August 01, 2008
Who wants the HGLBT Political Caucus' endorsement?

Previously, I had noted that Houtopia had reported that a couple of sitting Republican judges were seeking the endorsement of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Political Caucus, which would be an unusual turn of events. Now Alan Bernstein has identified the endorsement-seekers.

Mark Davidson and Sharolyn Wood, have applied for the endorsement and been interviewed by the caucus screening committee. So have their Democratic challengers, Mike Miller and R.K. Sandill, respectively.

Davidson and Wood have seldom had opponents in their elections every four years. Other Republican judges have had opponents and, nevertheless, have stayed away from the gay caucus, which has endorsed mostly Democrats and expresses beliefs that run counter to the GOP state platform.

A difference this year is that the judicial elections, according to observers in both parties, may turn out to be cliffhangers, and any empowered group of voters such as the caucus could make the difference between winning and losing.

Davidson and Wood, however, said their main reason for the seeking the endorsements is that, in line with their official duties, they should be responsive to all sectors of the community, politics aside. And both said they do not think they risk a backlash from conservatives who always vote Republican.

"It would be hard for anyone to question my Republican credentials because I ran as a Republican when it was easier to run as a Democrat," Wood said.

But county Republican chairman Jared Woodfill said it would be inadvisable for a GOP candidate to seek the backing of the caucus or similar groups.

"Why would you solicit the endorsement of a group that is against us on every single issue?" Woodfill said.

And whose mere existence you and most of your partymates cannot abide, right, Jared? I'm sensing a backlash here. Hey, let's get it out in the open. It's better that way.

I don't know if Judges Davidson and Wood are sincere in their quest, and I don't know if they'll renounce the "Homosexuality tears at the fabric of society" part of the state GOP platform, which HGLBT Chair Jenifer Pool says they'd need to do to have a chance at securing the endorsement. But I applaud them for pursuing this, whatever their motives and chances are. I think we all agree that the world would be a better place if one's sexual orientation were not a political issue but a personal matter, one that raised no eyebrows and caused no controversy. The only way we're going to get there is for the party that staunchly opposes basic equality for GLBT folks - that would be the GOP - to stop doing that, and the way for that to happen is for more members of that party to reject that position. It's not much, but two Republican judges in Harris County is a start down that path. May there be many more like them in 2010.

UPDATE: Well, lookie here. Seems Judge Wood has indeed sought the HGLBT Political Caucus endorsement before, and then was a complete weasel about it.

The caucus invites candidates to be "screened" for its endorsements before each primary and general election. While the bulk of its endorsements go to Democrats, mainly because the group is heavily liberal, GOP candidates occasionally receive its backing, particularly if a rival Democrat chooses not to seek the endorsement. This year, 50,000 cards listing the HGLPC endorsements will be printed and distributed to voters. Two GOP judges, Sharolyn Wood and Mike McSpadden, received endorsements in 1990. Wood repudiated it, but waited so long to do so that her name ended up listed on the caucus push card, allowing her to receive gay support while placating conservatives. Another GOP judicial candidate four years ago, Rick Brass, won the endorsement and was then targeted by Hotze and others in campaign handouts because he refused to renounce it. He lost in the GOP primary.

Nice. Hope this came up in the interview. Keep it in mind anyway.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 01, 2008 to Election 2008

Is it too late for others to come forward in '08?

Posted by: Burt Levine on August 1, 2008 9:42 AM

I remember when Mark Davidson was active in Democratic Party politics. Mark is probably sincere in seeking the Caucus' endorsement -- sincerely frightened -- but it's in the Caucus' interest to endorse some Republicans. Sharolyn Wood is a very different story. She refused to screen the first time she ran for office, but did seek endorsement when she was up for reelection. Unfortunately for her, Ray Hill had decided it was time to punish the Republicans and withhold endorsement of any Republicans (a change in Caucus policy that was not well thought out, but this is Ray Hill we're talking about). Judge Wood did not take that decision well and said some things she should not have said. Ray, of course, was playing into the hands of those Republicans who don't think gay people have a legitimate place in socity, i.e., the people who have been running the party for decades now. The upshot is that an endorsement of Sharolyn Wood, regardless of her qualifications and ability, would be difficult to sell to gay voters. But then, that would not be the first time the Caucus made an indefensible endorsement (Bennie Reyes comes to mind immediately).

Posted by: Temple Houston on August 1, 2008 2:27 PM

"Why would you solicit the endorsement of a group that is against us on every single issue?" Woodfill said.

Does Woodfill know if they are or are not against tax cuts, appraisal caps, the War on Terror, off shore drilling, FISA, education vouchers, affirmative action, bond issues, mobility and other economic development, the Trans-Texas Corridor, Toll Roads, rail, capitol punishment, community college annexations, juvenile curfews and contract deputy programs, the right to bear arms or even pro-life issues?

To report they are against him or his party on EVERY and ALL economic and foreign policy issues is or has to be quite a generalization and stretch or way of keeping or asking none of them to vote in the privacy of their ballot for none of their or his candidates.

Posted by: Burt Levine on August 1, 2008 4:43 PM
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)