Category Archives: Democratic Stuff

2018 DC Nod: Nile Bailey Copeland for County Treasurer

I met Nile Bailey Copeland, Democrat running for Harris County Treasurer, almost a decade ago when he embarked on his first Democratic campaign for a local district court. I was immediately impressed as he was personable, knowledgeable of the law, and listened intently to Dem activists who are usually the first group one has to convince to earn support. He wasn’t afraid to engage with all voters, while others played the handshake game with VIPs. So, it didn’t take long for he and I to become good friends.

He learned much in his first Democratic campaign in 2010, which readied him to run for the 1st Court of Appeals in 2012, losing by less than 15,000 votes in a 10-county race to a well-funded Republican. While he won Harris County, it was just too tough to win over the other GOP-heavy counties, but he and his counterparts worked hard.

That said, Nile Bailey Copeland has done much work for Democratic causes, whether it was providing legal expertise on election contests, including one in which he helped defeat GOP stalwart Paul Bettencourt; providing legal and ethics advice to candidates; training poll watchers for Borris Miles’ campaign, and even volunteering at the Party office stuffing envelopes and licking stamps. The kind of work that doesn’t earn you awards or accolades.

In 2016, after deciding that he didn’t want to challenge friends running in the Dem Primary, he decided to learn how the other side worked. I asked him how he could run as a Republican if he was to the left of most Joe Lieberman Democrats I knew. The Republicans sure as hell knew his Dem background. Well, he ran anyway. I was reminded that one of our favorite Dems, DA Kim Ogg, once ran as a Republican back in the GOP heyday because she wanted to win, but we Dems don’t want to admit to that, right? Nile just wanted to do it to gain some knowledge. So, I forgave Nile when I found out what he was up to and he ended up learning a lot about how Republican primaries work compared to our own. (Many of us forgave DA Ogg, obviously.) Hell, we all knew the Democrats were going to sweep Harris County in November!

End of Discussion: Copeland earned 38,000 votes in that GOP primary (3rd of 4), which one ought to consider possible crossover vote potential to defeat the GOP incumbent in this race, which his opponents don’t offer.

Beyond his Dem bonafides, he’s a successful private practice attorney, an active realtor, and a successful business owner. He has participated in citizenship assistance forums and has advocated for immigrant communities across the County, even participating in DREAMer support rallies as early as 2010 when I invited him to one–and he showed up. Finally, Copeland has also served the City of Houston as a Municipal Judge appointed by Mayors Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner. He’s built an impressive resume, earning every opportunity and acting on it, by being the grown-up in the room. Which is what we need in government more than ever.

So, Nile Bailey Copeland is running for Harris County Treasurer with the hopes of unseating an entrenched Republican incumbent who has failed to achieve anything for voters. He’s pledged to make the office a relevant one that takes its responsibilities seriously, while proposing the office become more educative to constituents regarding how county government works. As an attorney and professional, he has built relationships, rather than political opportunities. Along the way, he’s earned the endorsements of former Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Texas Senator Borris Miles,  the Communication Workers of America Local 6222, attorney J. Goodwille Pierre, among other local leaders.

So, endorsing my friend has been a no-brainer. He’s the candidate who can defeat the Republican in November. And he will serve Harris County well.

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The Latest in Harris County Voter Data

Thanks to Hector de Leon from the County Clerk’s Election Office, I’ve got my hands on the latest on the county voter registration rolls. FYI, when they break down the Hispanic numbers, they’re just estimates since they go by surnames. When registering, we are not required to give our ethnicity.

That said, there are 2,119,052 voters whose status is active. And of that, 470,041 are Spanish surnamed. That’s 22% of the voter rolls, folks. And if 20,000 or so would fix their status, we’d be closer to 500,000.

When broken down by congressional district, the county finds that 57% of voters in CD29 are Spanish surnamed. But in a show of “we’re everywhere!” we are anywhere from 14 to 22 percent in the other CDs. In the “hotter” races for CD2 and CD7, Spanish surnamed are 16% and 14%, respectively. In my own very Democratic CD9 and in Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s district, Spanish surnamed are at 19%. But when one looks at CD22 and CD36, which are quite suburban, Spanish surnamed are at 22% and 20%, respectively.

