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SD06

Endorsement watch: Ana’s army

Re. Ana Hernandez

Two weeks ago, I noted an email sent out by Rep. Carol Alvarado containing a long list of current and former elected officials as well as other prominent folks who had endorsed her candidacy for SD06, for when Sen. Sylvia Garcia steps down after being elected in CD29. I assumed at the time that Rep. Alvarado’s main announced rival, Rep. Ana Hernandez, would follow suit with her own list, and so she has. Rep. Hernandez’s list contains more members of the State House, and at least two people that I spotted – HCC Trustees Eva Loredo and Adriana Tamez – who also appear on Alvarado’s list. I’m not sure if that’s an “oops!” or a change of heart, but I’ll leave it to the people involved to sort it out.

As I said with Rep. Alvarado’s list, this is a show of strength. I suspect lists like these tend to have a marginal effect on voters – as much as anything, it’s about fundraising ability – but it’s a bad look for you if your opponent, who is also your colleague, has such a list if you don’t have one, so here we are. The combined force of the two lists will act as a barrier to other candidates – not for nothing, but all of the other State Reps whose districts are in SD06 are on one of these lists or the other – though as noted before that’s not an absolute barrier. I’ll say again, this is a tough choice between to very excellent candidates.

Meanwhile, in other endorsement news:

Twenty-two of the 55 Democratic state representatives on Wednesday endorsed former Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez for governor, as Valdez faces Houston entrepreneur Andrew White in a May 22 runoff.

The winner of the runoff will be the Democratic nominee who will face Republican incumbent Greg Abbott in the November general election.

The endorsements highlighted how both candidates are pushing to raise campaign funds and for endorsements with just less than two months to go before the runoff, in a race that has so far been mostly low-key.

The new endorsements include Reps. Roberto Alonzo, Rafael Anchía,Victoria Neave and Toni Rose of Dallas; Diana Arévalo, Diego Bernal, Ina Minarez and Justin Rodriguez of San Antonio; César Blanco, Mary Gonzales and Evelina Ortega of El Paso; Terry Canales of Edinburg; Nicole Collier of Fort Worth; Jessica Farrar and Ron Reynolds of Houston; Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City; Gina Hinojosa, Celia Israel and Eddie Rodriguez of Austin; Mando Martinez of Weslaco; Sergio Muñoz of Palmview, and Poncho Nevárez of Eagle Pass.

[…]

Valdez has won the endorsements of the Texas AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Texas Tejano Democrats, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and Stonewall Democrat chapters in Houston, Dallas, Denton, San Antonio, and Austin.

White has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, former rival Cedric Davis Sr., former lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Michael Cooper as well as the Harris County Young Democrats, the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats and the state’s three largest newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle.

I said my piece in the precinct analysis of the Governor’s race. Given what we saw, the runoff is Valdez’s race to lose. Give me some runoff debates, that’s all I ask.

Endorsement watch: Alvarado’s army

Rep. Carol Alvarado

Rep. Carol Alvarado has released a long list of supporters for her campaign to succeed Sen. Sylvia Garcia in SD06. This is clearly a show of strength on Alvarado’s part – the list includes the three most recent Mayors of Houston, four of her State House colleagues, Commissioner (and former Sen.) Rodney Ellis, and a bunch of other current and past office holders. One thought that struck me as I read this was a reminder that Alvarado had been the runnerup the last time SD06 came open, losing in a special election runoff to Sen. Garcia. People had a hard choice to make in that election between two very good and well-qualified candidates, and Sen. Garcia emerged victorious. People will once again have a hard choice to make in that election between two very good and well-qualified candidates, and it may be that the bulk of those who are prominent and being public about it are going to Rep. Alvarado.

That’s hardly the final word, of course. There are plenty of people not on Rep. Alvarado’s list, and I’m sure Rep. Ana Hernandez will have her own impressive cadre of supporters. In fact, later in the day Rep. Hernandez sent out this fundraiser email that touted Mayor Turner as the special guest. That email references her HD143 campaign, with no mention of SD06, but you can draw your own inferences. Like I said, both she and Rep. Alvarado are strong candidates. Rep. Alvarado’s opening salvo may have the effect of scaring off other potential candidates, but there’s no guarantee of that, as Sen. Garcia herself could testify from CD29. All I’m going to say at this time is the same as what I said the last time we had one of these elections, which is that I’m glad I was redistricted into SD15 so I don’t have to take a side myself.

The race for SD06 has already begun

Here’s State Rep. Ana Hernandez on Facebook:

The Trib has picked up on this as well. Not long thereafter, I received this in my mailbox:

Dear Friends,

I would like to congratulate State Senator Sylvia Garcia on her hard-earned victory for the Democratic nomination for the 29th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sylvia Garcia is well on her way to becoming the first Latina to represent the 29th District. I am very confident she will be a fighter for us in Washington D.C. and stand up to Donald Trump and fight for the working families of our community. I am proud to have endorsed her and campaigned with her, and I look forward to working with Congresswoman Garcia when she is sworn into office.

It is now likely that there will be a vacancy and I am taking this opportunity to formally announce our campaign to become the next Senator from District 6.

(Click here to view my announcement.)

There’s more, but you get the idea. I am sure this will not be the end of it – Rep. Armando Walle had been briefly in for CD29 when it came open, so I have to assume he’ll take a long look at SD06 as well. We are of course all assuming that Sen. Garcia, who is the nominee for CD29 but not yet officially elected to that position, will step down at some point in the near future, to allow her eventual successor to get elected in time for the 2019 session. I discussed this at some length in November, when Sen. Garcia first jumped in for CD29. I see no reason why Sen. Garcia can’t or shouldn’t step down sooner rather than later – it would be awesome to have the special election to succeed her in either May or November, so everyone can be in place for the opening gavel of 2019 – but the decision is hers to make. What we know now is that people are already gazing at her as we await said decision. KUHF has more.

Filing news: The “What’s up with Lupe Valdez?” edition

On Wednesday, we were told that Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez had resigned her post in preparation for an announcement that she would be filing to run for Governor. Later that day, the story changed – she had not resigned, there was no news. As of yesterday, there’s still no news, though there are plans in place if there is news.

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

Candidates are lining up to replace Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez if she resigns to file for governor.

Valdez, who has led the department since 2005, has said she is considering the next stage — and earlier this month said she was looking at the governor’s race. Her office said Wednesday night no decision has been made.

Valdez could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

On Wednesday afternoon, media outlets, including The Dallas Morning News and WFAA (Ch. 8) reported that Valdez had resigned.

Lawyer Pete Schulte announced his candidacy Wednesday but later walked his intentions back after it became clear Valdez had not resigned.

He tweeted “Trying to find out how @dallasdemocrats Chair confirmed to some media today about @SheriffLupe retirement to run for Governor. Let me be clear: I have NO plans to run for DalCo Sheriff unless the Sheriff does retire early and will only run in 2020 IF Sheriff chooses to retire.”

At this point, I’m almost as interested in how the news got misreported as I am in actually seeing Valdez announce. Someone either said something that was true but premature, or not true for whatever the reason. I assume some level of fact-checking happened before the first story hit, so someone somewhere, perhaps several someones, has some explaining to do. I have to figure we’ll know for sure by Monday or so.

Anyway. In other news, from Glen Maxey on Facebook:

For the first time in decades, there are a full slate of candidates in the Third Court of Appeals (Austin), the Fifth Court (Dallas area) and the First and Fourteenth (Houston area). We can win control of those courts this election. This is where we start to see justice when we win back these courts! (We may have full slates in the El Paso, Corpus, San Antonio, etc courts, too. Just haven’t looked).

That’s a big deal, and it offers the potential for a lot of gains. But even just one or two pickups would be a step forward, and as these judges serve six-year terms with no resign-to-run requirements, they’re the natural farm team for the statewide benches.

From Montgomery County Democratic Party Chair Marc Meyer, in response to an earlier filing news post:

News from the frozen tundra (of Democratic politics, at least):
– Jay Stittleburg has filed to run for County Judge. This is the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s first candidate for County Judge since 1990.
– Steven David (Harris County) is running for CD08 against Kevin Brady. He has not filed for a spot on the ballot, yet, but has filed with the FEC.
– All three state house districts in the county will be contested by Democrats, but I’m not able to release names at this time.
– We have a candidate for District Clerk as well – he has filed a CTA, but is trying to get signed petitions to get on the ballot.
– We are still working on more down-ballot races, so hopefully there will be more news, soon.

It’s one thing to get Democrats to sign up in places like Harris and Fort Bend that have gone or may go blue. It’s another to get people to sign up in a dark crimson county like Montgomery. Kudos to Chair Meyer and his slate of candidates.

