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MJ Khan

Muslim voting

So it turns out that prolonged demonization of a population is a good way to get said population to turn out and vote against the party that is demonizing them.

MJ Khan

MJ Khan

A record 86 percent of registered Muslim voters are expected to cast ballots nationally this year, and the overwhelming majority — more than 70 percent — are expected to vote for the Democratic nominee, according to surveys. Muslims represent only about 1 percent of the population, but high turnouts in states where the election is close could push the electoral votes to Clinton, analysts said.

Texas could be one of those states as recent polls show Clinton within striking distance of Trump. While most analysts expect the state to stay in the GOP column, a high turnout of Muslims voting for Clinton could help upset those predictions.

Among those who say they will vote for Clinton is M.J. Khan, a Republican who served three terms on the Houston city council from 2004 to 2009. Khan, who immigrated from Pakistan in 1976 and owns businesses in oil, gas and real estate, said Muslims historically were attracted to Republicans because of their opposition to abortion, support for limited government and emphasis on values that frown upon divorce and pre-marital sex. But Trump’s derogatory comments and attacks against Muslims, Mexicans, and other minorities will lead him to vote against his party’s presidential nominee.

“We expect leaders to have strong character and inclusivity in their discourse,” Khan said. “After what Mr. Trump has said about many groups, Latinos, Blacks, Muslims and women, I cannot support a leader with such insulting views.”

Texas has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, and Houston the largest in the state. More than 60,000 Muslims live here; the city is home to more than 20 mosques.

Houston’s Muslim population is nearly as diverse as the city itself, community leaders say. About 75 percent have Indian or Pakistani backgrounds and 15 percent are Arab. The remaining 10 percent were born in places like China, Myanmar, South Africa — and the United States.

[…]

Nabila Mansoor, director of the Houston chapter of Emerge USA, an Islamic civic organization, has gone to mosques across Houston to register voters and hand out fliers with information about early voting. In past elections, she said, she had to recruit people to help. Not this year: volunteers are flooding her organization, most driven by fears of a Trump presidency and determination to try to prevent it.

With early voting underway in Texas and other states, Mansoor said, anxieties are growing among Muslims. But she hopes tensions will ease if Clinton, as recent polls suggest, wins.

“People just want this election to be over,” Mansoor said.

Well, I think we can all agree with that. Some of this is overlap with the Democratic trend of Asian Americans, though not all of it is. Along those same lines, both of these groups were considerably more amenable to Republicans as recently as the George W. Bush presidency. It’s really kind of amazing how much things have shifted, but they have, and it didn’t come from nowhere. The real question is whether Republicans can make a credible pitch to these voters again after Trump, perhaps following the recommendations of that post-2012 autopsy report, or if they’ve lost them for a generation or more. If it’s the latter, it will have been richly deserved.

Questioning CM Le’s residency

This sort of thing is practically a tradition in District F.

Steve Le

Steve Le

Houston City Councilman Steve Le last month became the fourth man to represent District F in the last seven years, and the third to face questions over whether he actually lives in the Alief-area district.

Houston’s city charter requires district council members to have lived in their districts for at least 12 months immediately preceding Election Day.

Le said he began renting a room from his cousin at her Alief home in January 2014. On his sworn application to appear on the city ballot last fall, Le said that by Election Day he would have lived there 20 months, which would date back to March 2014.

The new councilman, who ousted one-term incumbent Richard Nguyen, has more formal links to an address in Kingwood than to the Alief address on Wildacres Drive, however.

That angers Barbara Quattro, a longtime Alief civic leader who, with a few others, held signs outside Jones Hall questioning the new councilman’s residency when he and the rest of City Council were inaugurated last month.

“A candidate’s not actually being a resident has become so commonplace in District F that it’s turned into an inside joke,” said Quattro, who supported Nguyen’s reelection. “Piney Point? Pearland? Kingwood? Close enough to Alief.”

[…]

Houston political consultant Mustafa Tameez, who did outreach to Asian voters for former mayors Lee Brown and Bill White and has done work for state Rep. Hubert Vo, whose district overlaps District F, said part of the residency accusations stem from the multicultural nature of the district.

Many international communities have strongholds in the area, heavy with apartments and low-cost housing, Tameez said, but the political candidates representing these communities tend to be wealthier and reside outside the area.

“It hasn’t affected the voters or the outcome of elections,” Tameez said. “I also think that the notion of community is different in multicultural communities than traditional neighborhoods. I think in the past people identified as, ‘I live in Sharpstown.’ Today they may say, ‘I’m a Vietnamese-American.’ And so that boundary line as to where you live may not matter to the Vietnamese-American voters.”

Emphasis mine. Pretty good argument for a public finance system for city campaigns, if you ask me. Note that previous CM Richard Nguyen was both a resident of the area and a member of the working class, having been a city employee at the time of his election. We can debate the merits of living in a district one is elected to represent all day, but I doubt anyone would argue that folks in Nguyen’s economic class are over-represented on Council. As for the complaint, I suppose anything can happen, but if Dave Wilson isn’t in violation of our meaningless residency laws, then I don’t know how Steve Le – or anyone – could be.

Precinct analysis: Controller

Moving on to the office that is both second in prominence and last in ballot placement, the City Controller:


Dist  Khan   Brown  Frazer   Boney Jefferson Robinson
=====================================================
A    2,749   3,406   6,588     798       602    1,573
B    1,836   4,042   1,047   4,275     1,057    5,154
C    6,143  12,574  12,181   1,194       838    2,387
D    2,338   5,139   2,180   6,242     1,547    5,358
E    4,595   4,121  13,436     659       653    1,895
F    2,485   2,118   2,493     670       497    1,246
G    5,105   6,416  17,965     596       666    1,615
H    2,514   4,304   2,094   1,047       525    2,220
I    2,082   3,452   1,685   1,098       573    2,087
J    1,885   1,478   1,925     483       273      782
K    2,941   4,508   3,276   3,028       855    3,309
						
A   17.49%  21.67%  41.92%   5.08%     3.83%   10.01%
B   10.55%  23.22%   6.01%  24.55%     6.07%   29.60%
C   17.39%  35.60%  34.49%   3.38%     2.37%    6.76%
D   10.25%  22.54%   9.56%  27.37%     6.78%   23.50%
E   18.12%  16.25%  52.98%   2.60%     2.58%    7.47%
F   26.13%  22.27%  26.22%   7.05%     5.23%   13.10%
G   15.77%  19.83%  55.51%   1.84%     2.06%    4.99%
H   19.79%  33.88%  16.48%   8.24%     4.13%   17.47%
I   18.97%  31.45%  15.35%  10.00%     5.22%   19.01%
J   27.62%  21.65%  28.20%   7.08%     4.00%   11.46%
K   16.41%  25.61%  18.28%  16.90%     4.77%   18.47%
Bill Frazer

Bill Frazer

Remember how I said earlier that if you combined Lane Lewis, Tom McCasland, and Jenifer Pool in the At Large #1 race you’d have a leading candidate going into the runoff? The same can be said here for Jew Don Boney, Carroll Robinson, and Dwight Jefferson; just the first two together would be enough. Robinson was in the race first and had a more visible campaign, but Boney received some late-breaking endorsements from groups that likely moved a few votes. However you want to look at it, they basically canceled each other out.

MJ Khan got something for his party-like-it’s-2009 campaign strategy, just not nearly enough. He nudges ahead of Frazer in his old Council district once you add in Fort Bend, but then falls behind Chris Brown there. (Insert sad trombone sound effect.) The good news is that his timelessly generic TV ad that blanketed the airwaves over the past few weeks could easily be hauled out and reused in 2019 and/or 2023 as needed. He could be the model for campaigning in the Andrew Burks/Griff Griffin style with an actual budget to spend.

Here’s my three-point plan for Chris Brown to win next month:

Chris Brown

Chris Brown

1. Make sure Democrats know who he is and that he’s the only Dem in the race. Bill Frazer did about eight points better in District C than Bill King did. Putting it another, and more alarming way, Frazer plus Khan was almost 52% of the vote in C, while King plus Costello was 37%; even counting Ben Hall as a Republican only gets you to 43%. I can’t see a path to victory for Brown that doesn’t include a strong showing in C. The HCDP sent out an email on Monday saying that they would make recommendations now in races that have a single Dem in them, which will help a little, but I’d plan a blitz of mail targeting Democratic likely voters making sure they know which team each candidate in this race is playing for.

2. Deploy surrogates. First and foremost, do whatever is needed to get Brown’s soon-to-be-former boss Ronald Green to cut a radio ad or two for heavy rotation on KCOH and Majic 102 and so forth. Get Peter Brown to star in a mailer or two to voters who were known to like him from 2009 and his days on Council, and also from his days now advocating for sustainable urbanism. Chris Brown’s wife Divya is Indian-American; she and their baby daughter were in a standard family photo in Brown’s November mailings. I’d consider sending some mail to voters in F and J (where there is a high proportion of Asian voters as well as two district Council runoffs) that featured her more prominently. If a few voters there wind up thinking she’s the one they’d be voting for in this race, that would not be a bad outcome.

3. Make sure the police and firefighters are invested in this runoff. Frazer’s campaign is in large part based on the need for drastic action on pensions; there’s not much space between him and King on this issue. The police and firefighters’ unions backed Sylvester Turner for Mayor, but (as far as I know) did not take a position in the Controller’s race. Brown seems like a much better fit for them in the runoff. They may be gearing up to act anyway, but I’d be sure to talk to them and try to get them involved.

As for Frazer, he’s the frontrunner and thus only needs two bullet points: Make sure Republicans know who he is, and otherwise keep on doing what he’s been doing, which is to focus on the issues as he defines them and his qualifications as a CPA. The bad news for Frazer is that the runoff electorate is likely to be more favorable for Democratic candidates. The good news is that there’s no guarantee that voters who supported Robinson or Boney will necessarily transfer for Brown – one possibility is that they vote for Turner and one or more of the African-American Council runoff candidates and then stop there; Robinson recently sent an email urging support for Georgia Provost, Amanda Edwards, and Sharon Moses, but didn’t mention the Controller’s race at all – but Khan voters ought to have a home with him. What he’s done so far, in 2013 and this year, has worked pretty well for him. Don’t overthink it, and don’t do anything stupid, that’s my advice.

