February 25, 2008
Endorsement watch: Scattershooting

It's Monday, and that means the Chron has a random assortment of endorsements to sort of catch up on all the action they've been missing:

U.S. Congress, District 10, Democrat Dan Grant -- A graduate of the London School of Economics and Georgetown University, Grant has deep foreign policy experience earned as a U.S. Agency for International Development official in Afghanistan and Iraq. He favors an immediate pullout of the bulk of American troops from Iraq. Closer to home, Grant says his domestic priorities will be supporting policies geared to economic recovery and health care reform.

U.S. Congress, District 22, Republican Dean Hrbacek -- A former mayor of Sugar Land, Hrbacek is respected for his economic development policies, tax cuts and reduction of waste in municipal government. An attorney and accountant by training, Hrbacek understands the need for expanded rail transit to reduce traffic congestion, a concept a previous holder of this office, Tom DeLay, never fully embraced. Hrbacek gave potential supporters pause when they learned a full-body campaign photo he distributed was doctored so that his face appeared on a slimmer body. Hrbacek's record leads us to trust that this instance of poor judgment is an aberration in a solid track record.

State representative, District 140, Democrat Armando Walle -- If elected, Walle pledges to focus on education and health care. A lifelong district resident, Walle is intimately familiar with the needs of this community. This is Walle's first run at elective office, but he has long served the district as an aide to U.S. Rep. Gene Green and Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. The incumbent, state Rep. Kevin Bailey, has been an able representative but appears to have lost the confidence of his heavily Democratic constituents by working closely with and receiving large campaign contributions from House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican.

Sheriff, Republican Tommy Thomas -- The incumbent, Thomas is the best candidate in the GOP primary. However, this endorsement is given to Thomas with reservation. He is the subject of a civil rights lawsuit and a petition seeking his removal from office for incompetence and misconduct. Thomas also raised concerns about access to public information when he suddenly required almost all department e-mail correspondence to be deleted automatically after 14 days. The move, coming as it did on the heels of the e-mail scandal involving resigned Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal -- is all the more suspect.

Sheriff, Democrat Adrian Garcia -- A former Houston police officer who put in 24 years on the force, Garcia is a Houston city councilman representing District H. He is a solid contender for this top law enforcement job. On council, Garcia has worked hard to close neighborhood cantinas that have been crime magnets, and he served as a point person on municipal homeland security issues and local gang violence. Elected to District H in 2003 and serving in his second term, Garcia has been a hard worker who has earned the respect of his constituents and the wider Houston community.

14th Court of Appeals, Republican Bill Boyce -- The incumbent, Boyce was appointed in December by Gov. Rick Perry to fill the unexpired term of retired Justice Richard Edelman. A graduate of Northwestern School of Law, Boyce was a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski. His 18 years in private practice spanned a broad range of civil case law, with an emphasis on appellate work. He pledges to judge fairly, to rule according to the law and to be consistent in his rulings so parties in lawsuits have a dependable legal framework on which they can rely.

I have no quarrel with any of these picks - indeed, I'm very happy to see them go with Armando Walle, and I think they made the right choice with Dan Grant as well - but again, their method for deciding which races to endorse in just mystifies me. Why only one State Rep race out of ten? Why only one Congressional race out of three? Why Sheriff, but not Tax Assessor, District Clerk, or County School Trustee? Do these questions even have answers?

Anyway, here's the list of races in which they have not yet spoken:

1. President. - Done

2. US Senate. - Done

3. CDs 14 and 18 and 22 on the GOP side and CD10 on the Dem side. - Incomplete

4. Railroad Commissioner (Dem) and Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4 (GOP). - Done

5. State Senate, Districts 4 (GOP) and 11 (Dem). - Still not done

6. State Rep, Districts 140, 145, 146, 147, and 148 (Dem); and Districts 127, 129, 130, 134, and 144 (GOP). - Incomplete

7. First Court of Appeals, Place 3, and 14th Court of Appeals, Place 6 (both GOP). - Done

8. District Judge in the following District Courts: 80, 125, 152, 174, 190, 215, and 351 (Dem); 55, 174, 176, 190, and 312 (GOP). - Still incomplete

9. Harris County Sheriff (both parties), Tax Assessor (Dem), District Clerk (GOP), and County School Trustees, Positions 5 and 7 (GOP). - Incomplete

10. County Commissioner, Precinct 3 (Dem). - Still not done

If you can detect a pattern, you're better at that than I am.

Elsewhere, the Statesman chooses Gary Cobb in the Travis County DA's race, going against the so-far prevailing consensus of Rosemary Lehmberg and Rick Reed. It'll be very interesting to see who makes the runoff in this one.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 25, 2008 to Election 2008

I have heard that some people, especially from the defense bar in Austin, who early on committed to Gary Cobb back in December have begun switching to Rick Reed, who is running a more progressive campaign.

If Cobb does not make the run off, it will be because Reed shares common values and priorites with Austin's progressive community.

The wild card in this race is all the new voters who will turn out because of the presidential race.

Posted by: AustinLawyer on February 27, 2008 1:50 PM

What's up with the Sheriff's endorsement? Basically, "We endorse Tommy Thomas, with the caveat that he sucks." Why not just decline to endorse?

I can't remember, is there going to be a Dem on the ballot for Sheriff?

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast on February 29, 2008 12:05 PM

Scott - The Dems have a candidate for every countywide ballot slot in Texas. There are three contenders for Sheriff: Charles M. El, who I believe is a deputy; Guy Robert Clark, who ran against Tommy Thomas in 2004; and my preferred choice, Adrian Garcia.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 29, 2008 2:57 PM