Speaking of Harris County, the big news is in County Commissioners Court Precinct 2, where Pasadena City Council member Sammy Casados has entered the primary. As you know, I’ve been pining for Adrian Garcia to get into this race. There’s no word on what if anything he’ll be doing next year, but that’s all right. CM Casados will be a great candidate. Go give his Facebook page a like and follow his campaign. He’ll have to win in March first, so I assume he’ll be hitting the ground running.

Adrian Garcia was known to have at least some interest in CD29 after Rep. Gene Green announced his retirement. I don’t know if that is still the case, but at this point he’s basically the last potential obstacle to Sen. Sylvia Garcia’s election. Rep. Carol Alvarado, who lost in SD06 to Sylvia Garcia following Mario Gallegos’ death, announced that she was filing for re-election in HD145; earlier in the day, Sylvia Garcia announced that Rep. Green had endorsed her to succeed him. I have to assume that Rep. Alvarado, like her fellow might-have-been contender in CD29 Rep. Armando Walle, is looking ahead to the future special election for Sen. Garcia’s seat. By the way, I keep specifying my Garcias in this post because two of Sylvia’s opponents in the primary are also named Garcia. If Adrian does jump in, there would be four of them. That has to be some kind of record.

Finally, in something other than filing news, HD138 candidate Adam Milasincic informs me that Greg Abbott has endorsed HD138 incumbent Rep. Dwayne Bohac. Abbott has pledged to be more active this cycle, as we’ve seen in HD134 and a few other districts, but Bohac has no primary opponent at this time. Bohac does have good reason to be worried about his chances next year, so it’s probably not a coincidence that Abbott stepped in this early to lend him a hand. Milasincic’s response is here, which you should at least watch to learn how to pronounce “Milasincic”.

UPDATE: I didn’t read all the way to the end of the statement I received from Rep. Alvarado concerning her decision to file for re-election. Here’s what it says at the very end:

I also look forward to following through on the encouragement that many of you have given to me about laying the groundwork for a campaign for a possible vacancy in Senate District 6.

As expected and now confirmed. Thanks to Campos for the reminder.

Rep. Walle files for re-election, not CD29

From the inbox:

Rep. Armando Walle

State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement to announce his run for re-election to the Texas House of Representatives:

After much consultation and consideration with my family, friends, and community, I have decided to run for re-election to the Texas House to represent House District 140 for my sixth term. My experience and knowledge will be more important than ever given the work that remains at the state level in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey as well as in our fight for strong neighborhood schools, good-paying jobs, and quality healthcare for our families.

Through 9 years in elected office, my passion for serving and representing the neighborhoods where I grew up has not wavered. From helping lay ground work for the Aldine Town Center, to taking out water utilities preying on customers, to refurbishing cherished neighborhood parks, I hope my neighbors in north Houston and Aldine will send me back to keep working hard for them in Austin.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet with my neighbors and community members of north and east Harris County where we live, work, and worship. We will dearly miss Congressman Gene Green’s experience, strong work ethic, and commitment to the people of the 29th Congressional District of Texas. Since his retirement announcement, I have seen optimism and excitement for a new generation of leadership. I look forward to continuing engagement with the community on how we can best move forward.

Rep. Walle had originally announced his intention to run in CD29. I presume he has assessed the landscape and come to the conclusion that Sen. Sylvia Garcia was a strong favorite to win, and as such it made more sense to return to his current position. Among other things, this means he could later run in a special election for SD06 after Garcia steps down, without automatically giving up his seat. I think we can say at this point that no one with a realistic chance of winning in CD29 is likely to file at this point. As a fan of Rep. Walle’s, I’m glad he’ll still be around in the Lege.

The potential Sylvia effect

Sen. Sylvia Garcia

As we know, Rep. Gene Green is retiring, and as we also know, Sen. Sylvia Garcia is one of the contenders to succeed him. As noted before, this is a free shot for Garcia, as she would not otherwise be on the ballot in 2018. If she loses, she gets to go back to being Sen. Garcia, until she has to run again in 2020. The same cannot be said for at least one of her opponents, Rep. Armando Walle, who will not file for re-election in HD140 as the price for pursuing CD29. Unlike Garcia, the downside for Walle is that he would become private citizen Walle in 2019. The same is true for Rep. Carol Alvarado if she joins in.

This post is about what happens if Sen. Garcia wins, because unlike the losing scenario she would step down from her job. Again, the same is true for Rep. Walle, but the difference is that Walle’s successor will be chosen (or headed to a runoff) at the same time Walle’s fate is decided. His successor will be in place to take the oath of office for HD140 in January of 2019, having been officially elected in November.

There is no potential successor for Garcia on the horizon, because her term is not up till the 2020 election. There will only be a need for a successor if she wins. Because of this, the process will be different, and Garcia has some control over it.

For these purposes, we will assume Garcia wins the primary for CD29, which is tantamount to winning the general election; the Rs don’t have a candidate as of this writing, and it doesn’t really matter if they come up with one, given the partisan lean of the district. So what happens when Sylvia wins?

Well, strictly speaking, she doesn’t have to resign from the Senate until the moment before she takes the oath of office for CD29. At that moment, her Senate seat will become vacant and a special election would be needed to fill it. That election would probably be in early March, with a runoff in April, leaving SD06 mostly unrepresented during the 2019 session.

Of course, there’s no chance that Garcia would resign in January. Most likely, she’d want to act like a typical Congressperson-elect, which would suggest she’d step down in November, probably right after the election. That would put SD06 in roughly the same position as SD26 was in following Leticia Van de Putte’s resignation to run for Mayor of San Antonio. The special election there was on January 6, with eventual winner Jose Menendez being sworn in two months later.

She could also resign earlier than that, perhaps after she wins the nomination in March or (more likely) May. Doing that would ensure that her successor was in place before January; indeed, doing it this way would give her successor a seniority advantage over any new members from the class of 2018. I think this is less likely, but I’m sure she’d consider it, precisely for that reason.

Whatever schedule to-be-Rep. Garcia chose to leave the Senate, we would not be done with special election considerations. As was the case with SD26 in 2015, it is at least possible that Garcia’s eventual successor would be a sitting State Rep, which means – you guessed it – that person would then resign that seat and need to be replaced. We could wind up having quite the full calendar through 2018 and into early 2019. The second special election would not be a sure thing, as one top contender could well be soon-to-be-former Rep. Walle, who will spend the next few months campaigning in that area – CD29 and SD06 have quite a bit of overlap – but I figure Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez would be in the mix as well, possibly Jessica Farrar, too.

So there you have it. We could have up to four extra elections in the next twelve to fourteen months. Be prepared for it

Time once again to discuss Latino political participation

Let’s jump right in.

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez

The long wait continues for Houston and Harris County residents eager for a steep uptick in elected Latino representation.

Hispanic residents last year were 42 percent of the county population, up from 23 percent in 1990, yet Houston has yet to elect a Latino mayor, and no at-large City Council members are Hispanic.

At the county, low-profile Treasurer Orlando Sanchez is the lone countywide Latino elected official, judges aside. Even Harris County’s congressional delegation lacks a Hispanic member.

By January, however, that will change. Four of the area’s most prominent public officials are going to be Latino, thanks to three recent Houston appointments – Police Chief Art Acevedo, Fire Chief Samuel Peña and school Superintendent Richard Carranza – paired with the election of Ed Gonzalez as county sheriff.

University of Houston political scientist Jeronimo Cortina framed the rise of these leaders as providing an opportunity to boost Hispanic civic engagement.

“It’s going to send an empowering message to Latino kids that they can do it. It doesn’t matter how you look or where you come from,” said Cortina, who specializes in American and Latino politics. “People are going to get motivated, especially the young generation.”

Hispanics punch below their weight at the ballot box nationally and locally, where voters with a Spanish surname represent just 21 percent of registered voters despite being a plurality of Harris County residents, according to Hector de Leon, who directs voter outreach for the county clerk’s office.

That relatively low percentage has grown, however, as the region’s young Latino population has come of age.

Spanish-surnamed voters now make up 31 percent of Harris County registered voters between the ages of 18 and 24, according to de Leon, and a quarter of registered voters between ages 25 and 29. The share of Spanish-surnamed registered voters drops below 21 percent only among voters ages 50 and above.

Even so, voters with a Spanish surname made up just 17 percent of Harris County’s early vote this year, de Leon said. Election Day data was not available.

“If you engage Latino voters at this early age and excite them to participate politically, civically, then you’re going to be creating a very robust voting bloc that is going to be the future of the state,” Cortina said.

