Category Archives: Elections

DosCentavos Feels the Bern

bernie

I joined over 5000 of my closest friends and attended the Bernie Sanders rally at UH Hofheinz on Sunday evening and I must say I was impressed in a lot of ways.

Sure, I was expecting a great, truly progressive speech from Senator Sanders–even after the weirdness of #NN15–but what I didn’t expect was such an amazing atmosphere. The diversity in the room was notable, if only because I had recently been reading some snark on Facebook by Hillarite friends of mine talking about how “white” Sanders’ events had been. The Houston event, though, blew those notions away. The bottom line:  A diverse cross-section of America seems to be listening to Bernie Sanders because he’s saying the right things on most issues, rather than just speaking in one-liners (evident in a one-hour speech).

Now, much like Hillary Clinton, Sanders has not provided expanded answers on immigration reform (usual standard stuff), but after Saturday, Sundays venture into racial justice issues hit all the right notes. While Clinton has offered her standard stuff on immigration reform, she also has a record of calling for immediate deportation of children and more deportation judges, so, the negative stuff being tossed about by her fans against Sanders on the issue really hasn’t affected what I think of Sanders. I’m hoping Sanders expands on the issue, as well as Latin American affairs in the future.

PDiddie expands on what Bernie said, so, no sense in rehashing the speech. I will provide a youtube of film I took when Sanders began his talk on racial justice and immigration, in case he is still receiving criticism. The good thing about the #NN15 stuff is that, hopefully, Dem candidates will begin to speak on the issue. Ultimately, this isn’t about race or identity politics, it’s about expanding the space that the issues have received in Democratic Party politics (more on that in the future) and actually doing something about these issues. If Dem activists cannot handle it, then we can’t win in 2016.

As far as the event, it was good to see fans of Hillary and other Dem activists in the crowd. I think we were all looking for a dose of energy because these are our issues Bernie was hitting on. Primaries are a good thing, nationally and locally, so, let’s enjoy the discussion.

Adrian Garcia Raises $1.5M in 56 Days

adrianpicThe Adrian Garcia for Mayor campaign reports raising $1.5 million in the 56 days it had to raise funds before the first reporting deadline. Giving credit to grassroots energy and a base of loyal supporters, Garcia states that voters are attracted to his fiscally responsible management practices during his terms as Sheriff.

Garcia:  “Our message that we reformed the Sheriff’s Office, saved the taxpayers millions of dollars, and kept people and families safe is resonating with voters across Houston.  We will bring that same fiscally responsible approach and smart management practices to tackle the tough issues at City Hall.  The broad base of support we have already built puts us well on the way to victory in November.”

Local pundits had stated that for Garcia to look viable he would need to report raising at least $500k during this period, shortened because he was still on the job as Sheriff. Pundits also stated he would need to raise $2 million or more to run a viable campaign thru the first round. What this blogger noticed upon Garcia’s launch was a burst of energy and excitement from supporters that I hadn’t seen in a local campaign, especially from people who aren’t always involved in the political process. From Garcia, I expect a pretty different campaign than what we have seen from others in the recent past.

That said, for perspective, Garcia’s fundraising abilities seem to be pretty awesome if one considers the first Annise Parker campaign in 2009 raised about $800,000 in a period of five months. Garcia’s campaign calls it unprecedented in Harris County. I’m not surprised that he could do it given the energy that is backing him up, but I think I did let out a “¡Hijole!” when I read the press release. Or something like that.

Garcia’s campaign is quick to point out that he basically started from zero in the fundraising department and that he did not transfer any money from his Sheriff’s campaign account. As the Garcia campaign stated:

“We have always believed that Texas Ethics Commission rules and the City of Houston’s campaign finance laws were clear that it is inappropriate to raise money into an account for a different office with the intent to transfer those funds into a city campaign account.  We saw this recently in San Antonio when Leticia Van De Putte ultimately decided not to transfer funds from her lieutenant governor’s campaign account into her mayoral campaign account.”

As some will recall, Garcia opponent, Sylvester Turner went on a fundraising frenzy during his re-election campaign for State Representative and it is known that he will be transferring as much of the million dollars in his legislative account into his mayoral campaign account as possible. It is what it is, I guess.

Obviously, I’m looking forward to the actual report, but I am told that in-kind contributions to Garcia were minimal considering that we’re talking seven figures in total contributions. So, we await the press releases and finance reports from everyone else in the race. I can’t say I’m a fan of money races in politics, but, as they say, “money isn’t everything in a campaign, but it helps.”

The Myth That Is a Kinder, Gentler Rick Perry

ef6ca-shrp2Much is being made by the media  about Rick Perry’s supposed move to be the kinder, gentler Republican in the race for the GOP  nomination for President. Perry’s announcement that he was “offended” by Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican remarks need to be met with a certain reality:  Perry’s policies prove he is worse than Trump. Perry’s record speaks for itself:

  • The DPS Border Surge in response to children escaping violence and poverty from Central America. (Failures all around)
  • Cutting $4 billion from K-12 and $1 billion from higher education.
  • Anti-Woman policies to close women’s health facilities.
  • Attempts to keep Texans uninsured–would not support Medicaid expansion.
  • And a whole lot more. We know what Rick Perry is all about–destroying Texas.

That’s the problem with the whole Donald Trump BS that has overtaken political news. While Trump will open his big mouth, there are candidates for the GOP nomination with a right-wing record who will now try to play nice offering worthless platitudes. What’s next? Public eating of Mexican food?

Anyway, at this point, it would seem that Rick Perry has as much of a chance for the nomination as Donald Trump (despite Trump’s rise in the polls). What we are seeing because of Trump are the true colors of some in the GOP, and the lengths to which some will go to gain political points; even by attempting to play nice despite the policies they promote. Ultimately, it’s policies that matter and we need to pay attention to the policies (and pronouncements) of every candidate.

The Trump Thing and Latino Voting

trumpinata

by Lalo Alcaraz

Fact:  Trump is a pendejo. Fact:  All the pageant and show cancellations are not going to hurt Trump’s wallet. So, what else are all the hurt Latinos going to do after the Trump anger fades away?

What was noticeable in all of this was Latinos declaring that they would not be voting for Trump in 2016. Of course, I asked myself if they meant in the Republican Primary or in November 2016? Given that not many Latinos vote in the GOP primary, I’m guessing they meant November, in which Trump was likely not going to be candidate, anyway. So, those declarations didn’t excite me much, but if it means more Latinos are going to show up or get involved, great!

But let’s look beyond the idiotic comments and pay attention to issues, like health care, education, jobs, economy, and yes, immigration. Who has real solutions, or which candidates can we as voters drive toward real solutions, rather than just the usual campaign talk? Thanks to Trump, folks are paying attention, so, campaigns need to talk issues rather than just point fingers at Trump and Republicans.

In the quest for higher turnout, Latinos won’t respond favorably to blame, though.

Here in Texas, no sooner did Leticia Van de Putte lose in her bid for Mayor of San Antonio, I started seeing rants from liberals and Dems blaming Latinos for the loss. It was a bit annoying, considering it was coming from folks who are part of the problem and who refuse to look inward for solutions.

My friend Joaquin Guerra from TOP penned an excellent op-ed. Here’s a bit of it:

If we’re not part of the plan to win or part of the engagement strategy, then, no, we’re not to blame for the fact that you came home and dinner wasn’t waiting for you on the table.

Stop taking us for granted.

Here are five tips for politicians, pundits, reporters, editorial boards and political consultants who are scratching their heads about what happened:

  • Respect: Stop implying that Latinos are too lazy and disinterested to vote..
  • Ask Latino voters what’s important to them.
  • Lean into economic and racial justice issues. Economics and race are at the core of some of our biggest problems.
  • Make Latinos part of the solution.
  • It’s not just about Latinos. We’re all in this together. It’s easy to look at voter data and say that Latinos don’t vote, but the reality is that Texans as a whole don’t, either.