8 day finance reports: Controller candidates

How about a look at the 8 day finance reports for Controller candidates? I figure if you’re reading this blog you won’t look at me funny when I say things like that, so here we go:


Candidate    Raised      Spent      Loans   On Hand
===================================================
Brown        46,375    151,848     30,000    12,067
Frazer       58,953    146,767     32,500    38,072
Khan         44,965    351,902    215,000    32,986
Robinson      6,375          0          0     1,151

Candidate    Advertising     Print/Mail
=======================================
Brown             99,600         34,600
Frazer            76,500         53,000
Khan             307,500         24,000

BagOfMoney

A few comments:

– Neither Dwight Jefferson nor Jew Don Boney have 8 day reports, or for that matter 30 day reports. I have no idea why this is the case. Carroll Robinson’s 8 day report does not list a total for expenses, and it has no itemization of contributions or expenses; there’s basically nothing after the initial cover page.

– Bill Frazer had $16,450 in in-kind contributions listed as “pro-rata share of mailer”, from the C Club and Houston Realty Business Coalition. $69,215 of his expenses were from personal funds, including $50,250 for advertising, $7,490 for “GOTV mailout printing”, and $9,747 for postage.

– 22 off MJ Khan’s 44 contributors gave non-Houston addresses. I think I’ve seen his circa-2009 ad and Chris Brown’s “high school swim team” ad more than any Mayoral candidate’s ads except for maybe Costello. Khan also spent $825 on Facebook ads, because why not?

I have not had the time or energy to do the same scrutiny on Council reports, but this Chron story provides a few highlights.

1. At-large 1: Candidates competing to replace term-limited Stephen Costello, who is running for mayor, dropped nearly $299,00 during the past month. The biggest spender was Tom McCasland, former CEO of the Harris County Housing Authority, whose political action committee dropped nearly $155,000. Mike Knox, who has positioned himself as the conservative candidate, spent $57,000 and Lane Lewis, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, spent $44,000.

2. At-large 4: In another competitive at-large race, seven candidates combined spent $252,000. Amanda Edwards, a municipal finance lawyer, has significantly outpaced competitors in spending, dropping $208,000.

4. At-large 2: Incumbent David Robinson and four contenders spent a combined $147,000. Challenger Eric Dick, a lawyer and former mayoral candidate, shelled out the most, spending almost $75,000. Robinson spent more than $47,000.

Since they didn’t go into it, I will note that in At Large #3, CM Kubosh spent about $28K, while Doug Peterson and John LaRue combined to spend about $12K; in At Large #5, CM Christie spent $60K, while Philippe Nassif spent $13K. I know I’ve received some mail from Amanda Edwards (and also received a mailer yesterday from Chris Brown), as well as two robocalls from Eric Dick and – this is the strangest thing I’ve experienced this campaign – a robocall from “former Houston Rocket Robert Reid on behalf of [his] good friend Griff Griffin”. Who knew Griff even did campaigning? Not that this appeared anywhere on his finance report, as either an expense or an in-kind donation, of course. Let’s not go overboard, you know. Anyway, if you look at the 2015 Election page, you will see that as with the Controllers, several At Large candidates have not filed 8 day reports. James Partsch-Galvan and Joe McElligott have filed no reports; Moe Rivera and Jonathan Hansen have not filed 30 Day or 8 Day reports; Jenifer Pool filed an 8 day but not a 30 day; and Larry Blackmon and Brad Batteau filed 30 day reports but not 8 day reports. It’s possible some of these may turn up later, so I’ll keep looking for them. I’m working on the district reports as well and will list them as I can.

30 day finance reports, citywide races

Here’s a brief summary of the 30 Day campaign finance reports that I’ve been able to find, some of which are on this page and some of which are findable via the normal campaign finance report website, and all of which are collected on my Election 2015 page. First up, the Mayoral candidates:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Bell 126,563 240,035 0 91,901 Costello 266,845 871,109 90,000 696,539 Garcia 584,916 1,060,457 0 831,284 Hall 57,859 111,417 850,000 758,618 King 284,031 626,621 650,000 322,474 McVey Turner 526,516 1,265,239 0 507,099 Ferreira Lane 11,105 14,467 9,000 5,457 Munoz Nguyen 150 0 5,000 150 Smith Steffes

I’ve separated the “real” candidates from the “minor” candidates. Marty McVey did file a 30-day report but the totals on cover sheet page 2 are wrong; the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott did the pencil work to tot things up if you’re interested. Neither Sylvester Turner nor Adrian Garcia slowed down after their torrid initial pace, thought both Steve Costello and Bill King weren’t as prolific. On the spending side, I’ve seen plenty of Costello ads on my TV lately, as well as a handful of Turner ads; Turner has been all over my Internet, but all of the “real” candidates minus Hall have had multiple sponsored Facebook posts on my feed. I keep wondering when I’m going to see an Adrian Garcia ad on the tube.

The Controllers:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Boney Brown 42,820 181,923 0 106,165 Frazer 58,375 80,377 32,500 58,293 Jefferson Khan 84,950 5,495 5,100 81,290 Robinson 14,050 17,556 0 1,527

No report as yet from Jew Don Boney or Dwight Jefferson. That’s a pretty decent haul for MJ Khan given how late he entered the race. He also had an ad running during the fourth quarter of the Monday Night Football game between the Steelers and Chargers. I’m about 99% certain it was a rerun of one of his Controller ads from 2009. I’ve seen several Chris Brown ads on TV, but nothing from anyone else. Brown, Bill Frazer, and Carroll Robinson have been in my Facebook feeds.

At Large races:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Griffin 1,000 1,600 0 895 Knox 22,940 11,370 0 9,349 Lewis 40,164 64,479 100 48,803 McCasland 60,978 33,222 0 112,443 Oliver 9,400 7,840 0 25,230 PartschGalvan Pool Provost 1,956 6,841 0 543 Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Burks 2,525 1,906 0 618 Davis 7,000 662 0 7,000 Dick 0 103,772 0 0 Rivera Robinson 27,596 40,188 0 121,348 Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Kubosh 39,025 46,255 25,000 41,306 LaRue 13,250 4,524 0 8,725 McElligott Peterson 10,225 9,886 0 2,271 Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Blackmon 27,285 34,500 0 0 Edwards 131,417 61,327 0 191,445 Hansen Morales 17,495 30,042 2,200 3,786 Murphy 670 5,125 14,045 167 Robinson 29,050 25,923 15,040 35,886 Thompson 0 1,850 0 0 Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand =================================================== Batteau 0 0 0 0 Christie 33,202 50,153 0 84,899 Moses 550 1,418 0 0 Nassif 29,690 27,558 0 14,368 Tahir

Candidates with blanks next to their names had no reports I could find. I’ve given some details in the posts about the At Large #4 and At Large #1 races, and Greg covered some of this ground last week. I like to think of campaign finance reports as being one part about who people want to see win, and one part about who (some other) people think actually will win. To whatever extent that holds true, you can see who the betting favorites are. It’s not destiny, of course – as I said, it’s more like Vegas – but it does tell you something. What are your guesses for these races? Leave a comment and let us know.

Your official slate of candidates

Yesterday was the filing deadline. Here’s the official list of candidates, modulo any challenges or subsequently invalidated applications. The highlights:

– There are thirteen candidates for Mayor. The City Secretary might consider starting the ballot order draw now, this may take awhile.

– Dwight Boykins in D, Dave Martin in E, and Larry Green in K are the only incumbents not to draw opponents. No new contenders emerged in G or H.

– Kendall Baker became the third candidate in District F. Here’s a reminder about who he is.

– Former HCC Trustee Herlinda Garcia filed against CM Robert Gallegos in I. She was appointed to the HCC board in 2013 to fill Mary Ann Perez’s seat after having served before, and was supported in the 2013 runoff by Dave Wilson.

– Frequent commenter Manuel Barrera filed in District J, joining Jim Bigham and some other dude against CM Mike Laster. You can search for his name in the archives here. I think we have our 2015 vintage “straight slate”.

– Former District A candidate Mike Knox is in for At Large #1, and performance artist Eric Dick has graced us with his presence in At Large #2. Again, “straight slate”.

– I am disappointed but not terribly surprised to see that Durrel Douglas did not file in At Large #5. He hadn’t filed a July finance report, and as far as I could tell had not screened for endorsements. I know he’s been spending a lot of time in Waller County and working with the Houston Justice Coalition on the Sandra Bland case. Sometimes the time isn’t right.

– Former District F Council Member and 2009 Controller candidate MJ Khan filed for Controller. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m guessing Bill Frazer isn’t thrilled by it.

– Here’s the Chron story, which includes the HISD candidates. The main point of interest there is former Trustee Diana Davila running for her old seat in District 8, against Trustee Juliet Stipeche.

That’s all I know for now. I’ll be updating the 2015 Election page over the next couple of days to get all the changes in. We’ll see if anything else shakes out. What are your impressions of the candidate list?

July finance reports for area State House candidates

Here’s a brief look at the July campaign finance reports for candidates in area State House races of interest.

HD23 Raised Spent Cash Loan Wayne Faircloth 8,320 31,139 36,655 30,000 Bill Wallace 0 0 507 20,500 Craig Eiland 0 0 30,160 0 Craig Eiland 57,770 80,685 74,922 0

Faircloth and Wallace are in a runoff to take on Rep. Craig Eiland, whose red-leaning district is a rare pickup opportunity for the GOP. Bear in mind that candidates who had a competitive primary had to make an 8 day report for it, so their reporting period began May 21. Candidates like Eiland that had no primary opponents last reported in January, so they had much more time to raise funds for this report. If you’re wondering why Eiland is listed twice, it’s because he has both a regular candidate/officeholder report and a specific purpose committee report.

