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Steven Hotze

OutSmart talks to Kim Ogg

Another good read about our new DA, one that goes into her personal background in some depth.

Kim Ogg

John Wright: Your father, Jack Ogg, was a longtime Texas state legislator, and your late mother was well-known for her charity work. What it was like coming out to your parents?

Kim Ogg: It was traumatic. My parents were of the generation—they felt like my being gay was their responsibility, and that they were morally accountable. I had grown up in politics, and I understood that being gay was a political liability to my father and family, and so it was excruciating. Our family broke apart for some time, but we’re so close that what that did was give me time to go grow up, which I did. I had been on my father’s “payroll” from birth to college, but the day I got out of college I was on my own, and I’ve been on my own ever since. My family and I didn’t see each other on anything but holidays after that for some time—almost four years.

Our family broke up, [but then] we came around. I quit being. . . I was a little militant. An example would be that I wore camouflage for almost a whole year. I was at war with the world. And then it turned out that to get and keep a good job, you needed to have a broader wardrobe.

[…]

In 1996, you ran for district judge as a Republican, and longtime antigay activist Steve Hotze endorsed your opponent in the primary. Were you gay-baited in that race?

They didn’t gay-bait me; they gay-crucified me. But they didn’t do it in print. They did it through a telephone and whisper campaign, and they injected a third candidate into the race. I did not interview with Hotze, and I never answered any questions for him, so I never lied about my homosexuality. [But] the whole courthouse knew. It was funny, they didn’t do an antigay mailer, but they did a whisper campaign. It was enough to force me into a primary runoff where extremists usually win, and so the more conservative candidate won.

Twenty years later, in 2016, you were gay-baited again by your Republican opponent, former district attorney Devon Anderson, and it became a major news story.

It was my lifelong fear, being called a lesbian in front of my entire hometown—4.5 million people, on television. It’s like showing up with no clothes on or something—that bad dream that you have. When it finally happened, I knew it was exploitable and could benefit me, but I had to magnify that thing that I was so afraid of. And so we just sent it out to everybody—it was so freeing. It was sort of like coming out to my family. At that point, you don’t have anything left to lose. You have everything to gain. I realized at that moment how much that fear—it wasn’t a false fear—but it felt so good to let it go and just send it out to the world: “Devon Anderson called me a lesbian.” Discrimination, no matter how you dress it up, is wrong. For Devon to have regressed to name-calling was indicative of her losing the election.

When you ran as a Republican in 1996, Republicans attacked you for having voted in Democratic primaries. When you ran as a Democrat in 2014 and 2016, you were criticized for having voted in Republican primaries. Talk about your partisan evolution.

I think the criticism has been that I have been disloyal to both parties, and what I would tell you is that I grew up in the Democratic Party. I was pretty frustrated with [Democrats] in the mid-’90s, and Republicans were promising this big tent, and I thought it sounded reasonable. It didn’t turn out to be true. In the second presidential campaign under George W. Bush, they really utilized gay marriage—it was used as a wedge issue nationally in 2004, and I would say that radicalized me to the Democratic perspective. I was never going to be for a party that stood for hate and that used discrimination as a platform, as a literal political platform. So, for 13 years, I’ve been a Democrat and stayed a Democrat, and I don’t intend to ever change.

There’s more, so go read it. It’s fascinating to me because I didn’t know a lot of this stuff. Partly this is because I wasn’t paying close attention to local politics in the 90s, and partly because Ogg herself didn’t talk about any of it during either of her campaigns. Hearing her talk now about how she was affected by the gay-baiting in the 2016 campaign, mild as it was in comparison to some other examples we’ve seen, is an eye-opener. Check it out.

Checking in with Kim Ogg

That’s District Attorney-elect Kim Ogg now.

Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg, still hoarse from shouting over the jubilant victory party crowd after winning her race for Harris County District Attorney, said Wednesday that her first order of business would be to evaluate and secure all of the evidence used in thousands of pending criminal cases.

Ogg, who will take over the largest district attorney’s office in Texas on Jan. 1, hopes to ward off the problems of unauthorized evidence destruction that emerged after it was discovered that deputies at the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office threw away evidence in hundreds of cases. Scores of cases that may have been affected have yet to be resolved.

“It’s so we know that cases that are pled or tried, after I take office, have the real evidence to back them up,” she said Wednesday.

[…]

“It’s a new day in Harris County,” [Tyler Flood, president of Harris County’s Criminal Lawyers Association,] said “I’m hoping Kim will bring transparency to a very secretive regime.”

Ogg sketched out broad agenda items Wednesday but said little about specific plans or possible command staff. She said she is putting together a transition team and was not ready to announce who would be helping her helm the agency, which employs about 600 people including 300 lawyers.

In addition to evaluating the security and veracity of evidence, Ogg said she would be reviewing the pending capital murder cases, including a handful of death penalty cases currently scheduled to go to trial in 2017.

Under her administration, she said, a team of prosecutors will look at the evidence, both damning and mitigating, before deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

“It’s a grave responsibility to undertake taking somebody’s life,” she said. “And I want more minds, and hearts, looking at these cases than just mine. So we’ll have a team.”

Ogg had the second-biggest day in Harris County on Tuesday, winning with 696,054 votes. That’s about 8,000 behind Hillary Clinton, and it means that like Clinton she received a fair number of crossovers. Getting a big vote total like that is both a mandate and a higher expectation level, so there are going to be a lot of eyes on Kim Ogg and what she does.

Not just locally, either. The Harris County DA’s race had a national spotlight on it going into Tuesday. A lot of that attention had to do with the DA’s prosecution of marijuana cases; Ogg as we know has outlined broad reforms for how cases like those will be handled. If she is successful at implementing those policies, it will be a big change and will likely have the effect of reducing the county’s jail population. I for one am looking forward to seeing her get started on that.

Ogg will have a lot on her plate from day one. There was a lot of turnover at the DA’s office after Pat Lykos won in 2008, and I expect there will be a lot more – some voluntary, some not – now that Ogg has won. For some insight on that, I recommend you read what former ADA (now defense attorney) Murray Newman says, from before and after the election. Transitions like this are opportunities for some people to settle scores and get grievances off their chests. That will likely result in a story or two that will be unfavorable to both Anderson and Ogg. I hope we can all keep people’s possible motivations in mind when we read those stories. Be that as it may, there will be a lot of new faces and new procedures at the DA’s office come January, and there will inevitably be some bumps in the road. How well Ogg manages the transition will go a long way towards setting the tone and laying the groundwork for implementing the real changes she wants to make.

One more thing: We all know that Ogg is a lesbian. Devon Anderson got into some hot water late in the campaign for bringing that up during a podcast interview. It hadn’t come up in either campaign before, and the vast majority of people in Harris County don’t care about anyone’s sexual orientation. But a few people with loud voices care A LOT about this sort of thing, and with Annise Parker back in the private sector (for now, at least), Kim Ogg is now the most high-profile elected official in Texas who is also a member of the LGBT community. That means she is the latest monster under Steve Hotze‘s bed, and she will be a target for people like Hotze and the hateful crap he likes to spew. I don’t know how that will play out, which is to say I don’t know how many people outside of Hotze’s little fever swamp will hear or care about anything he says, but I do feel confident saying that at some point during Ogg’s first term in office, he or someone like him will say or do something sufficiently disgusting that the rest of us will be forced to take notice. Be ready for it, that’s all I’m saying. The Press has more.

Hotze and Woodfill take their hate statewide

These guys, I swear.

The conservative organizers who helped topple Houston’s equal rights ordinance are pledging a $2 million advertising campaign against Target over the big box store’s transgender bathroom policy.

Jared Woodfill and Steven Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas on Thursday launched the new “Campaign for USA” in what they described as an effort to keep men out of women’s restrooms. The duo had already called for a nationwide boycott of Target.

“We must stand up for the rights of our grandmothers, mothers, wives and daughters,” said Woodfill, who recently lost a bid to become chairman of the state GOP.

[…]

Woodfill, a frequent LGBT foe, on Thursday released a new TV ad that mirrors a provocative ad from the effort to defeat the Houston ordinance. His group also launched a new website, which says “transgender” is a just euphemism for “pervert.”

Blah blah blah. I’d note that this is pretty much the same sort of thing that was regularly said about gays not too long ago. Hell, it’s the same sort of crap Hotze and Woodfill say about gays today. My point is that this kind of hysteria can only be effective for so long. Woodfill and Hotze’s problem is that transgender people are, you know, people. People with family and friends and coworkers and neighbors, who go about their lives. The reality doesn’t measure up to the fearmongering, as people figured out about the gays and lesbians that Hotze and Woodfill and the like kept trying to make them despise. It may take awhile and there will surely be setbacks along the way, but lies eventually lose to the truth. It won’t be easy, and these guys will never stop trying to hurt the people they hate, but they will lose in the end. Just keep that in mind. Juanita has more.

POSTSCRIPT: I drafted this before the horrible mass murder in Orlando, and when I looked at it again as I scheduled it for publication, it was difficult to fight down the revulsion that I feel for these two hateful bastards. What happened in Orlando is the effect of stigmatization and dehumanization. I don’t care what drove this particular gunman to do what he did. The root cause is hatred and fear of The Other. Jared Woodfill and Steven Hotze bear a piece of the responsibility for that.

Overview of the Harris County GOP Chair runoff

This is the Republican runoff I’m most interested in.

vote-button

Two years after wresting control of the Harris County Republican Party, Paul Simpson is facing an unexpected runoff challenge from political newcomer Rick Ramos in a race that again pits establishment fiscal conservatives against a group of socially minded GOP kingmakers.

