it.

Next up, Sylvia Garcia:

Raised $244,086
Spent $320,381
Cash $474,006

Notable contributions: Garcia also got support from current and past legislators – Ana Hernandez, Armando Walle, and Ellen Cohen, plus 2012 candidate Ann Johnson and 2010 candidate Silvia Mintz. She didn’t get any donations that I saw from a member of the Senate but did get one from Senate spouse Carlos Zaffirini. As noted by Stace, Garcia got the single biggest contribution of any candidate, $106K in kind from the Texas Organizing Project PAC for ground support. Steve Mostyn kicked in $12,680 in cash and in kind. Finally, Garcia got my two favorite contributions of this cycle. One was $100 from fellow candidate Susan Delgado. I can’t be certain this is the same Susan Delgado, but contributor Delgado listed the same ZIP code as candidate Delgado did on her July 2012 report, so you make the call. Finally, all the way from Hawaii where she lists her occupation as “retired”, former Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire, now Kathy Whitmire Wehner, gave $200. How awesome is that?

And the rest, as the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island” used to conclude:

RW Bray

Raised $300
Spent $1,310
Cash $620

Maria Selva

Raised $1,075
Spent $1,287
Cash $0
Loan $212

Dorothy Olmos

Raised $0
Spent $3,500
Cash $3,500
Loan $3,500

Rodolfo Reyes

Raised $0
Spent $7,750
Cash $0
Loan $8,107

Joaquin Martinez

Raised $447
Spent $1,250
Cash $0

This is another illustration why I agree with those who do not see any chance for RW Bray to make the runoff. If this special election had been held last November, the pool of voters would be more than big enough to give Bray a legitimate shot at the top two. But how many of those people who did vote for him in November do you think even know there’s an election going on now? He doesn’t have the resources to let them know that he needs their support. Between that and the presence of habitual candidate Dorothy Olmos on the ballot, I just see no prospect for Bray to advance. Speaking of Olmos, her reported totals make no sense, but it’s not worth worrying about. For them and for the others, their reports speak for themselves.

With six days down and six to go in early voting, 4,288 ballots have been cast, with in person votes just nosing ahead of absentee ballots. You can see the totals here. Yesterday was the first day of 7 AM to 7 PM voting, so I’d expect the daily totals to increase. I’d put the over/under at 10K early votes right now, but that could easily go up. Still, the low end of turnout projections is looking likely at this point. Ask me again in a week. PDiddie and TM Daily Post have more.

Three days of early voting in SD06

I’m not sure that the Chron’s classification of early voting so far in SD06 is accurate, but I’m not sure how I myself would characterize it since we have so few precedents to draw on.

Three days into early voting, the race to replace the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos continues to heat up, as does the balloting.

The first large batch of mail-in ballots was returned Friday, outpacing voters who visited the polls in person. Since early voting began, 1,561 ballots have been cast, two thirds of them in person. More votes were recorded Friday, 805, than in the two preceding days, 756.

Early voting continues through Jan. 22. Election Day is Jan. 26.

You can see the EV totals so far here. As noted, the difference was the arrival of mail ballots on Friday. 451 absentee ballots were received on Friday, which is more than the in-person total on any of the three days so far. I expect early voting to pick up as it always does, and every day of EV is from 7 to 7 except for next Sunday, which should be a boost as well, but I also expect that more than half the total ballots will be cast early. It sure would be nice to see some bigger daily numbers going forward.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones describes the relatively late date as “a strategic delay” on the part of Gov. Rick Perry and his fellow Republicans, who realize that the likely winner will be one of the Democratic candidates.

“Under the Senate’s two-thirds rule, until the new SD-6 senator arrives, the Republicans need to convince only one Democrat to vote with them to pass legislation, whereas once Alvarado or Garcia arrives in Austin, they will need two,” he said in an email.

On most legislation the difference is irrelevant, Jones said, but not on such controversial issues as the fetal pain bill, for example.

“With only 30 senators, the Republicans will need to tailor the final legislation to obtain the backing of only one of the handful of pro-life Democrats, not two of them,” he said. “The result will, quite possibly, be legislation that is closer to the Republican ideal than would have been the case if the support of both was required.”