We’re everywhere! And this is a good thing because the ability to impact elections in Harris County is not just in one particular area, and “control” of GOTV efforts are not in any one group of politicos. On the other hand, there is plenty of opportunity to GOTV for those who really want to put in the effort and money. [I’m talking to those big money raisers and groups who GOTV, now.] Particularly when it comes to registered non-voting Latinos who often go ignored, or easily scapegoated, depending on the political party.

One particular set of data to note is how County Commissioner’s seats are broken down. What used to be a stronger Hispanic opportunity precinct, Precinct 2, is at 39% Spanish surnamed. I recall arguing before the County’s redistricting lawyers that while I appreciated Precincts 1 and 4 becoming more Hispanic and it seemed like a good thing because it showed we’re everywhere, it wouldn’t take much cutting from both precincts to bolster Precinct 2 as a Hispanic opportunity district. They didn’t listen. This is important as Latino candidates in the Pct. 2 Democratic Primary fight for whom gets to the chance to knock off a GOP incumbent, thus adding some needed diversity to the Court. I guess it’s important for those of us seeking partisan balance at the County, too.

There’s some 2014 data through which I need to sift that gives a clearer picture about where Latinos voted and in which Primary in 2014, and, no surprise, one finds those more “conservative” ones in the more suburban areas of the county. Has there been much change in how these Latinos feel about one side versus the other after a year of Trump? Are there new voters who haven’t even been given attention by either side? Well, I wish Latino Decisions would give it crack to find out.

Anyway, no doubt there has been growth. Voter registration efforts continue and there’s plenty of time to further impact these VR numbers toward November. What this tells either side of the political spectrum is that upwards of a quarter of the voter rolls are up for grabs if a political party takes that segment seriously in its GOTV efforts.

As Tony Diaz and I discussed on Tuesday on his radio show, it takes more than speaking Spanish and eating a taco in public. It takes being in tune to where Latinos are on the big issues. Those are usually Education, Health Care, Economy (jobs), and of course, Immigration. And I’m pretty sure a lot more of us are listening–whether you’re speaking to us or not. And that’s how November decisions are made.

Anyway, this is where we’re at regarding voter registration.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 DosCentavos Stace Slate – Democratic Primary

LatinoVote(This is an evolving document.)

Well, I’ve spent a few minutes going over the sample ballot that pertains to my domicile and I’ve made some decisions on whom to support in contested races. There are a dozen or so contested races in which I’m undecided because, well, I’ve never met any of the candidates or heard of them along the way. So, I’ll update those races later.

For now, here’s the DosCentavos Stace Slate 2018. [Note:  No contributions or memberships were required to be purchased to earn an endorsement from the DC.]

  • US Senator – Beto O’Rourke
  • Texas Governor – Lupe Valdez
  • Lt. Governor – Mike Collier
  • Comtproller – Tim Mahoney
  • Land Commissioner – Miguel Suazo
  • Railroad Commission – Roman McAllen
  • 14th Court of Appeals – Pl. 3 – Jerry Zimmerer
  • 14th Court of Appeals – Pl. 8 – Margaret Poissant
  • Judge, 55th District – Latosha Lewis Payne
  • Judge, 113th District – Rabeea Collier
  • Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong
  • Judge, 189th District – Fred Cook
  • Judge, 234th District – Lauren Reeder
  • Judge, 269th District – Cory Sepolio
  • Judge, 281st District – Christine Weems
  • Judge, 248th Family District – Charles Collins
  • Judge, 289th Family District – Barbara J. Stalder
  • Judge, 309th Family District – Kathy Vossler
  • Judge, 313th Juvenile District – Tracy Good
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #2 – Harold Landreneau
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #5 –
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #7 –
  • Judge, County Crminal Ct #11 –
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #12 – Juan J. Aguirre
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #13 – Raul Rodriguez
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct. #15 – Kris Ougrah
  • Judge, County Probate Ct. #2 – Jim L. Peacock
  • Judge, County Probate Ct. #4 – James Horwitz
  • Judge, County Civil Ct #2 –
  • District Clerk – Marilyn Burgess
  • County Clerk – Diane Trautman
  • County Treasurer – Nile Bailey Copeland
  • County School Trustee, At Large – Richard Cantu
  • Vote FOR all of the propositions.