I don’t have sufficient data to make any firm statements about how Latino voting this year compared to 2012. That really has to be done at the individual precinct level and with the full roster of all voters. What I can do is note that in the most heavily Latino districts, participation was up this year over 2012:

CD29 – 117,291 votes from 239,552 voters in 2012; 136,801 votes from 264,213 voters in 2016

SD06 – 137,993 votes from 284,248 voters in 2012; 158,365 votes from 311,045 voters in 2016

HD140 – 24,213 votes from 53,338 voters in 2012; 28,652 votes from 59,339 voters in 2016
HD143 – 31,334 votes from 62,715 voters in 2012; 34,279 votes from 65,713 voters in 2016
HD144 – 24,673 votes from 54,579 voters in 2012; 28,120 votes from 57,173 voters in 2016
HD145 – 30,346 votes from 60,056 voters in 2012; 35,918 votes from 66,975 voters in 2016
HD148 – 40,230 votes from 71,705 voters in 2012; 49,819 votes from 79,995 voters in 2016

This is a crude measurement in several ways. For one thing, there’s a lot of overlap between CD29, SD06, and the five State Rep districts. For another, just because there were more voters doesn’t mean there were more Latino voters. Voting was up overall in Harris County thanks in large part to a significant increase in voter registrations. I haven’t compared the increases in these districts to the others to see where they fall proportionally. The point I’m making is simply that there were more votes and more voters in each of these districts, with the turnout rate being a bit higher in each place as well. It’s a start, and a step in the right direction.

As for the issue of Latinos in city government, I’ve said this before and i’ll say it again: Part of the issue is that there aren’t many Latinos who run for Council outside of Districts H and I. Roy Morales has made it to the runoff of two At Large races, in #3 in 2013 and in #4 in 2015, but that was because he nudged into second place ahead of a large field of other candidates and behind a clear frontrunner who then easily defeated him in the second round. Moe Rivera ran for At Large #2 in 2013 and 2015, finishing third out of four in 2013 and last out of five in 2015. Roland Chavez was one of the candidates Roy Morales nosed out in 2013. And of course there was Adrian Garcia running for Mayor last year, and I think we all understand by now why he didn’t do as well in that race as he might have hoped.

That’s pretty much it for Latino citywide candidates in the last two elections. Way back in 2009, when we were first talking about expanding Council from nine districts to 11, I asked Vidal Martinez why people like him didn’t do more to support Latino candidates who ran for At Large seats. I still don’t know what the answer to that question is.

Early voting is up in the special election runoffs

Make of that what you will.

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer

If three days of early voting are any indication, the tense runoff fight for the state Senate 26 seat between Trey Martinez-Fischer and José Menéndez is attracting more voters than cast ballots in the first round election on Jan. 6, the result of record spending in the campaign that has pitted two Bexar County Democratic members of the House against one another in the fight to succeed departing Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who is running for mayor.

The Jan. 6 state Senate ballot included two Republicans, Alma Perez Jackson and Joan Pedrotti, and a third Democrat, Al Suarez. Voter turnout was a miserable 5%. The five candidates in the first round drew only 19,158 voters, including 8,215 early voters. Martinez-Fischer finished well ahead of Menéndez and the others with 8,231 votes, or 43.28%. Menéndez finished a distant second with 4,824 votes, or 25.37%.

Special elections seldom draw many voters, and in most cases, a runoff would draw even fewer voters with one party knocked off the ballot. This time it’s different. A total of 6,977 people voted in the first three days of early voting this week, which continues today and Friday. At the current pace, that would add up to more than 11,000 early votes, or a 35% increase in the early turnout. If the same increased turnout occurs on Election Day the race will draw more than 25,000 voters, still a low percentage of registered voters, but enough of an increase to suggest a tight race.

You know I can’t turn down an opportunity like that to do some number-crunching. I looked at all the special legislative elections that included runoffs since 2010. Here are their respective vote totals:

Election Total Runoff Pct ===================================== SD22 5/10 29,851 24,557 82.3 HD14 11/11 13,519 6,736 49.8 SD06 1/13 16,369 18,141 110.8 HD50 11/13 14,936 10,520 70.4 SD04 5/14 30,348 22,605 74.5

“Pct” is the ratio of runoff turnout to total Round One turnout. Note that two of these special elections coincided with regular November elections, so it’s not terribly surprising that those runoffs lagged the most. Note also that the special election in SD06 in 2013 to succeed the late Mario Gallegos had higher turnout in the runoff than it did in the first round. That’s also the only race among these that was between two prominent Democrats, and as is the case this year it featured a nasty, negative overtime period. Not enough data to draw a firm conclusion, but the parallels are easy enough to see.

Having said all that, I kind of buried the lede a bit.

The increased turnout appears to be driven by negative campaigning and the role of outside money that aims to rally Republicans to cross party lines and vote for Menéndez. What’s different about this race is the role the powerful Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), an ultra-conservative lobby, is playing, contributing more than $550,000 to finance broadcast ads and direct mail pieces attacking Martinez Fischer and supporting Menéndez. The Express-News reported Tuesday that more than $2.3 million has been spent on the race, including the TLR money that actually exceeds the $513,000 that Menéndez has spent to date.

[…]

Martinez-Fischer is a plaintiff’s lawyer and a vocal, at times coarsely spoken Mexican-American. He looks and sounds like a boxer. Menéndez, also a lawyer, is softer spoken and less combative. People who watch Austin politics more closely than I say newly elected Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick would prefer to keep Martinez-Fischer out of the Senate, which is now a bastion of ultra-conservative Republicans, who now outnumber Democrats 20-11. Regardless of the runoff outcome, the winner will be the least senior of the minority party, but Martinez-Fischer would be a thorn in Patrick’s side, while Menéndez has said he would cross party lines to try to be effective.

I’ve said all along that TMF was my preferred candidate in this race. I had and continue to have nothing against Menendez, and I seriously doubt he’d be any more supportive of the evil trolls that make up TLR if he wins than he was in the House. But maybe he’ll be a little more supportive of them than TMF would be, and a couple hundred thousand bucks isn’t even pocket change to these guys, so all in they go. (They were a presence in the SD06 race as well, much as head lice is a presence in most elementary schools.) The point I’m making here is that even though this runoff is to them a choice between two candidates with whom they have little in common, they didn’t sit it out. They picked their lesser evil and did what they do to support him, in the hope that if it pays off, they’ll have an ever-so-slightly better Senate from their perspective. Say what you want about these guys – and believe me, I think they’re a greedy, rapacious, destructive force, too – it’s hard to argue that their approach had been anything but a big success. There may be a lesson in there for us somewhere, I dunno.

Anyway. It’s hard to know what effect this may have on the HD123 runoff, as HD123 is almost entirely within SD26. Like SD26, most Dems won HD123 by about ten points in 2010, the main exceptions being Bill White, who won it by more than 20 points, and Barbara Radnofsky, who lost it by a half point to Greg Abbott. I expect Diego Bernal to win easily enough, but one should never take anything for granted. Get out there and vote if you didn’t already do so. As for HDs 13 and 17, other than this report on campaign finances in HD17, there’s precious little news out there. I’ll have final results when they come in.

Wait, there’s another special Senate election coming up?

Yes, there is. And you thought (okay, I had thought) SD04 was the last election till November.

Robert Duncan

The field is taking shape for the special election next month in Senate District 28, with at least five people announcing they’re running to replace Robert Duncan, who stepped down to lead the Texas Tech University System.

The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Friday, and the secretary of state’s office plans to release an official list of candidates later this week. Among those who’ve said they’ve filed: Republican state Rep. Charles Perry; Jodey Arrington, a former Texas Tech official and adviser to President George W. Bush; former Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, a Democrat; former state Rep. Delwin Jones, the Republican whom Perry unseated in 2010; and Wolfforth resident Epifanio Garza.

Perry and Arrington are the early favorites, with both men getting into the race relatively early and each heading into July with about $200,000 in the bank. They’re expected to vie for GOP voters, with Perry tapping the tea party support he received during his run for the state House.

Last month, Gov. Rick Perry announced the election will be held Sept. 9, surprising some local Republicans who assumed he’d schedule it for November. Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said he picked the earlier date to ensure the winner could be sworn in before the beginning of the legislative session, even if a runoff occurs.

“Senate District 28 will gain seniority this way,” said Carl Tepper, chairman of the Lubbock County Republican Party. “This gives our guy a little of an advantage heading in to the session.”

Remember how long it took Perry to get around to scheduling the SD06 special election after the death of Mario Gallegos? God forbid a Republican Senate seat should sit open one minute longer than necessary.

This is a Republican seat, but unlike in SD04 there is a Democrat running, and if you read this profile of Greg Wortham, you’ll agree that he’s a Democrat worth supporting. Bill White scored 28.74% in SD28 in 2010, which needless to say isn’t close to winning but which ought to be good enough to get into a runoff. I don’t know how active Battleground Texas is in Lubbock – unfortunately, a Google search of “Battleground Texas Lubbock” and a look at the Lubbock County Democratic Party webpage and Facebook page don’t provide much fodder for optimism – but to whatever extent they hope to gig turnout for Wendy Davis and the rest of the Democratic ticket in November, they have a great opportunity to field test their methods next month, in the service of maybe getting a good Democrat into a special election runoff. I hope they take advantage of it.

Lawsuit filed over Senate map

From Texas Redistricting:

[Monday] morning, two Texas voters filed a suit in federal court challenging the state senate map drawn by the Texas Legislature on the grounds that it violated the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment by using total population rather eligible voters to draw districts.

The plaintiffs in the case are backed by the Project for Fair Representation, which also helped back Shelby County’s challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as well as efforts to overturn affirmative action policies at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Center’s press release announcing the new Texas suit can be found here.

More information here.

What’s at issue?

The plaintiffs argue that the current Texas senate map (Plan S172) must be redrawn using “eligible voters” rather than “total population” – the measure long used by the Texas Legislature – because the latter now results in districts with significantly differing numbers of voters.

By not using eligible voters, the plaintiffs say the Texas Legislature violated the “one-person, one vote” principle of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment by allowing some voters’ votes to count for more than those of others.

Why are there disparities?

In Texas, the major driver of disparities in the number of eligible voters is the high number of non-citizens in parts of the state – mainly its urban and suburban cores. For example, in places like Dallas and Houston, commonly accepted estimates are that around half of adult Hispanics are non-citizens.

Of course, disparities also can exist for any number of other reasons, including higher numbers of children under 18 in fast growing parts of the state or a larger number of people who are unable to vote because of felony convictions.

However, differing citizenship rates are, by far, the largest driver of disparities in the number of eligible voters.

[…]

How would drawing districts using “eligible voters” change the current map?

At present, Texas senate districts have a target population of 811,147 people.

If courts were to require maps to be drawn using some measure of eligible voters, the target size of districts also would change.

For example, although Texas has over 25 million people, its citizen voting age population in the most recent Census Bureau report was estimated to be just 15,583,540. Using CVAP to draw districts would mean that each district would have a CVAP target of 502,695.

That target population would require significant reworking of districts that presently have large Hispanic populations.

In the Houston area, for example, SD-13, represented by State Sen. Rodney Ellis, has a CVAP population of only 419,035, and SD-6, represented by State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, fares even worse with just 377,505 citizens of voting age. Likewise, in the Dallas area, SD-23, represented by State Sen. Royce West, has just 456,955.

Even with permitted deviations from the target population, these districts would need to add population, mostly likely by drawing from neighboring Anglo-dominated districts. Though those people might or might not be Anglo, the need to add large numbers of people mean the demographics and electoral performance of the districts could change materially. In fact, the need to add people might very well jeopardize the protected status that those districts currently enjoy under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In other words, this could be a very big deal not only for Hispanics but also potentially African-Americans.

There could be practical impacts as well for legislators since urban districts would likely end up with far greater numbers of total people – who, although they might not be able to vote, still have need for constituent services – and be much larger physically as well.

Wasn’t there a similar case recently about the same issue?

Yes. In fact, it involved many of the same players.

In Lepak v. City of Irving, the lawyers in the Texas senate case – also backed by the Project for Fair Representation – represented Irving residents in arguing that the city’s new single-member council district map was unconstitutional because it had been drawn using total population rather than CVAP.

Both the district court and the Fifth Circuit ruled against the Irving plaintiffs, citing the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Chen v. City of Houston, which held that the question of whether to use total population or CVAP was a political question and thus not reviewable by courts.

The Irving plaintiffs sought to have the decision reviewed by the Supreme Court, but the high court declined last April to take the case.

However, the Texas senate case potentially represents another opportunity to have the Supreme Court take up the issue since any appeal would go directly to the Supreme Court as a matter of right.

More background on Lepak here.

There’s more at the link, but basically this is a nuisance action being brought by some professional grievance-mongers. It would serve them right not only to have the case dismissed with prejudice, but also to be assessed full court costs and attorneys’ fees for wasting everyone’s time. The Observer and Rick Hasen have more.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia

Sylvia Garcia has been sworn in to succeed the late Mario Gallegos in SD06.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, took her place in the Texas Senate chamber Monday to succeed the late Mario Gallegos.

“We have 31 members. We are complete,” said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said, “Mario would be proud of this moment.”

Garcia, who is the seventh woman serving in the current Senate, expressed her thanks to her family members and voters in brief remarks.

“I believe in short and sweet,” she said.

Monday afternoon, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst named her to the following committees: Government Organization, Intergovernmental Relations, Jurisprudence and Nominations.

Texpatriate, who has a photo of the swearing-in, was the first person I saw to report this. Congratulations, Sen. Sylvia Garcia. Go and do the great job everyone knows you will do.

Sen.-elect Garcia ready to get going

The only thing holding Sen.-elect Sylvia Garcia back at this point is the bureaucracy.

Sylvia Garcia

“Sylvia’s well poised to have an impact in the senate. For one thing, Senate districts are too big to ignore,” [Democratic political consultant Harold] Cook said. “When you come to Austin and you make a good case for yourself and your district, you have a pretty good shot of taking care of your folks back home. If you’re not too picky about who gets the credit around there, you can get a lot done.”

Though the formal March 8 deadline for filing bills will have passed when Garcia is sworn in, Cook said, professional courtesy would allow her to introduce legislation.

“Her challenge is going to be that she didn’t have the additional month that every other senator had in laying the groundwork to pass some of that legislation,” he said. “Even if you’re a new senator, you knew you were elected last November and you started talking to your fellow legislators and to constituents and to stakeholders about what you planned to do. There’s been no opportunity to do that for Sylvia.”

That said, Garcia’s experience, Cook said, will help her overcome the obstacle of having to parachute into the Senate mid-session.

[…]

Commissioners Court will meet March 9 to canvass the election results, after which Gov. Rick Perry will have until March 16 to follow suit; Garcia then would be sworn in.

As I said before, it’s ridiculous that the clear winner of a special election should have to wait that long to be sworn in when a session is already in progress. If the special election and runoff had proceeded at more urgent pace, with the runoff taking place at the end of January, I’d be slightly less miffed. But this is stupid and unnecessary. The election result is not in question. The people of SD06 should not be forced to wait up to two weeks for these formalities. Trail Blazers suggests that Garcia could be sworn in next week, which would be a shorter wait, but it’s still longer than it needs to be. Someone should file a bill to amend the election code to allow for an expedited swearing-in under these conditions. That person better hurry, because by the time Sen.-elect Garcia gets to drop the “-elect” from her name, it’ll be too late.

Sylvia Garcia wins SD06 runoff

Congratulations, Sen.-elect Sylvia Garcia.

Sylvia Garcia

Former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia beat State Rep. Carol Alvarado in the runoff race for the Senate District 6 seat, according to preliminary results.

Garcia earned 53 percent of the vote, compared to Alvarado’s 47 percent with 95 percent of precincts counted, according to the Harris County Clerk.

Shortly after Saturday’s race Alvarado tweeted: “I go back to Austin on Monday, and I won’t skip a beat!”

Garcia told her followers: “I’m so proud that you chose to send me to the Texas Senate. I will never stop fighting for you!”

[…]

More than 17,500 voters cast ballots in the runoff.

The final total was just over 18,000 votes, of which a bit more than 9.500 were cast early. Both were improvements over the January election, with the runoff turnout exceeding Round One by nearly 2,000 votes. I’ll note that I called it on the higher turnout.

Now here’s the bad news:

Harris County has 10 days to canvass the results after Saturday’s contest, and Gov. Rick Perry’s office of has an additional four days. The winner cannot take her oath until the governor’s canvass, which means the victor will not be able to file any bills after taking office.

Cripes. After all this time, we still have to wait another two weeks for SD06 to be represented. If Sen.-elect Garcia were able to file bills, I’d recommend that her first would be to amend the special election procedure to allow for an immediate swearing in when a special election to fill a vacancy occurs during a session and there’s no question of a recount or other challenge to the election to fill that vacancy. I mean seriously, in a just world Garcia would be sworn in on Monday. Maybe one of her colleagues-to-be can file this legislation on her behalf, or perhaps Rep. Alvarado can do it as a gesture of letting bygones be bygones. In any event, congratulations and best wishes to Sen.-elect Garcia, and my thanks to Rep. Alvarado, who I’m glad to say will still be my State Rep, for her candidacy. PDiddie, who was following the results last night, has more.

Today is Runoff Day in SD06

From the inbox:

Harris County’s Chief Election Official Stan Stanart reminds eligible voters in State Senate District 6 that the last day to vote in the Special Runoff Election is Saturday, March 2, 2013. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters must vote at their precinct polling location.

“If you are qualified to vote in the runoff election and have not voted, Saturday is your last chance,” said Stanart who is also the County Clerk. “I encourage all eligible voters who reside within the boundaries of Senate District 6 to vote. In a low turnout election, every vote is significant.”

Despite an abbreviated 7 day early voting period, the number of persons processed to vote during early voting for the runoff election topped the number of voters processed during the 12 day early voting period in the first round of voting, 5,526 to 5,369. Additionally, more voters have requested and returned mail ballots for this runoff election than those in the first round of voting. “Thus far, voter participation in SD6 is increasing, which is unusual in that runoff elections tend to attract fewer voters,” asserted Stanart.

Stanart also reminds Senate District 6 voters who requested a mail ballot but did not mail it in time, that they can take the mail ballot to their Election Day poll and vote a regular ballot. “If a voter who requested a mail ballot does not take the mail ballot to the poll the voter will have to vote a provisional ballot,” explained Stanart.

On Election Day, voters must vote in the polling location in which their precinct is voting. To find your Election Day polling location, voters should visit www.HarrisVotes.com or call 713 755 6965.

The Clerk’s office has now published this spreadsheet of Election Day polling locations, so check to see where you need to go before you head out to vote. For all the complaints people may have about the delay, the process, the candidates, whatever, the important thing is that in a few hours the people of SD06 will be represented again. I’m going to be away from the Internet for a few hours this evening, so I won’t be able to post about the result until late. Feel free to keep track of things in the comments. Good luck to Carol Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia, and may the best candidate win.

UPDATE: Sylvia Garcia is the winner. Congratulations to her.

Early voting ends in SD06

Early voting ended in the SD06 runoff yesterday. As of when I went to bed, the final daily totals had not been sent out – the daily totals as of Monday, which are here, hit my inbox at 9:30 AM Tuesday, so I don’t really expect them till some time today. I’ll update this post after they arrive. As a reminder, here’s the final report from the first round. My guess is that Campos is right and the final total for the runoff will be at or slightly above that of Round One.

Election Day is this Saturday, March 2, from 7 AM to 7 PM. You can see a list of polling places here. The accompanying email from the County Clerk’s office emphasized that this was not final and could change, so be sure to doublecheck before you head out.

In other news, Sylvia Garcia got a late endorsement from the Texas Federation of Teachers. One never knows how much of an effect endorsements will have, but my general rule, especially for a low-turnout affair, is better to have them than not. Both candidates made appearances on KUHF this week, Garcia on Monday morning and Carol Alvarado on Tuesday. You can hear Garcia’s segment here, and Alvarado’s here. Both are very much on the attack – see PDiddie and this Chron story from today for the latest, if that sort of thing interests you. I for one will be glad when all of the nasty ads are done running on TV, in particular all the ads during basketball games on ESPN and CSN Houston. That’s the problem with live sporting events, you can’t zap the commercials. Be that as it may, the SD06 vacancy will be filled on Monday, when the victor is sworn in. Depending on the outcome, we may then have a vacancy in HD145 to deal with, but I’m quite certain that election, if one is needed, won’t be until November. Feel free to post your prediction in the comments.

UPDATE: Here are the final early vote totals for the runoff. So far, 8,780 ballots have been cast, which is a bit more than 500 higher than Round One. Given that some 2,500 mail ballots are still out, I’ll estimate that the ultimate early total will be about 9,000 by Saturday, also about 500 higher than before. We’ll see if that translates to a slightly higher final turnout.

Day One runoff EV totals

Here’s your Day One runoff EV report for the SD06 election. For comparison purposes, here’s the final report from the first round. This isn’t apples to apples, of course, because there were 12 EV days in Round 1 whereas there will only be seven days this time, but note that the in person total yesterday exceeds the in person plus mail ballots from Day One in Round One, the mail ballots returned yesterday is greater than any two days from Round One, and the total mail ballots sent is 30% more than the total mail ballots sent last time, with more likely still to be sent. Point being, even with the compressed schedule, the potential exists for a greater number of early voters in the runoff, which is consistent with my hypothesis that the total turnout this time around could match or exceed Round One. Too early to say for sure, of course, but keep an eye on it. Houston Politics has more.

Early voting starts today for SD06 runoff

It’s runoff time for SD06. Early voting begins today and runs through Tuesday, February 26. Here are the early voting locations, which are the same as they were for the first round:

Location Address
1 Harris County Administration Building 1001 Preston, 1st Floor Houston TX 77002
2 Holy Name Catholic Church 1912 Marion Street Houston TX 77009
3 Ripley House 4410 Navigation Boulevard Houston TX 77011
4 H.C.C.S Southeast College, Learning Hub 6815 Rustic, Bldg D Houston TX 77087
5 Galena Park Library 1500 Keene Street Galena Park TX 77547
6 Hardy Senior Center 11901 West Hardy Road Houston TX 77076
7 Baytown Community Center 2407 Market Street Baytown TX 77520

See Harris Votes for more. With only seven days of early voting, and only three of those days being full 7 AM to 7 PM days, GOTV efforts for both Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado will be even more important.

One thing Alvarado will have going for her as voting begins is the Chron’s endorsement.

Rep. Carol Alvarado

Runoff candidates Sylvia Garcia and Carol Alvarado are both dedicated public servants with a long history of representing the area.

In terms of political positions, there’s not much difference between them. Both are Democrats who vow to strengthen state education spending and expand Medicaid. They differ chiefly in the way in which they’d go about achieving their goals. Garcia vows to go toe-to-toe against Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans. Alvarado says that she’d continue to do what she’s done as a member of the Republican-controlled Texas House: work with members across the aisle to get legislation passed.

We believe that Alvarado’s approach will serve her district best. In part, that’s pure pragmatism. Given Republicans’ utter dominance of our state’s government, a Democrat who hopes to accomplish anything at all has to play nicely with the GOP. But it’s also the solution to a larger problem. Both Texas and the United States need more politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, who can find middle ground and nudge the body politic forward. Alvarado is that kind of legislator.

Residents of the district are familiar with Alvarado and her staff, who are frequent presences at civic club meetings and neighborhood events. That sort of ground-level constituent service might not be notable elsewhere, but it is in places like the east side of Houston, Galena Park and South Houston. Many of the area’s neighborhoods receive too little attention from the elected officials who are supposed to serve them.

Members of the Legislature also are familiar with Alvarado. That’s especially important in this runoff because its winner will have to hit the ground running. She’ll be sworn into the state Senate with only a few days left in which bills can be filed. As a third-term member of the House, Alvarado knows the legislature’s ins and outs and has already established many of the relationships she’ll need to serve her district.

Congrats to Rep. Alvarado for getting the endorsement.

For those of you who still want to hear more about issues in this race – I know, how quaint – Stace summarizes a Univision report that has more information than we’ve seen in other recent reports.

I’ll keep an eye on daily early voter turnout. I think there’s a better chance this time around that early turnout will be less than half of final turnout – it was about 60% of final turnout for Round One – and I think there’s a decent chance that total turnout will match or exceed turnout from the first election. I’m just guessing, however – it could easily be the case that turnout declines. Before anyone clucks their tongues about the nature of certain districts, note Greg‘s words about how turnout in SD06 compares to the special election in SD22 from 2010. It is what it is. Just go vote if you live in SD06 and let everything else take care of itself.

We have a runoff date

It’s earlier than I thought it would be.

Rep. Carol Alvarado

Gov. Rick Perry on Friday set a March 2 special runoff election to fill the open seat created by the death of the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos. The race, between State Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, will occur just six days before the deadline for lawmakers to file bills in the 83rd legislative session.

Sylvia Garcia

Because Harris County has 10 days to canvass those results and the governor’s office has an additional four days after that, the spring election likely means SD-6 will not have representation until mid-March. The winner cannot take her oath until the governor’s office performs its official canvass, the secretary of state’s office confirmed last month.

Perry spokesman Josh Havens said the March 2 date was the earliest possible runoff date after Harris County performed its canvass on Feb. 4.

March 2 is of course also Texas Independence Day. Clearly it will be more festive for some folks than for others. I have to say, I fully expected Perry to set the date for March 16, the latest possible date, because he had no reason to do otherwise and it would maximally screw the district. I’m glad to see that for once I was too cynical about him. Now let’s see if the Chron can manage to narrow its endorsement down to one candidate sometime before then.

It’s Sylvia versus Carol in the runoff

Pretty much as expected. Here’s the vote totals from the County Clerk:

Candidate Votes Pct ========================= Garcia 7,416 45.37 Alvarado 6,803 41.62 Bray 1,014 6.20 Olmos 461 2.82 Martinez 403 2.47 Reyes 125 0.76 Selva 73 0.45 Delgado 52 0.32

Two points of interest here. One is that the Election Day vote total was 7,747, which was 47.4% of the 16,347 total votes cast; the absentee ballots received in the last few days pushed the early vote total up to 8,600. That meant that the final total was even below my low-end estimate. As I said before, this could be a case where the runoff gets as many votes as the first round, maybe even a bit more. But any way you look at it this is uninspiring.