There are three “pro-life” Dems in the Senate – Eddie Lucio, Carlos Uresti, and Judith Zaffirini – and it took all three of their votes to let the awful sonogram bill through. That was because Republican Jeff Wentworth joined the other nine Dems in opposing it, but he was ousted in favor of the wingnut Donna Campbell in last year’s GOP primary, so as noted once the new Senator is seated the GOP will only need two defections to overcome the two-thirds rule for further atrocities. Until then, one is enough.

For those of you still making up your minds about whom to support, the League of Women Voters Houston is here to help:

The League of Women Voters of Houston Education Fund is pleased to announce that the full two-hour Conversations with the Candidates telecast covering the Texas State Senate District 6 Special Election is now available for viewing on demand.

The Conversations program was originally telecast live on Thursday, January 10, 2013 on the channels of Houston MediaSource TV (Comcast Channel 17, ATT Uverse Channel 99 or livestreamed at www.hmstv.org, and will be re-telecast on:

Monday           1/21/13            3:00 pm

Tuesday          1/22/13            8:00 am

Tuesday          1/22/13            4:30 pm

Wednesday     1/23/13             2:30 pm

Thursday         1/24/13            4:30 pm

Friday             1/25/13            8:00 am

All eight declared candidates were invited to attend.  The seven who participated, in order of appearance, were:  Sylvia Garcia, Carol Alvarado, Maria Selva, Joaquin Martinez, Rudy Reyes, R. W. Bray and Dorothy Olmos.

The unique “candidate conveyor belt” format allowed each candidate the opportunity to explain his or her philosophy of governance and positions on selected issues.  Each candidate separately, in an order determined by drawing numbers, sat at a round table and participated in a friendly conversation with two League officials.

Members of the media are welcome to use Conversations material in their reports, and are encouraged to offer the public viewing opportunities via websites, social media or other vectors.  However, we ask that the program be made available in its entirety and without edits.  Our on-demand viewing page notes the order of candidate appearance for those who wish to scroll through to watch particular segments.

There have been numerous candidate forums as well, including one on Friday that was boycotted by Green Party candidate Maria Selva because it was sponsored by TransCanada, the company constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. From her press release, which you can see here:

“Tar sands refining will increase toxic air pollution along the Houston Ship Channel, negatively impacting the health of the people in District 6. The whole tar sands operation from mining to refining drastically increases carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to global warming and climate change, and is at odds with the push for clean, safe energy that is one of the principal goals of my campaign,” Selva said.

“This controversial firm [TransCanada] that Houstonians and Texans have been fighting to keep out of the state should not have inappropriate influence over the candidates by sponsoring a debate among candidates who would make decisions affecting it,” said Selva.

“Candidates who seek to represent the citizens of Texas Senate district 6 should not be attending events sponsored by corporations that will poison the air of the people they claim to want to represent. We need to keep money out of politics, and that starts with removing money and inappropriate influence from the decision-making process of citizens.”

I realize that opinions tend to differ about this sort of tactic, but I personally think it’s more effective in general for a candidate to participate in an event where she has issues like this with a sponsor and tell everyone in attendance at her turn to speak exactly how she feels. It’s almost certainly the case that the vast majority of attendees have no idea about any of this, and as such you have the opportunity to inform them. A press release is easy to ignore, assuming you ever knew of its existence in the first place. Someone telling you something to your face isn’t. Just my opinion.

And while I’m on the subject, I really have no idea what if any role the state government has in this. I know the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a federal matter. You know who would be in an excellent position to educate ignoramuses such as myself about what the state government can do to affect or prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline? Someone who’s running for a state government office, like Maria Selva, that’s who. Yet on her campaign website, her Facebook page, and this article about a protest in which she was quoted, I have learned nothing more about the Keystone XL pipeline than the fact that Maria Selva opposes it, which I already knew. Look, there are more starting quarterbacks in the NFL than there are members of the Texas Senate. There are very few people in Texas who can affect what happens in Texas more than the 31 Senators. What exactly would Maria Selva do as one of these uniquely powerful people to put her beliefs into action? Is there some bill she would introduce, or try to block, or some existing law she would seek to repeal? Is there a hearing she could hold, or some official she would seek to influence? I can only speculate because Maria Selva has not provided that information anywhere I can find, and she declined a golden opportunity to inform an audience that would have been well served to hear it.