HD26 Jacquie Chaumette 16,461 35,730 39,079 0 Rick Miller 19,312 10,281 12,262 1,000 Vy Nguyen 6,150 1,008 7,650 0

HD26 was not drawn to be a competitive district, but it could become one after the DC court issues its long-awaited redistricting opinion. Vy Nguyen has been in this race from the beginning, however many maps ago that was, and I believe will do better than the district’s numbers predict. She’s smart and energetic and has a good future.

HD85 Phil Stephenson 3,925 21,965 3,127 20,000 Dora Olivo 4,312 2,349 3,991 2,150

The new Fort Bend district that spreads southwest into Wharton and Jackson Counties doesn’t seem to have drawn much financial interest so far. Olivo is a former State Rep who was defeated in the 2010 primary by Rep. Ron Reynolds and should have some fundraising capability, but a brief look through some previous report suggests this was not a strong suit of hers.

HD134 Sarah Davis 75,593 75,836 99,603 0 Ann Johnson 161,389 15,985 138,837 0

Once again a marquee race for Harris County. I have to say, Davis’ totals are distinctly unimpressive, and her burn rate is potentially troublesome for her. Lot of money spent on consultants and printing. Mostly, I’m stunned by her relatively meager haul, less than half of what challenger Ann Johnson took in. Maybe I’m just used to the prodigious totals that her predecessors, Ellen Cohen and Martha Wong, used to rack up. Both of them eventually lost, so consider this Exhibit A for “Money Isn’t Everything”, but it’s still strange to see a targeted incumbent get doubled up by a challenger. I can’t wait to see what the 30 Day reports will look like in this one.

HD137 MJ Khan 9,700 649 15,689 10,000 Gene Wu 40,157 39,895 40,310 50,000 Jamaal Smith 23,545 12,546 13,705 0

Like I said before, I don’t quite get what MJ Khan is doing. Maybe he’s just keeping his powder dry, I don’t know. I still don’t think state issues are a driving passion for him. We’ll see.

HD144 David Pineda 38,500 21,593 27,802 0 Mary Ann Perez 47,803 20,283 57,254 0

This may be the most competitive races in the state, with both parties getting their strongest candidate for November. One thing I’ve been meaning to comment on but haven’t gotten around to yet is Mary Ann Perez‘s amazing showing on Election Day in May. She collected 67% of the vote on E-Day, more than half of her final total, to vault past the 50% mark in her three-candidate race and avoid a runoff. Whatever she had going for a ground game, it worked. I suspect a good ground operation will be key in November as well.

That’s all I’ve got. Texas on the Potomac has the local Congressional roundup, Kos has a national view, and I’ll take a look at county reports in a separate post.

When is a filing deadline not a filing deadline?

Answer: When there will be another filing period after the filing deadline, as will be the case in Texas, according to the Secretary of State.

“Based on the federal court’s order handed down December 16, candidates will be permitted to file when the filing period reopens on a date yet to be determined and set to close, again by the federal court’s order, on February 1, 2012,” said Secretary of State spokesman Rich Parsons.

I presume this only applies to the offices without districts, i.e., Congress, State Senate, and State House. Those of you looking to file for County Commissioner or some such, it’s now too late.

I have been informed that the second filing period, to begin on a date to be determined but to end no later than February 1, will be for all offices, not just those affected by the redistricting litigation. My apologies for the error.

The big news of the day is that Nick Lampson will saddle up again.

Nick’s back.

“I am. I have sent in the filing papers, so that means I am in the race (for the 14th Congressional District),” said Former Rep. Nick Lampson, 66, who held the Ninth Congressional District for eight years before redistricting split it up, putting Jefferson County and part of Orange County into the Second District along with a substantial chunk of Houston’s northern suburbs. Republican Ted Poe won the reconfigured Second District in 2004.

Also in the race are Beaumont attorneys Michael Truncale, 53, and Jay Old, 48, who both are running as Republicans, as well as a handful of other GOP contenders.

The latest round of redistricting hasn’t quite played out yet, but Lampson, a Democrat, was confident enough that the newly drawn 14th District will remain relatively stable, containing somewhere between 80-85 percent of the former Ninth District, that he was willing to throw his hat in the ring.

Expect there to be a lot of money in that race. It’s winnable for a Democrat, and Lampson is the best person for that job. Welcome back, Rep. Lampson.

Meanwhile, Democrats also now have a candidate for Senate who can claim to be someone some people might have heard of, former State Rep. Paul Sadler.

Sadler served as chairman of the House Public Education Committee and played a major role in passage of several key education laws from 1995 through 2001.

“I decided to run because Texas needs an advocate who can put the good of the state ahead of all else,” said Sadler, an attorney and current executive director of The Wind Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes use of wind as an energy source. “Like all Texans I am disgusted by the gridlock in Washington. I have a solid record of working with members of both parties to accomplish legislation that improves the lives and education of our children and all Texans.” Sadler represented an East Texas House district.

Best I recall he was a pretty decent fellow. He ran for SD01 in a special election to replace the retiring Bill Ratliff in 2003 and lost 52-48 in the runoff to Sen. Kevin Eltife. I doubt he has any more potential to win than Gen. Sanchez did, but he’s someone who has successfully run for public office before. He’s the frontrunner for my vote in the primary.

There were three new filings for the Lege in Harris County yesterday: Cody Pogue in HD127, Paul Morgan in HD135, and Sarah Winkler in HC137. Someone had left a comment recently asking where all the longshot candidacies were, well, those first two would qualify for that. As for Winkler, she’s a trustee in Alief ISD – I interviewed her in 2009 when she last ran for re-election. Her entrance makes HD137 a four-candidate race, with all four being good quality.

Unfortunately, there are also a couple of lemons on the ballot as well. A perennial candidate who has mostly filed as a Republican in races past is in for SD07; I’m not naming him because he has a history of harassing behavior. Popping up like a pimple in Precinct 4 is hatemeister Dave Wilson, filing for the second election in a row for County Commissioner. He was booted from the ballot last time for having an invalid residential address; I’m not sure where the ensuing litigation now stands, but with any luck he’ll be thrown off again. Even if he isn’t, the good news is that this time he’s not alone – in a deliciously ironic twist, former HGLBT Political Caucus Chair Sean Carter Hemmerle filed to run as well. Don’t let me down here, Precinct 4 voters.

I mostly haven’t paid much attention to the GOP filings in Harris County, as I’m not that interested in them, but with the “deadline” having passed I thought I’d take a peek and see who’s doing what to whom. Here are the highlights:

Senate: With the addition of the gentleman from ESPN, there are now ten candidates for KBH’s soon-to-be-vacated seat, a few of whom you’re familiar with. One recent entrant is 2008 HD134 candidate Joe Agris, who has apparently decided to go the Grandma Strayhorn route and call himself “Doc Joe” Agris. My guess is the end result will be approximately the same.

Congress: Kevin Brady, Mike McCaul, and Pete Olsen have primary challengers. Two-time loser John Faulk has not filed for CD18, with Sean Siebert taking his place as the designated sacrificial lamb. State Sen. Mike Jackson has six opponents for CD36, while three people I’ve never heard of are running for CD34. My guess is that the A-listers are waiting to see what SCOTUS does before hopping in.

Judiciary: A couple of old familiar names pop up on the Supreme Court ballot: Steven Wayne Smith, who ousted Xavier Rodriguez in 2002, was ousted by Paul Green in 2004, and lost to Don Willett in 2006, is back to challenge Willett again. Rodriguez, of course, went on to a federal bench, and was one of the three judges in the San Antonio redistricting case, who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. (I’m assuming this is Steven Wayne Smith – the Harris GOP website simply says “Steve Smith”.) Also making like a zombie is John Devine, wingnut former occupant of a Harris County bench who went on to lose races for County Attorney and CD10. He’s one of two people running against Justice David Medina. Ken Law gets to be the 2012 test of “Can a guy with a nice, easy, Anglo name knock off an incumbent Latino Republican in a primary even if the entire GOP establishment is against him” as he goes against Perry-appointed Judge Elsa Alcala on the Court of Criminal Appeals. CCA Judge Larry Meyers is also taking another crack at Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. In Harris County, several judges who lost in 2008 are seeking rematches, including Jeff Hastings, John Coselli, Lamar McCorkle, Roger Bridgwater, Tad Halbach, and Brock Thomas.

SBOE: As noted before, Terri Leo is stepping down in District 6. Donna Bahorich is unopposed for the nomination to succeed her. Barbara Cargill has a challenger in District 8.

The Lege: State Rep. Larry Taylor has two opponents for SD11, which is being vacated by Sen. Jackson. Five Republican incumbent House members have primary opponents – Dan Huberty (HD127), John Davis (HD129), Bill Callegari (HD132), Jim Murphy (HD133), and Debbie Riddle (HD150). I can only shudder to think what a challenge from Riddle’s right might look like. There are still four people listed for HD136, including former Council Member Pam Holm, even though that district was eliminated by the San Antonio court. You never know what SCOTUS will do, of course. The most interesting name for a Democratic-held seat is another former Council member, MJ Khan, who is vying for the open HD137. Seems unlikely to me that the court will rule in a way to make both of these candidacies valid, but again, you never know.

County: We already knew that DA Pat Lykos and Tax Assessor Don Sumners had company. So do looney-tunes HCDE Trustee Michael Wolfe and newly-appointed County Commissioner Jack Cagle, who has two opponents in his primary. There are three candidates for the open HCDE Precinct 3 seat, with two others running to be the candidate who gets crushed in Precinct 1 in Roy Morales’ place. Finally, there are eight candidates for Sheriff, including 2004 Democratic nominee for Sheriff Guy Robert Clark, who also lost in the 2008 Dem primary to Sheriff Adrian Garcia. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, I guess.

Finally, both the HCDP and the Harris County GOP will have contested elections for Party Chair, as Lane Lewis and current GOP Chair Jared Woodfill drew last-day opponents. Keryl Douglas, the subject of that “draft” movement I mentioned before, will oppose Lewis, while Woodfill will face someone named Paul Simpson. I know basically nothing about either person, but I do know I’ll be voting for Lewis to be interim Chair at tonight’s CEC meeting.