Simpson finished second with 39 percent of the vote in March’s three-way primary, as Ramos and political novice Tex Christopher – neither of whom reported raising a penny – earned the remainder.

Caught off guard, several party activists and deep-pocketed donors have mobilized behind Simpson, as Ramos has leaned on the support of a trio of local power players: Steve Hotze, Gary Polland and Terry Lowry.

Both candidates painted the outcome of the low-profile race as crucial for the party’s future in Harris County, which recently swung majority-Democratic, according to Rice University’s Kinder Institute.

“We are a battleground county,” Simpson, a 61-year-old energy lawyer, said during a recent interview in his downtown office. “So, the only way we can keep Republican leadership in place is to be an effective party, and we weren’t for a long time.”

Ramos, a 45-year-old family lawyer, said the party needs to broaden its appeal among minority voters and get more involved in social policy fights.

“For the Republican Party to be able to go forward … we have to have more diversity. We have to be able to reach out to communities at large within our own county, and what worked 20 years ago, 30 years ago for the Republican Party is not going to work in the immediate future,” Ramos said. “I think we have to be more proactive, more innovative, and really give the party somewhat of a face-lift.”

The down-ballot race drew scarcely any attention amid the Super Tuesday hubbub, when about two-thirds of the Republican voters cast ballots for party chair.

Little appears to have changed ahead of the May 24 runoff, for which Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said he expects just 50,000 Republican voters to turn out.

I was going to cast aspersions on Stanart’s estimate of GOP runoff turnout, partly because he so comically mis-estimated March turnout and partly because as is the case on the Dem side there’s not really anything to drive runoff turnout, but there were 40,547 GOP primary runoff votes in 2008, when there was even less to push people to the polls, so given that 50K seems quite reasonable. (The 2012 runoffs, which were all about Cruz v. Dewhurst for Senate, are not a viable comparison.) I don’t have anything to add to this story, as I don’t know the combatants and have no stake in the outcome, but like many people I was caught off guard by the March result and have been waiting for a Chron story on the race. This one does answer some of my questions, and it offers the hint of continued GOP infighting after whoever gets elected, which is always nice to contemplate. Beyond that, I’ll leave it to those who will vote in this race to offer up their thoughts on it.

By all means, go for Jared

Keeping it classy.

The race for chairman of the Texas Republican Party has spawned charges that the party’s current leader, Tom Mechler, supports a “disgusting homosexual agenda.”

A supporter of Jared Woodfill, a Houston lawyer and former chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, has sent out campaign mailers blasting Mechler for allowing a gay and lesbian GOP group to have a booth at the upcoming state convention and not doing enough to move the event out of Dallas, which they call a “homosexual-friendly location.”

Mechler said he had nothing to do with the decision to allow the group, the Metroplex Republicans, to have a booth at the state GOP convention.

“I understand that hatred has spewed into the chairman’s race,” Mechler said.

Quelle surprise. You can’t spell “zealous hatred of the gays” without the letters H-O-T-Z-E, and indeed this mail was sent by Houston’s gay-hatingest quack. Nothing surprising there, though you may find yourself wondering how in the heck Jared Woodfill could be in a position to fail upward like that. Well, Woodfill as State GOP Chair is indeed a thing that could happen.

Houston’s Jared Woodfill is trying to win control of the Republican Party of Texas, challenging the current management and saying it has been too quiet in the face of legislative defeats in a state government dominated by Republican officeholders and appointees.

The contest between Tom Mechler of Amarillo, the party’s current chairman, and Woodfill, who once led the Harris County GOP, is a fight about purity, about which kinds of conservatives the Texas GOP represents and about what the party is supposed to be doing. They don’t run as combined tickets, but former state party Chairman Cathie Adams is running for vice chair in tandem with Woodfill, while current vice chair Amy Clark is seeking reelection, along with Mechler.

The outcome of the elections, to be held at the GOP’s state convention in Dallas next month, probably isn’t going to change your life, but it’s interesting. Mechler wants the party to bring in more voters — he’s talking about minorities and millennials, among others — who have generally eluded the charms of the GOP. He doesn’t think it’s his job to tell the state’s Republican officeholders what to do.

“Every Republican should be comfortable within the party,” he says. “My vision is and will be that is that this party is welcoming and embracing all conservatives from all over the state of Texas.”

Woodfill is a bully-pulpit guy, a political figure whose effectiveness depends on everything from actual microphones on actual podiums to social media, news media and advertising.

He is appealing for the support of others who, like him, think the state political party should be whipping the Legislature to keep it in line with the GOP platform and the beliefs of Texans in its voting base.

His pitch against the current party leadership seems aimed more at the House than at anyone else. An example from the Facebook page promoting his candidacy: “Friends, we are engaged in a cultural war and our Republican Party of Texas leadership is running from the fight! One need only look at the 2015 legislative sessions to find evidence of the RPT surrendering our values.”

Woodfill focuses on a list of issues that met their demise, he contends, in the Texas House, including bills outlawing references to Sharia law in courts, requiring Texas cities to enforce federal immigration laws, allowing the use or diversion of tax dollars for private school tuition, repealing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrantsnon-citizens who graduate from Texas high schools, and enacting new ethics legislation.

That plays into existing divisions among the Republicans in government, however they are characterized: establishment against insurgents, social conservatives against social moderates, chamber of commerce against grassroots.

The characterization that matters here is that Jared Woodfill is an idiot, and would almost certainly be a terrible state party chair. He’s certainly not going to be about building a party for the future, or one that intends to grow. All of which, needless to say, is fine by me. I’ve said that scandal, in the form of criminality from the likes of Ken Paxton and Sid Miller, may help boost Democratic prospects in Texas in the short term. Incompetent leadership, especially when combined with an unwelcoming attitude towards anyone who isn’t already fully on board with a full slate of ideological shibboleths, would also help. And Lord knows, we Democrats can use all the help we can get. So please do your part, RPT. Please put Jared Woodfill in charge of your party. Thanks.

Hotze gets official hater status

Congratulations, I guess.

After more than 30 years of anti-gay activism, Steven Hotze picked up the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Wednesday.

The Alabama civil rights group labeled Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT) an anti-LGBT hate group in its annual report on extremist organizations.

Hotze, an influential and deep-pocketed Republican donor from Houston, was among the top funders of the successful campaign to repeal the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in November.

“What we look at in the anti-LGBT groups is primarily the use of lies, of falsehoods, that have the effect of demonizing gay people,” SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok said. “So, it’s not merely that they opposed the HERO ordinance; it’s the way in which they did it — the description of gay people as pedophiles and so on.”

[…]

CRT becomes the fourth anti-LGBT hate group in Texas, and the third added to SPLC’s list, in two years.

“These groups are on the defensive against huge social changes that they cannot stop,” Potok said. “The religious right has suffered very serious losses, losses from which it will not recover, and an enormous amount of rage has resulted.”

Click over if you want to see or be reminded of a couple of the more charming things Hotze said during the HERO fight. Mark Potok is right that the likes of Hotze have lost a lot of ground in recent years, but as HERO showed they can still win some battles, and they’re surely not going to go away without a nasty fight. The Press has more.

GOP versus Hall

Pass the popcorn.

RedEquality

The Harris County Republican Party released a flyer Monday attacking Houston mayoral candidate Ben Hall for his Democratic ties and previous support for a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Among top-tier mayoral candidates, Hall, a Democrat, is the most ardent critic of the city’s equal rights ordinance, known as HERO. The law is set to appear on November’s ballot.

“Ben Hall says yes to HERO ordinance in 2013,” the GOP flyer reads, citing a 2013 Harris County Democratic Party questionnaire on which Hall said he would support a nondiscrimination ordinance.

The ad also labels Hall a “current Democratic Party sustaining member” and claims he contributed more than $100,000 to Democrats, including President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry, citing campaign finance reports.

Hall responded in a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he has been “crystal clear” on HERO.

“Ben Hall is the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, who has been opposed to the HERO ordinance from the very beginning, long before the campaign began for Houston Mayor, long before the court put it on the November ballot,” he said.

The full Chron story is here, and here’s the interview I did with Hall in 2013. I have no desire to go back and listen to it, but my recollection is that he said No when I asked if he would support an equal rights ordinance. He wasn’t a firebrand about it, just matter-of-fact. I also recall being surprised by that, as to my knowledge he hadn’t been opposed it before. I can’t swear to that latter part, I can just say what I remember thinking at the time. Whether Hall is virgin pure on hating HERO since the dawn of time or he cynically came to oppose it as a matter of political expediency somewhere along the line is irrelevant to me, and should be irrelevant to any decent person. He’s a hater now, he’s loud and proud about it, and that’s what matters.

Not that I really care, but I am a little curious as to why the Harris County GOP decided to pick this fight. I get their objections, I just think this is an odd hill to engage on. Hall’s HERO history was no problem for uber hater Steven Hotze, who endorsed Hall, among others. It’s fine by me if the antis spread their votes around in the Mayor’s race; better odds for good candidates making it to the runoff that way.

Anyway. I’ve seen some people asking about which candidates support what things – HERO and otherwise. You can listen to my interviews, of course, or do something crazy like check out the candidates’ websites and attend candidate forums and things like that. If you’re looking for a shortcut, both the local GOP and the HCDP have candidate guides that may help answer your questions. And at some point, one presumes, the candidates – the Mayoral candidates in particular – will start flooding our mailboxes and the airwaves. Greg has more.

The contours of the HERO fight

We’ll see how this goes.

HoustonUnites

When City Council sent Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance to the November ballot two weeks ago, the vote raised the curtain on dueling campaigns that had been bracing in the wings for a political showdown more than a year in the making.