As you know, I interview a lot of candidates, and I generally don’t press them to be this specific about the process. Usually, just knowing what their principles are, and whether they support or oppose something that’s already out there, is sufficient. This is one of those times where it isn’t, for two reasons. One, as I just said, is because it’s not clear how the elected office in question is relevant to the candidate’s belief and the action she would like to take. If the main thing that will happen when you get elected is that you’ll go from a protester/activist to a protester/activist with an honorific, I’m not sure you’re making the best case for your candidacy or the best use of the political process. Second, if one of your complaints as a “third party” or “fringe” candidate is that you get no respect from the establishment, by which I mean the media and the various actors in the political process, and that your views never get a fair hearing, I say it’s on you to make it clear what is being missed by your exclusion. Show me how your perspective that doesn’t neatly fit into a two-party system would bring something new and needed to the table. If I were to ask Carol Alvarado or Sylvia Garcia – or RW Bray, for that matter – about Keystone, I’d expect them to say something like “That’s a federal matter”, and I’d find that to be an acceptable answer. Maria Selva had the chance to demonstrate why that isn’t an acceptable answer, but she didn’t take it. Further, from what I can tell it’s not clear that she could demonstrate that.

Putting this another way, if I still lived in SD06 I almost certainly wouldn’t vote for Maria Selva regardless, because I think Alvarado and Garcia are the two best candidates in the race. But if Maria Selva could articulate a way for a Senator to take on this issue – or any other, for that matter, especially one that isn’t being addressed by other candidates – and it made sense to me, I would at the very least press the candidates I would consider voting for to take a position on it. You want someone to listen to you, give them a reason to listen. I don’t think I’m asking for too much here.

There are eight candidates who have filed for SD06

Yesterday I made an inquiry with the Elections division of the Secretary of State’s office, to ask how many candidates had filed for the special election in SD06. They kindly forwarded me a scan of all eight candidate applications, which you can see here. (Stace and PDiddie reported on this yesterday afternoon. The only mainstream media coverage of which I am aware came from La Voz.) Here’s what I can tell you about the eight candidates, listed in alphabetical order:

Carol AlvaradoFacebookTwitter

Alvarado is the State Rep in HD145, in her third term. She served three terms as Houston City Council member in District I before that.

RW BrayFacebook

Bray was the Republican nominee for SD06 in 2012, winning 29% of the vote. He was Chief of Staff for District A Council member Helena Brown before resigning in April.

Susan Delgado – No website, Facebook page, or Twitter account, as far as I can tell.

Delgado was once the mistress of the late Sen. Gallegos. She subsequently ran against him twice, as a write-in in 2004 and a Libertarian in 2008. Despite that, she lists her party affiliation as “Democratic” on her application.

Sylvia GarciaFacebookTwitter

Garcia was County Commissioner in Harris County Precinct 2 for two terms, and before that she was Houston City Controller for three terms.

Joaquin MartinezFacebook

Martinez is a first time candidate, who once worked on the staff of former Council member John Castillo. Here’s a NewsFix report on him.

Dorothy OlmosFacebook

The webpage is for Olmos’ most recent candidacy, as a Republican for SBOE 4. She runs for a lot of things – HISD Board of Trustees in 2011, and HD 143 in 2004, 2005 (special election), 2006, and 2008. The Facebook page is her personal page – the Facebook link on her candidate page is broken; though there is a Twitter icon next to it, there is no link to a Twitter account.

Rodolfo Reyes

Reyes served one term on League City Council, from 1994-97. As noted by Stace and PDiddie, he did not fill in the party affiliation field on his application.

Maria Selva

Selva was the Green Party candidate for CD29 in 2012.

