Category Archives: Elections

Beto’s South Texas Problem Isn’t A Problem

Much is being said about Beto O’Rourke’s losses in various counties in South Texas to his opponent Sema Hernandez. I’m not saying either was a better or worse candidate to voters in those areas. Hell, I liked both of them. But stuff like this happens. It’s also argued that the same happened for Lupe Valdez, Miguel Suazo, and even Roman McAllen. (Some of us visit McAllen when we visit La Virgen.)

Chicanos in South Texas enjoy voting for Chicanos (or people they think are Chicanos). And there’s nothing wrong with that when Chicano representation at the top levels is dismal and you’ve got a bunch of mean gringos (bad anglos) and vendidos (Cruz) trying to build walls and threatening the well-being of families and communities. The familiar is a lot more warm and fuzzy sometimes to a lot of people of different colors and groups, but it seems people only get mad when Chicanos do it. 

Why get mad at South Texas when little has been done in the form of outreach? You can visit most of the counties (Beto) and still miss most of the voters. I mean, I’m not afraid to say that Beto probably saw the same people over and over again at his Houston visits since these events are sold to Democratic activists and not your regular voter. (I didn’t attend any of them.) The differences between March and November voters is pretty obvious too. I’d even venture to say that social media targeting is a lot easier in a big city than in rural areas, since that was the tool of choice for many campaigns. But did they even try in Rural South Texas?

Advertising in South Texas newspapers and radio stations is relatively cheap, compared to the big markets Democrats complain about not being able to afford. Perhaps some ads and outreach to those news and info sources may have helped. Hell, they’re cheaper than a politiquera (google it), that’s for sure.

Beyond all the whining, most of the Democratic counties still vote for the Democrat on the ballot by huge percentages when November comes. Of course, turnout could be affected because you’re talking about a lot of rural Chicanos that might go ignored by campaigns in favor of the big Democratic cities. Well there’s a cost to just about any campaign strategy that is chosen. Figure it out!

Ted Cruz’s idiocy about “Beto” notwithstanding, Beto’s not the first gabacho (not a bad anglo, just an anglo) to use a nickname familiar to Chicanos. Who knows, it could become endearing to folks once they get to know him. But they do need to get to know him and everyone else on the ballot.

Democrats complaining about South Texas just need to stop because that kind of elitism bordering on something else is unbecoming. I swear, they complain in March because we vote for their favorites’ Chicano opponent, then they complain in November when not enough of us vote. In the words of Eddie Olmos in the Selena movie, “It’s exhausting!”

Until Democrats (including elected ones in South Texas) perfect the whole political education thing in South Texas, low information, name-based elections will continue. Let’s all work on it.


Latinos on the Ballot

There was an article in the Chron recently about the record number of Latinos on the ballot of both primaries. Of course, there were multiple people running in some races, such as Congress District 29 and Commish Pct. 2. Still, at the end of the Democratic Primary, how many Latinos have been left on the island?

Well, since most Latinos in Harris County live away from areas represented by Latin@s, I’ll use my own ballot as an example. At this moment, Democrats have the potential for 12 Latinos on my ballot. Of those 12, three are in run-off races, including Lupe Valdez who is running for Texas Governor, Richard Cantu for HCDE At-Large, and Cosme Garcia for County Treasurer.

But for sure we in Harris County will see names like Suazo, Lacayo, Hidalgo and Rodriguez on the ballot. And there’s even a Fleischer (es hijo de Chilenos).

And outside of my ballot, some in Harris County will see Sylvia Garcia, Adrian Garcia, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Armando Walle, Penny Shaw, Carol Alvarado and more.

In case you’re asking about the dark side (GOP), there are eight on my ballot, including one in a run-off. Of course, being Latino doesn’t necessarily mean they support the issues that are important to Latinos, and Ted Cruz, Little Brown Bush, and the rest are not with us. Just to be clear. And we should never be afraid to say this. But anything for a “record breaking” article, I guess.

And that’s what’s important about ballot diversity. Representation goes beyond the Spanish surname. It’s about voters having a diversity of candidate stories with which they might identify to make the polls more inviting. In other words, a ballot that looks like Houston and Harris County.

But, most importantly, it’s about who’s fighting for you and your issues. Who’s standing up for public education, jobs, immigration reform, and access to health care/ And in these days of trumpism, we need all the fighters we can get.

Run-Offs, Victories, and Tear-Jerkers

I’ll just comment a little on some of the races that were on my radar.


Congrats to State Senator Sylvia Garcia on a decisive victory based on a disciplined campaign that surged from beginning to end. This, despite a big money newbie who came in from Beaumont to challenge her. Ultimately, all that big money guy did was take the oxygen out of the other challengers who were mostly ignored in the race. There are a couple in there with a lot of potential, so, they should keep active in the local scene and the Party. I wasn’t worried about the Senator as she had a pretty great team of campaign workers doing the GOTV.


With Senator Garcia’s victory, she will have an easier fall campaign since CD29 is a Dem seat. Eventually and some time after she wins CD29, the Senator will resign her SD6 position, and already State Reps Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado have announced their intentions to run for the seat. Of course, a special election date will not be set until that resignation and at the Governor’s leisure. Best guess:  May, 2019? Thankfully, neither Hernandez nor Alvarado will be required to resign and will serve during the next Lege session. So, stay tuned.

Rabeea Collier and Judicial Campaigns

Rabeea Collier, running for the 113th Civil District Court, achieved quite a victory with 73% of the vote, defeating an inexperienced, yet self-funded, lawyer. Rabeea will be among some great lawyers in the running to serve Harris County in various courts. Among the winners yesterday were Lauren Reeder, Cory Sepolio, Christine Weems, Barbara Stalder, David Fleischer, Raul Rodriguez, etc. We’ll have the long list soon.

My best wishes to Kathy Vossler, Fred Cook, Harold Landreneau, Juan Aguirre and Tracy Good. You all ran great races and are great lawyers whom I will always respect and support in your future campaigns.


Countywide Run-Offs

There is still voting to be done on May 22 as Democrats decide in several run-off races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess, who came quite close to winning outright, will take on Rozzy Shorter. For County Clerk, it is Diane Trautman versus Gayle Young Mitchell. For County Treasurer, Cosme Garcia and Dylan Osbourne. And for At-Large Trustee of HCDE Richard Cantu and Josh Wallenstein. I’ve decided in three of the races, but I’ll need to be convinced about the race for treasurer.

By the way, my friend Nile Copeland (3rd place in the Treasurer’s race) had a good enough showing to be asked whom he is supporting in the run-off. Now that he can buy me tacos again without having to report them, I may just ask him.

The Commishes

Congrats to my long-time friend Adrian Garcia on a big win versus a few challengers. He’s the one candidate that can re-take Precinct 2 for the good guys. And what a showing by first-time candidate Penny Shaw in Precinct 4–75%. She earned every vote because she was everywhere, coordinated various events, and created relationships every step of the way. On to November!

Other Run-Off Races

I have all the love and respect for Jim Cargas and Dorina Papageorgiou for all they have done in CD7. Unfortunately, politics can be like kids with new toys at Christmas. Look at all the new candidates!!! Let’s open them up and see what they give us! And they gave plenty of ads, mailers, etc. So, it’ll be Moser vs Fletcher in the run-off. I’ll have to ask my sis whom she is supporting. And Nile Copeland, too!

In SD17, Fran Watson kept the race close in Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties to make it into a run-off with Rita Lucido. Good luck to Fran!


What a showing by former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez with 42% against all those other politically inexperienced candidates. I was impressed with some great showings in South Texas, plus Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, El Paso, and Travis. She shouldn’t ignore Harris County, though, and do everything to cut into her opponent’s local margin. Oh, yeah, I still support Lupe Valdez for Governor.

The End of the Ballot

I heard a lot of chatter from a few political folks who didn’t like the end of the ballot survey questions–that’s all they are, a survey. Hell, I like them. And, apparently, so do the voters. While some of our candidate races had 15 to 20% undervotes, the ballot questions had less than 6% undervoting. I don’t mind if Dem voters talk to us since most of them won’t go to the county and district conventions to form the platform. And if we get some surprise answers we don’t want to hear, well, that just means the Party needs to work harder to ensure we stay true to our values and issues.

See you at the races!

7am to 7pm Early Voting This Week

Early Voting is in effect, February 26 thru March 2, 2018, from 7AM to 7PM. That’s this week, folks. Find an early voting location near you and get it done before Primary Election Day, March 6, where you’ll only get to vote in your neighborhood polling location. The easiest thing to do is get your sample ballot here, then vote the Stace Slate.

Compared to 2014, folks seem to be flocking to the Democratic Primary. At this moment, Democrats are neck-and-neck with the other side as far as participation goes. There were reports last week that a good chunk of them were first-time Democratic Primary voters. And this makes me wonder whether some of the political mail that has gone out has actually been effective, as this group probably didn’t get any of it since they hadn’t voted in a Primary before.

Of course, some of these “new” voters have been caught not knowing how primaries work. Or how lack of progress on Democratic issues isn’t necessarily the fault of a Den incumbent when said incumbent is part of a minority in whatever lawmaking body they are serving. It’s earned these folks some ridicule from some of the local pros, but then I remember that the local pros aren’t big fans of political education during the election off-season. Then, again, there’s enough blame to go all around, including personal responsibility.

Anyway, be an informed voter. If you want to find more info on candidates, the League of Women Voters Houston has their voter guide online. In two languages!

James Cargas for CD-7 Ad

Before it became cool to run for CD7, James Cargas was already talking about issues affecting the district, including the threat of flooding due to neglect of our reservoirs in West Houston. Here’s Jim’s latest ad, which was uploaded to YouTube this past week.

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.

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.

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 – David Fleischer
  • Judge, County Criminal Ct #7 – Andrew Wright
  • Judge, County Crminal Ct #11 – Sedrick T. Walker
  • 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 – Jim Kovach
  • 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. Garcia
  • SD17 – Fran Watson
  • HD27 – Ron Reynolds
  • HD126 – Natali Hurtado
  • HD134 – Allison Lami Sawyer
  • HD138 – Adam Milasincic
  • HD146 – Shawn Thierry
  • County Commissioner Pct 2 – Adrian Garcia
  • County Commissioner Pct 4 – Penny Shaw

Continue reading

LULAC Retracts Trump Letter; Questions Remain

NBC News has reported that LULAC National President Roger Rocha was planning on retracting his letter to El Cheeto which supported his anti-immigrant agenda. The letter went so far as to support “the four pillars” of Trump’s plan, which included a border wall, border militarization, and familiy separation.

In a lengthy article, LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes (he led the effort that supported right-wing Latino Miguel Estrada for a judicial appointment in 2003, by the way) stated that LULAC’s national assembly voted to support a more progressive immigration agenda, including a “Clean DREAM Act,” no border wall, opposition to immigrant warehousing in private prisons, and local cops acting as immigration agents.

What was disturbing is that Rocha stated that he was asked by “business leaders” known as the Latino Coalition to write the letter. This group is a supporter of right-wing conservative causes, such as opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), support of Social Security privatization, and promotion of bad trade deals that exploit workers in Latin America. Issues in which LULAC and Latinos, generally, do not fall in line.

The funniest line:

Wilkes said the letter “was never intended to go public.” Rocha “didn’t anticipate it would be shared with members of Congress,” he said.

Because they didn’t anticipate Trump salivating over having some Hispanic lackeys to push his bigoted agenda, thus spreading the word about it?

Anyway, there was membership backlash all around, which has now caused Rocha to say he would retract the letter. How that is done without sending a powerful message that the group–which according to Rocha is the only group being allowed into the White House immigration discussion–does not back Trump on his framework, I don’t know.

At least, that’s what I hope members would demand.

LULAC is a membership-driven organization. It’s elaborately broken down into local councils that do much good work, such as scholarships, leadership development, promotion of higher education, etc. State organizations are broken into districts. And once a year, they assemble for a national convention which is quite the con-fab. Leaders are elected, most times controversially, and a legislative agenda is set for the organization to have some pull at the various levels of government, among other stuff they work on. That’s the elevator description.

So, it’s easy for me to say that I’m not a member, although I did do my time in the group in a council we called “The Cesar Chavez Council” during my college days. And I still support a few of their local causes. Me and my cohorts always thought of the group as too tame, if not conservative, but having it as a tool to push legislation and create leaders from the grassroots, we made it our own–not always to the liking of state and national leaders. And this usually came up during state and national conventions. Ahh, memories.

So, again, I’m not surprised that a screw-up like this would occur. But members and leaders need to grab hold of this organization if they want to be relevant at the national level as a group that fights for people’s rights, and not for border wall contracts for conservative “business leaders,” or for whatever reason the Latino Coalition support Trump’s wall.

As far as questions remaining, one needs to ask why Rocha would involve LULAC in a group like Latino Coalition that is very anti-Latino in its agenda.

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.