Council’s 12-5 vote to affirm the ordinance and place it on the ballot, part of a Texas Supreme Court order, followed months of heated back-and-forth in City Hall and various Harris County courtrooms. By the next week, campaign managers had been selected, ads were drafted and pollsters were working to take the pulse of voters.

Supporters quickly appealed to Houston-native and superstar Beyoncé on Twitter for a plug. Opponents, meanwhile, touted presidential candidate Rand Paul’s remarks during the national GOP debates chiding Mayor Annise Parker, though not by name, for a political fumble during the court case surrounding the law. Both camps warned that the eyes of the nation are on Houston.

Political scientists, however, said that is a tad dramatic; unless the law is repealed, the fight over Houston’s non-discrimination law will amount to a largely local affair bolstered by some national money.

Opponents will push a public safety campaign driven by the perceived threat that male sexual predators dressed in drag will use the law as cover to enter women’s restrooms. Supporters, meanwhile, will seek to debunk that and warn that repealing the law would irreparably harm the city’s image.

Both groups said they will need to spend at least $2 million to pepper voters with targeted direct mail and a few choice ads.

“HERO will be competing head to head with the mayoral election for oxygen and energy,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “There’s only so much space in an election like this, and a lot of that space is going to be occupied by HERO because it’s a charged issue. It’s going to make it even more difficult for down-ballot races to emerge and obtain the attention of voters.”

[…]

At dueling launch events last week, both sides offered a glimpse of the campaigns to come.

On Wednesday, equal rights ordinance supporters unveiled the “Houston Unites” campaign.

Leslie Jackson, the minister of education at Cathedral of Hope church in Midtown, said opponents “confuse religious freedom with the freedom to discriminate.”

“Religious faith does not undermine the value of equality for all under the law,” Jackson said. “Religious faith demands it. As a Christian minister, I must oppose misguided efforts to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.”

The task for supporters, Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom said, is twofold: explaining the ramifications if the ordinance is repealed and countering opponents’ contention that male sexual predators will use the ordinance to enter women’s restrooms.

“Houston and Houstonians don’t believe in discrimination, and so, HERO simply says everybody should be free from discrimination and that’s why folks should support it,” Carlbom said.

The challenge for supporters is to fend off the public safety allegations without losing their own message, University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said. The business angle – that events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four could go elsewhere in the event of repeal – likely will factor into supporters’ argument, he said.

The onus, he said, largely falls on opponents of the ordinance to turn the tide as LGBT issues continue to pick up public support. As the ordinance was embroiled in litigation, a slew of states and then the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

“In part, because it’s hard to get people to undo something, opponents have a harder job,” Rottinghaus said. “Once the inertia is developed in a certain direction, it’s hard to get people to do something different.”

Jared Woodfill, former Harris County GOP chairman and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the ordinance, said opponents would target female voters and men concerned about the safety of their wives and daughters. The pitch to voters, Woodfill said, is simple: “No men in women’s restrooms.”

Yeah, that’s exactly how I thought the opposition would go. The good news, I suppose, is that I really don’t think the leaders of the opposition are capable of keeping their frothing homophobia under wraps, and I think that will hurt them. I agree with Campos that the more they let Steven Hotze talk, the better it will be for HERO supporters. But it’s increasingly clear to me that the bathroom argument has taken hold, and has been internalized by a lot of people. I don’t think facts are going to help counter that. To the extent that persuasion is part of the pro-HERO campaign, I think it has to be about making people feel that supporting HERO is the right thing – the Houston thing – to do. I’m hopeful, but there’s an awful lot that can go wrong, and a lot at stake. BOR has more.

Mayoral finance reports: Out of town cash and max donors

You may have noticed that there’s a lot of money in the Mayoral race this year, even after subtracting what the candidates have given or loaned to themselves. You may be wondering where all that money came from. This post aims to shed a little light on that.

First question: How much of the money raised by Mayoral candidates came from Houston donors, and how much came from outside Houston?

Candidate Non-Hou $ Total $ Pct % ========================================== Garcia 539,949 1,441,792 37.4% Costello 312,660 1,276,281 24.5% Turner 296,588 747,793 39.7% King 103,501 721,250 14.4% Bell 51,288 366,770 14.0% Hall 35,925 69,025 52.0% McVey 21,750 43,927 49.5%

Disclaimer time: All reports can be seen here. My methodology was ridiculously simple. All donations for which the city listed in the report entry was something other than “Houston” was counted for this. Obviously, not all “Houston” addresses are actually within the city – mail sent to all of unincorporated Harris County and such small cities as West U and Southside Place say “Houston, TX” on the envelope – but I wanted to complete this exercise before the election took place, so I followed this guideline for ease of use. As with all totals presented here and elsewhere, this was a manual process, which means I looked over the reports and counted up the totals myself. It is highly likely that I goofed here and there, so consider these numbers to be reasonable estimates and not gospel truth. Finally, also as before, the “Total $” figures represent the cash money raised by each candidate, thus excluding in kind donations, loans, and (in the case of Costello) contributions from the candidate himself.

Having done this exercise, I (reluctantly) feel like I should go back and review Mayor Parker’s July forms from 2009, 2011, and 2013, as well as Gene Locke and Peter Brown’s from 2009, to see if what we’re seeing here is completely out of whack with past results or not. I know Mayor Parker had a strong national fundraising network, but I’ve no idea offhand what that meant in total dollars and proportional amounts. Whatever the case, I feel confident saying that Adrian Garcia knocked it out of the park here. He raised more from outside Houston than Chris Bell, Ben Hall, and Marty McVey raised in total combined; his non-Houston total is 75% of Bill King’s overall total. And that still left $900K from in Houston. Holy smokes.

One thing I noticed while perusing Garcia’s report: He received a ton of contributions from people with Asian names, both in Houston and not. He also had a lot of contributions from Latino/a donors, but the sheer number of Asian supporters surprised me. Make of that what you will.

I am curious what motivates someone to donate to a Mayoral candidate they can’t vote for. I get why people contribute to Congressional and Senate candidates from other places – laws made in DC affect them regardless, and partisan control matters a lot – but the justification here is somewhat less clear. To be fair, the vast majority of these non-Houston donations came from places like Katy, the Woodlands, Sugar Land, and so forth. For all the griping I did about non-Houstonians driving the red light camera referendum, it’s clear that folks who work here but live elsewhere have a stake in the outcome of elections like this. And of course some of these out of towners are in the personal networks of the candidates – friends, family, in-laws, colleagues (Sylvester Turner received several contributions from other members of the Legislature, for example), and so forth. I’d still like to understand this phenomenon a little better. Surely one of our Professional Political Pundits can put a grad student on it.

Next item: In Houston, an individual can give a maximum of $5000 to a city candidate in a given cycle, and a PAC maxes out at $10K. Having an army of small-dollar donors is a great thing in many ways, but those big checks sure add up in a hurry. How much of these hauls came from the deep pockets?

Candidate # Maxes Max $ Total $ Pct % ===================================================== Garcia 148 745,000 1,441,792 51.7% Costello 138 720,000 1,276,281 56.4% Turner 76 410,000 747,793 54.8% King 71 365,000 721,250 50.6% Bell 25 125,000 366,770 34.1% Hall 11 55,000 69,025 79.7% McVey 2 10,000 43,927 22.8%

Again with the disclaimers: Same manual process as above. Not all max donors give $5K at once. There were several gifts of $2500 each, and other combinations I observed as well. “# Maxes” is the count of all max donors, both individuals and PACs, which I also counted as one even though they could give twice as much. Multiply “# Maxes” by 5,000 and the difference will tell you how many max PAC donations that candidate got.

With the large amounts of money collected, the large number of donors who gave their all should not be surprising. One reason why I did this was to see who might have a harder time replicating their success between now and the beginning of October, when the 30 day reports come due. You can’t hit up those who are tapped out for a repeat performance, after all. I guess this leaves Chris Bell in better shape than some others, but I’m not sure how much effect that will have.

I should note here that two of Ben Hall’s max donors were named Hotze, an “SM Hotze” and a “JS Hotze”. Hall has gone all in with the haters, despite his weak sauce denials. This could actually present a bit of a problem for King and to a lesser extent Costello, as both of them are in their own way wooing Republican voters. Clearly, some of those Republicans are not going to be open to them. I presume Hotze still has some sway among GOP voters (a subset of them, at least), so if he actively pushes for Hall via mail/robocall/whatever as the One True Candidate Who Will Stand Up To The Gays, then I think that has to put a ceiling on King and Costello. How much that might be I don’t know – if I were forced to guess right now I’d say “maybe two or three points” – but as we’ve been saying all along, this is likely to be a close race where not too many votes could make a big difference in the outcome. Hall is a threat to Turner as well, of course, I just wanted to point this possibility out.

I think that’s about all the patience I have for scouring the Mayoral reports. I may take a closer look at the other candidates’ reports as my copious spare time allows.

Dan Patrick’s defeat

The Observer reviews how Dan Patrick’s Senate could ultimately take no firmer a stance against same sex marriage than to pass a resolution disapproving of it.

RedEquality

In last night’s “debate” over the resolution, Lucio, a passionate pro-life Catholic, rose to give a personal speech about his own convictions. “From our bibles, we learn of one man and one woman,” he said. “For me, nothing is more sacred than our biblical teachings.” The institution of marriage came from Jesus himself, and cheapening it was sacrilege. “By now, everybody knows how this senator from the Rio Grande Valley feels,” he told the chamber.

Nonetheless, he’d had a change of heart. He wouldn’t be signing the resolution, and he’d be withdrawing Coleman’s poor bill.

