Category Archives: 2020

The Race for County Commish Pct 3 – A Forum

I attended a candidate forum featuring four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Harris County Pct 3 Commissioner. The candidates were Diana Martinez Alexander, Morris Overstreet, Michael Moore, and Kristi Thibaut. The moderator was Charles Kuffner (of Off The Kuff fame) who did an outstanding job of asking some good questions regarding budget priorities, bail reform, flood control and mitigation, city-county cooperation, transportation, climate change, among other topics.

To be honest, all of the candidates offered good answers, whether it was Alexander on Pre-K, Moore on environmental regulation, Thibaut on flood mitigation, or Morris on voting rights. [Watch the video!] There wasn’t much, if any, disagreement.  One thing they all agreed on though, as well as those in attendance, was that all of the good ideas that any of these folks have will only work if Democrats flip the Texas House, thus forcing some bipartisan work from the Texas Senate to do something about revenue caps and the boot that the State of Texas currently has on local government’s necks. Even so, it will be a battle that will require more than some semblance of bipartisanship that republicans refuse to practice. And an even stronger Democratic majority on the commissioner’s court helps.

That said, I usually seek out other qualities from candidates when faced with similarly good answers. For example, when Kuffner asked the question about legislative priorities, it was Diana Martinez Alexander who brought up fighting Greg Abbott’s SB4, the racial profiling and anti-immigrant law that turns local law enforcement into border cops and wastes vital resources. Or, when felony bail reform was brought up, it was the jurist, Morris Overstreet, who provided some clarity to the issue, rather than a cautiously moderate approach to even discussing it.

Of course, political traditions dictate that those that raise the most money and run traditional campaigns have the best chance at beating a republican. But it also takes some good ol’ retail politics to gain this voter’s’ attention, so, kudos to grassroots candidate Diana Martinez Alexander for working the room and speaking to folks she hadn’t met before (me and my sister). Sure, precinct 3 may be too large in which to run that kind of campaign, but last night’s intimate setting filled with activists who GOTV was a good shot at shaking hands and asking for the vote. (And that goes for the other candidates (and office holders) in the room! Stop talking to people you already know!)

As a Chicano voter, I also naturally look for commonalities–with whom do I identify? When Overstreet mentioned he was from West Texas with siblings who had all earned higher education degrees despite their parents’ lack of that kind of opportunity, it spoke to me. Martinez Alexander’s mention that her mother still works cleaning houses was a stark reminder that Harris County’s diversity is both ethnic and economic, thus requiring someone with that kind of life experience who will fight for all of the people without a second thought. It’s not always about polish.

Those that prefer political money and political polish have a couple of candidates, for sure. It’s just not what I’m looking for in this primary election season. That stuff doesn’t impress me if you’re not walking up to a voter and asking for their vote. That said, I’ll be a “D” vote in this race in November, but I’m leaning toward the candidate that best represents me, my issues, and my interests. At least that’s my take after this one forum.

Thanks to the Southwest Democrats (and others) who hosted this event.

Photo:  Erik Manning (Southwest Democrats)

Congratulations, Joe Biden!

Am I the only one experiencing this dark feeling that Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee this week?

I won’t even re-hash the Bernie-Warren spat, but the bottom line is that both campaigns and their supporters have exhibited the worse kind of petty campaign behavior. The kind of behavior that, even if accusations have some speck of legitimacy, goes off the rails rendering both campaigns as childish and immature. The kind of behavior that even though both sides’ points have been made, continues because one or the other continues it and CNN eats it up.

Unfortunately, all this does is make the other guy look stronger, steadfast, and like the image of the granddaddy our country needs, even if he does take us to the woodshed to spank us for questioning anything he might do.

Worse, it’s not even about issues! It’s about what someone else heard someone else say in some candidate meeting. Or some errant staffer on one campaign posting something on a campaign site to which 99% of the rest of us have no access. And that one campaign has talking points on another, as if this kind of thing never happens. Certainly, the only thing we’ve actually heard is whatever CNN’s stage microphone heard after the debate and neither campaign looked good. I guess I just rehashed it.

So, while the facebook arguments will likely continue between Berniestas and Warrenites, I think I’ll spend my time on more productive things. Like, embracing having to vote for Joe Biden. It’s less stressful and a whole lot less petty!