Read the whole thing and not just the tips I took out of the article.

The bottom line is that Latino hires and token words by campaigns aren’t enough to excite Latino voters. And avoiding questions surely doesn’t help. And, it certainly doesn’t help when Latinos are used by supposedly liberal candidates as a piñata to gain a few right-wing votes, either.

Obviously,Trump’s Mexican attack was an attempt to gain votes in the GOP primary, and we’ll hear it from other Republicans, too. But, Dems do it as part of a continually losing strategy, too, if they get desperate enough. It needs to stop and Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, let’s take Joaquin’s tips seriously. Seriously.

KHOU 2015 Mayoral Poll Has Some Interesting Results

adrianpicNot surprisingly, the first poll of the 2015 Mayoral race has Sylvester Turner (16%) and  Adrian Garcia (12%) leading among likely voters. Because I’ve always thought that the entry of Adrian Garcia would change the dynamic of Hispanic voter participation, I was not surprised to see that among registered voters, with a larger sample of Hispanics, Garcia is in the lead 15% to 13%. In other words, because of Garcia’s entry, I’d put some weight on increased Hispanic participation in 2015 and voters who don’t usually participate. Wishful thinking on my part? Perhaps, but I don’t think of Adrian Garcia as an LVdP type of candidate–for those who want to make comparisons to San Antonio. In other news, KHOU reported on Wednesday night that among Anglo voters, Garcia held a 13% to 9% edge on Turner, which made the results all the more interesting.

turnerFor those who are surprised at the Garcia result, they must look beyond the usual Democratic club meetings and Dem activist Facebook posts, where there was much more animosity toward Garcia for his decision to run for Mayor. Perhaps a higher GOP sample may provide conservative candidates like King and Costello some higher numbers, and, in time, Republicans will find out who their “R” candidate is. This is just the first poll. Things will look different in the future.

Of course, there is the matter of name recognition. That Chris Bell is in third place in the poll shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s run locally and statewide. If indeed Democrats were oversampled, then that may be why Bell polled at 8% in the likely voter category. But among registered voters, he only polled at 4%, as did Stephen Costello (2% of likelies). Perhaps money and TV ads will help in this regard.

The polling questions on issues tell us that Houstonians like the direction Houston is heading, that they still like Mayor Parker, that they don’t want a sales tax increase or tax dollars spent on the Astrodome, but that they do want their traffic and roads fixed. Given these results, it may be that voters are looking for a positive, unifying figure, rather than an angry, blaming one–even with a higher GOP sample. Certainly, we can’t go by the opinions of non-Houstonians who comment in the Chronicle, right?

Perhaps we will see campaigns bolstering their messages, while others change them altogether. Or, the attacks may begin in some attempt to gain traction or attract the 50%+ who have not yet decided. Certainly, the results of the poll will be cause for concern for some in the check-writing-class of our local democratic system. Here’s hoping for a continually educative process, rather than one filled with negativity.

At least, that’s my take on this day.

Polls, as they as say, are just polls. Usually not the best measure of a race, but a measure nonetheless, they are still a snapshot from which to move forward. For me, at least, the poll did wake me up with the hopes of a more exciting summer.

PDiddie and Coby have their takes. Kuff has an excellent take, too.

Stay connected!

Houston Mayoral Candidate Forums – This Week!

Arts Forum
Wednesday, June 3
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Asia Society
1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004


City Budget & Economic Development Forum
Thursday, June 4
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Location: University of Houston Student Center South (ballroom)
UC – Building 565
126 University Drive, Houston, TX 77004


Area Labor & Community Organization Forum
Saturday, June 6
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Location: Talento Bilingue
333 S Jensen Dr, Houston, TX 77003

Adrian Garcia Campaign Announces Grassroots Organizing Experience

The Adrian Garcia for Houston Mayor campaign announced a pretty awesome opportunity to earn some organizing experience–and it’s paid.