Contested Races NOT on My Ballot

  • CD2 – Darnell Jones or Silky Malik
  • CD7 – James Cargas
  • CD18 – Sheila Jackson Lee
  • CD22 – Steve Brown
  • CD23 – Judy Canales
  • CD29 – Sylvia R. Garccia
  • SD17 – Fran Watson
  • HD27 – Ron Reynolds
  • HD126 – Natali Hurtado
  • HD138 – Adam Milasincic
  • HD146 – Shawn Thierry
  • County Commissioner Pct 2 – Adrian Garcia
  • County Commissioner Pct 4 – Penny Shaw

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It’s Not Just The Wall That Is Up For Debate

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

An article by MSNBC talking head Victoria Soto caught my eye. Basically, she states that Democrats should give away the proposed border wall for DACA. Of course, there is no mention of what else Trump and the Republicans want. Added militarization in the form of more border patrol, draconian changes to family reunification (called by Trump “chain migration”), and other changes to the visa lottery, at least. No, Trump doesn’t just want the wall–a monument to stupidity, as called by Luis Gutierrez–he wants blood.

I will agree with Soto that by making the shutdown about CHIP vs DREAMers, it pretty much became about competing ethnicities. While the vast majority of DREAMers are Latino, only 37% of CHIP beneficiaries are Latinos. And let’s face it, ZERO DACA kids are on CHIP (or even Obamacare). But, no, Democrats have wasted no time in Demsplaining it as a victory. Considering that it was funded for the next six years, it’s pretty obvious that Republicans would have supported it in the end. Republicans just found a good hostage on which Dems could pull the trigger.

In other words, a longer shutdown would not have hurt CHIP in the least.

Now, it’s like everything is starting from ZERO on DACA/DREAM. Republicans have control of the DACA/DREAM issue and will allow for some pretty awful amendments, whenever it is they decide to get to it. Along with the amendments will be plenty of time to vilify DREAMers, immigrants, and your run-of-the-mill American Latin@. Probably more racially charged Trump ads about murderers, drug runners and visa overstays as “criminal illegals” will hit our TVs.  Certainly, talking heads and Congress members instilling fear and hate and spreading it around the country. Over the last seventeen years, we’ve been through this process plenty of times as if it is a brand new issue.

No doubt, DREAMers are hard at work trying to convince members of Congress in both parties for a Clean DREAM Act through direct action. Perhaps some changes might be OK, but not wasteful crazy ones like a wall or changes to family reunification some have stated privately. I mean, if there’s going to be a drawn out process, then the DREAMers must get the opportunity to speak, too.

But for Soto and others to simply give away the wall as they have done when we have already been forced into a new process is a bit shortsighted. Firstly, you never want to be the “Latino for the wall.” And for Soto to write this piece as if nothing else is up for debate is a bit disingenuous. Schumer already offered up the wall with a measly $1.6 billion of funding–not even close to the $20 billion Trump wants. Dems can’t even give away the store right if they’re trying to paint some picture of uncooperative Republicans.

So, all that is left is a legislative process that has been promised by someone who doesn’t really keep his promises. I’m glad the DREAMers are still working hard because I don’t know how hard Congress members will push. And it might be a good idea for Democrats and the few “moderates” left on both sides to listen to them during this process. And help stop the madness by standing up to stupidity.

Demsplaining The DACA Sell-Out

Obviously, some of us are upset at Democrats…again. Dems agreed to a weak promise from Mitch McConnell to re-open the government in exchange for more DACA talk in a few weeks. DREAMers are pissed, allies like myself are pissed, and even some Dem loyalists and a few elected officials. But it’s the Demsplaining by many that will probably cost Dems more votes than spineless Congressional Democrats.