That’s all I’ve got. Let me know what I missed. PDiddie and Texas Politics have more, and be sure to see the Texas Tribune and TDP pages for any other blanks to be filled.

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, 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.

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.

Eight days out finance reports, Green and Khan

We’ve seen the eight days out finance reports for the Mayor’s race, now here’s the same thing for the Controller’s race. As before, the campaign finance spreadsheet has been updated with all of the raw data. Here’s how it breaks down for Ronald Green and MJ Khan:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Green 76,273 71,418 0 40,269 30,158 39.5% Khan 182,740 229,593 75,000 57,220 49,750 27.2% Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Green 0 2,000 45,117 1,930 2,200 Khan 70,264 625 96,588 0 16,619

Looking at this, you’d almost wonder how it is there’s any doubt about who ought to win. It still boggles my mind that Green has had such a weak fundraising track record, but there you have it. He has done a lot better this time around, with some help from various PACs, and more donations from current and former officeholders and candidates than I’ve seen for anyone else. Here are some of the people you know who have donated to Ronald Green:

Jarvis Johnson – $100
Pam Holm – $600 (in kind, radio ad)
Gerald Birnberg – $500
Garnet Coleman – $1000
Peter Brown – $3000
Peter Brown – $185.06 (in kind, food for breakfast)
Kristi Thibaut – $1000
Carol Alvarado – $500
Zinetta Burney – $50
David Mincberg – $500
Borris Miles – $1000
Morris Overstreet – $100

The Pam Holm in kind donation stems from an incident before the general election (the donation is dated October 30) in which Holm had a date to appear on KCOH and challenged Green to come on the air with her to discuss his tax issues. According to Keir Murray, with whom I inquired about this item, since Green repeatedly asked listeners to vote for him, and since Holm had paid for the radio time, they felt obligated to report it as an in kind donation. Sometimes, I really love politics. Anyway, I note that even though Holm endorsed Khan, she has not given him any money. Neither had any other elected official, as far as I could see. I don’t know that it matters, but I thought it was interesting.

Khan’s strategy appears to be what it was in the general, which is to boost his name recognition as much as possible. He’s also started attacking Green over his tax issues in the mail he’s sent out, according to what I’ve heard – I’ve not received one of Khan’s mailers myself. As noted before, he has a lot of paid field workers, too. He has to do all this because he’s not fighting on a level playing field. As we know, while Khan does very well among Republican voters, there are a lot more Democrats actually voting, and he needs to hold his losses there in order to win.

The flip side of that is Green’s strategy, which is largely to remind Democratic voters which candidate is on which team. I got a Green mailer last week that was mostly positive about him, but also had a bit that highlighted Khan’s GOP credentials. The message is pretty clear, and so is the need for it to work for Green. I still think he’s the favorite to win, but if you’d told me a year ago it was going to be this hard for him, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Next up, a peek at the Council reports. Let me know what you think.

Parker leads in another poll

It’s a Zogby poll, so don’t get too excited, but that’s still four out of four since Election Day.

While the race for Houston mayor remains too close to call, Parker’s 5.5 percentage point lead stems from advantages among several demographics, including women, whites, Hispanics and self-identified independent voters.

Parker leads with 41.9 percent of the vote, followed by Locke’s 36.4 percent, according to the poll conducted last week by Zogby International. Nearly 18 percent of likely voters remain undecided in the contest, a sign of how fluid the race remains just days before the campaign will come to an end.

“There’s a huge pool of undecided voters and the real question now is which way they split or whether they vote at all,” said John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, which conducted the poll last week for the Chronicle.

[…]

The results are drawn from a survey of 601 likely Houston voters selected randomly from purchased telephone lists of registered voters. The margin of error is 4.1 percentage points.

OK, here’s the thing. By this point, we have a pretty strong idea about who is actually participating in this election, and who is not. According to the analysis Kyle Johnston has done, 92% of the people who had voted through the first five days of early voting were people who had voted in at least two of the last three general elections. As such, any sample that doesn’t match this just isn’t going to be accurate. I seriously doubt there are that many undecideds among those who really are going to vote.

Now, I don’t know which candidate would benefit from a truer sample of likely voters, though I’m sure both of the campaigns themselves do. It may be that it all comes out in the wash. But I just don’t get the reluctance, if that’s what it is, of pollsters like Zogby to pre-screen in a more realistic manner. I mean, it’s not like this runoff is out of line with others in terms of who is voting in it. Even if I’m wrong about it not exceeding the general election turnout, we’re still talking something like 20% participation. Why wouldn’t you try to be more selective in who you poll? I just don’t get it.

The crosstabs for this poll are here. As it happens, again going by the Johnston numbers, Zogby is reasonably accurate with some subgroups, less so with others. He’s got about the right number of Republicans and African-Americans, for example, but he’s oversampled Hispanics and Independents, and undersampled Democrats and Anglos. Again, I can’t really say how that might affect this result, but I do think it’s skewed the other race they polled:

In the city controller’s race, City Councilman M.J. Khan leads with 35.4 percent of the vote to his fellow Councilman Ronald Green’s 29.5 percent, with 34.5 percent of voters still undecided.

Khan dominates among Republicans, Green is somewhat less dominant but still strong among Dems, and Khan has a tiny lead among indies. Having more Dems and fewer indies would make this race appear closer, perhaps putting Green in a slight lead. Zogby has it at 43.5D/35.5R/21.0I, when in reality 57% of early voters have a Democratic primary voting history, 32% have a GOP primary voting history, and 11% have no primary voting history. It may be that the runoff is like the general, in that a greater share of Republicans turn out on Election Day than they did during early voting. But I think that was caused in part by the late push from the Harris County GOP for Roy Morales, which I believe turned a number of undecided voters who may have otherwise stayed home into Morales supporters. I say that because of Roy’s third place finish on Election Day itself, where he surpassed Peter Brown. Without a Republican candidate in the Mayor’s race, will there be a similar surge for the runoff? Maybe, but it seems doubtful.

The effect on this in the Mayor’s race is more nebulous. Locke actually led by a tiny amount among Dems, due to his strong lead among African-Americans. Parker led among Anglos, Hispanics, Republicans, and Independents. Replacing some indies and Hispanics with Anglo Dems would likely leave her in about the same position. Hard to say for certain, though.

Anyway. The poll that really matters is going on right now, and we’ll know soon enough whether or not Zogby did any better guessing this outcome than he did the one in November. Martha and Erik have more.

What the others are saying about Hotze’s endorsement

So here’s the Chron coverage of the Hotze endorsement. Of the many things I find unfathomable about this, here’s the item at the top of the list.

Kris Banks, president of Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus, which has endorsed Parker, questioned why Locke did not distance himself from Hotze.

“He came to us seeking our endorsements, saying he thinks same-sex couples should have legal recognition and the city should have domestic partnerships,” Banks said in a statement to the Chronicle. “I cannot believe he has not repudiated this piece yet. It’s very disappointing and makes us question his ability to treat all Houstonians with respect.”

Martha has examined Locke’s earnestly pro-gay rights answers on candidate questionnaires before. What I want to know is, when Locke met with Hotze and asked for his endorsement, did Hotze know or care about any of that? Or was the fact that Locke wasn’t the gay candidate good enough for him? I know, I know, I cannot understand the logic of a madman like Hotze. But I’d like to understand Locke’s logic. How could he think this was okay? I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.

Anyway. How about the other “beneficiaries” of Hotze’s curse blessing? We already know about Stephen Costello, who quickly rejected Hotze’s endorsement. I’ve seen some of my compatriots be cynical of that, and while I understand that sentiment, I don’t share it. I give Costello full marks for doing the right thing.

Councilman M.J. Khan, who faces fellow councilman Ronald Green in a runoff for City Controller, said he had never been interviewed or screened by anyone associated with Hotze. Khan said he wants the support of all Houstonians, but rejects intolerance and wants to be judged solely on his record and qualifications.

[…]

[Jack] Christie, who is challenging Councilwoman Jolanda Jones for the council’s at-large 5 seat, said that when he found out about Hotze’s intentions to send an endorsement mailer, he called Bruce Hotze, Steven’s brother, and told him he did not want to be included.

I give Christie an A, too. Khan’s response is weaker, but if he really never did meet with Hotze then it’s still better than Locke’s. See how easy this is if you never dance with the devil in the first place?

Al Hoang, who is locked in a runoff for District F with Mike Laster, said he was proud to have Hotze’s endorsement. Andrew C. Burks, who is running against Councilwoman Sue Lovell, said he welcomed anyone’s endorsement in the race.

I was always supporting Mike Laster, who’s a great guy and someone I’ve been acquainted with for years, but in case you needed a reason, there you have it. As for Burks, all I can say is that this is exactly the kind of response I’d expect from a perennial candidate. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Brenda Stardig, who is running for an open seat in District A against Lane Lewis and also was endorsed by Hotze, could not be reached for comment.

Maybe she has a secret plan to deal with it. I kid, but apparently Stardig will be a no-show at the candidate forum this evening, so she’s not making herself very visible right now.

Controller’s runoff overview

Here’s the Chron overview of the Controller’s runoff. Two points of interest to note. One is what presence, if any, the two candidates will have on the airwaves.

Tactically, both campaigns said they intend to focus on direct-mail, block-walking and other field operations and will produce TV ads if they raise enough money to do so. Campaign finance reports show that [Ronald] Green had raised about $128,000 and had about $38,000 on hand as of late October; [MJ] Khan had raised about $139,000 and had $31,000 on hand.

We’ll get to see the eight days out reports on Friday, so we ought to have an idea then if either one’s hope to get on TV is realistic. I believe Khan’s TV advertising, and the fact that he was the only one of the Controller candidates to really do any TV advertising, was a big factor in getting him into the runoff. I don’t know if any of that will carry over in the absence of further ads or if a new round will be needed.

Khan’s wife owns a 10,000-square-foot house in Piney Point Village, a small Memorial area municipality, with a market value estimated at almost $3.8 million by the Harris County Appraisal District. Khan and his wife jointly own a southwest Houston condominium valued at $77,000, which Khan says is his residence.

Yeah, I’d totally live by myself in the dinky condo instead of with my wife in the multimillion dollar mansion, too. As you know, I don’t consider residency issues too greatly when it comes to evaluating candidates. Khan’s setup certainly meets the legal requirements. But when you put it this way it really does look ridiculous.

The HCRP view of the candidates

Here, in PDF format, you will find a copy of the mailer that Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill sent out to his flock before the election. In it you will find three things of interest. One is all the ads several candidates reported spending $5000 on. Another is the official endorsement that Roy Morales got from them; he’s the only one whom they endorsed, at least at that time. They may not have trumpeted it on the internets, but they did make their feelings known the old-fashioned way. Finally, there’s the 16-question “How much do you agree with our positions?” test, which some candidates answered but quite a few did not. For the runoff elections, here’s how many questions the candidates got “right” from the GOP’s perspective:

Annise Parker – 8 out of 16
Gene Locke – Did not respond
(For comparison, Roy got all 16 “right”. Peter Brown did not respond.)

MJ Khan – 16 out of 16
Ronald Green – Did not respond
(Pam Holm got all 16 “right”.)

Stephen Costello – 4 out of 16
Karen Derr – Did not respond

Andrew Burks – 14 out of 16
Sue Lovell – Did not respond
(Griff Griffin got 14 out of 16. Keep that in mind the next time he’s on the ballot.)

Jack Christie – 12 out of 16
Jolanda Jones – Did not respond

For the two district races (A and F), only Al Hoang (16 out of 16) responded.

You can make of this whatever you want, I’m just presenting it. From my perspective, some of the questions are inconsequential, while others are very much not. Read through the questions and answers and see for yourself what you think.

Brown for Parker, Holm for Khan

As expected, Peter Brown endorsed Annise Parker for Mayor in the runoff.

In a news conference on the steps of City Hall, Brown today announced that he would be casting his vote for Parker in the runoff election December 12 and he asked all his supporters, friends and family to do the same.

Brown said: “One candidate stands out with a 12-year proven track record of public service, particularly in terms of efficient, transparent government, the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and fiscal responsibility, especially important in these difficult economic times.“

Brown also encouraged all of his “supporters, friends, and all who believe in the enormous potential of our great city” to join Parker’s campaign.

“I am proud to accept this endorsement from Peter Brown,” said Parker. “Councilmember Brown has dedicated his life to improving the quality of life in Houston. I know his service to his community will continue and I look forward to working with him as Mayor.”

If I hadn’t known this was coming, I’d have gotten a pretty good hint after receiving two press releases from the Gene Locke campaign, one touting the endorsement of Bishop James Dixon (Community of Faith), Pastor D.Z. Cofield (Good Hope Baptist Church) and Pastor Emeritus William Lawson (Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church), all of whom had been Brown supporters in the first round, and one rapping Parker for accepting the endorsement of someone she’d been criticizing not long ago. I know, hard to believe such things happen in politics; I trust you can fetch your own smelling salts as needed. Had the shoe been on the other foot, I’m sure Locke would have happily accepted the endorsement of someone who had been busily trashing him in the closing weeks of the campaign, and Parker would have sent out a similar release pointing it out. It’s the circle of life, you know? Miya has more.

Also as expected, Pam Holm gave her endorsement to MJ Khan in the runoff for Controller. From his press release:

“M.J. Khan has shown that he has the knowledge and dedication to really be a strong voice for the taxpayers of Houston, as the next City Controller,” stated Pam Holm. “I have endorsed M.J. today because I know that he will lead the City in a fiscally responsible manner and help the City through these challenging times. I will support M.J. throughout this runoff election and let my supporters know that he is the candidate who can effectively serve the citizens of Houston as the watchdog of the city’s finances.”

Councilmember Holm is currently serving her third term on Houston City Council, representing District G. As a candidate for City Controller she campaigned for a clear path toward fiscal responsibility, emphasizing the need for increased transparency with the city’s finances

“I am both humbled and honored to receive the endorsement of Councilmember Holm. Her endorsement is a great boost to my campaign. Along the campaign trail she championed for transparency, smarter government and sound fiscal leadership. I plan to continue to carry that torch for her during this runoff election,” M.J. Khan stated. “As the campaign moves forward we are garnering more and more support and with the endorsement of Councilmember Holm we are building an even stronger base of support.”

Khan’s presser followed Parker and Brown’s, and was followed by Locke’s all in front of the reflection pool. If the city charged rent for using the steps to City Hall for this sort of thing, we’d have this budget shortfall solved already.

Khan has an announcement

Council Member and candidate for Controller MJ Khan has an announcement to make tomorrow. From his press release:

Who: Councilman M.J. Khan, Candidate for Houston City Controller

What: Press Conference on a major announcement from the M.J. Khan for City Controller campaign.

When: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (after City Council has adjourned)

Where: Steps of Houston City Hall
901 Babgy
Houston, TX 77002

Info: Natural light and sound

I suppose that last bit is for the TV folks. My guess is that he’ll be announcing Pam Holm’s endorsement. I can’t think of anything else offhand that’s likely to occur and would qualify as a “major” announcement. No, these things are not automatic – remember, Sylvester Turner never endorsed Bill White even though you might have thought that would be natural for him to do. I could be wrong – he could just be announcing some other Republican endorsements, which may or may not be truly press conference-worthy. Or he could surprise me and announce the support of some high-profile Democrat, or some other members of Council. But if I had to place a bet, it would be on a Holm endorsement. We’ll know soon enough.

Speaking of endorsements, the HCDP made its endorsements for the runoffs. From their Facebook page:

The Harris County Democratic Party is proud to announce that it has endorsed the following candidates in the City of Houston Runoff Election, which will be held on Saturday, December 12, 2009:

RONALD GREEN for Houston City Comptroller
KAREN DERR for Houston City Council Member, At Large Place 1
JOLANDA (“JO”) JONES for Houston City Council Member, At Large Place 5
LANE LEWIS for Houston City Council Member, District A
MIKE LASTER for Houston City Council Member, District F

In the interest of party unity, the Steering Committee of the Harris County Democratic Party has elected to refrain from making an endorsement in races where two Democrats are running against each other.

In the citywide races and in District F (which you may recall voted strongly Democratic in 2008) this makes a lot of sense; it’s less clear you want to partisanize things in District A, but you do want to make sure your voters get out, so there you have it. As you’ve seen in the Controller’s race and will see tomorrow in the At Large races, improving performance in the core Democratic districts will be key to winning for them.

Precinct analysis: The City Controller race

Here are my numbers. As before, for maps, go see what Greg‘s got.

Dist Green Khan Holm ============================= A 4,685 6,750 7,125 B 7,483 3,329 1,362 C 7,356 7,494 6,332 D 13,410 4,673 3,047 E 5,133 7,684 6,633 F 2,403 4,171 1,975 G 4,908 8,446 16,733 H 4,879 4,236 2,973 I 3,725 2,708 1,510

One of the reasons why I thought Pam Holm would make it to a runoff, and why I thought MJ Khan had no chance to do so, is because there are so many more voters in District G than there are in District F. Indeed, Holm built up a huge lead in G, and had a small advantage in neighboring District A, but it wasn’t enough. She ran third in all six non-Republican districts, while Khan carried districts C and E in addition to his home district F, and ran second everywhere else, including in Fort Bend. I have to assume his TV advertising paid off for him; unlike the Mayor’s race, where Peter Brown’s air assault wasn’t enough to get him into the runoff, this race featured three far less known candidates, only one of which spent any significant amount on TV. The boost I presume he got in name recognition, with no countervailing forces from Holm and Green, propelled him forward. I don’t know why Holm didn’t spend more of her money on TV. She still had over $130K in her treasury as of the 8 days out report, and spent less than half of what Khan did ($380K to $160K) in the period. This strikes me as a critical mistake on her part.

As for Ronald Green, he did about as well as Gene Locke in District B, once you factor in the 15% undervote in the Controller’s race, and he did better in District D. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Khan’s first place showing in C, not to mention his strong second place finishes in H and I, should be a loud blaring klaxon that he needs to shore up his support among Anglo and Hispanic Democratic voters. With Holm’s support in the Republican districts likely to transfer to Khan, and with Khan’s strength in F (though I note he didn’t get a majority there), Green can’t take anything for granted. He needs to raise some money quickly, and to remind the Inner Loop folks that he’s their guy. I believe there will be another 8 days out report for the runoff, so we’ll have some idea if he’s doing that or not. If he continues to coast, I believe he will lose.

Next up: City Council At Large races.

Six questions for the runoffs

Six questions that I can think of, anyway.

1. What will Peter do?

Will Peter Brown endorse someone in the runoff? If so, how vigorously does he support that person? He’s in a position to have an effect on the outcome if he chooses to do so. What will he do?

His won’t be the only endorsement that will be sought out and may make a difference. As you know, I don’t think Roy’s voters will be inclined to come back out in December, but I could be wrong about that. It is worth wondering what, if anything, Roy will do at this point. Beyond that, will Pam Holm pick a side in the Controller’s runoff? So far she hasn’t, but that could certainly change. Will the Democrats who sided with Herman Litt or Rick Rodriguez reposition themselves in At Large #1? Will Linda Toyota back a candidate in HISD I? Not all endorsements matter, and of those that do, some count for more than others. I believe these count for something, and I expect there’s a lot of inter-campaign conversation going on right now.

2. Where’s the money?

Gene Locke reported $391,969.75 on hand in his eight days out report. Parker had $83,229.73. I strongly suspect both of them are running lower than that now, and needless to say neither can write their own check. How much fundraising can they do over the next (say) three weeks, and which one can get back on the air first? What’s their plan to get their voters out if they can’t afford airtime?

3. What about the Republicans?

I estimate Roy won something like 55-60% of the Republican vote in this election, based on the fact that folks with a Republican primary history made up about 31% of early voters, and that Roy did better on Election Day (22.86%) than he did in early voting (15.37%). That’s a significant bloc if they decide they have a preference for one or the other remaining candidates. It doesn’t come without risk, however – there are still way more Democratic voters in this city, and a high-profile embrace of Roy might turn some of them off. There have been rumors for a couple of weeks that the likes of Steven Hotze and Dan Patrick will stump for Locke. I have no idea if there’s any truth to that, but it would very much be a double-edged sword for him. I can’t think of a better way to fire up Parker’s supporters than that.

Republicans may aim a little lower and try to win the Controller’s office, while knocking off incumbent Council member Jolanda Jones. Both are doable, though I don’t think either will be easy. They may also work to hold MJ Khan’s District F seat by supporting Al Hoang against Mike Laster. I consider Brenda Stardig the favorite to win against Lane Lewis in District A, but if there’s little Republican interest at the top of the ticket, Lewis may get some coattails from the dual Democratic Mayoral campaigns.

4. How negative are things going to get?

Hard to say. While all of the Mayoral candidates attacked each other, the main image I have of negativity is Brown’s ad campaign against Locke. You figure Parker and Locke have to attack each other, it’s just a question of how and how much. I will say this, since several people have asked me about it: I don’t expect Parker’s sexuality to be any more of an issue in the runoff than it was in the general. For one, that’s not who Gene Locke is, and for two, I don’t think it would be a successful strategy.

Similarly in the Controller’s race, the main source of attack ads is now out. Does Khan pick up the theme from Holm, or does he decide she didn’t gain anything from it and stick to his “I’m the most qualified” theme? For that matter, does Green bring up the residency issue against Khan? I think if the one happens then the other does, but it’s not clear if the one happens, or which campaign shoots first.

I definitely expect some negativity in the Council races, where a last minute attack on Sue Lovell may have helped keep her below 50%. If Jack Christie, or someone on his behalf, doesn’t send out at least one mailer attacking Jolanda Jones, I’ll be shocked.

Finally, remember that negativity doesn’t mean lower turnout. If this election doesn’t drive a stake in the heart of the notion that voters are turned off by negative campaigns and prefer nice, quiet, issues-oriented ones, I don’t know what would.

5. Who will the Chron endorse?

Time to get off the fence, fellas. Who’s it gonna be, Parker or Locke, and how long will you make us wait? Will any other endorsing entity that declined to pick a side in the first go-round commit to one candidate or the other in overtime? My guess on the latter question is No, but surely the Chron won’t weasel out again. Or maybe they will, if their editorial board is sufficiently divided. I can’t wait to see what they do.

6. What will early voting look like?

As noted, 31% of all votes in Houston were cast early, which is a significant uptick from previous city elections. My guess is that an increasing number of the more habitual voters, who needless to say were the bulk of this electorate, have shifted their habits towards early voting. I would guess that a similar share of the runoff vote, perhaps more, will vote early.

Those are my questions. Prof. Murray has a few as well. What are yours?

UPDATE: I get some answers to one of my questions via press release from Karen Derr:

Candidate Karen Derr for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1 has received mounting support from a broad base of organizations and elected officials. Karen Derr has gained the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Democracy for Houston, and the Houston AFL-CIO. In addition, Karen Derr has also received the endorsements from State Representatives Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez.

The HGLBT Political Caucus endorsed Herman Litt in the first go-round; I’m not sure about the other groups offhand. But this is a pretty clear sign to me that much of Litt’s support will transfer to Derr.

The Controller’s race

I’m still somewhat amazed by this result.

City Councilman Ronald Green led a three-candidate field in the race for Houston city controller Tuesday and will face Councilman M.J. Khan in a Dec. 12 runoff.

Green, whose campaign appeared unharmed by last-minute anonymous phone calls warning Democrats against him, led comfortably for most of the evening and finished with 36 percent. Khan and Councilwoman Pam Holm jockeyed for second place as the returns came in, and Khan finished with 32.5 percent to Holm’s 31.2 percent — a difference of about 2,000 votes.

Last night, as Khan overtook Holm, I thought there might be a recount in this race. With a 2000 vote difference, however, that would clearly be a waste of time and money.

Green said he was looking forward to the runoff campaign.

“Of course, I would have preferred no runoff,” Green said. “But I’m going to run on my qualifications and I feel confident that I’ll be the next controller.”

Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 1985, said he never expected to finish first but picked up support as voters learned more about him. The engineer and real estate developer said he expects that trend to continue during the runoff campaign.

“I believe Houstonians will reward qualifications,” Khan said.

Two questions: Will Green try to raise some money and be more visible in the runoff? Will Khan get the local GOP establishment to back him? I believe this race is fundamentally the same as the Controller’s race was in the beginning, which is to say it’s Green’s to lose. I don’t think the runoff in F will be as big a boost to Khan’s chances as a runoff in G would have been for Holm’s, had it gone that way. The lack of a runoff in G helps Green. If I’m right about Roy’s voters sitting it out – and I note that Martha isn’t so sure about that – that helps Green as well. If the GOP gets its act together – having a chance to knock off Jolanda Jones as well as win this race ought to motivate them – that helps Khan. Khan had $31K on hand as of his 8 days out report, so at least this time they start out more or less even in the money department. That’s what I’ll be watching for the overtime period.

As for whether or not Pam Holm picks a side in the runoff, all I can say is that as yet, she has not done so. Click on to see an email she sent out yesterday morning on the race.

(more…)

Comparing Controller’s races

In 2009, we have a Controller’s race that features an At Large Council member, a Council member from a high-turnout, mostly white district, and Council member from a low-turnout, mostly non-white district. In 2003, we had a Controller’s race that featured an At Large Council member, a Council member from a high-turnout, mostly white district, and Council member from a low-turnout, mostly non-white district. I thought it might be interesting, if not necessarily instructive, to compare the races and see if we can learn anything. Here’s the data:

Year Candidate Votes Pct ================================= 1997 Tatro 6,449 23.19 1997 Parker 47,841 20.25 97 Runoff Tatro 15,739 56.25 97 Runoff Parker 139,787 57.45 1999 Tatro 12,349 57.64 1999 Parker 112,470 63.23 1999 Vasquez 5,418 36.70 99 Runoff Vasquez 4,055 60.59 2001 Tatro 15,811 56.52 2001 Parker 112,153 50.66 2001 Vasquez 11,248 100.00 2003 Tatro 52,258 20.40 2003 Parker 106,441 41.54 2003 Vasquez 30,319 11.83 2003 Holm 11,172 35.37 2003 Khan 4,096 37.55 2003 Green 53,163 31.20 03 Runoff Holm 18,411 50.04 03 Runoff Khan 6,889 53.31 03 Runoff Green 98,464 52.21 2005 Holm 22,500 100.00 2005 Khan 7,019 69.22 2005 Green 123,254 100.00 2007 Holm 14,733 100.00 2007 Khan 4,662 100.00 2007 Green 82,417 100.00

Couple points of interest. The 2009 Controller’s race has just the three term-limited Council members in it. The 2003 race had three other candidates – Gabe Vasquez, who as you can see was not term-limited that year, actually finished fourth, behind Mark Lee. Both Ronald Green and Annise Parker finished second in their initial races, then went on to win in the runoff. Parker had two opponents in 2001.

As for what it all means, well, the parallels are obvious, but I would not draw too much from them. Parker had a fair amount of money in 2003, more than Green has now, and she had three competitive elections going into her Controller’s race, where Green had only the first one. Tatro had money in 2003, but Holm and Khan have more. They’ve run aggressive campaigns, while Green has, um, not. Green and his tax issues have also presented a large target for his opponents, at which Pam Holm has gleefully aimed, with mailers, press releases, challenges to appear on the radio with her, and so forth. I don’t know who’s behind that robocall that trashes Green over this, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that have received it. And MJ Khan is out there, too, spending over $300K on TV, which is something Gabe Vasquez never did. This is just a very different race. I could try to come up with some mathematical relationship between all the numbers involved, beyond what you can plainly see, but I wouldn’t believe any of it. Consider them for entertainment purposes only.

“I don’t know” wins big!

Just as the Chron poll also asked about the Controller’s race, so did the recent KHOU poll, which went it one better and also asked about the At Large Council races. Not that this told us anything useful.

The poll, conducted by the Center for Civic Engagement at Rice University, reveals that registered Houston voters who describe themselves as likely to vote are unable to settle on a candidate in several major citywide races.

“Maybe what we’re seeing here is a complacency that leads to simply voting for incumbents,” said 11 News political expert Bob Stein, who conducted the poll. “Maybe complacency means simply not voting. And perhaps the turnout will be historically low.”

And maybe what we’re seeing is a bunch of people who have never voted in city elections but don’t want to admit that to a stranger on the telephone not having any idea about who to vote for in an election they weren’t going to participate in anyway. I mean, about 35,000 people in the city of Houston have already cast a ballot, which is maybe 15% of what the final turnout will be. These are people who know who they’re voting for. Maybe that’s who should be getting asked. I’m just saying.

Anyway. The poll has the Controller’s race as Green 12%, Khan 11%, and Holm 9%. None of the four contested Council races had as many as 20% of respondents give a definitive answer. I suppose you could say that C.O. Bradford, who had 11% to Noel Freeman’s 2%, and Council Member Jolanda Jones, with 11% to Jack Christie’s 3%, are “leading”, but I’d also say that as the sample of genuinely likely voters is probably a lot smaller than the number of people queried for this poll, the real margin of error is a lot higher than the 4.6% cited. Use these numbers at your own risk.

Eight days out: What the Controller candidates are spending their money on

You may recall I looked at how the Controller candidates were spending their money after the 30 day reports came out, and I figured I’d do it again with the 8 day reports. Along the way, I found a little surprise. I’ll get to that in a minute. Here we go:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Ronald Green 809.17 Printing Ronald Green 1,301.17 Printing Ronald Green 1,081.42 Door hangers Ronald Green 150.00 Ad (Riverside UMC) Ronald Green 16,573.30 Direct mail Ronald Green 16,573.30 Direct mail

Well, he’s sending mail. That’s something. And I even got one of his mailers yesterday. Progress! Anybody else get some mail from Green?

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ MJ Khan 500.00 GOTV services MJ Khan 6,000.00 Radio ad production and buy MJ Khan 105,048.70 TV media buy MJ Khan 18,300.00 TV ad production MJ Khan 1,100.00 GOTV services MJ Khan 5,000.00 Ad (Tx Conservative Review) MJ Khan 10,000.00 Ad (HCRP) MJ Khan 214,473.00 TV & radio media buy MJ Khan 1,690.00 GOTV services MJ Khan 2,895.69 Printing of signs MJ Khan 2,500.00 Radio ad buy MJ Khan 2,000.00 Ad (Aubrey Taylor Communications)

Pretty decent media buy. Khan’s $300K will get him a fair amount of TV time, including in some places that don’t have very many voters. Note the $5K ad with the Texas Conservative Review, which you’ll see again and again, and the accompanying $10K ad with the Harris County GOP, which most Republican candidates bought at some level as well. Gotta give ’em credit for knowing how to make a buck when the opportunity presents itself.

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Pam Holm 10,000.00 Video shoot Pam Holm 10,063.82 Direct mail Pam Holm 3,750.00 GOTV field ops Pam Holm 125.00 Ad (South Wesley AMC) Pam Holm 5,000.00 Ad (Tx Conservative Review) Pam Holm 1,000.00 GOTV Pam Holm 10,000.00 Radio time Pam Holm 612.40 Ad (Houston Community Newspapers) Pam Holm 1,650.81 Yard Signs Pam Holm 1,914.94 Push cards and letterhead Pam Holm 14,641.00 Mailer Pam Holm 1,350.00 Push cards Pam Holm 5,000.00 Ad (HCRP) Pam Holm 50.00 Ad (Acres Homes Citizen Council) Pam Holm 1,500.00 Ad (Aubrey Taylor Communications) Pam Holm 487.13 T-shirts Pam Holm 1,850.00 Push cards Pam Holm 4,350.00 Ad (Aubrey Taylor Communications) Pam Holm 2,301.40 Signs Pam Holm 22,158.91 Direct Mail

Okay, something here is missing. We know Pam Holm is on the air – Martha asked around on Facebook and received confirmation from a couple of people that they have seen her ad several times, on CNN. Yet I cannot find a line item in her finance report that would correspond to a media buy of that magnitude. She only listed about $180K of spending in her report, which frankly wouldn’t buy that much TV time if that’s all it were being spent on. Stephen Costello’s report for his At Large #1 race showed $160K spent on a TV buy, and that’s the smallest one I’ve seen so far. Heck, just look at how much MJ Khan spent. She’s been on the air long enough that this should be accounted for in this report – it’s not in her 30 days out report – unlike the situation from earlier this month where Gene Locke announced his debut on TV after the reporting deadline for the 30 day reports. So I’m going to ask here: Where is Pam Holm’s spending on TV advertising documented? Maybe I’m missing something, and if so I hope someone will point me to it. But especially with Holm taking shots at Green about his tax lien, I think it’s fair to wonder why Holm has apparently filed an incomplete finance report.

UPDATE: Via Greg, here’s the purchase order for Holm’s ad buy. Martha has more.

More details on the Chron poll

Here we have crosstabs and more details about that Chron poll from the weekend. The first thing that leaps out at me is that they also polled the Controller’s race:

“If the election for city controller was held today and the candidates were Ronald Green, Pam Holm, and MJ Khan, for whom would you vote?”


Candidate        Frequency    Percent
=====================================
Ronald Green           103       17.2
Pam Holm                90       15.0
MJ Khan                 62       10.4
Someone else             8        1.3
Not sure               338       56.2

As there are only three candidates on the ballot for this race, those eight people who replied “Someone else” are in for a disappointment. Otherwise, I’d say this roughly conforms to my perception of that race.

The crosstabs themselves were about what you’d expect as well – the partisan split (Dem 43.5, GOP 35.5, Independent 21.0) and breakdown by race (White 51.0, Hispanic 14.7, African-American 26.5) seem reasonable. Getting down into the subgroups was very interesting. Brown led among men, with Parker second. He also led among women over Parker by a tiny bit. Parker led among Democratic voters, but Brown had a big lead among Republicans, with Locke trailing all three of his opponents; I’m going to guess the timing of his release in which he touts the support of numerous GOP bigwigs isn’t coincidental. Locke did lead among African-American voters, but not by much over Brown, and Brown had a large lead among Hispanic voters; despite sweeping the endorsements among Latino groups, Locke was in third among this group.

You shouldn’t read too much into any of this, as the subsamples are pretty small, but they’re fun to look at nonetheless. I still don’t have a satisfactory answer to my question about how this sample was done. They did use voters who self-identified as “very likely” (84%) or “likely” (16%) to vote, but frankly unless they pre-screened the pool to only quiz those who had some recent history of voting in city elections, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. If all they did was ring up registered voters and use a “how likely are you to vote this fall” question as the screen, then unless they called about 2000 people to begin with, I think they’re way oversampling unlikely voters. In the end, we’ll just have to see what the scoreboard says. Campos and Greg have more.

Khan goes on the air

We knew it was coming, and now here we have MJ Khan’s first TV ad.

It’s…okay. Unlike Greg, I think Pam Holm’s ad, which was strong up until the last few seconds, was better. The presentation in Khan’s ad, with the three “average citizens” expressing their preference for Khan’s candidacy, is a bit hokey, but I can live with that. The real issue I have is that Khan’s main argument is that he’s the best qualified candidate for the office – just review his interview and you’ll see what I mean – yet he barely touches on why this is so in the ad. What exactly are his qualifications and why are they superior to his opponents? Well, there’s something about zero-based budgeting in the ad – how many folks know what that is? – and that’s about it. I realize this is a 30-second spot and he has to introduce himself first, but I feel like this ad doesn’t really give me a reason to vote for MJ Khan, whereas Pam Holm’s ad did do that. What do you think?

Spending on voter outreach: The Controller candidates

We know that this has been, relatively speaking, a low-dollar, low-profile election. I’ve been curious as to what the candidates’ strategies for doing voter outreach have been. We’ll probably know more when we see the eight-days-out reports, but for now, I’ve been looking through the various campaign finance reports to see what spending they have reported so far on various communication methods. Here’s a look at what the candidates for Controller have been doing.

Candidate Amount Purpose ========================================================== MJ Khan 3,716.81 Printing, postage, bumper stickers MJ Khan 12,592.56 Printing of signs MJ Khan 4,486.85 Printing of signs and stickers MJ Khan 944.48 Printing of T-shirts MJ Khan 22,469.00 Polling services

The “Amount” and “Purpose” are taken directly from the reports. I’ve listed anything that seems oriented towards getting the “Vote for Me!” message out, excluding basic things like website maintenance and email services. Nobody in this race has skimped on yard signs. I’m glad to see that someone is polling citywide. I’d kill to see the questions and answers Khan got. Word I’ve heard is that Khan will be running ads on cable, which he should be able to afford. I’ll be interested in seeing that as well.

Candidate Amount Purpose ========================================================== Pam Holm 2,730.61 Yard signs Pam Holm 1,358.27 T-shirts Pam Holm 1,547.34 Mailing/printing Pam Holm 2,600.00 Signs Pam Holm 477.38 Koozies Pam Holm 2,520.33 Signs Pam Holm 8,358.00 Advertising (Stan and Lou Advertising) Pam Holm 2,774.85 Automated phone calls Pam Holm 662.06 Radio production costs Pam Holm 2,380.73 Signs Pam Holm 2,900.00 Door hangers (*) Pam Holm 26,367.15 Direct mail Pam Holm 1,487.00 Automated phone calls Pam Holm 10,000.00 Radio ads

Holm is the big spender here, which is no surprise. I saw two $2900 entries for door hangers, one of which listed the recipient and one which didn’t; I don’t know if this was a duplicate entry or not. We’ll know in about three weeks how much Holm spent on her TV ad. Oh, and I totally want a “Pam Holm for Controller” koozie. Surely someone with the campaign can set me up.

Candidate Amount Purpose ========================================================== Ronald Green 1,930.91 Printing Ronald Green 753.79 Printing Ronald Green 1,107.72 Printing Ronald Green 1,091.71 Printing Ronald Green 275.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Ronald Green 1,930.91 Printing Ronald Green 343.15 Printing Ronald Green 866.00 Printing Ronald Green 100.00 Advertising (St Peter The Apostle Catholic Church) Ronald Green 197.29 Printing Ronald Green 622.98 Printing Ronald Green 161.89 Advertising (Facebook) Ronald Green 200.66 Printing Ronald Green 411.97 Printing

He may not be able to afford radio or TV, but Ronald Green has the Facebook market locked up. That’s actually a pretty decent investment if you don’t have that much money to spend. I have no idea what all those printing costs are for – my guess is the ones in four figures are yard signs, but I’m not sure about the others. Who knew that churches took advertising?

Next up, the At Large Council races.

Holm goes on the air

Via Mary Benton, we have the first non-Mayoral TV ad of the season, from Pam Holm:

My thoughts:

– Basically an intro ad, though a fairly substantive one. Holm’s pitch – she’s a strong financial manager who’ll keep a sharp eye on your tax dollars – is straightforward enough, and she makes it herself in direct fashion.

– Plenty of code words and catch phrases to remind Republicans of her bona fides – “protect your tax dollars”, “fought wasteful spending”, etc etc etc. As that fits nicely into all of the Mayoral messaging, it ought to have broad appeal.

– I hope she paid Vince Ryan a royalty for the use of his “watchdog, not a lapdog” slogan from 2008. Hey, it worked for him, so what the heck?

– I’d have lost the cutesy bit at the end where she turns to her husband and says “Right, Chuck?” One presumes she already has his approval. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I thought that diluted her message a bit.

– Benton says she doesn’t know how much of an ad buy her team made. I took a peek in Holm’s finance report and didn’t see anything earmarked for TV, but given that report only goes up till September 24, that doesn’t mean anything. She had spent $10K on radio, in addition to $26K on direct mail. I doubt she has the funds to do a broadcast blitz, but she could probably be on cable for most of the rest of the month. Given that, it won’t shock me if MJ Khan joins her on the air soon.

– You see this, Ronald Green? This is what you have to worry about. Yeah, I don’t really a see a way in which you don’t make it to the runoff, either. But you know, you still have to win the runoff. How are you going to get your supporters back to the polls in December if they don’t even know you’re running?

– Finally, on a tangential note, I finally saw an Annise Parker ad on the tube tonight, on KHOU during the local news. I believe it followed a Peter Brown ad. Haven’t seen a Locke ad yet, but they just started running.

UPDATE: Greg has more.

UPDATE: Houston Politics weighs in.

Interview with Council Member MJ Khan

MJ Khan

MJ Khan

Next among the candidates for Houston City Controller is Council Member MJ Khan, the incumbent in District F. Khan, a native of Pakistan, is a professional engineer who also has an MBA from Rice University and owns a real estate development company. Khan sits on the Budget and Fiscal Affairs committee and currently chairs the Flooding and Drainage Issues committee. He is married to Dr. Attiya Khan, who is a cardiology fellow at the Texas Heart Institute.

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PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A
Herman Litt, At Large #1
Natasha Kamrani, HISD Trustee in District I, not running for re-election
Alex Wathen, District A
Robert Kane, District F
Council Member Melissa Noriega, At Large #3
Jeff Downing, District A
Mike Laster, District F
Council Member Jolanda Jones, At Large #5
Mills Worsham, District G
Rick Rodriguez, At Large #1
Council Member Sue Lovell, At Large #2
Carlos Obando, At Large #5
Richard Sedita, District G
Jack Christie, At Large #5
Dexter Handy, District G
George Foulard, District G
Alma Lara, HISD Trustee District I
Anna Eastman, HISD Trustee District I
Linda Toyota, HISD Trustee District I
Council Member Ed Gonzalez, District H
Council Member Wanda Adams, District D
Council Member Anne Clutterbuck, District C
Progressive Coalition candidates
Council Member Mike Sullivan, District E
Council Member James Rodriguez, District I
Council Member Jarvis Johnson, District B
Mike Lunceford, HISD Trustee District V
Ray Reiner, HISD Trustee District V
Council Member Ronald Green, candidate for Controller

Chron overview of the Controller’s race

Must be getting close to Early Voting, as the Chron has started writing about elections other than the Mayor’s race. Here’s their overview of the Controller’s race.

The city controller position traditionally has been a big draw in municipal races. Previous controllers have engaged in high-profile sparring with powerful mayoral administrations and tried, with limited success, to use the office as a stepping stone to brighter political fortunes.

This year, however, may be different, as council members Ronald Green, M.J. Khan and Pam Holm look back over six years at City Hall with little to distinguish themselves from one another in on a generally collegial, unified council. In a year when polls show that many voters know little about the city’s mayoral candidates, the race for Houston’s top fiscal watchdog may have an even tougher time getting people’s attention.

“If the mayor’s race is off the radar screen, the controller race is simply completely lost in the shuffle,” said Robert Stein, a political scientist at Rice University. “They are not running campaigns that are much above yard signs and block walking.”

Maybe my memory’s a little cloudy, but I don’t recall the 2003 race being all that visible beyond yard signs and blockwalking, either. Of course, that year we had a ton of spending in the Mayor’s race, which would have overshadowed if not completely drowned out whatever the Controller candidates were saying. Greg brings some numbers to show that in pretty much every election, the Controller’s race is a distant echo of the Mayor’s race. With the Mayor’s race this year being at a lower volume than usual, the effect is heightened.

In any event, you can see what the candidates have to say for themselves in this story, and you can hear what they have to say for themselves, in plenty of detail, next week in my interviews with them. This is an important race and it deserves much more attention than it’s gotten so far.

Controller’s debate

In case you missed it from Friday, here’s the Houston City Controller debate as hosted by Red, White, and Blue on KUHT.

I was out of town this week and didn’t get a chance to set the TiVo on Friday, but it reruns tonight at 5:30, so I plan to catch it then. In the meantime, here it is for your viewing pleasure. Greg did tune in on Friday and gives his review there. There’s a ton of Mayoral candidate forums going on, but not nearly as much for the second-most important elected office in Houston, so check this one out.

Gandhi Street

Hillcroft Street may get another name.

Lined with international shops and restaurants, Hillcroft is known for its vast diversity. Now the India Culture Center wants to rename Hillcroft as Mahatma Gandhi Street, to honor the late spiritual leader.

Indian business owner Vimla Patel said, “It is good for Indian people. It is good for our country.”

[…]

Houston city council member MJ Khan said, “I think everybody should be part of being Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy.”

Khan says he will support changing Hillcroft’s name to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue, if that’s what the community wants.

“Our city is a very international city so I think it will help if we start branding that area,” Khan explained.

I think that’s a perfectly rational reason for wanting to change the name, though as others mentioned in the story, there are plenty of other cultures represented in the area as well. Hillcroft, which changes names several times as you go north, starting with Voss just past Westheimer, doesn’t need that many more names. That said, I think KJB434’s comment on Swamplot to make it a dual name, adding a sign on top as they do in areas like Little Saigon and Chinatown, is quite sensible and could also be used to address the matter of the other cultures. We do this in some other places – US59 is subtitled the Senator Lloyd Bentsen Highway, after all – so why not on Hillcroft? If you’re going to make a change, I’d prefer the addition to the substitution. Not making any changes is fine by me, too. Hair Balls has more.

The Controller’s race

The Chron writes about fundraising in the race to replace Annise Parker as Houston City Controller.

The three major candidates vying to replace Controller Annise Parker, who is term-limited and angling to become the city’s next mayor, raised more than $400,000 in the first six months of the year. That far exceeds what City Council Members Pam Holm, Ronald Green and M.J. Khan raised during the same time period in previous campaigns.

“This is significant, and is much higher than normal for the controller’s race,” said Nancy Sims, a Houston political analyst and former campaign consultant. “They need to raise and spend some money to extend out and make their voices heard in the clutter out there.”

Actually, I don’t think it’s all that unusual. I say that from looking at the July 15 finance reports from 2003, the last time we had an open-seat Controller’s race. At that time, Bruce Tatro reported raising $132K, with $43,500 on hand. Annise Parker did better than that, raking in $212K, with $117K on hand. Mark Lee, who was not an officeholder of any kind, reported hauling in $100K. And Gabe Vasquez took in $133K, though he was still claiming to be running for re-election in District H as of July. That’s $444K raised by the three leading declared candidates, which actually exceeds the $428K that Holm, Khan, and Green took in. The main difference is that this year, the top three candidates have more cash on hand – $734K now versus a bit more than $200K then; Lee’s statement listed $35K in expenditures but for some reason omitted cash on hand, so I’m just guessing.

One other thing that struck me for the first time as I was putting this together: In the 2003 Controller’s race, you had a Democratic At Large Council member who ultimately prevailed over two Republican district members (Vasquez switched parties in early 2003). Of course, Parker did have more money than her opponents, and a higher profile then than Ronald Green has now. In terms of campaign narrative, Pam Holm is in the lead. I suspect that ultimately won’t mean much, but I do think there will be more interest than usual in the 30-day-out finance reports for this race.

Finally, on a side note, there are still a ton of July 15 reports not yet in the system for this year. Herman Litt’s report is now up – he had raised less than $5K as of the deadline, but he didn’t have a fundraiser till after then, and the one he had was very well attended, so expect him to post good numbers next time. I found a report for perennial candidate Andrew Burks, who is running for At Large #2, as well.

City campaign finance reports come rolling in

As the campaign finance reports for City of Houston races come online, I’ve been collecting all the reports and putting them together into an easier-to-read format. I’ve also received a bunch of press releases, which I’ll be reproducing beneath the fold. Here are some quick hits.

– According to his press release, Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke raised $1.15 million for the six-month reporting period that just ended. That’s about $200K more than Annise Parker raised, and is a very strong showing, especially for a first time candidate.

Peter Brown‘s press release reports $477,000 raised and over $1.7 million cash on hand. He also reported a loan of $765,000. Even without that, he’d have a sizable lead in COH, as Locke has $574K and Parker $602K.

– All of the Mayoral candidates can claim success, and indeed all of them have – Parker put out another release later in the day today comparing her achievements with those of Locke and Brown. I think they all did pretty well in a tough environment, and I feel confident you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from all three of them starting real soon.

– By the way, in case you’re curious, Roy Morales raised $18,720 and has a smidge under $10K on hand. He’s not going to be a factor. I could not find a report for TJ Huntley as yet.

– On the Controller side, Pam Holm raised $292K, with $348K on hand; MJ Khan raised $87,350 and has $312K $353K on hand. Ronald Green had not yet filed a report. As I said before, he’s got his work cut out for him.

(UPDATE: Fixed MJ Khan’s cash on hand number. My thanks to Andre Castro from his campaign for the correction.)

– For the At Large races, there are several reports missing. The biggest money-raiser so far is Stephen Costello in #1, who hauled in a fairly impressive $156K, with $106K on hand. The only other report I’ve seen so far is for Rick Rodriguez, who raised very little. In At Large #4, Noel Freeman sent out a release claiming $35,985.75 from nearly 175 donors, which edged out Brad Bradford’s $31,285.

– At Large incumbents Sue Lovell and Melissa Noriega each raised over $100K, with Jolanda Jones pulling in $64K. Roslyn Shorter, who is an announced candidate against Lovell, raised no money; Carlos Obando, running against Jones, had not yet filed his report.

– Finally, among the open district seats, the leading fundraisers were Lane Lewis in District A with $34,858 raised and $13,066 cash on hand; Mike Laster in F with $38,629 raised and $31,608 on hand; and Oliver Pennington in G with an impressive $182K raised and $101K on hand. Not everyone in those races has reported yet, so there could wind up being a reshuffling. I’ve put what I’ve got so far in this Google spreadsheet, so check that for further updates.

Beneath the fold are all of the press releases I got. If I get any more, I’ll add them as well. Let me know what you think about how the candidates have done.

UPDATE: Nancy Sims and Greg Wythe weigh in.

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