Or, both campaigns can stop the BS and actually campaign so we can let the whitest states in the union decide who will be the nominee. Now, there’s something that should be discussed! Or is race relations in politics just too uncomfortable?

 

 

It Wouldn’t Be A Dem Primary Without A Filing Controversy

If you haven’t heard, an incumbent Democratic Criminal District Judge incorrectly filed for re-election and had his candidacy rejected by the Harris County Democratic Party, as reported by Miya Shay at ABC13. Judge George Powell of the 351st District Court filed for re-election as the deadline neared on December 9 and paid the wrong filing fee. Once his paperwork was checked, and the check was short, he was rejected.

Any candidate (and especially incumbent) should know to read the rules for filing for office. You learn this in a Candidate 101 class given by any friendly consultant or blogger. Or, at least on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

The rules are simple. Those filing for Criminal District Judge should file with the County Chair. The candidate has the option of collecting 750 signatures in lieu of the filing fee, or collecting 250 signatures and paying a $2500 filing fee (in large counties, including Harris) as is stated in Sections 172.024(10), (12), of the Texas Election Code.

Powell is stating that he was told it was $1500 by someone at the Party. But this isn’t his first rodeo and the rules have not changed. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party isn’t a grocery store with a checkout counter. They collect the paperwork and the decision is made by the County Chair. And, finally, the SOS Candidate Handbook states all of this stuff quite specifically.

[There’s a reason I tell candidates to file early, and not at the last minute. Just in case.]

There’s no telling what will be decided. A temporary restraining order was granted by a judge and a hearing will be held in early January. My experience in this (having worked on a campaign which challenged sloppy signatures, yet still approved by the County Chair at the time), is that judges aren’t too keen on even deciding these cases, or deciding against a party’s decision. But we have a whole different crop of judges, now. So, ay veremos.

The bigger question is:  Can a judge who interprets the law be taken seriously when he doesn’t read the laws pertaining to his own candidacy?

Anyway, thankfully, a well-qualified attorney had filed to challenge the incumbent. Natalia Cornelio did follow the rules and made it on to the ballot and is currently the only candidate running for the 351st. She champions fairness, civil rights, and criminal justice reform. We need more of that in our courts.

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez Enters Senate Race

Have you ever had a bunch of candidates to choose from and still can’t make a decision? Yeah, me too.

But Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez has entered the race for the Senate to rid us of  John Cornyn, so, perhaps the choice is easier today.

Ramirez is an activist and organizer who founded the Workers Defense Project and voter engagement group, Jolt Texas. Many of us have watched her interviews on MSNBC speaking on behalf of the pro-migrant cause during these painful days of mourning since the El Paso shooting and since Trump’s attacks on the Latino community. Obviously, she’s running as a progressive on all the issues Democrats love.

I’m running because I want to ensure that every Texan has high-quality healthcare, to build an economy that creates millions of good jobs and positions our state as the leader in our global transition towards a green future, to protect the rights of immigrant families and communities of color, and to ensure that every single Texan that wants to go to college can afford it and graduate debt free.

Given her positions on these issues, I do not expect her to change her views mid-General to appease the unreachable and unattainable, which happens in most Texas campaigns. So, I expect her to run a strong, grassroots campaign funded by working people who seek real change in Washington, DC.

I’m running because I have the most beautiful two year old son in the world, Santiago, and when I imagine the world he’s going to inherit, and the one I leave behind for him, I want him to be proud of what I stood up for. What we stood up for together. I want him to know that in a moment where 1 in 6 Texans didn’t have access to healthcare and millions were struggling just to make ends meet, when communities were being pitted against one another on the basis of race, and our world was at the brink of an imminent climate catastrophe, we came together and worked as hard as we could to make his life and other children’s lives like him better.

What’s the path to victory? Given her message, it’s through all communities. And that will take visibility across Texas. From the Trib:

Tzintzún Ramirez welcomed a competitive nominating contest as healthy for Democrats, saying the candidates in the Senate race are “all essentially at the same starting place,” unknown to most voters statewide and thus forced to run on the merits of their platforms. Asked how she plans to distinguish herself, she pointed to her forthrightness on the issues and her record of mobilizing the kind of voters often overlooked by politicians.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.

This kind of video helps.

The Trib has more.

 

 

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.