There’s nothing like being pissed off and being told:

  • “We can’t put party before country.”
  • “If DREAMers keep complaining, the polls are going to go against them.”
  • Shutdowns “is how systems end up in disaster.”
  • “You can wait three weeks.”
  • “If McConnell doesn’t come through, it’s bad for Republicans.”
  • Now, I’m waiting for, “These DREAMers whining about Democrats are probably Russian agents.”

I’m sure there are other excuses out there. All of these excuses point to Democrats wanting a complaint-free campaign toward November. Party before country is all about portraying Dems as loyal to the flag and faux bipartisanship to get elected; bad polls for DREAMers is all about shutting them up; disastrous systems are about people wanting to keep the status quo; making people wait (for 17 years, not just 3 weeks) is about power; and hoping McConnell fails is all about keeping the issue alive toward November. The Russian thing will come after election day, obviously.

As far as systems are concerned, I was taught by an emeritus professor of political science, after suggesting that some of us more liberal brown folks needed to get inside the system to change it, that the problem is that it’s not our system. And damn, are we constantly reminded of this fact.

I’m at a point where I’m ready to turn in my secret decoder ring to the Dem Party HQ (after 13 primaries of involvement)–not that it’s ever worked. Again, not my system. But when I hear people whine about Hillary losing and blaming “third parties,” I’m reminded why my parents left the Democrats for La Raza Unida Party. I’m also reminded of those that sell us out just for a title.

 

Not A Good Time for Mandatory Anything Right Now

During a time in which a good chunk of people aren’t fans of federal government (or who’s in charge of it), when there is distrust of law enforcement and politicians in charge, and when government is negatively targeting entire groups of people while benefiting others, it may not be a good time to do mandatory anything, especially mandatory volunteer service for all.

That’s not to say Beto O’Rourke’s idea is a bad one, it’s just one of those policy things that gets pretty mucked up when people demand specifics rather than general campaign talking points. Because entire groups of people can get screwed once specifics are discussed. It’s kind of like how I feel when I hear politicians say they “support comprehensive immigration reform.” I want specifics because too many times, specifics like walls or temporary worker visas or “legalization vs citizenship” can screw entire groups of people.

As a young college student, I had big dreams of serving my community, state, and nation. No, not in the military, but in helping run things–legislation, departments, etc. Being a poor kid from South Texas living on student loans and the few grants that hadn’t been cut yet, though, it was hard to “volunteer” for a government internship, drive 80 miles a day to/from Austin, and try to impress some VIPs when bills had to be paid. So, a non-political job on campus and one in a call center had to do, while kids with influential parents or just plain ol’ family money could get most of the opportunities. Needless to say, sometimes one has to make ones own opportunities to do what one enjoys.

That said, the thought of a mandatory volunteer service program brought back memories about how it might work. Will the rich kids get the better volunteer opportunities with a phone call and a campaign donation? Can a poor kid from South Texas get some sort of incentive and “political” support that the privileged brats usually get to end up in a good opportunity? Because the service should end up amounting to something tangible, and not just student loan forgiveness and a spot on the resume detailing some crappy mandatory volunteer placement. In other words, how exactly would it work? Given that it’s mandatory, folks should have equality of options and not just the usual placement made by a political appointee.

I’ll be honest, I enjoyed some placement assistance when I was a teen in need of work. In my little town of 8,000 in South Texas, one of my dearest friends’ dads was the local city manager. So, when I put in my application for a job through JTPA (look it up), my friend advised her dad to pick me. She knew of my love of government at an early age and work ethic, so, her dad trusted the recommendation. Working for $3.35 an hour in the City’s finance department and sometimes being shared with the Planning Department was a great experience. Unfortunately, when a small-town kid moves to the big college and wants to work in big government,  the lack of opportunity because of forces out of ones control was quite the shock. Which is why options are important so that one doesn’t have to go through friends and connections.

So, yeah, no doubt being of service is important, but specifics are very important. And ensuring equality of opportunity is even more important. And without that kind of specificity (and bad memories of getting passed up by brats), it was just too hard to embrace Beto’s idea.