As of Friday, there were no 30 day finance reports yet. We know that Garcia and Alvarado both had healthy amounts of cash as of July. Of the candidates that had to file reports for 2012, neither Bray nor Olmos reported any significant funds on their 8 day reports from October; I did not find any finance reports for Selva on the FEC webpage. The sheer number of candidates almost certainly guarantees a runoff, but I don’t believe it changes the dynamic from what we’ve all known it to be since the beginning, that this is a two-way race between Alvarado and Garcia. PDiddie thinks Bray has a shot at the runoff based on his showing in November, but I don’t buy it. Bray got the votes of the people in SD06 who showed up to vote for Mitt Romney or Ted Cruz and then stuck around to vote downballot, as well as the straight ticket R vote. Neither is in play in this race. The only people who will vote are those who a) know there’s an election and b) have a reason to vote for one of the candidates. Unless Bray, or any other candidate not named Alvarado or Garcia, can raise the money to reach people who will vote for him, or gets a boost from an outside party like the Harris County GOP, who is actually going to show up for him? I think he’s a step ahead of the rest of the pack due to his candidacy in the previous election, but as PDiddie correctly notes the R vote will likely be split between him and Olmos. I think it’s an Alvarado-Garcia runoff in March, and any other outcome will surprise me.

So who’s in for the SD06 special election?

As noted, yesterday was the official filing deadline for the SD06 special election. I didn’t have the chance to call the Secretary of State’s office to ask what filings they had received, and as of last night I had not seen any news accounts of who was in and who was not. In addition to the three candidates that were known to have filed before Christmas – Sylvia Garcia, Carol Alvarado, and Dorothy Olmos, two other names did emerge yesterday. One, via Carl Whitmarsh, is Rodolfo Reyes:

Rodolfo M. Reyes was elected to the League City Council in 1994 and was the first Hispanic Mayor pro tem, and the second Hispanic to serve on the City Council. During his three year term, he worked with his council brethrens to realize the League City Sport Complex; revitalized the Economic Development Corporation; he challenged the City Planning Commission to streamline procedures for dealing with new developers coming into the city; and rolled-back the property tax rate.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Harris County Educational Foundation; Member-at-large of the Amateur Athletic Association committee; Vice-President of the Community Housing Resources Board; Member of the Board of the Clear Lake Area Economic Development Foundation; and, worked with the Mentor Program at Bonner Elementary School.

The other, via Stace, is Joaquin Martinez.

Joaquin Martinez, father to Joaquin Edward Martinez, is a native Houstonian and has been a silent community leader in the East End. Joaquin has worked for one of Houston’s oldest and largest non-profits, Neighborhood Centers, for over 10 years within the Community Based Initiatives department. Joaquin’s continued perseverance and personal values have allowed him to continue his education at the University of Houston – Downtown as he pursues a B.A. in Political Science.

Joaquin’s previous role as a Youth Manager has been to build youth programs in the East End, Sunnyside, Independence Heights, Pasadena and La Porte communities in order to build upon the skills of the youth in these communities.He also took on the role of Program Coordinator in the Pasadena and La Porte communities, where civic engagement and education were fundamental in creating a community environment. Joaquin has seen many youths become successful; he continually challenges parents to remain involved their children’s lives. He also worked as Staff under Council Member John Castillo, in which he visited several civic club meetings and was committed to assure that community member’s needs were met.

I assume both have filed, but as yet I have no confirmation of this. Others who previously said they were running but had not filed as of Wednesday include RW Bray, whose campaign Facebook page was last updated on December 21, and Maria Selva, who has an under construction webpage that incorrectly lists the date of the special election as January 22. Oops. As for HCC Trustee Yolanda Navarro Flores, she doesn’t appear to have a Facebook page and I’ve seen nothing in my email or via Google. Now you know what I know. If you know more than this, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: Via Stace and PDiddie, we now know there are eight candidates total in this race. What we don’t know is why there was no one at the Chron or the Trib that bothered to find this out, leaving it instead to a bunch of unpaid bloggers. Be that as it may, I’ll have a post with more information tomorrow.