Tag Archives: 2012

2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

President Obama’s re-election, along with the election and re-election of good Democrats in various battlegrounds, has put into play the importance of not only the Latino vote, but the Latino community as a whole. One cannot ignore that Latinos represented 1 in every 10 votes in 2012. If anything, Latinos proved something else:  That ours is a progressive agenda that takes into account all Americans. But instead of fighting for mere existence in American political society, Latinos have now carved themselves a niche in the national conversation, and it should not be only on immigration reform.

Some would argue that we’ve had that niche for a long time, pointing to anecdotal “Latino” political appointments and all other types of window dressing. But that is not enough. As I not-so-jokingly tell people, “It’s about policy, pendejos!”

So, if Latinos truly feel that we made a difference in the 2012 elections, then we must go beyond Election Day and push forth the agenda the we have supported with our vote. And if those we elected to push forth that agenda on our behalf falter in their support, then we must do what we must and call them out, correct them, or vote them out. That’s all part of our rights as voters. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting a return on our investment as voters, no matter who may be the incumbent, no matter who is in charge of our neighborhood political machines.

As President Obama put forth in his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Year One of Term Two. Frankly, I am glad he said this after all of the posturing by both sides of the gun debate after the tragedy in Newtown. Although I fall on the side of President Obama and Vice President Biden on the debate, the bottom line is that both were elected to put forth public policies that save and bolster our economy, add to the middle class, expand health care, fully fund education, and enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other policies. The voters responded to long-term challenges that have been hounding working and middle class families since Bush-2 was in office. On November 6, President Obama was provided with the political capital to respond to these issues, but he cannot do it alone, either.

Should gun reform be a part of this? Sure. But it should not take precedence over those issues on which many invested their community capital–as activists and as voters.

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, jobs and the economy are an ongoing priority, and Latinos wholeheartedly agree. Investing in infrastructure and education is also a top priority for Latinos. Expanding access to health care, too. The one issue that encompasses all of these is comprehensive immigration reform, and so too will it be a top priority. And the polls and the election outcome show that Latinos and the majority of Americans agree. But the battle did not end on Election Day, as the fiscal cliff rhetoric tells us. The people, and in this case, Latinos, must demand these policies be enacted.

Back in 2006, when Democrats won back the majority of seats in Congress, I spent no time in declaring that it happened because of Latinos responding to Republican craziness on the immigration issue. When candidate-Obama won, and the numbers showed that the margins of victory in various battleground states could be credited to the Latino vote, I spent no time in declaring that Latinos should expect some political payback–mostly in the form of comprehensive immigration reform and maybe some good political appointments. In 2010, when Harry Reid defeated a well-funded Tea party challenge by speaking the truth on immigration reform, rather than taking the “blue dog” approach of making Latinos (and not just immigrants) the example, it seemed to me that 2012 had the potential to be special. But our elected leaders need to realize that our importance goes beyond the ballot box. Our importance must be exhibited in the process of creating public policy, and that means Latinos taking responsibility by joining and steering the debate.

It seems that since at least 2006, we’ve been banking some political capital. Yes, we’ve voted in elections past, but did we ever have real potential to effect meaningful and positive public policies? Or a better question, did both sides of the political argument ever have the realization that we matter in the overall conversation? To me, it is obvious. No, on both counts.

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10” lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

Update:  LA Times seems to be just as worried about immigration reform being overshadowed by the gun fight. I’m sure Republicans would breathe a sigh a relief.

Update:  Think Progress tells us that President Obama, much like he mentioned on Meet the Press, is moving forward with immigration reform.

The Obama administration’s “social media blitz” will start in January and is expected “to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.” Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers from both parties are already holding initial meetings to iron out the details of the proposal and Obama will to push for a broad bill.

Some Initial Thoughts on November 2012

The unofficial tally is at 100%, and I’m thinking they await some overseas and provisional ballots to be counted, but it seems that Dems had a so-so night. Here are some thoughts, and, of course, I’ll start with the obvious one.