So, Who’s Running in Harris County? (DEMS)

I thought about doing a few long posts about different races and then got hit by an annoying head cold that I hope to kick by the weekend.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to leave you all hanging. The least I could do was create a spreadsheet (.pdf) for you all to peruse with names of who’s running and for what position.

Those in bold are my favorites at the moment. If you haven’t been chosen, work on it. You still have time. Some weren’t picked because they’re unopposed, though. This is the approved list from the Secretary of State, but not in ballot order.

2018 Dems

Click on the link and check out the list. I’ll add some links as we get to 2018. For now, just be informed that we have a pretty lengthy ballot and some contested races to pick the Democrats we need on the ballot.

 

 

DREAMer Reform Delayed? My Confidence Wanes

If Democrats weren’t able to pass any kind of relief for DREAMers in 2010 with a legislative majority, did you really expect Republicans to do anything? According to a Politico article, the groundwork has been laid for a January vote, though.

The problem? They can’t do anything until Trump adds his sadistic ideas to the plan, like the wall, more migra, and other mean-spirited things that Kelly and others at DHS may come up with under the heading, “border security.”

So, cynical me thinks this is how things will go:

  • A pretty crappy DREAM Act will be created–enforcement heavy, relief for fewer than ever. (Remember when Dems were fighting for 11 million people and willing to give them everything?)
  • Dems will say no to such an unclean DREAM Act (right?). There will be shock at how Republicans are just bad and mean. (Some of us are desensitized to it, actually, at least those of us who are undeportable.)
  • Then the Dems will have it as an issue for them to campaign on, and run away from in those hard-to-win districts, in 2018.
  • By then, the March deadline to resolve this has passed and even more young people are out of DACA status and under threat of removal. (Let’s not forget that right now 122 DREAMers per day are losing their DACA status).

I’m just guessing, of course.

I’ll leave it to the DREAMers to tell me if they want what results from the negotiation in the end. It’s a gun to their heads, but not necessarily a gun to either party’s. I say this because even the new Dems being elected during special elections are acting kind of shifty on most issues, and not just this one, as if bipartisanship even exists anymore.

Maybe the Dems should up the ante and ask for a path to something for 11,000,000 once Trump starts adding his crap to the bill. It’s a negotiation, right? Hell, put up a fight. For the whole lot of us, it’s the fight that earns a politician respect.

As I mentioned previously, Democrats love the issue for the campaign trail. It’s great at conventions and the use of the issue can be left to those officeholders and candidates who can get the most use out of it–or the least use if it may cost them re-election.

The problem with that is that, once elected, the Democrats don’t even put up a fight. And those that want to fight are scoffed at by leadership (Pelosi and Schumer) who have other priorities, such as keeping things like the DREAM Act a campaign issue. In other words, even if the Dems gain a majority in both chambers again, my confidence in them doing something on this and the entire issue is still weak.

Perhaps they worry about Republicans taking credit for the issue while they are the majority. Hell, I wouldn’t worry. All the “bipartisan” talk has been just talk for Republicans. Dems give them too much credit. And for the vast majority of them, it will always be talk. They’re bigoted. They’re hateful. And their quiet “moderates” who fail to fight back are just as guilty of allowing the hate and bigotry. So, why not fight back when we’re down?

Seven DREAMers and allies protested at Schumer’s office last week. They all ended up in jail. And most are still in jail and soon at risk of deportation. They’re willing to put their lives on the line. No one seems to care, though. I’m pretty sure Democrats will blame them for fighting back and messing with their negotiations. Ain’t it always the way?

Yes, I’m cynical.

Thoughts on Viernes – 12152017

Trekking Into Political Stuff

I attended a couple of events this week in which I caught up with some old political friends and made new ones. First, there was the Latino Texas PAC, one of the newer local groups whose goal is to put more Latinos (and those who support issues that benefit/affect Latinos) in office. They had a busy year getting involved in the Pasadena elections which had a tough outcome. But one constant movement was their support of Holly Flynn Vilaseca’s appointment and sweeping election into the Houston ISD Board of Trustees.

Several candidates caught my eyes and ears, especially Penny Shaw who is running for Harris County Commissioner Pct. 4. Energetic, intelligent, issues-saavy, and shaking every hand, Penny will give the GOP incumbent a run for his money, of which he’ll have plenty. I also ran into long-time friend and family lawyer Kathleen Vossler, running for Judge of the 309th District Court. She’s a natural on the campaign trail. Also there working the room was Harold Landreneau running for Judge of Criminal Court #2. He remains one of the hardest-working candidates. And let’s not forget Rabeea Collier, in the running for Judge of the 113th Civil District Court.

I got a surprise invite yesterday to attend the AFL/CIO’s pre-CEC reception at the IBEW Hall, co-hosted by the Plumbers Union and other fine working folks. It was great seeing Labor Assembly President Ginny Stogner McDavid, ED Hany Khalil, and Harris Health Trustee and Labor Leader Linda Morales.

Along with Shaw and Vossler, also working the room was Fred Cook, candidate for Judge of the 189th District Court whom I supported in his 2008 run. He’s back on the trail and ready to serve. Nile Copeland, who’s running for County Treasurer also visited the labor folks, as did CD-7 candidate James Cargas and Natalia Oakes running for Judge of the 313th Juvenile District Court. There were plenty more who are in the running who then headed up to the CEC meeting to introduce themselves to the precinct chairs–the heart of the Democratic Party, but I didn’t get a chance to talk with them.  The Dems are fired up and even this sometimes jaded Dem left a little excited, especially after Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s fiery speech. and after doing the chisme circuit with a few friends and family.

Dems still love their retail politics, so, you candidates make sure you shake all the hands you can. I’m of the opinion that relationships with voters are a helluveaa lot more valuable than all the money people are salivating over, lately.

Here are few pics, and have a good weekend!

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Kudos to Denton County!

Congrats to my dear friend and Denton County Democratic Chair Phylis Wolper and her crew for filling the ballot with great Democrats to challenge the other side in November. If you don’t run, you don’t win and Denton County is a great example of running to win.

 

 

 

After Alabama, Dems Buckling on Shutdown Over DREAMers

After an entire day of thanking engaged African American voters for electing Doug Jones in Alabama, the Democratic leadership in Congress seems to be buckling on deportation reform for DREAMers. So much for engaging the rest of us to effect votes in 2018, right?

Democratic leaders aren’t going to shut down the government to save Dreamers in December.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi haven’t stopped fighting to deliver something on immigration by the end of the month. But they’ve subtly shifted their rhetoric in recent days and aren’t insisting that deportation relief be paired with a government funding bill this year.

So, they’re talking about it, but it’s not a priority. Then, there’s this.

Issuing ultimatums, they suggested, risks reducing GOP support for helping young undocumented immigrants at risk for deportation in March.

“Obviously, I want a Dreamers fix by the end of the year,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in an interview. “I’m not sure that it serves our purposes to draw hard lines in the sand in the middle of negotiations.”

This reminds me of President Obama’s failures at bringing in Republicans with a tactic that offered up and produced record numbers of deportations and lock-ups in exchange for some sort of plan. Of course, the Republicans didn’t give much of anything–even when offered a pretty bad plan.

The narrative has always been about DREAMers having bipartisan support, but I’ll remind everyone again that back in 2010, FIVE Democrats voted no on that year’s version of the DREAM Act because they wanted to protect their political hides. And that’s when Democrats had majorities! And that supposed bipartisanship was, again, non-existent! What do we have to lose when Trump and right-wingers are in charge?

In the words of President Josiah Bartlet (West Wing), “Shut it down!”

Well, perhaps it’s a strategy for Democrats to keep this particular issue alive for the 2018 elections. An attack line against the GOP to gain votes. It’s the same strategy that has been around since 2006. You know, when we were fighting for a comprehensive plan for 11 million, and not just 800,000.

The problem with this is that, whether it’s the DREAMers, Comprehensive immigration reform, or little kids escaping violence in Central America, this issue goes ignored when action is needed and used for good or bad by Democrats when needed on the campaign trail. I guess some of us are a bit tired of it.

And you know, it’s a human rights thing.

Shut it down!