Category Archives: Elections

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.

 

 

 

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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!

 

Thoughts on Alabama

 

No, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, John Culberson, and the other Republicans probably aren’t pedophiles.

On the other hand, it can be said that Republicans in Texas really don’t like children. CHIP is dying. Medicaid surely is in their sights. Some of these bad men don’t even believe in the free lunch program. They surely don’t like to fund K-12 and higher education.  Yes, these bad men really don’t like children.

But guess what? These bad Republican men and women don’t like adults, either. They certainly don’t like the elderly. Republican tax cuts will be devastating to lower income and middle class families. They aren’t done trying to kill the Affordable Care Act. Stagnancy in funding flood relief, especially for those who have little to nothing and are living in tents during these cold days. And our safety nets, Medicare and Social Security, are headed for the cutting board if these bad men and women remain.

If any Republican says something nice about one group and then vilifies the other by voting for a law that targets that group, there is nothing good about them. I don’t consider any type of political evil-doing as “moderate.”

Everything is in place for Texas Democrats as far as the message goes. Alabama happens in Texas with good, well-funded organizing, sincere engagement of oft-ignored groups, and the strongest defense against voter suppression.

That, and good candidates that won’t sell out any of our issues.

 

 

Lina Hidalgo Will Lead the County Dem Ticket

After rumors of attempted late entries into the race for Harris County Judge, it appears that Lina Hidalgo will be the Democratic nominee for the post to take on Republican Ed Emmett.

Criminal justice and healthcare advocate Lina Hidalgo will run unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Judge. The deadline to file to run for office in 2018 closed yesterday at 6pm.

“I am honored to lead an outstanding slate of local Democratic candidates for election to county offices,” said Hidalgo. “Our campaign looks forward to working with Democrats all across Harris County and across this great state to complete the progressive sweep in Harris County and Turn Texas Blue.”

The Hidalgo campaign will stress the leading issue on the minds of the people of Harris County: flooding and infrastructure.

“The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board is right–the 2018 election in Harris County will be about flood control. The current County Judge and Republican County Commissioners have failed in their duties to keep us safe. They must be voted out of office. I am running for County Judge because we need an advocate at the head of the Commissioners Court who will lead with foresight on flood control and emergency management, health care, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, transportation and other key issues. As new Harris County leadership, we will stand up for our community as we rebuild our county and ensure it is a model for the nation: equitable, sustainable, and resilient.”

Hidalgo has emphasized since announcing a few months ago that the people of Harris County must have a seat at the table and a meaningful voice in helping to equitably rebuild our county. To do that, she believes, there must be transparency and accountability at the Commissioners Court.

“Before we go to the voters with a bond proposal, we need to account for misprioritization of bond funds in the past. In 2007 Commissioners Court did not include funding for flood control in the county bond election. In the 2015 county bond election, after Allison and Ike, flood control was nowhere near the number one priority.”

Learn more about the Hidalgo campaign at www.LinaHidalgo.com

Of course, because we do live in a democracy, there will be contested races from the top to the bottom of the ballot. I’ve already mentioned three countywide races and my favorites candidates in those races. Stay tuned for more about the rest of the Democratic contests.

The Harris County Dem Primary Is Quite Contested

If you’d like to check out the list of races in your county, you can visit here and then pick the county of your choice. The final updated version may not come for a day or so, I’m thinking.

The Harris County Dem Primary has shaped up to be a contested one for some of the countywide races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess has been working the various Democratic clubs around the county for most of the year. She has ended up with three opponents. You can find them on the list on your own.

For County Clerk, Diane Trautman announced her intention to run over a year ago and has been working hard getting reacquainted with voters. A known commodity on the Dem side of things, Diane has served on the Harris County Department of Education Board for a full term. She now has two other opponents.

Many of us had been wondering who was going to take on the current Republican County Treasurer. I’m happy to see that my friend (more like a brother) Judge Nile Bailey Copeland, a Houston municipal judge appointed and re-appointed by Democratic mayorshas signed up to run. He’ll have a couple of opponents. Nile has been on the Democratic side of the ballot a couple of times for judicial posts, and he’s given his time on issues and questions of election law and voter access that have benefited Democrats and democracy, in general. And he’s always a great person with whom to have coffee on any given day of the week. I look forward to following his campaign.

I’ll keep scanning the contested races to see which direction I’m heading.

 

 

 

Now, Primary Season May Begin

Saturday’s elections didn’t have an explosive finish in regards to turnout, but the finishes did ultimately show who wanted to win the most. In the end, Houston ISD ends up with one of the most diverse boards I’ve ever seen.

In District I, Elizabeth Santos earned a whopping 61% of the vote to earn her spot at HISD. It was quite the insurgency in a fight for the future of public schools. In District III, Dr. Sergio Lira took the early vote and election day vote in grand fashion, ending up with 57% of the vote.

As diversity goes, HISD will now have four Hispanics, three African-Americans, one Asian-American, and one Anglo-American. Also, it’s the most progressive, pro-public schools group of trustees ever to serve together–all elected and some even in tough-to-win districts.

Congrats to the winners and current office holders!

Pretta VanDible Stallworth cruised to victory with almost 72% of the vote to win a seat on the Houston Community College Board.

There are challenges ahead mostly coming from the Texas and federal government, and that’s why the 2018 Democratic Primary is so important. Stay tuned!

 

Thoughts on Viernes – 120817

Proof of Poverty

As I mentioned yesterday, some fact-checkers in Austin wanted proof of Democratic candidate for Texas Governor Lupe Valdez’s farm worker family roots. No, they didn’t ask for college transcripts, proof of serving in the military or anything like that. They wanted proof of poverty! I was surprised to see that Valdez’s people sent in a couple of photos.

Now, I wish my family had had the money to buy film for the ol’ Kodak 110 to take pics of us in the fields, or cooking meals on coals because we ran out of gas, or using said coals to heat the bathroom so we could bathe for school. Anyway…

Little Brown Trust Fund Boy Gets Opponent

I was happy to find out that Miguel Suazo, an oil/gas lawyer,will file to run for Texas Land Commissioner. Suazo worked with NM Senator Jeff Bingaman, so, he’s no stranger to government service. I look forward to hearing  his story and his plans for the office.

State Senator Borris Miles

I have had the privilege of representing the constituents of District 146 and Senate District 13 for over 10 years.

Because I’ve shown myself to be an effective voice of the people, I have made powerful enemies who will go to any length to destroy and disrupt my service.  I will not continue to address anonymous accusations that attack my personal and professional character as an effective lawmaker.

Sexual harassment is a serious offense and I plan to join my colleagues in the Senate in developing policy that allows all people due process and assurances they may work effectively in a fair and safe environment.

The people expect me to do my best and I will continue to fight for them until they decide otherwise. I will not be deterred.

OK, then.

VOTE ON SABADO (FIND YOUR VOTING LOCATION HERE)

HISD District I – Elizabeth Santos

HISD District III – Jesse A. Rodriguez

HCC District IX – Pretta Vandible Stallworth

Lupe Valdez Files for Texas Governor; Farm Worker Family Scrutinized

Sheriff Lupe Valdez has filed to run for Texas Governor in the Dem Primary. It was expected and hoped for by many who have thought of the current choices as a complete flatline–including me. Thanks, Lupe!

Like any major candidate, one attempts to connect with voters with a good narrative. And Lupe Valdez has a story.

Valdez was born in San Antonio in 1947, one of eight children in a family of migrant farm workers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University — a liberal arts college in Bethany, Oklahoma — before receiving a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.

The story continues with her service in the US Army as a captain, her work as a federal agent with CPB and as an investigator and her trek toward becoming sheriff of the state’s second largest county. If anything, she was among the first Democrats to inject some hope into Dems about Texas one day becoming blue, having been elected Sheriff in that first blue Dallas wave in 2004.

As Sheriff, Valdez hasn’t backed away from Greg Abbott’s politicization of the immigration issue, particularly the use of 287(g). Valdez at one point decided that low-grade undocumented offenders wouldn’t be reported to ICE, earning her the ire of Greg Abbott and a threat that cities and counties who didn’t cooperate would have their funds cut. Her mention of deportations and family separations in her post-filing speech shows she’s the only candidate ready to take on Abbott.

As excited as I am about her candidacy, I was also a bit irked when I read a “fact-check” article about Lupe in which it seemed her farm worker kid life was being questioned.

“I am the youngest of eight children born to migrant workers.”

The fact-checking PolitiFact Texas project based at the Austin American-Statesman hasn’t independently verified that biographical detail.

What’s Selby looking for? Kennedy-esque 8mm video of the family arriving at some midwestern state? Of them going up and down the plowed fields picking sugar beets? Smiling for the camera? Of old pay stubs, which included the deductions for overpriced rent and groceries billed by the farmers, thus taking most of the summer’s paycheck?

South Texas Chicano families of 10 picking sugar beets in Cassleton, North Dakota, cherries in Sturgeon Bay, WI and tomatoes and strawberries in California and Bluffton, Indiana were the norm in the 50’s. That included the Medellins and the Sernas.

I take it a bit personally, having been the son of farm workers. I even had the privilege of hanging out in a sugar beet field one summer that our family needed to go earn some money. It wasn’t that successful a summer–long story. And I’m sure there are plenty of these long stories that are hard to document, but that many of us wear as badges of honor and with which we can identify.

If Selby and others want to know about Chicano farm worker life, then I suggest he watch “…And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him.” The movie based on the autobiography of Crystal City’s Tomas Rivera.

That said, I’m ready to support Lupe Valdez and I look forward to what develops.

UPDATE:  Lupe Valdez has provided the fact-checkers with photos of her migrant days. Instead of black/white photos, my response to them would have been a lot more…colorful.

 

 

Looking Forward To The 2018 Dem Primary

Well, looks like all the excitement (and panic) over the race for Congressional District 29 has subsided as current and former officeholders who contemplated running for the seat decided to either run for re-election to their respective seats, or, go in a different direction.

State Reps Armando Walle (140) and Carol Alvarado (145) have decided to run for re-election. Both have served for multiple terms and are considered leaders at the Capitol who will be needed to take on an expected right-wing onslaught of bigoted bills. Of course, both may also be thinking of the free-shot at running for SD-6 without the need to resign if/when Sylvia Garcia is elected to Congress, which we’ll know after the Dem Primary since the district usually goes Democratic in November.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia has also decided to go in a different direction and challenge right-winger Jack Morman for County Commish Pct. 2, which covers East Harris County. As much as Adrian Garcia and I have debated on some issues, I’ve always been a fan of his. I think he can run hardest toward November, as well as excite the electorate to vote down-ballot.

Harris Democrats have been updating a page containing folks running for judicial positions. There are a few candidates in contested races that I’m supporting, including Rabeea Collier for the 113th District Court; Fred Cook for the 189th District Court; and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

I’ve known Rabeea for over a decade, which is most of her legal career. We both organized in the Kingwood/Humble area as activists trying to increase the Democratic bottom line. As an activist, she has worked hard to turn Harris County blue. As an attorney, she zealously represents her clients. She has put in the sweat equity over the years and deserves to be our nominee.

Fred Cook first ran for judge in 2008 in a very contested race in which Judge Steven Kirkland was the victor. I supported Fred back then and we both supported Kirkland afterwards. When I heard he was running again, I felt it was about time.

Raul Rodriguez has run for positions at different times, while also putting in time volunteering in various activities. I mean, whenever I go to something in the community, Raul (and wife Pati) are there! Raul deserves to be our nominee in November. He’s experienced and has a sincere connection to the community.

There will be more to come as more candidates file, especially the statewides. I’m hoping Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas files for Governor, otherwise, I won’t be left with any good choices and I may just skip the race entirely (or hold my nose in November). And I really hope Little Brown Trust Fund Baby gets a challenge for Land Commish.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  And within an hour of this post, this just in:

Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for Harris County Judge, Responds to State of the County

Well, if you’re going to take on Ed Emmett (and Republicans, in general), Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for County Judge, offers up the right attitude and ideas on which to base such a challenge.

As much as it is a message to voters around the County, it is also a message to Democrats who so easily get enamored by so-called “moderates” who still do much for their right-wing-nut-job of a political party. Including staying quiet and raising dollars for them even when laws like SB4 are passed.

Give it a listen!