Adrian Garcia is a product of Houston, and is personally committed to empowering Houstonians to own a piece of his campaign for Mayor. Typically, campaign internships are unpaid, which tends to severely limit the diversity of the applicant pool. The Adrian Garcia for Mayor campaign is committed to cultivating the next generation of Houston grassroots organizers by offering those accepted a monthly stipend of $500.

Over the course of the eight week program, Fellows will:

  • learn and implement modern grassroots organizing best practices
  • learn requisite technical skills for grassroots organizing
  • empower volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhoods together

With comprehensive training and support from Deputy Field Directors, Fellows will empower and train volunteer leaders to organize their neighborhood’s voter contact and volunteer recruitment activities.

Requirements:

  • A minimum of 20 hours a week
  • 20 hours a week must include nights and weekends

You should apply if:

  • You thrive in a fast-paced environment, surrounded by people from various and diverse communities
  • You are a natural leader, with strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • You are both a self-starter and upbeat team member

We’d be especially interested in your application if:

  • You are bilingual
  • You have knocked doors or made phone calls for a campaign before

Empowering and developing volunteers within our organization is a cornerstone of our campaign. Fellows will be tasked with providing volunteers the tools and resources they need to organize their neighborhoods.

I can vouch for your future bosses, which includes one of the architects of Annise Parker’s historic 2009 victory. So, if you want to be a part of the Adrian Garcia campaign, apply.

There’s Some Buzz Going Around about 2016

donkey-fightOne of the best sources for local political news, especially if you’re not an insider, is the Facebook. Whether it’s an actual announcement or someone putting out feelers with the hope of getting some attention, you find out what’s going on. Here are some of my observations, thus far.

President:  Looks like former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will be joining Sanders and Clinton in the race for the Dem nomination on May 30. I’m a fan of O’Malley’s, actually. He would be the only one of the three to have made a strong statement in support of the Central American kids–or, at least nothing hateful that called for jailing and deporting them; at least not without legal representation and due process. I haven’t seen any policy pronouncements about Latin America, but at least Maryland wasn’t involved in the Honduran coup. All this said, I’m leaning O’Malley at this point.

The Local Judges:  When I emceed the Kingwood Area Dems brunch the other day, 151st District Judge Mike Engelhart was hard at work collecting signatures for his re-election campaign. I noticed thru FB that 127th District Judge Ravi Sandill was back on the trail for his re-election campaign. Former 165th District Judge Josefina Rendon FB-announced a run for her former seat. Immediately after Judge Al Bennett was confirmed as a Federal Judge, former District Judge Dion Ramos announced he would be running for Bennett’s old 61st District bench. Kristen Hawkins announced for the 11th District Court. Out in Precinct 3, Galena Park ISD trustee Joe Stephens, whom I met at the Kingwood shindig, seems to be running hard to replace retiring Judge Mike Parrott as Justice of the Peace.

There are also some exploratory campaigns that I’ve noticed, including Ursula Hall for the 165th District; Shawn Thierry for the 333rd District. Joe Montemayor has been putting out feelers for a possible JP3 run, too.

And given that there has been some stepped up activity by others who have run for something in the past (patriotic and partisan meme sharing and attending all sorts of events), there may be others. No doubt, we may see some Democratic Primary battles, and that’s probably good thing, even though some of the candidates may not want to be in these battles.

Sheriff:  It is becoming more and more obvious that a Democrat needs to announce for Sheriff–and soon. Given the Republican new guy’s hiring practices, it seems we need a Democrat. Anyone? Anyone?

If you’re actually running in 2016, let me know at my contact page.