Julia Maldonado for 14th Court (and the others). Given 2008’s results, my thoughts were that appellate court candidates would need to get upwards of 55% in Harris County to win in a climate in which they would lose the other nine counties (badly) in the area served. We all hoped for Fort Bend to be closer or a win, too. Ultimately only two of the appellate candidates managed to cross the 50-yard line in Harris County, with Maldonado’s 50.55% and Barbara Gardner garnering over 51% in the latest count. Both were quite active on the trail, and I personally witnessed Julia putting up 4 x 8 signs down the block from me and around the ten counties. She’s as good with a mallet (for the big posts) as she would have been with a gavel. As far as Julia is concerned, she was out-raised and outspent by an organized multi-candidate effort, but that didn’t stop her from finishing the race at full gallop. She fell 86,000+ votes short, but we really enjoyed “winning” Harris County by almost 13K votes.

One upsetting point in this one is the undervote of 63,000. I sort of expected it after hearing a voter at a poll ask for assistance in only voting for Obama and the Sheriff. Was this a common occurrence? If so, it may speak to the Sheriff’s race only having an undervote of 43,000. Color me annoyed.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia – Obviously, I (and my pro-migrant colleagues) have been critics of Garcia’s continued support of 287(g) and SCOMM as a source of money for his department. At some point, one realizes that the alternative is the devil incarnate and one just shuts up and roots for Garcia as I did. (Plus, he’s a good person, and you can’t go too wrong with that.) That said, the criticism can now continue and I hope he continues to be receptive, especially as the debate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform hops up sooner than later in Washington, DC. Otherwise, Sheriff Garcia earned this re-election because of a successful first term that brought some sanity and good management to the HCSO. So, congrats to him!

Diane Trautman for HCDE – Diane seems to have enjoyed some crossover appeal, which is not surprising given the fact that Republicans were abandoning Diane’s opponent much like they abandoned Sheriff Garcia’s opponent. Along with Erica Lee, Democrats will have a majority on the board, and that’s a good thing. Congrats to Diane and Erica!

The County Judicials – As the numbers were slowly coming in, there’s no doubt that many of us were worried about the ultimate outcome regarding our Judges. Those last precincts put most of our incumbent Dems ahead; although, I am worried about some of my favorites, like Judge Josefina Rendon and Hazel Jones. The varied margins tell us some of our Judges had better crossover appeal than others, too. The reasons? Well, that’s up for debate, I’m sure.

Gene Wu for HD-137 – It’s been a long time since I voted for a Texas House candidate that actually won! This may take some getting used to; and not just the fact that he’s a Democrat, but the fact that he’ll be responsive to his constituents (Joe Crabb sucked at that up in Kingwood). Good job, Team Wu!

Obviously, we have a waiting game. Ann Harris Bennett is 2500 down and any ballots left to be counted may provide a clearer picture. Is it enough? It’s hard to tell from what Stanart told News 92 this morning–there’s thousands of overseas and provisionals, whatever that means.

I’ll be working up some more thoughts later; especially on the oft-credited for Obama’s victory Latino vote.

Fun stuff!

DCs Election Day Notes

10:30 AM

Yes, there are lines most everywhere. Don’t leave! Vote! And know your rights!


7:30AM Report

Mark Twain is Still A Polling Location

Before 7AM, I received an e-mail informing me that the Mark Twain Elementary School polling location had signs telling folks to vote elsewhere. DON’T! The Ann Johnson Campaign was on the spot and called the County to confirm that if you vote at Mark Twain, vote at Mark Twain.

It’s a sad tactic, but that is the world in which we live. Fight back by voting! And if you vote at Mark Twain, VOTE ANN JOHNSON for HD-134.

Rides to the Polls in HD-150 (Spring/Klein/Tomball)

If you’re on the northern edges of Harris County, chances are you want to rid yourself of Riddle and Vote Brad Neal for HD-150. Well, just saw this note from my friend and Neal campaign chief Ashley:

If you live in the Spring/Klein/Tomball area and need a ride to the polls let us know! We have drivers willing to take you starting around 8:30. Send me a message her or email me at ashley@votebradneal.com.

Keep an eye on DosCentavos. If you have any reports, email us from the Contact Page.

DC Review: The Mavericks at Gruene Hall

I took some time out of my schedule to check out The Mavericks at Gruene Hall on Friday night. On a U.S. tour that has cemented their return to the music scene after years apart, Raul Malo and The Mavericks are back and stronger than ever.

The Mavericks have enjoyed their  return, playing some major country music festivals around the country. At Gruene Hall, though, they enjoyed a small, more intimate and somewhat eclectic crowd of Raul Malo and Mavericks loyalists. And The Mavericks responded with a powerful show.