The other point is that while Garcia had a majority of the absentee ballots and a plurality of the in person early votes, Alvarado nipped her by 33 votes on Election Day. This is just a reminder that anything can happen in the runoff, and the only thing that really matters in elections like this is getting your people to show up. Forget how many votes anyone got in November. Special elections are a whole other ball game.

As for when the runoff will be, the Trib reminds us of the timeline.

Harris County elections officials have 10 days to canvass Election Day results, while Perry’s office has 14, according to the Secretary of State. The governor’s canvass can’t take place until the county finishes its canvass, and the governor has five days after his canvass to order the runoff election. The runoff would have to be set on a date between the 12th and 25th day after Perry ordered it, and it must take place on a Tuesday or a Saturday.

Basically, some time in the next seven weeks, which is to say some time between now and March 16. Don’t expect it much earlier than that.

UPDATE: From KHOU, via PDiddie:

Even some of Alvarado’s closest political allies privately concede defeating Garcia will be difficult, especially after trailing in this weekend’s election. Garcia’s lead in the general election will help her attract campaign funds from contributors hoping to buy favor with the next state senator.

Maybe. It’s about getting your people out, and as we can see it doesn’t necessarily take that many of them. I would not take any bets on the outcome of the runoff.

Election Day in SD06

It’s highly unlikely that this will settle anything, but today is Election Day in SD06. If you live in SD06 and have waited till today to cast your ballot, you can find your polling place here or here. I’ve already done my spiel about turnout and finance reports, so let’s see what the media has to say. Here’s the Texas Trib:

Alvarado and Garcia have campaigned at breakneck speeds after Perry officially announced Saturday’s election date on Dec. 13. The ensuing weeks have seen several candidate forums and fundraisers.

The most recent campaign finance filing period ended Jan. 18, with Garcia reporting about $164,000 raised since Jan. 1, expenditures of $300,000 and about $228,400 remaining in her war chest. A pre-election telegram report, which is filed to report contributions received after the date of the last report, shows Garcia raised an additional $14,500.

Alvarado raised about $185,000 during the same time period, spent about $315,000 and has about $110,000 left on hand. She also raised about $20,000 after the filing date, according to her telegram reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that plaintiff’s attorney and Democratic donor Steve Mostyn provided a bulk of Garcia’s support. Mostyn has donated more than $200,000 to Garcia throughout the course of the campaign, including about $187,000 in in-kind contributions from Mostyn’s Texas Organizing Project PAC.

The publication also noted that Alvarado received $22,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union and a $15,000 donation from HillCo lobbyists in Austin.

[…]

Garcia also hit Alvarado after the representative touted an endorsement from Stand for Children, an education advocacy group that Garcia said supports school vouchers.

“Sylvia Garcia strongly believes in fully funding our public schools, not using those dollars to help wealthy private schools take money away from our children,” Guerra said in a statement.

Hitting back, Alvarado said she has always supported public education and is on the side of educators and school districts.

“I am a product of HISD,” she said. “If there is any doubt on where I stand on public education, look at my voting record. I am the only one in this race with a record.”

In her release, Garcia includes a link to a document on the Stand for Children website called “What We Stand For: School Choice.”

“This paper begins with an overview of existing choice programs and a discussion of the current evidence available on these policies and their impact on student outcomes and equity,” the researchers write.

Calls to Stand for Children seeking clarification on where the group stands on the issue of vouchers were not immediately returned.

“School choice” means different things to different people, but I have zero doubt that Alvarado would oppose vouchers. There’s nothing in her record or her rhetoric to suggest otherwise. It would be nice to get some clarity from Stand For Children on this, but this will not keep me awake at night.

More from the Chron:

Alvarado said she was focusing on the issues the district’s voters care about: education, the economy and jobs, health care.

“We’re knocking on doors, phone-calling and keeping on message,” she said. “I’m happy we haven’t lowered ourselves into the gutter the way our opponent has.”

Garcia rejected the negative-campaigning charge. “Any time you compare a record – and that’s all we’re doing – your opponent will say you’re going negative. We’ll just have to let the voters decide.”

Whatever you think about the race so far, any real nastiness will come out in the runoff. That’s just how the world works.

[Dorothy] Olmos, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the State Board of Education in 2010, said she is working her ground game, as well.

“We’re knocking on doors and beating the bushes,” she said.

Olmos, a former teacher and hair salon operator, noted that she received 80,000 votes in the general election for the State Board of Education, 35,000 from Senate District 6.

Dream big, Dorothy. RW Bray got 38,201 votes in SD06 in November, and that’s about twice as many votes as will be cast in total for this race. As a point of comparison, Lawrence Allen, the incumbent Democrat in SBOE 4 that Olmos opposed in 2012, got over 77,000 votes in SD06. And just to fully beat this into submission, by my count there were 27,556 straight ticket Republican votes cast in SD06. This means that nearly 80% of Dorothy Olmos’ vote total in SD06 came from straight ticket voters, of which there will be none today, and that just under 7,500 people made the deliberate and conscious choice of voting for Dorothy Olmos last November. Of course, if she were to match that vote total in this election, she’d be a near lock for the runoff, but I feel pretty confident saying that ain’t gonna happen. I’ll have a brief post about who does make the runoff tonight and a fuller one tomorrow morning. Stace has more.

UPDATE: It will be Sylvia versus Carol for the runoff. No surprises at all.

Final SD06 early voting turnout

Here’s the final daily record of early voting in SD06. Tuesday was the strongest day as expected, with a bit over 1,000 ballots being cast, but that just got the total to 8,245. With four more days for mail ballots to arrive, I’d guess the number will ultimately be about 8,500 when the first results are posted Saturday evening. As such, my official guess for total turnout is between 17,000 and 22,000. Not terribly inspiring, but what are you gonna do? PDiddie has more.

If you live in SD06 and have waited to vote till Saturday, you can find your Election Day polling place here – I’ve got it as a Google spreadsheet as well. Remember that for low-turnout elections some precincts will be consolidated, so don’t assume your regular November ballot location will be open. Check before you go, and call the County Clerk’s office at 713 755 6965 if you have any questions or see any problems.

I should note that like the special election in District H from 2009, I think this could be one of those elections where turnout in the runoff meets or exceeds turnout from the first round of voting. The stakes are higher in the runoff, obviously, but as that is the time when both Team Sylvia and Team Carol will throw out whatever remaining bad stuff they have on each other, it’s likely there will be more news coverage of the race. That’s not a very pleasant thought either, but we already knew there wasn’t a correlation between the civility of a campaign and the size of the electorate.

Finally, on a side note, the Chron took a look at the January finance reports for Carol Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia. All I can say to that is what took them so long? Not that it really matters all that much at this point, because as of yesterday the 8 day reports were finally posted. Here’s the skinny:

Carol Alvarado

Raised $185,016
Spent $314,904
Cash $109,742

Sylvia Garcia

Raised $163,822
Spent $299,841
Cash $228,408

RW Bray

Raised $345
Spent $360
Cash $345

Maria Selva

Raised $410
Spent $0
Cash $197

Susan DelgadoJanuary semiannual report posted, but the only item in it was the $1250 filing fee.

Joaquin Martinez

Raised $5,558
Spent $1,957
Cash $0

Rodolfo Reyes

Raised $0
Spent $2,966
Cash $0
Loan $16,607

Dorothy Olmos did not have an 8 day report available. To their credit, the Chron did report on the 8 days yesterday, so good on them for that. I didn’t have the time to wade through these reports, so I will leave that to you. At the very least, it looks like Sylvia Garcia may head into the runoff with more cash on hand, though we won’t know till later how much both she and Carol Alvarado will spend between the 18th and the 26th. We’ll see how they stand on Saturday and go from there. Stace has more.

Last day of early voting in SD06 today

Today is the last day for early voting in the SD06 special election. Voting has not been terribly brisk so far. Through Monday there have been 7,178 total votes cast. You can see the daily figures here. Monday was a little slow because of MLK Day and no mail ballots arriving – we’ll see if an extra big pile of absentee ballots arrive today. But even if that happens, it seems to me that there will around 8,000 early votes cast, maybe 8,500, so unless there’s a big chunk of the vote to come on Election Day this Saturday, we will very likely fall on the low end of the turnout projections. There really isn’t a comparable race to turn to for comparison, but just for grins here’s how the early vote/Election Day breakdown went for the past six special elections and runoffs in Harris County.