NPR: Ballooning Importance of Latino Vote

donkey-fightNPR had an interesting article based on recent Pew Hispanic Center polling about the increasing importance of the Latino vote in 2016.

Much is being said about how Bush and Rubio on the Republican side have been courting Latinos; of course, there’s not much description as to how it is being done or how effective it has been.

Bush has used references to his support for what he calls immigration reform, which basically turns out to be a push for a second class of citizen based on work permits. Hillary Clinton pointed that out recently in a challenge to all of the Republicans on the immigration issue.

Today, the Clinton campaign released info on some new hires, including a Latino outreach director, Lorella Praeli.

Born in Peru, Praeli was brought to the U.S. by her family at age 10 to provide her with better opportunities; Praeli lost a leg in an accident when she was 2. The family moved to Connecticut and her mother, who was a psychiatrist in Peru, worked as a housekeeper. Praeli attended Quinnipiac University, where she graduated summa cum laude and where she also came out as undocumented and became active as a young DREAMer.

So, it looks like Clinton has someone who can speak to the realities of immigration and has organized on the issue, which is a good thing. Something else that caught my eye was this:

Praeli’s mother is currently undocumented, while her younger sister Maria obtained deferred action status through DACA and made headlines after confronting President and Mrs. Obama on immigration, also stating DREAMers were looking at the positions of potential candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Always the cynic, I hope that this is about standing strong on the side of deportation reform and immigration reform. Again, Clinton’s experience with Latin American relations and her call for immediate deportation of Central American child victims of violence is not something most Latinos see as a positive.

All of this said, there is a lot more to Latinos than immigration. Latinos support the health care law, an increase in the minimum wage, public schools, and want some real job growth. Latinos are increasingly pro-choice and pro same-sex marriage. So, it would seem that Latinos would still be on the Democratic side of things which should make increasing turn-out the goal of campaigns.

Certainly, the Republican outreach playbook is all about culture wars, as Ted Cruz proved yesterday. So, Democrats from the top to the bottom of the ballot need to excite Latinos, rather than just use the same old songbook. That Clinton is loved by Latinos isn’t news. But if the goal is to attract newer, younger voters to the “D” side from no-side, then energy and excitement are necessary; not to mention a strong stance on issues of importance.

Of course, let’s not leave out Bernie Sanders who has excited young voters. And I’m not sure what’s up Martin O’Malley’s sleeve, but the fact that we could have a little longer-than-short-term Democratic Primary could pump some energy into voters.

 

Garcia Makes It Official, Is Running for Mayor

adrianpicLongtime lawman and public servant Adrian Garcia finally answered the question on Wednesday:  Will he, or won’t he? He will run for Houston Mayor, Garcia announced before dozens of friends and family members at the Lindale Park Community Center located in the Northside where he resides.

Stating he’s the candidate who can balance a budget, save taxpayers millions, and protect Houston families, Garcia added, “We commit to enhancing a quality of life that benefits everyone, from the wealthiest to the humblest, but never ignoring one for the other.”

In a speech in which he credited much to his wife and family, he reminded folks of what he was taught when he was young.

“I have done what my parents taught me to do years ago, and that is to simply work hard and do a good job”

Talking with several of his supporters, the one word that all agreed this campaign would be is tough, but that with their hard work and determination Garcia can come out victorious in the end.

Frankly, I’m glad he’s in the race, despite any concerns about a new right-wing Sheriff I might have. Bottom line, he was forced to resign, while others in the running get to keep their elected positions. Garcia in the race could add some excitement, as well as some ánimo to the electorate for a real discussion on the issues. I think Kuff just said something similar. Great minds!

It’s no secret, I’ve been critical of Garcia in the past, but he’s also served the community well all these years. I’m no one-issue voter; if so, I’d show up and not vote for any of them, right? So, let’s keep an eye on this race. Enjoy!

Update:  Holy mole , my buddy David Ortez was also at the announcement.

Video of part of stump in Spanish.