Kicking off with 2012’s Back in Your Arms Again, they immediately went into a string of recently released tunes from their EP, Suited Up and Ready, and even included a tune from the upcoming full-length release titled Lies. After Born To Be Blue and Come on To Me, the Mavericks went through a memorable repertoire of their early hits (Pretend, I Said I Love You, Every Little Thing About You, and There Goes My Heart to name a few) while throwing in some tunes from Malo’s solo career, such as Moonlight Kiss.

Come time for a set break, Malo remained on stage as he usually has done, and provided the crowd a slowed-down version of Oh What A Thrill. He called up one of the best additions to the band, acordeonista Michael Guerra, and together, they belted out Besame Mucho.

The responsive crowd was also provided with musical treats, such as Twist and Shout and the tried and true Volver, Volver. The latter becoming a sing-a-long.

The encore brought them back for a short set, which included a tune from Malo’s last solo release, Sinners and Saints, and the classic All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.

Between Raul Malo’s vocals, Eddie Perez’s guitaristics, Michael Guerra’s sweet acordeon, Jerry Dale McFadden’s keyboards, Paul Deakin’s drumming, Elio Giordano’s upright bass artistry, Robert Reynolds acoustic guitar and harmonies, and a mighty fine horn section (including a trumpet playing virtuoso who had just joined the band), it was a music-filled night–powerful, tight, and oh so right.

As someone who truly enjoyed the Raul Malo solo years, it is good to see The Mavericks back together. Whatever differences they had that lead to a break-up, on Friday night, it seemed like the formula still works. The guys looked like they were having fun on stage and they responded to the crowd like they always have–with energy and a lot of love. It was an experience.

Now, the new EP has soothed Mavericks fans, but much has been asked about the full-length release, In Time. Back in July, they announced a September 25 release; however, Valery Music, their new label, announced a change to January to align with the start of their 2013 World Tour. After a few more dates this year, Malo takes off on a solo holiday tour up east.

What they say is true, Gruene Hall is an awesome venue for bands that have a relationship with the crowd. I wonder what the Saturday show was like?

VR Groups: Recently Registered Voters Turned Away

From Common Cause:

Common Cause, Mi Familia Vota and Others Take Steps to Ensure No Voter is Turned Away 

Houston – Some voters who registered close to the state’s Oct. 9 registration deadline are being turned away from the polls instead of being allowed to cast their ballots, a coalition of grassroots organizations said today.  The groups, which include the League of Young Voters, Common Cause, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Advancement Project, immediately notified the appropriate County officials  to resolve the issue and will continue to share any reports from the field or 866-Our-Vote hotline.

Voters at several locations reported being turned away from the polls at Early Vote locations on Monday and Tuesday of this week because their registration card had an effective date of November 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. According to state law, those voters are eligible to vote during the Early Vote period and not just on Election Day which is November 6th.

“It’s is important that the voice of every eligible voter is heard and that they are not turned away from voting. Any registered voter turned away on Monday or Tuesday needs to understand that they can vote and they can vote early,” said Maureen Haver, Election Protection Coordinator at Common Cause. “Any voter having trouble casting their ballots during early votingor on Election Day should call the voter protection hotline at 1 -866 – OUR-VOTE or 1- 888 – VE-Y-VOTA.”

The groups said the issue with newly registered voters can be easily resolved if election judges and poll workers accept valid registration certificates and update it to the rolls or call the county to verify new registrations.  Verification can also be done online.

Coalition members said they would continue to work with the County to ensure that all poll workers and election judges are aware of the proper procedure in addressing eligible voters who have not been updated to the voter rolls prepared for the Early Vote period.

“The County is aware of this issue, but we will continue to monitor for any voters being turned away from early voting,” said Christina Sanders, state director of The Texas League of Young Votes Education Fund. “We will also continue to assure every registered voter that they can indeed cast their ballots even if the effective date on their registration card is after the Early Vote period which ends on November 2.”

HD134: Ann Johnson on Health Care

This morning I awoke to an ad attacking HD134 candidate Ann Johnson for Obamacare. The right-wing opponent said “Obamacare” a few times, as if that is a negative thing. An hour later, I look on Facebook and find what could count as a strong response from Ann Johnson. Here’s the video: