Tag Archives: commissioners court

Chou Goes Disingenuous With Briones Attack

Thursday morning, I saw a couple of attack ads on Facebook against Lesley Briones, Democrat for County Commissioner, Pct 4, paid for by her opponent Ben Chou. (Coby has the artwork.)

I really wasn’t sure if I should write about it because I think bringing it up would give it more attention than the ads actually earned, but since it is a race in which I actually vote and the Briones campaign responded, I thought I’d pay attention and say something.

Attacks are nothing new and this blogger (and others) has been known to play “gotcha!” with many a political campaign based on and backed up by actual facts after a hell of a lot of research. But when an attack is not backed up by facts, then, one is just being disingenuous, probably during a fit of desperation, hoping something will stick as Early Voting begins soon.

Each Facebook ad, which were paid by Ben Chou but under the guise of a group that suddenly popped up out of nowhere, had a link to a Houston Chronicle article by Zack Despart regarding “pay to play” on the Commissioner’s Court, while the caption written by the group was an attack on Briones’ fundraising as a judge. The problem is, the linked article had nothing to do with Briones; if anything, the article didn’t even mention her because she is not on the Commissioner’s Court. But the caption by the Facebook group made it seem as if the Chronicle was somehow linking Briones to activities on the Commissioner’s Court.

As Facebook ads go, I’m pretty sure local campaign attack ads are seldom clicked as whatever the caption states is enough for the uninformed voter. Facebook activists will share a caption before they read an article. I’m pretty sure that was the goal of the Chou campaign, which makes it all more disappointing because he’s supported by a few groups and individuals that promote “democracy” and other stuff I support. So, I clicked the link thinking Chou would provide facts about his attack only to be sent to Despart’s article, which I read months ago.

Worse, Chou (or a supporter who once ran for Congress in CD9 and is Chou’s treasurer) seems to have created an organization on Facebook and Twitter that has no members (and 5 likes) and probably isn’t an official political action committee, nor reports any of its expenses or activities as an individual organization supportive of Chou as required by campaign finance laws. Chou’s campaign finance statements show he’s paid Human Age Digital (which is credited on the Facebook page of the new group) a nice amount of cash.

Briones responded stating that Precinct 4 deserves much better than a candidate who spreads lies and violates campaign finance laws. The campaign statement defended her time as a judge pointing to the fact that she cleared her docket backlog and “connected low-income individuals to to free legal representation.”

I have no idea what Chou’s response would be, now, other than backing up his attack with numbers and confusing paperwork. Or, just ignore the backlash and let it ride.

Either way, it’s a cheap attack which lacks substance and really shows a campaign that is seriously tanking or badly advised. Chou’s digital ad had a better message but he fell short of expanding on it given these Facebook ads. “Electing better leaders” takes a convincing argument that captures hearts and minds and simplistic attacks are not a good strategy to achieve that goal.

Early voting begins on Monday.

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)