Houston City Council, At Large #3, May 2007 – 44.7% of 37,592 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, At Large #3 runoff, June 2007 – 51.8% of 24,865 votes were cast early

SD17 runoff, Harris County only, December 2008 – 39.7% of 23,626 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, District H, May 2009 – 45.5% of 4,186 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, District H runoff, June 2009 – 47.7% of 4,707 votes were cast early

HISD Trustee, District 8, November 2010 – 50.5% of 24,631 votes were cast early

There was a runoff for that last race, but its results were not given on the Harris County Clerk page, so I can’t say how much of that vote was cast early. The 2010 and 2007 general elections were coincident with other scheduled elections – there was a city proposition on the ballot in May of 2007, and no I didn’t remember that, either – the others were not. With tongue firmly in cheek, I’d suggest that between 40 and 50 percent of the vote in this race will be cast early, so on the extremely optimistic assumption that there will be about 9,000 votes total cast early, we’re looking at an over/under of about 20,000 – say between 18,000 and 22,500, to be obnoxious about it. If we’re closer to 8,000 votes cast by tomorrow, lower those endpoints to 15,000 and 20,000.

It was my intent to include a look at 8 day campaign finance reports for this race, but as far as I can tell there are no such things posted on the Texas Ethics Commission page, just the January 15 reports. I don’t know why this is the case – maybe they’re someplace other than the usual location, for some reason – but I didn’t see 30 day reports, either, so maybe that should have told me something. With the January 15 deadline falling between the two dates I guess that makes some sense. For what it’s worth, Big Jolly suggested that Carol Alvarado was doing a lot better in fundraising than Sylvia Garcia was because a large portion of Garcia’s total on the January 15 report was that $106K in kind contribution from the Texas Organizing Project PAC (TOPPAC). I get what he’s saying, but it seems to me that a sizable investment in field work is quite valuable in a race like this, no matter how it’s accounted for. Speaking of which, Big Jolly also has this to say:

What I don’t understand is why RW Bray’s report doesn’t list In-Kind donations from Raging Elephants. I get at least one email a day supporting his candidacy from the Apostle’s group, stating that it is a political ad paid for by Raging Elephants. The last few days, the Apostle has been begging people to get to HCRP headquarters for phone banking. Now, we already know that Raging Elephants doesn’t bother with filing campaign finance reports but if a miracle were to happen and Bray somehow sneaks into a runoff, he’s going to have some ‘splaining to do. I mean, someone is paying for all that phone banking they have going on out of the Harris County Republican Party headquarters. Right?

Indeed. Perhaps someone ought to file a complaint about that. In any event, everyone involved in this race will have to make at least one more finance report, in July if they don’t make the runoff, so perhaps we’ll learn more about this at that time. If you are in SD06 and you haven’t voted yet, please do so. Early voting locations are here, and polling locations for Election Day on Saturday the 26th can be found here. Please do your part to prove my projections too pessimistic.

January reports for SD06 candidates

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

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

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

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

Next up, Sylvia Garcia:

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

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

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

RW Bray

Raised $300
Spent $1,310
Cash $620

Maria Selva

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

Dorothy Olmos

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

Rodolfo Reyes

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

Joaquin Martinez

Raised $447
Spent $1,250
Cash $0

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

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

Three days of early voting in SD06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday           1/21/13            3:00 pm

Tuesday          1/22/13            8:00 am

Tuesday          1/22/13            4:30 pm

Wednesday     1/23/13             2:30 pm

Thursday         1/24/13            4:30 pm

Friday             1/25/13            8:00 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsement watch: Why not both?

I should have seen this coming.

[Sen. Mario] Gallegos’ passing opened the Senate District 6 seat after the deceased man polled 70 percent in the November general election against a Republican opponent. No fewer than eight candidates are seeking to replace him in the Jan. 26 special election.

From among that number, we encourage District 6 voters to cast a ballot for either state Rep. Carol Alvarado or Sylvia Garcia, a former Harris County commissioner and city controller. In our judgment, these two are best suited by experience and familiarity with the turf to represent a sprawling, geographically unwieldy district whose needs are many.

This is of course not the first time the Chron has gone the multiple-choice route. They made a dual endorsement in the 2009 Mayor’s race, and a three-way endorsement in the GOP primary for CD36 this year. As one who has proclaimed himself to be resolutely neutral in this race – which I can do since I now reside in SD15 – I suppose I can’t be too critical. I just wonder if and how they’ll break the tie in the likely event that both Garcia and Alvarado make it to the runoff.

Interview with Carol Alvarado

Rep. Carol Alvarado

The special election in SD06 to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos is Saturday, January 26, and early voting for this election begins Wednesday, January 9. There are two serious candidates in this race, former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia and State Rep. Carol Alvarado. I published an interview with Commissioner Garcia on Monday, and today I bring you one with Rep. Alvarado. Like Garcia, Carol Alvarado’s resume of public service is long and accomplished – three terms on City Council, Mayor Pro Tem, beginning her third term as representative for HD145. She too has been a strong advocate and ally for many progressive causes, and also boasts the support of numerous Democratic elected officials as well as police and firefighter unions. Here’s the interview:

Carol Alvarado interview

Feel free to add your speculation here about who will finish first and whether or not there will need to be a runoff.

Chron overview of SD06

The day before early voting begins in the SD06 special election (which is today), the Chron previews the race. It has a lot of stuff we already know, and it mostly focuses on the two frontrunners, Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado, so I’m not going to recapitulate that. There are a couple of interesting tidbits that I want to mention.

With eight candidates in the race in an overwhelmingly Democratic district that includes Houston’s East End, the race is likely to come down to a battle between two prominent Democrats, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, whose House district overlaps much of the Senate district, and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

Also running are R.W. Bray, the Republican candidate who lost to Gallegos last fall; Democrats Susan Delgado, Joaquin Martinez and Rodolfo “Rudy” Reyes; Republican Dorothy Olmos; and Green Party candidate Maria Selva.

If a runoff is needed – and with so many candidates, one is likely – it will be held between Feb. 23 and March 9, with Gov. Rick Perry scheduling the exact date.

[…]

Among the state’s 31 senate districts, this predominantly Hispanic district ranks last in the number of registered voters (284,000) and in 2012 voter turnout (138,000). [Rice poli sci prof Mark] Jones estimates that fewer than 1 in 10 registered voters and 1 in 25 district residents will cast a ballot.

While there have been a number of legislative special elections in recent years, there hasn’t been one like this, in a strongly Democratic district with two clear leaders and at least one Republican who will likely do better than the default background candidate rate. The closest match is the 2005 special election in HD143 in which Rep. Ana Hernandez was elected to succeed the late Rep. Joe Moreno. It’s not an exact match because there were no declared Republicans in the race, though one of the minor candidates was the same Dorothy Olmos who is running in this race (and has run in many others since 2005) as a Republican. Hernandez and runnerup Laura Salinas combined for 68.4% in that race, with four other candidates splitting the remaining 31.6%. PDiddie does some crunching to suggest a vote total that would win this race in the first round. I look at it this way: Assume Bray gets 15%, and the other five combine to take 10%. For either Garcia or Alvarado to win it on January 26, one would have to beat the other by at least 25 points, i.e., by at least a 50-25 margin, since 25% of the vote is already accounted for. Do you think that’s even remotely possible? I sure don’t. And if the non-Sylvia and Carol candidates combine for more of the vote, a first-round winner would need an even wider margin. Ain’t gonna happen.

As for the vote total that Jones predicts, here’s a look at the four most recent Senate special elections:

Dist Date Num Votes Top 2 ================================ 22 May 2010 4 29,851 81.47 17 Dec 2008 2 43,673 84.52 31 Jan 2004 7 69,415 66.27 01 Jan 2004 6 69,206 75.50

“Num” is the number of candidates, and “Top 2” is the combined percentage of the top two candidates. There was a runoff in each case, and I’m cheating a little with the SD17 special election – the vote total (“Votes”) is from the runoff, since the special election itself (which had 6 candidates) was on the date of the 2008 general election, and thus had the kind of turnout (223,295) one would expect for a regular Senate election. I don’t know how much you can extrapolate from all this, but you write your blog post with the data you have, not the data you wish you had. For what it’s worth, from chatting with the campaigns I’d say they’re expecting a slightly higher vote total than Jones is projecting. We’ll see.

One more thing:

If a runoff is needed – and with so many candidates, one is likely – it will be held between Feb. 23 and March 9, with Gov. Rick Perry scheduling the exact date.

[…]

Meanwhile, the district’s approximately 813,000 residents will be without representation in the state Senate until the latter half of March, when the newly elected senator will be sworn in.

I would think that if the runoff is no later than March 9 that the newly-elected Senator would be sworn in sooner than “the latter half of March”. I know there’s a canvass period for election results that can take a week or more before the result is certified, but does that hold everything up until it’s done? It’s not usually a consideration because we have elections in November and swearings-in in January, but obviously here it does matter. The statutes on elections to fill a legislative vacancy were not clear to me on this, and the last time we had a vacancy during a session (2005, when Rep. Moreno died in an auto accident), the ensuing special election was not called until November. Anyone have a good answer for this?

Interview with Sylvia Garcia

Sylvia Garcia

The special election in SD06 to succeed the late Sen. Mario Gallegos is Saturday, January 26, and early voting for this election begins Wednesday, January 9. There are two serious candidates in this race, State Rep. Carol Alvarado and former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. I will publish an interview with Rep. Alvarado on Wednesday, and today I bring you one with Commissioner Garcia. Sylvia Garcia’s resume of public service is long and accomplished – Municipal Court judge, City Controller, Harris County Commissioner, President of NALEO, and on and on. She has been a strong advocate and ally for many progressive causes, and as one might expect she has numerous Democratic elected officials and progressive-aligned groups such as the AFL-CIO and SEIU in her corner. Here’s the interview:

Sylvia Garcia interview

Feel free to add your speculation here about who will finish first and whether or not there will need to be a runoff.

Endorsement watch: GLBT Caucus for Sylvia

From the inbox:

Sylvia Garcia

The Caucus membership met Wednesday evening to consider endorsement for the vacancy in Senate District 6 created by the passing of Senator Mario Gallegos. Members had to make a very difficult decision between two amazingly qualified and pro-equality candidates, former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Carol Alvarado. After a lengthy round of thoughtful and in-depth deliberations, members voted to endorse Garcia. Prior to the meeting, Garcia and Alvarado completed a thorough questionnaire and met with an eight-member screening committee.

“Sylvia Garcia’s strong record of public service and personal experiences supporting and defending members of the LGBT community will make her a strong advocate for the interests of our community in the Senate.” said Caucus President Noel Freeman. People interested in volunteering time to help our election efforts can email us at volunteer@thecaucus.org.

I’m sure that was a tough decision for the screening committee to make, and if my limited experience with Caucus meetings is representative, that discussion was very spirited discussion as well. This is the kind of election where this sort of endorsement matters, as it can serve as a tie-breaker for anyone who might be otherwise on the fence, and with turnout likely to be low, every vote really matters. The last big endorsement to look for will be the Chron’s, which I presume will be any day now since early voting begins on Wednesday. I’ll have my interviews with Commissioner Garcia and Rep. Alvarado up on Monday and Wednesday of next week, respectively.

Speaking of early voting, via Campos here are the early voting locations:

Harris County Administration Bldg., First Floor
1001 Preston
77002

Holy Name Catholic Church – Gym
1912 Marion St.
77009

Ripley House
4410 Navigation
77011

H.C.C.S. Southeast College, Learning Hub – Bldg. D
6815 Rustic
77087

Galena Park Library
1500 Keene St.
Galena Park, 77547

Hardy Senior Center
11901 West Hardy Road
77076

Baytown Community Center
2407 Market Street
Baytown, 77520

And via Stace, you can see a Google map of these locations here. For my fellow residents of the Heights who are still in SD06, the admin building and Holy Name Church are the closest early voting locations to you. Early voting runs from the 9th through the 11th, the resumes again on Monday the 14th and continues until the following Tuesday the 22nd. There is no early voting that first weekend, the 12th and 13th. Early voting hours are 8 to 4:30 on the 9th through the 11th, and 7 to 7 all other days except Sunday the 20th. Yes, it’s a bit confusing. See Harris Votes for more.

There are eight candidates who have filed for SD06

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

Carol AlvaradoFacebookTwitter

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

RW BrayFacebook

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

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

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

Sylvia GarciaFacebookTwitter

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

Joaquin MartinezFacebook

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

Dorothy OlmosFacebook

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

Rodolfo Reyes

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

Maria Selva

Selva was the Green Party candidate for CD29 in 2012.

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

So who’s in for the SD06 special election?

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

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

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

The other, via Stace, is Joaquin Martinez.

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

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

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

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

Trib overview of SD06 special election

For all the delays in getting this called, the special election in SD06 is one month from today. The Trib takes a look.

Sylvia Garcia

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat and former Harris County commissioner, are vying to replace state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston. Gallegos, the first Hispanic senator to represent Harris County, died Oct. 16 of complications associated with a 2007 liver transplant. Also in the race is R.W. Bray, a Republican who was defeated by Gallegos during the general election.

[…]

Alvarado said her experience in the House should sway voters.

Rep. Carol Alvarado

“I can talk about specifics because I have had two sessions,” she said.

Garcia, the former president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, also served as the comptroller for the city of Houston. She said that if legislative experience were essential to serving in the Senate, it would be required.

“If you’re trying to suggest that I don’t have experience because I am not a House member, well neither did Sens. Dan Patrick, Joan Huffman and a couple of others,” she said. “Neither did Barbara Jordan, but does that mean they weren’t qualified to be in the state Senate? Of course not.”

Alvarado, a two-term Texas House member and former member of the Houston city council, has the support of Gallegos’ family and of state House Black Caucus lawmakers, including Representatives Harold Dutton, Borris L. Miles and Senfronia Thompson. Senators Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have also backed Alvarado.

Garcia’s support comes from key Hispanic Democrats in the Houston delegation, including Rep. Jessica Farrar, the House Democratic Caucus leader, and Reps. Ana Hernandez Luna and Armando Walle.

Note to story author Julian Aguilar and the Texas Trib editors: It’s Houston Controller, not comptroller. I don’t know what the difference is, either, but it’s there.

The filing deadline for this race is tomorrow at 5 PM. While the story says that RW Bray is in, as he has previously said he would be, as of Monday morning he had not yet filed. According to the Garcia campaign, the only candidates who had filed as of then are Garcia, Alvarado, and perennial candidate Dorothy Olmos. Other potential candidates besides Bray whose names I have heard include HCC Trustee Yolanda Navarro Flores, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Gallegos in the 2004 primary; Maria Selva, the Green Party candidate in CD29 this year; an unnamed Libertarian; and Susan Delgado, Gallegos’ former mistress, who ran against him as a write-in in 2004 and a Libertarian in 2008. Wouldn’t that be special?

As of this publication, the 30 day finance reports are not up, so we don’t know yet how the two main competitors are doing on that front. I was unaware that Alvarado had secured the endorsements listed above for her – Garcia got a big splash early on when Reps. Farrar, Hernandez Luna, and Walle endorsed her. Basically, this is a Democratic primary, with all of the usual drama and family feuding that entails. I have interviews with Garcia and Alvarado that will be published the week of January 7, which is when early voting begins. If this remains a three-candidate race we could get a clear winner on January 26. The more candidates that do file, the more likely that this will go into overtime. We’ll know the answer to the first part of that soon enough.

SD06 special election date set

Very glad to her it.

Gov. Rick Perry today set Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, as the special election date to fill the Texas State Senate District 6 seat formerly held by the late Sen. Mario Gallegos.

Candidates for this special election must file applications with the Secretary of State no later than 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2012. The early voting period runs from Wednesday, January 9 to Tuesday, January 22.

The winner will serve a four year term beginning in 2013.

The proclamation is here, for those of you who need your whereases and whereofs to make it all real; Trailblazers and the Trib are now reporting it. I was sure that Perry would drag things out as long as he could, so I’m happy to have been proven wrong. If my interpretation of Robert Miller’s timeline is accurate, we can expect a runoff (if one is needed) four to six weeks after that, so we ought to have a new Senator in SD06 no later than early to mid March. That’s still a little late for my taste, but it’s at least two weeks earlier than the late-case scenario, so it’s better than it could have been. A statement from Carol Alvarado about the election date is here.

UPDATE: And here’s Sylvia Garcia’s statement.

And it begins in SD06

I’m only going to do this kind of post once, because I agree with Rick Noriega that the special election in SD06 needs to be about the issues and leadership, not just for that district but for the state as a whole. I understand that in an election where there are two well-qualified candidates who are essentially indistinguishable on matters of policy that personality and muckraking are going to be at the fore. I’ve been through a primary or two, I know how this goes. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, or to act as an amplifier for the charges and counter-charges. So let’s do this and get it over with, and get back to what matters:

Sylvia Garcia sent out a press release yesterday morning announcing that she would make available her tax returns going back to 1998 (her first year in elected office) and calling on Rep. Carol Alvarado to do the same, and also to disclose her consulting clients. The latter is a reference to this Patti Hart column, which reported that Rep. Alvarado earned $24K doing work for HISD on the bond referendum.

Rep. Alvarado subsequently sent out her own press release that echoed Noriega’s call for an issues-oriented campaign, promised that she “will make appropriate personal disclosures at the appropriate time”, and made an accusation of her own about Garcia not paying her taxes on time.

You can follow all the links and see what there is to see. I’m sure there will be more like this to come, but as I said I don’t plan to write about it if I can help it.