Patrick, who’d been listening to Lucio intently and rocking in his chair, stood to speak. With clasped hands, he told the chamber he’d given Lucio an ultimatum. If he tried to strip the anti-gay language out again, Patrick wouldn’t let the bill come to the floor. But Lucio had made his decision.

So, having been deprived of the chance to approve the strong, consequential language from HB 4105, senators drafted last night’s resolution on the fly. While it was being debated, the text of the resolution hadn’t even been uploaded to the Capitol website. The resolution was approved quickly. The thin document is the only real say-so the Legislature will have on the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer.

It’s a comprehensive flop for the forces who oppose gay marriage. Nonetheless, Patrick told the Senate to buck up. They “should be proud,” he said. “The House decided not to have this debate.” That’s a dig at Speaker Joe Straus, of course. But since Patrick couldn’t get anything consequential out of his own chamber either, who is he pointing fingers at?

See here for the background. I figure any session that includes Steven Hotze throwing a hissy fit at Dan Patrick over his impotence on this can’t have been a total loss. Sorry, Danno.

Wilson completes his latest troll job

He totally half-assed it, too.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Houston Community College trustee and longtime anti-gay activist Dave Wilson has submitted a city charter amendment petition seeking a November vote to bar men “who perceive or express themselves as women” from entering women’s restrooms, but it appears he misread state law and submitted about 300 fewer signatures than he needs to qualify for the ballot.

Wilson delivered 19,707 signatures to City Hall on Tuesday morning, but state law requires those seeking a city charter change to submit 20,000 signatures or signatures from 5 percent of qualified voters, whichever is smaller. Mayoral spokeswoman Janice Evans said the city wasn’t sure yet about the law surrounding Wilson’s petition but would offer an opinion this afternoon.

Wilson, standing beside his white pickup containing six boxes full of signatures, said he needs only 17,269 signatures — 10 percent of the votes cast in the last mayoral election, and the threshold for repealing an ordinance, not a charter change.

Wilson’s proposed charter revision is a pointed challenge to the city’s legally embattled equal rights ordinance, passed last May, that opponents perceive as allowing men dressed in drag to enter a women’s restroom.

“My whole point is, do you want your mother to be in a woman’s restroom and a man walk in on that?” Wilson said. “I don’t think so. That’s totally out of the question.”

My mother can take care of herself just fine, but that’s neither here nor there. Putting aside the fact that Wilson and his dirty-minded buddy Steven Hotze continue to lie through their teeth about this, let’s assume for a moment that Wilson’s interpretation of the law is correct. (A later version of the Chron story suggests that even Wilson now has his doubts about that.) If that were the case, what are the odds that more than 90% of the signatures he claims to have collected are valid? The rule of thumb for petition gathering like this is that you need at least double the required amount to feel confident about qualifying for the ballot. Why would anyone think that Wilson would be meticulous enough to allow himself such a narrow margin of error? I think we all know the answer to that. This is just another pathetic attempt for attention by someone who’s made a living getting attention for himself for a long time.

Judge or jury ruling on HERO should come soon

From the other big lawsuit action on Friday.

PetitionsInvalid

A district judge offered little insight Friday as to whether he will grant a jury trial to conservative critics who have sued the city over its controversial equal rights ordinance.

During a brief but lively hearing in the 152nd District Court in Houston, Judge Robert Schaffer said he will likely issue that decision Monday or Tuesday. Barring any delays, the trial is set to start Jan. 20.

Equal rights ordinance opponents are pushing to take the case before a jury instead of allowing Schaffer, as originally planned, to issue a decision from the bench. Attorneys for the city are strongly opposed to that format, saying it violates state election law to send the case to a jury.

[…]

Schaffer offered no definitive commentary on the jury trial issue, but it was clear that his decision will likely depend on whether or not he determines that the case qualifies as an “election contest” under state law. An “election contest” can only be decided by a judge, not a jury.

Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that an election contest requires an election on the issue to have already happened or be imminently scheduled to take place, neither of which has occurred.

“It is an impossibility for me to file an ‘election contest,’ ” Taylor said.

City attorneys, however, countered that state Supreme Court decisions as well as a recent Court of Appeals ruling define an “election contest” more broadly and include the lead-up to an election. In charging that the city incorrectly invalidated their petition, equal rights ordinance opponents are invoking the state election code, city attorneys argued Friday.

See here for the background. I don’t know how to evaluate these claims, as they’re pretty technical. To some extent, it shouldn’t really matter if it’s a bench trial or a jury trial. The facts are the facts and either the city followed the law in rejecting the petitions or they didn’t. I presume the HERO haters think they have a better shot playing on emotions, and they may be right. If the facts are against them, though, I think that can only take them so far.

And then there’s this, which I added as a late update to my Friday post:

Attorneys for the city last month filed a motion requesting a bench trial, but the plaintiffs say they have a “constitutional right to a trial by jury.” That motion and others are scheduled to be heard today, but we’ll have to wait until the trial, scheduled for January 19, for the truly good stuff, which includes allegations of forged signatures.

So far, most of the City’s challenges to the petitions’ validity has centered around technical — and pretty boring — matters like whether a page included a blank space for a circulators’ signature. What’s really intriguing, though, is the City’s more recent contention that many names were forged, and that Woodfill “is no stranger” to fraudulent petitions.

In motions filed last November, attorneys for the City cited a suit where Woodfill — then the chairman of the Harris County Republican Party — accepted “facially valid” election petitions that “turned out to involve ‘forgery, fraud, or other non-accidental defects discoverable only by independent investigation.”

No one has argued that Woodfill knew the signatures in that election were invalid at the time he accepted them, but attorneys for the City point out that the court didn’t buy Woodfill’s argument that “the truthfulness of a circulator’s affidavit is strictly a criminal matter.”

[…]

These allegations were enough for for plaintiff Steve “Birth Control Pills Make Women Less Attractive to Men” Hotze, to drop out of the suit — something the City’s attorneys say is evidence that “misconduct and non-accidental defects are so pervasive” throughout the petitions. Listen, it’s a bad sign when your co-plaintiff is Steve Hotze. But it’s a really bad sign when Hotze drops out from fear that he may not have a legally sound argument.

If it turns out that the haters submitted phony signatures, then having a jury trial surely won’t help them. Either way, the trial is expected to last four to six weeks (!) because there’s so much evidence to read through. If the haters get their way, I sure won’t envy anyone who gets picked for that jury.

2014 Day 11 Early Vote totals

But first, a little Republican angst.

EarlyVoting

The Republican Party of Bexar County has issued a series of desperate pleas to conservative voters, saying “the Democrats are beating us on base turnout,” but two of the Texas party’s biggest names converged on San Antonio to get any complacent GOP voters off their couches.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott rallied supporters on Wednesday at Alamo Café, echoing concerns of local GOP leaders that loyalists who usually vote early aren’t all doing so.

“It’s a risk when people feel you’re going to win. They feel ‘why bother?’ That’s why events like this are so important, to encourage people to vote,” Cornyn said.

“We noticed that our base is sagging a bit,” said Bexar County GOP Chairman Robert Stovall.

“For the first time, I hope Republicans are right,” quipped his Democratic counterpart, Manuel Medina.

Both parties are armed with overnight data from early voting that ends Friday. While Republicans are anxious about their turnout numbers, Democrats are buoyed by theirs.

I have no insight into Bexar County, and it’s often difficult to distinguish between truth and bluff in this kind of story, but I like the sound of this anyway. It is credible to me that Bexar could be overperforming thanks to the presence of Leticia Van de Putte, as Tarrant appears to be doing for Wendy Davis and Harris did in 2010 for Bill White. Be that as it may, I think we can take this at face value.

And then there’s this from the Quorum Report, via email from the Davis campaign:

As we’ve said from time to time at Buzz Central, if Texas is a battleground, Harris County is ground zero. Perhaps never before has that seemed so true. Conservative activists, including the local GOP’s new and old leadership, are said to be waging all-out war to try to keep Sen. Wendy Davis’ performance in Harris County from affecting their down ballot candidates. There has been much grumbling in recent weeks from local Republican judicial candidates who feel that not enough has been done to turn out the GOP vote.

Longtime conservative activist and donor Dr. Steve Hotze – a major financial contributor to Sen.Dan Patrick – recently sent out mailers and emails pleading for Christian conservatives to get out the vote.

In offering what he called a “Contract with Texas,” Hotze said “Republicans are in trouble in Harris County. For the first time in over two decades the Democrats have matched the Republicans in Early Ballots by Mail which Republicans historically have led by a 2 to 1 margin.”

Hotze went on to explain that he’s seen polling that shows Attorney General Greg Abbott running behind Sen. Davis by just 1 percent in Harris County. Some reliable sources tell QR they have seen similar polling.

“This adversely affects the down ballot races,” Hotze wrote. “Republican District Attorney Devon Anderson is in a dead heat with Democrat challenger Kim Ogg,” he said.

“The Republican judges are running neck in neck with the liberal Democrat judicial candidates. Obama’s Battleground Texashas registered over 1,000,000 new voters in Texas.”

And with that, here are your Day 11 EV totals, and here are the full 2010 EV totals. In this case, skepticism is warranted. The evidence we have is that Republicans have an eight or nine point lead, which is smaller than what they’re used to for off year elections, but still nothing to sneeze at. Whatever the polls say – the KHOU poll is the only Harris County-specific public data of which I am aware – the actual vote rosters tell us more. The good news, from the Dem perspective, is that we have more base voters left to motivate. The bad news is that there ain’t much time left to do that, and I’m not sure anyone knows why the numbers haven’t been higher. But hey, at least you know that we’re not the only ones that have been sweating.

Petition deadline coming

Scott Braddock takes a look at the petition effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which must turn in its homework this week.

Opponents led by longtime – and now former because he was recently ousted – Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill are working to turn in at least 17,000 signatures of Houston residents by next Monday. If they can do that and the signatures are verified, the issue will be on track to cause all kinds of additional heat in Houston with potential statewide implications.

On the surface, this would seem to be a classic liberal versus conservative argument playing out at the local level. But one possible statewide consequence has do with Woodfill’s role in the fight coupled with speculation that he’d like to be the next Republican Party of Texas chairman. Meantime, the placement of what’s been framed as a gay-rights issue on the November ballot could be used by Democrats to push their voters to the polls in the state’s largest city during a non-presidential year.

[…]

Woodfill and others ominously call it a “sexual predator act.” As he and other opponents put it on this website: “It will by government decree open thousands of women’s restrooms, showers and girls locker rooms in the city to biological males! Predators and peepers can use it as cover to violate our women and children!”

Now working alongside Steve Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Texas, Woodfill told Quorum Report on Monday that his group is confident they’ll have enough signatures in time to meet the deadline. “We can’t afford to wait. Lives are at risk,” Woodfill said. “It’s about the safety of our wives and daughters and kids.”

See here and here for the background. According to TFN Insider, the due date is Thursday, July 3. The hate squad known as the Houston Area Pastors Council was ginning up one last Sunday effort; Woodfill had previously requested that petitions be returned by June 27, which was last Friday. I don’t know if that’s a sign they’re having trouble getting enough valid signatures or if they’re aiming to turn in an impressive amount of them. They need about 17,000 valid sigs, which isn’t that high a bar to clear, and pretty much everyone expects them to do so.

Woodfill declined to comment on growing speculation that he may be using the issue to position himself as the “conservative choice” for the next chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He stepped down as Harris County Chairman earlier this month after losing to challenger Paul Simpson. Voters in Houston could be forgiven, though, for not noticing Woodfill is no longer chairman given the amount of email blasts he is still sending out regularly about the ordinance. “This isn’t about anybody’s personality,” Woodfill said. “This is about the issue.”

For his part, Simpson said he supports the effort to overturn the ordinance and, he added, the county party leadership is in a state of transition. “I think repealing it is appropriate,” Simpson said.

Dear sweet baby Jesus, please let that incompetent boob Jared Woodfill be the next RPT Chair. It would be the best thing that could ever happen to them.

Some observers have said in a general election season when Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Ft Worth, needs to charge up her base in her bid for governor, this issue in Houston could give her specifically and Democrats broadly a boost. It is, of course, not likely that supporters of gay-rights would vote for Republicans if they do indeed show up at the polls this fall to make their voices heard about the ordinance.

“I think that’s right,” said University of Houston Political Scientist Brandon Rottinghaus. If Democrats are looking for ways to energize their base, the equal rights ordinance “would have to be on their list,” he said. Rottinghaus cautioned Democrats, however, that the issue is a double-edged sword. “They may want to use that as their tool to generate interest” but the problem is some reliably Democratic groups like many African-Americans and a significant percentage of Hispanics don’t have a traditional liberal view of gay rights, he said.

“There are opportunities for the Democrats to make this work and there’s also the potential there could be a serious backlash,” Rottinghaus said. Conservatives will also turn out with intensity to oppose the ordinance, he said.

Political Science Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Jon Taylor, was more blunt in his assessment. He asked “Why give Democrats a reason to come out in November?” Taylor is a Republican and has long criticized Woodfill for his fiery brand of politics. “Do you really want to give extra ammunition to the opposition?” Taylor said. “Totally unnecessary. It is time to back off.”

PDiddie and I have talked about this before. I’ll say again, I don’t fear this fight. It sucks to have to engage in it, but if they want to bring it, then let’s get it on. I didn’t need any more motivation to vote and engage this fall, but I’m happy for there to be more. Let’s see what they’ve got for their signatures, and let’s get ready to rumble.

On bathrooms and menaces

Nonsequiteuse has something to say.

Steven Hotze, M.D., recently published these outright lies about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance:

Mayor Parker’s ordinance would include minority status for the so called “transgendered,” allowing a biological male to legally enter women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower areas and expose himself to women and girls or just ogle them like a peeping Tom. All he has to claim is that he “thinks of himself as a woman.”

I want to protect my wife, daughters and granddaughters from being exposed to the dangers of male sexual predators masquerading as women in women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. Don’t you want the same for your wife, daughters and granddaughters? Shame on Mayor Parker and city council for passing an ordinance that would put women and children at risk from sexual predators. That is why it is referred to as the Sexual Predators Protection Ordinance.

Shame on Steven Hotze for deliberately and willfully lying about the ordinance.

Let me break this down for you.

  • The ordinance does allow transgender people to enter public bathrooms.
  • Someone who is biologically male, but who lives life presenting herself as a woman, is considered to be a transgender woman, or transwoman. This person would use the same bathroom as a cisgender woman, or ciswoman, which is a woman who was both born biologically a woman and who presents herself to the world as a woman.
  • Transgender people have to use the bathroom for the very same reasons cisgender people do, and they have to do so when out in public for the exact same reasons, too.
  • A transman or transwoman using a bathroom is NOT committing a crime by being in a bathroom and utilizing the plumbing fixtures therein.
  • A transwoman or transman is NOT committing a crime by being a transgender person.
  • A person who enters a bathroom to commit a crime IS a criminal.
  • A person’s gender identity is irrelevant to any criminal intent or action. In other words, you are a criminal for committing a crime regardless of your gender.
  • A man who puts on a dress in order to commit a crime is not transgender. Such a person is a criminal using a disguise that he hopes will allow him to evade detection and apprehension.
  • “Thinking of himself as a woman” is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, an affirmative defense to charges that a crime has been committed. The ordinance does not create such an affirmative defense, and never tried to do so.

Calling this equal rights ordinance a “sexual predator protection ordinance” is a deliberate attempt to scare and mislead people. This ordinance does not exempt any person or class of people from criminal penalties for committing criminal acts.

She has more, so go read the rest. If Steven Hotze is genuinely concerned about sexual predators in his midst, he’s not looking in the right places for them. Or maybe he should look closer to home.

We now know why Houston’s 311 director lost his job.

Kendall Baker was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation. Afterwards, Baker, who is also a minister, spoke out against Houston’s equal rights ordinance saying it would allow predators into women’s restrooms.

Baker is a member of the Houston Area Pastors Council. Just a few weeks ago, Pastor Baker addressed Mayor Annise Parker as he spoke against Houston’s equal rights ordinance during public comment.

“I say to you, what if I came into the bathroom while you were sitting on the toilet? Wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable?” Baker asked.

But city records show Baker was placed on indefinite suspension from the city, after the Office of the Inspector General reportedly found Baker had sexually harassed subordinate female employees.

Baker was among the multitude of candidates that ran for At Large #3 in the 2007 special election. Just as well he didn’t get elected, I’d say.

One last thing. I don’t know how well the petition effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is going. It’s not that high a bar to clear, and there are sadly plenty of people out there who think like Steven Hotze and Kendall Baker, so I won’t be surprised if they succeed. It should be noted that the petitions, if they do get filed with the City Secretary, become public documents. If there are any closet supporters of repeal out there, the only way they can stay in that closet is to not sign one of those petitions. Just FYI.

GHP endorses proposed NDO

Good for them.

RedEquality

The Greater Houston Partnership came out in support of Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed equal rights ordinance, giving the measure a boost as it heads to a City Council committee hearing on Wednesday.

Parker plans to put the measure before the full City Council for a vote next week.

The Partnership initially had reservations about the sweeping anti-discrimination proposal, aimed at private businesses as well as city employment and contracting, but President Bob Harvey said most of the group’s concerns had been addressed by the time the mayor’s office released a draft of the ordinance last week. The Partnership’s executive committee voted unanimously on Friday to support the proposal.

“The business community and the community in general views our city as remarkably diverse and welcoming,” Harvey said. “I think this ordinance is consistent with what this city stands for.”

That’s exactly right. Many large companies have had their own version of this for years, so it’s something they’re comfortable with. Via Houston Legal, the Houston Business Journal makes this message even more explicit.

If Houston businesses are concerned about the potential unintended consequences of Mayor Annise Parker’s Equal Rights ordinance, they should look to the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Stephen J. Roppolo, a regional managing partner and employment law attorney at Fisher and Phillips.

“All of us were concerned that 40 million people were going to be declared disabled,” Roppolo said. “There were some jokes at legal seminars that were only half jokes that claimed, ‘If you’re follicly challenged, you’re disabled.'”

The net result of ADA, Roppolo said, “was not nearly as bad — as expansive — as everyone thought.”

[…]

Gender identity can be confusing to some people, Roppolo said, but he’s confident human resources departments at most Houston businesses are already prepared for this. In fact, businesses have been dealing with gender identity issues for some time.

“Everyone likes black-and-white, easy-to-decide issues. Gender identity is not black and white; it’s shades of gray,” Roppolo said. “What I tell employers is that if you’re focused on whether that person, whomever they are, is doing the work in a way that helps the business, that’s all that matters.”

Furthermore, Roppolo said employers are increasingly sensitive to workplace harassment.

“It’s not productive,” he said. “When people are doing that kind of stuff to one another, they’re not doing work.”

But the biggest message that Roppolo and other lawyers have for Houston employers is: Relax.

“Sit tight,” he said. “This is going to be fine. At the same time, I am telling employers that this is going to take some work to get your front-line supervisors to understand what the new parameters are.”

Yes, it’s going to be fine. It’s good to have the GHP officially on board, since that ought to shut up anyone that wants to claim this fairly benign ordinance would somehow be harmful to business. If anything, it’s the opposite, as the kind of innovative employees that companies like to recruit want to live in a city that reflects their own values. There’s nothing controversial about this ordinance, which as CM Ellen Cohen, the chair of the Quality of Life Committee, noted has been revised multiple times after much feedback from stakeholders.

That doesn’t mean the usual suspects won’t piss and moan about it, of course. Back to the Chron:

Major Republican donor Steven Hotze sent an email from his Conservative Republicans of Texas PAC that dubbed the proposal “Parker’s Sexual Predator Protection Act,” suggesting the measure will create a loophole to allow people to lie about their gender to enter bathrooms where they could attack women and children. He also wrote against protections based on sexual orientation.

“This would make those who engage in deviant sexual acts a new minority class equal to African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other legitimate minorities. This is a slap in the face of true minorities,” the email read.

Dave Welch, of the Houston Area Pastor Council, echoed Hotze in saying the ordinance is a solution to a problem that does not exist and that the true reason for Parker’s proposal is to force the Houston community to accept her same-sex marriage.

Texas Leftist has a copy of Hotze’s hate mail. I’m loathe to give these d-bags the attention they so desperately crave, but a reminder of who they are and what they stand for is always useful. They represent a small and shrinking group, and they deserve to be ignored. When Council finally takes up the NDO – in two weeks, since I assume someone will tag it – I hope Council passes it unanimously, or at least overwhelmingly. Don’t be with the losers here, Council members. Campos has more.

A new day for the Harris County GOP?

Lisa Falkenberg postmortems the changing of the guard at the Harris County GOP.

Now that [Paul] Simpson defeated [Jared] Woodfill in the Republican primary election earlier this week, [Rep. Sarah] Davis is hoping her past experience with him is prologue. She and others are looking to Simpson to provide a new kind of leadership, one that is stridently conservative, yet tolerant of other people’s definition of that word.

“I’m very hopeful that Paul will be more open and respectful to Republicans who may have followed the 80-20 rule, as we call it,” she said, referring to President Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy that someone is an ally who agrees with you 80 percent of the time.

“The difference,” Davis said, between Simpson and Woodfill, “is that Paul, to me, cares about expanding the party and making our party grow and become more inclusive so we can become more effective, than just being a party about excluding people and taking out people we don’t like, or who we think don’t belong.”

Simpson says he thinks Davis’ vote was a mistake, as were her harsh words against Republicans in an op-ed published in the Chronicle after the vote. But he says Woodfill’s decision to go after Davis was bad leadership.

“To me, it’s a family squabbling,” he told me. “You don’t discipline your children out in public.”

[…]

Those who might think Simpson’s election was a referendum on the party’s incessant march to the right would be wrong. Plenty of social conservatives and tea-partiers joined moderates such as Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in supporting Simpson out of concern over the management of the party. They were concerned about lagging outreach, poor fund-raising, lax recruitment of party chairs, and a lack of transparency in financial operations.

“The big benefit isn’t going to be philosophical,” said Emmett, who generously dipped into his own war chest to support Simpson. “It’s going to be that the county party is able to go out and generate activity to benefit all the Republicans.”

A few thoughts, and remember that I Am Not A Republican, so take them for what they’re worth.

1. As with most intra-Republican squabbles, the primary fight between Simpson and Woodfill was about tactics and strategy, not philosophy. Paul Simpson won’t publicly back an opponent to Sarah Davis for voting against an anti-abortion bill, and he wouldn’t have recruited people to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city of Houston and its revised policy on spousal benefits, but that doesn’t make him or his party pro-choice or pro-equality, and it certainly isn’t a leading indicator for the rest of the state. It’s because Simpson believes that de-emphasizing social issues will help Republicans win races in Harris County. It’s a perfectly reasonable approach, but in the year of Dan Patrick it’s hard to say how much effect it will have.

2. I doubt there will be any lingering effects from the Simpson-Woodfill primary this year. Democrats had no trouble getting back on the same page after the Obama-Clinton primary of 2008, and I expect the same for the Harris County GOP. Nothing unifies like a common enemy, and the nice thing about having our primaries so early in the year is that we have plenty of time to remind ourselves who our real opponents are afterward.

3. That said, factions and rivalries will not just go away. Steven Hotze and Gary Polland aren’t going to stop doing their pay-to-play endorsements because there’s a new party Chair. They just won’t have the imprimatur of the party itself. I suspect that won’t bother them too much. Don’t be surprised if they continue pushing their own slate in 2016.

4. Along those lines, there’s some danger for Simpson if this winds up being a good year for Democrats in Harris County. His campaign was based on the idea that Woodfill’s tactics were holding Republicans back. If a bunch of Republican judges and incumbents like Stan Stanart and Orlando Sanchez wind up losing this fall, his opponents are sure to be quick with the see-I-told-you-so’s.

5. Finally, I confess I have a certain amount of sympathy for Woodfill in re Sarah Davis. It’s smart politics to be tolerant of some heresy from incumbents in tight districts or parts of the state that themselves are not in sync with prevailing opinion. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it, and that doesn’t mean you can’t chide them when they reinforce the other side’s talking points. A Democratic legislator that supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would be roundly and rightfully criticized, and I’m sure folks will have long memories about the Democrats that voted for HB2, even if none of them suffered any consequences for it this time. Speaking as a parent, if your kid misbehaves badly enough in public you sometimes do have to discipline them, or at least admonish them, in public. It’s never a pleasant experience, and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Harris County GOP to yell at cloud on Monday

Lone Star Q:

Calling gay people “sodomites” and U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia a “would-be dictator,” the Harris County Republican Party announced it will host a news conference Monday morning in response to Garcia’s ruling Wednesday striking down Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage.

The event at county GOP headquarters seems like a pretty obvious ploy to energize the conservative base in advance of Tuesday’s primary — when, among others, Chair Jared Woodfill faces a challenger from within the party.

According to a release sent out Friday afternoon, party workers and eleted officials will “stand shoulder to shoulder with people of faith to denounce the lawless ruling of a federal court seeking to impose the whims of unelected judges on the people of Texas.”

“President Obama set a precedent of lawlessness by intimating that he would now use his ‘pen’ and ‘phone’ to circumvent the will of the people and their elected representatives. Now every petty would-be dictator this side of the Rio Grande is advancing personal agendas by decree,” said Woodfill, who is referred to as “a staunch advocate of family values.”

“This is an astonishing example of judicial activism and a violation of the separation of powers. Whatever the personal views of Judge Garcia, he does not have the power to makes laws. Our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow sodomites to marry,” stated Dr. Steve Hotze.

Remember when some people said there was no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans? Those were the days, I tell you. Just another thing to keep in mind when you vote this year.

More on Lykos versus the cops

Here’s another Chron story about the recent dust-up between Harris County DA Pat Lykos and six Harris County police groups that don’t like her policy that trace amounts of crack will not be prosecuted as felonies. Two points that are worth highlighting from the story:

State District Judge Michael McSpadden has presided over Houston’s criminal cases since 1982. In that time, he said, the “War on Drugs” has been lost and he has changed his mind about his “get tough on crime” stance. He urges a policy of treatment and second chances for addicts.

“Pat Lykos and I are not close, and in fact probably don’t like each other, but she’s right about this,” the veteran jurist said this week. “Almost everyone’s in agreement except, I guess, the police unions.”

McSpadden said he, not Lykos, has led the charge to change how these trace cases are handled.

“No one respects law enforcement more than I do, but they’re wrong about this,” McSpadden said. “I want them out there going after the career criminals, the sex offenders, the people who pose a real threat to our society, and not someone who has a residue amount of drugs.”

I agree completely with this sentiment. Doing otherwise, which is to say what we have been doing all along, is unsustainable, unaffordable, and unjust. The effect of Lykos’ policy change is clear:

In November, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee and others tasked with criminal justice reform said Lykos has been instrumental in reducing the jail population, and her trace policy is the big piece of the equation. Statistics on how many trace cases are affected are hard to come by because possession of little baggies of cocaine or methamphetamine and small crack rocks fall in the same category as the trace cases once did: possession of less than a gram.

In 2009, there were 10,674 charges for that offense according tho the DA’s office. After the policy, the numbers fell to 5,942 in 2010 and so far this year are at 5,235.

And while police could count the number of paraphernalia tickets issued, officials say this number is not indicative of the actual number of stops because cops on the street are loathe to do hours of paperwork to issue a ticket punishable by a $500 fine.

According to numbers available through the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, authorities believe the policy means there are about 400 fewer inmates in jail on any given day, part of a 2,000 inmate decrease over the past two years.

The Harris County Jail is overcrowded and understaffed. We ship out inmates to other counties and to Louisiana because we don’t have any place to put them. We can spend a hundred million dollars building more jail space and millions more every year running it, an option the voters rightly rejected in 2007, or we can be smarter about who we put in jail. Like it or not, those are the choices.

By the way, the campaign of Mike Anderson, the Republican running in the primary against Lykos who sided with the cops on this issue, sent out a press release Monday announcing that he had received the endorsement of our old buddy Steve Hotze. I’m not sure why they have me on their press distribution list, but they do so you can see that release here. Those of you reading this who vote in Republican primaries, as far as I’m concerned you now have two reasons not to vote for Mike Anderson in March. Grits has more.

Down to the wire for “sanctuary cities”

There’s an 11th hour lobbying effort to stop the “sanctuary cities” bill as it is.

As two of Texas’ most politically-involved business leaders emerged as opponents, a bill banning “sanctuary cities” lost crucial momentum Friday, raising the possibility the measure will be killed or substantially weakened before the special session of the Texas Legislature ends Wednesday.

HillCo Partners’ lobby team, led by Neal T. “Buddy” Jones, is working on behalf of Houston home builder Bob Perry and San Antonio grocery store magnate Charles Butt to alter a proposal that would permit law enforcement officers to inquire about the immigration status of people they detain, Jones’ partner Bill Miller confirmed.

Miller declined to detail the changes Jones hopes to make in the legislation, saying only that they have “given language to members” to consider including in the proposal, which would carry financial penalties for cities that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status.

The opposition of the business leaders demonstrates a schism in the Republican Party on the issue, designated a priority by Gov. Rick Perry. Bob Perry, no relation to the governor, is a prolific Republican contributor who has given $2.5 million to the governor’s campaign coffers since 2001. HEB CEO Butt has made substantial contributions to members of both parties.

Friday, the House State Affairs Committee canceled hearings scheduled to pass the bill for the second day in a row, due to a lack of a quorum, as exhausted lawmakers returned home to tend to their businesses and families. A meeting has been scheduled for Monday, but House leaders did not rule out that a meeting could be called during the weekend if enough lawmakers return to Austin.

[…]

Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, who sponsored the measure, expressed frustration that the two businessmen are “trying to kill the bill” at such a late hour.

“It’s good to know that my good friend, Buddy Jones, and his clients, Mr. Butt and Mr. Perry, decided after six months what they think a sanctuary cities bill ought to look like,” he said. “I don’t know where they’ve been for six months.”

Well, Burt, not to put too fine a point on it but for the first 140 days they knew that Democrats would kill the bill in the Senate, so there was no urgent need on their part to do anything. With the two-thirds rule out the window for the special session, they figured they needed to get their act together, and that meant lobbying Republicans. Any questions?

Perry and Butt aren’t the only ones telling Republicans to back off, and much as it pains me to say anything nice about the likes of Norman Adams and Steven Hotze, they’re doing the right thing for mostly the right reasons, so kudos to them. If they do succeed here, however, I still believe they need to rethink their strategy going forward, because unfortunately this issue isn’t going away. In fact, unless there’s a miraculous breakthrough on windstorm insurance reform in the next 24 hours or so, it may reappear later this week. So keep fighting the good fight and all that, but try to remember that plugging your fingers into the leaks isn’t the same thing as repairing the levee. PDiddie has more.

Same schism, next verse

I’m not surprised that there exist other GOP activists besides the usual Bob Perry/Bill Hammond/business interests types that aren’t happy with their party’s recent anti-immigrant/anti-Hispanic fixation. Nor am I surprised that like their business-oriented counterparts they haven’t figured out what to do about it.

A series of email exchanges between Republican Party boosters and the office of Gov. Rick Perry indicate some conservatives believe passing the contentious “sanctuary cities” bill may cripple efforts to recruit more Hispanics to their ranks.

The correspondence signals a potential rift between Perry, who appears intent on addressing immigration issues during the current special session, and some of the party’s backers as rumors surrounding a possible Perry presidential run continue to swirl.

“At the end of the day you should understand that Hispanic voters will not support a party that wants to deport their mother and father,” Norman Adams, the co-founder of Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy and a member of Texas GOP Vote, a conservative website, wrote to Ray Sullivan, Perry’s chief of staff. The messages are part of an email exchange that began June 2 and were obtained by the Tribune.

Dr. Steve Hotze, the chairman of Conservative Republicans of Texas, is included in the exchanges and urges Perry and Sullivan to reconsider. Hotze contributed at least $60,000 personally and at least $640,000 via his PAC to GOP House and Senate candidates in the last election cycle

“It seems that we should focus on recruiting Hispanics to the Republican ranks,” he wrote. “It appears this bill might accomplish just the opposite.”

And as much as I don’t want to see the “sanctuary cities” bill get passed, when it does get passed on GOP votes alone, the continued alienation it will bring them from Latinos will be well earned and well deserved. But I’ll say again, the solution to this is simple and obvious: Raise money and recruit candidates to take on the more noxious xenophobes in the next primary. Given that the one thing that motivates Republican officials the most strongly these days is fear of a primary challenge, you’d think this would be fairly simple to grasp. If they do, then one of two things will happen: Either they’ll have enough success knocking out the Riddles and Bermans of the world to change behavioral norms, or they’ll realize just how marginalized they are in their own party. Speaking as someone who isn’t a Republican, I’d consider either of those outcomes to be positive.

Hoang’s agenda

Tomorrow is the public swearing-in ceremony for Mayor Annise Parker. After she retakes her oath of office, she will then administer the oath to all new and returning City Council members. One of them is the newly elected Member from District F, Al Hoang, whose official City Council webpage says the following:

While some of his opponents might advocate for gays and liberals’ rights, Al is defending Christian and family values.

He has some other right wing red meat on there as well, as Texas Cloverleaf notes, but this is what I want to focus on. Ironically, Hoang also claims to be “a longtime member of International Pen based in London advocating for human rights and freedom”. For some and not for all, I suppose.

Now I don’t know exactly what Hoang means by this. Maybe he’s just forgotten that the campaign is over and that it’s time to shift from candidate mode to public servant mode, even if all that means is to push stuff like this to the background. But one interpretation of this statement is that Hoang does not intend to try to represent every person in District F, only those who aren’t gay or liberal. (One wonders if you’ll have to pass a quiz or something when you contact his office in order to get a response.) Another is that as Hoang was the only winning candidate to proudly embrace the Hotze endorsement, he sees himself as a counterweight of some kind to Mayor Parker and that he intends to stand firm against the gay agenda. Again, I don’t know exactly what he has in mind by this, so let me ask publicly right here: What do you mean by this, Council Member Hoang? Do you intend to be a Council Member for all of District F, or only for the people you approve of? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email (kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com) and I’ll be happy to print what you have to say for yourself. Oh, and if you think you’ll just deal with this by quietly editing the text of your page, please be aware that I’ve already got a screenshot of it. What say you, Council Member Hoang?

UPDATE: Stace and John join in.

UPDATE: Hoang’s page is now “under construction”. Good thing I got that screenshot as a memento. Looks like Maverick Welsh may have been the first person to write about this.

UPDATE: KHOU posted a report about this earlier today.

Daniel Santamaria, a spokesman for Hoang, said the biography was unauthorized and no one in Hoang’s office gave the city’s Webmaster permission to publish it.

Santamaria said he didn’t know where the text came from but an archived copy of Hoang’s campaign Web site showed the same languauge in a biography published there.

[…]

In a statement to 11News, Hoang said “District F is one of the most diverse districts in the City of Houston. “I’m proud and honored to represent the diverse values and views that make this Council District so great.”

“I’m looking forward to being a voice and representative for my entire constituency on Houston City Council,” he said.

I’m glad to hear that. If Hoang proves my concerns about him to be unfounded, I’ll be delighted. But I’m going to have to see him do it. It’s all up to him.

Runoff precinct analysis, At Large Council races

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

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

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

At Large #2:

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

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

Last but certainly not least, At Large #5:

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

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

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

Mayoral miscellania

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

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

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

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

Ta-Nehisi Coates is always worth reading.

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

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

Endorsement watch: Another takeback

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

HARRIS COUNTY COUNCIL OF ORGANIZATIONS RESCINDS STARDIG ENDORSEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holmes fibs about his donation history to Hotze

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

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

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

Rick Casey is not impressed.

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

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

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

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

Locke backers funded Hotze

Nice.

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

District F runoff overview

Here’s the Chron story on the District F runoff.

The condensed version of Al Hoang’s vision for Sharps town’s shopping center echoes a Reagan-era foreign policy pronouncement: Tear down this mall.

Mike Laster’s recent work on Sharpstown Mall is more analogous to Vietnam War-era peace talks. Mall owners can use someone to help them decide the shape of the table before they sit down to hash out a revitalization plan.

Both point to the mall as a bellwether of southwest Houston’s economy, and each sees his approach to the mall problem as indicative that he will do more for District F if elected in the Dec. 12 runoff.

I don’t have any insight into this, so I’ll leave it to those who live in the district to comment about it if they’d like. What I will say is that I’ve known Mike Laster (interview here) for a few years, and I think he’d make an excellent Council member. I also know that Al Hoang has accepted Steven Hotze’s endorsement with open arms, so even if I knew nothing of Mike Laster, I’d be more than inclined to support him.

I didn’t mention this before, but I am also supporting Lane Lewis in District A. He’s a hard worker and has a solid grasp of the issues, and as is the case with Laster would make an excellent Council member. Meanwhile, his opponent Brenda Stardig missed that candidate forum on Monday night, and as with the Hotze endorsement story was unable to be reached for a comment about it. I can’t say I’m impressed by that. I don’t live in either of these districts, but if you do, Mike Laster and Lane Lewis are the guys I’d vote for.

Locke sorta kinda explains the Hotze endorsement

Here it is, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much. I guess if you can truly convince yourself that Hotze’s endorsement wasn’t about Annise Parker’s sexuality, you can believe it’s okay to accept it. I don’t know what there is to say about this that hasn’t already been said, so let me just refer you to a press release from State Rep. Garnet Coleman that calls on Locke to repudiate Hotze and leave it at that. Click on to read it.

(more…)

What the others are saying about Hotze’s endorsement

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Runoff EV report, Day One

I’ve updated my early vote spreadsheet from the first round to include the early vote totals for the runoff. Note that this is almost entirely City of Houston – there are a few Bellaire voters in there, and maybe a stray HISD Trustee vote or two from outside the city limits, but for the most part, it’s all municipal. Note also the smaller number of locations. Overall, that’s a pretty good total for Day One, especially given the crappy weather. I don’t know if that will continue, but it’s a good start. Do bear in mind that I believe a substantial number of voters will vote early, so don’t make too much of these totals just yet.

It’s interesting to note the Mayoral candidates’ positions on turnout, as expressed by them on a KHOU story during the five o’clock news. I can’t find the link, but basically Parker talks about turning out her voters, while Locke says that turnout “may surprise you”. In other words, they both seem to agree with the conventional wisdom that lower turnout benefits Parker, while higher turnout benefits Locke.

There was also a story about Locke’s current attack ad on Parker, and Parker’s promise to respond in kind. Honestly, I don’t feel like getting into any of that. I don’t know that too many minds are going to be changed by such tactics; it’s more a matter of who you can spur to turn out, and who you can discourage from doing so. Of more interest to me is this.

Locke said he is refraining from “divisive campaigning,” adding, “I am not going to go into issues of race, issues of sexuality.” He said he is asking his supporters to follow his lead in their own public statements because these topics are distractions from important issues such as public safety and creating new jobs in Houston.

When I pressed Locke about whether he would accept or reject Hotze’s endorsement, he repeated the statement. My colleague Bradley Olson reported Nov. 13 that Locke had met with Hotze and sought his endorsement.

Pretty much what I expected. How can you reject something you actively sought out? I’m going to echo the comment John left, which sums up my feelings quite well.

When this race began, I looked at Brown, Locke, and Parker and saw it as a can’t-lose situation for the city. Although I supported Parker from the start, I thought that if she didn’t lose, we’d have a good mayor anyway. But I must say that I have lost enormous amounts of respect for Mr. Locke as this has played out.

Does he think that a Hotze endorsement is what will get him over the finish line? I think that’s a foolish idea, and all he’s doing it raising doubts among those of us who never had those doubts before. And that makes me wonder about his judgment in general.

I think he’s just handling it terribly… and his record is good enough that it’s painful to watch.

It’s a sad thing watching a good man do such bad things to win an election. But he did them, and he owns them. I hope he thinks it was worth it. PDiddie, Stace, and Nancy Sims have more.

Hotze endorses Locke

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, and now it’s on its way to a mailbox near you, as local hatemeister Steven Hotze has endorsed candidates in all six City of Houston runoffs and sent a mail piece out touting his preferred slate. Martha has all of the scans of the mailers. Pay particular attention to these two images, which capture the case Hotze makes for and against each candidate. He uses the phrase “radical liberal” six times – interestingly, the one candidate he doesn’t affix that label to is Annise Parker, though he does say she’s “supported by liberal Chicago labor union interests”, whatever that means – and he makes a point of noting that all seven candidates he opposes have been endorsed by the “Gay Lesbian political action committee”. I don’t think you need an advanced degree in literature to be able to read the subtext here.

The question now is whether Gene Locke will live up to his previous statement that he “rejects any association” with this style of campaigning and repudiates Hotze’s endorsement. If he does, he’ll follow the example set by At Large #1 candidate Steven Costello, who to his great credit sent out the following statement:

Today, some people received a mail piece from Steven Hotze with his endorsements in the upcoming city runoff elections. I did not seek this endorsement and I specifically asked not be endorsed by Mr. Hotze. I am running to represent all Houstonians and my door at City Hall will be open to everyone.

Now that’s how you do it. Note that Costello is a member of the Republican Leadership Council, according to the local GOP. Rejecting Hotze like this, when he’s sending mail to people who would have been inclined to support Costello anyway, took real courage, and I salute him for that. Of course, the problem for Locke is that he did in fact seek out Hotze’s endorsement, so this mailer represents him getting what he wanted. This is why Democrats – and that includes Andrew Burks – need to stay the hell away from Steven Hotze and all that he represents. No good can come from associating with him. So what are you going to do about it now, Gene?

There isn’t a story about this in the Chron yet; hopefully, they will fill in some blanks, such as how many pieces Hotze intends to mail. I don’t know if he’s required to fill out a finance report for a city election – I see some SPAC filings among the city campaign finance reports of recent years, but I’m not sure if he falls under that rubric or not. We may not know for sure what he’s up to unless he brags to a newsie about it. If you receive this mailer, please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks very much.

Stay away from Hotze

The following is a message from HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg:

CANDIDATES – ALL CANDIDATES – STAY CLEAR OF HOTZE

Steven Hotze is a hatemonger.

For nearly twenty five years he has stoked the flames of bigotry in this community like no other local politico. In the mid-1980’s he masterminded the repeal of the City of Houston non-discrimination ordinance which had been enacted by Mayor Kathy Whitmire and the Houston City Council. The following year, he fielded a group of right wing zealots to run for City Council on the “Straight Slate.” Their platform consisted of unadulterated gay-baiting epitomized by the reply of their mayoral candidate to a question of what could be done about the AIDS epidemic: “Shoot the queers.” Hotze would not repudiate that response, nor the mayoral candidate who uttered it. Fortunately, they all lost.

Hotze continues vehemently to espouse his brand of extreme intolerance. For example, he regularly insists that the death penalty is fitting for homosexual conduct. And in 2008, he insisted, without one iota of evidence, that gays and lesbians were devoted to “recruiting sexually confused adolescents into their lifestyle.”

Hotze’s bigotry and extremism are not confined to homophobia. His anti-women beliefs are evidenced by his strident insistence that “a wife may work outside the home only with her husband’s consent.” And in 2008, he was reportedly behind the financing of a blatantly racist piece of campaign literature which depicted Barack Obama, Harold Dutton, Congressmember Sheila Jackson-Lee, and the Anglo Democratic candidate state legislature in House District 144, and an ominous line of black crows on a dead tree, with the caption “birds of a feather flock together.” Maybe he wasn’t the person who arranged financing for that shameful piece as has been suggested, but the political consultant with whom he has worked for years was the author of the flyer.

And Hotze is virulently anti-Obama and ardently anti-Democrats. He intently opposes health care reform. And on November 12, 2009, he sent an e-mail across Texas in which he disclosed his commitment to defeating Democratic state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections, asking, “Will we continue down the road of socialism, universal health care, and the leadership of Obama / Pelosi / Reid? Or will conservatives finally stand united and declare ‘Enough!’ in the face of economic and moral starvation?”

Anyone who is as dedicated to destroying the Democratic Party and crushing its candidates and unyieldingly opposed to the anti-discrimination principles of the Democratic Party as is Steven Hotze cannot be embraced by Democrats.

It has been reported that before the November election, more than one Democrat still running for city office in the December 12 runoff sought the support of Hotze or one of the gay-baiting groups with which he is associated. The Houston Chronicle has recently called on all candidates to repudiate the hateful and divisive rhetoric of these folks. (Do The Right Thing – It’s time to disavow the politics of discrimination and bgotry. Click here to read.)

I do, too.

Hotze did not endorse the Democratic mayoral candidate who sought his endorsement before November. Instead, he threw his support to the Republican in the race, Roy Morales. And the Democratic mayoral candidate who solicited Hotze’s help before November has publicly condemned the “divisive rhetoric” and “style of campaigning” Hotze has always embraced. Good for him.

But all candidates – judicial, city council, and mayor – take heed: whether in the December 12 runoff election, the March, 2010 primary election, or the November, 2010 general election, accepting support from anyone who, like Steven Hotze and the right wing extremist groups with whom he is associated, spews homophobic rhetoric, racial hatred, and intolerance, who would subjugate women to the dictates of their husbands, and who is working tirelessly to destroy the Obama administration, block heath care reform, and defeat Democratic legislative candidates would be anathema to Democrats and contrary to the cherished ideals for which we stand. Courting endorsement from such despicable individuals or groups – or failing unequivocally to repudiate and reject it should such support be unsolicitedly bestowed – would be reprehensible, condemnable, and utterly unacceptable to Democrats.

My Dad used to say, “You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” He was right.

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party
November 17, 2009

I could not agree more.

And another hatemonger is heard from

It’s almost too depressing to read through this KHOU story about local bigot Dave Wilson and his pathetic attempt to affect the outcome of the Mayor’s race, but it needs to be done. Here’s what I have to say about it.

– Dave Wilson is a reprehensible, sorry excuse of a human being. The same is true of Dave Welch, Steven Hotze, and anyone else like them who has yet to crawl out from the woodwork. This cannot be emphasized enough.

– Wilson claims he’s sending his flyer on his own. My understanding is that it would cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 to print and mail the 35,000 pieces he says he’ll mail. There are any number of ways that he could hide a funding source for this, of course, and one cannot prove a negative. But if he really wants us to believe that, he ought to produce the paperwork to show it.

– That assumes he actually does print and send the thing. He’s already gotten way more eyeballs on his dirty work thanks to KHOU’s coverage than he’d ever have gotten otherwise. I’m sure he was aware of that when he called the station to let them know what he was up to.

– If Gene Locke really means what he says about rejecting any association with this kind of campaigning, the statement to make is to tell Dave Wilson to take his mailer and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Which won’t stop him, of course – you can’t make a deranged person not do whatever deranged thing he’s determined to do – but would at least send a clear message.

– Finally, to answer the question Wilson asks in his mailer: Yes, this is the image I want Houston to portray, so that the world will see the decent, tolerant, opportunity-granting, forward-thinking city that we are. The best way to do that is to forcefully reject what Dave Wilson and others like him stand for.