The Chron may have taken yesterday off, but they make up for it today with two good endorsements. First, in what I had termed their easiest call of the bunch, they tap Adrian Garcia for Harris County Sheriff:
In the past year the Harris County Sheriff's Office has been buffeted by a series of issues raising questions about the ethics and management abilities of its leadership.
The unjustified arrests and subsequent surveillance of the Ibarra brothers for videotaping deputies making a drug raid next door to their home resulted in an adverse court judgment and legal costs totaling more than $2 million in taxpayer funds. As occurred in the District Attorney's Office, attempted deletions of internal Sheriff's Office e-mails containing religious and racially insulting comments provoked embarrassment and led to apologies by incumbent Tommy Thomas to Muslims and others.
The high number of prisoner deaths at the Harris County Jail prompted a federal investigation, and the adequacy of medical care there has long been a public concern. A coordinated dispatch system tying area law enforcement agencies together remains in the discussion stage, even as manpower shortages demand more efficient use of available officers.
The Houston Chronicle believes 23-year Houston Police Department veteran and current Houston City Councilman Adrian Garcia offers voters the best opportunity to bring new energy and fresh perspectives to the Sheriff's Office. We agree with the unprecedented endorsement of the Democratic challenger by three unions representing a majority of county deputies. Richard Newby, head of the largest group, told the Chronicle that the decision to back Garcia resulted from the current administration's inconsistent policies and failure to communicate with employees.
The Chron goes on to endorse Rick Noriega for Senate.
Come January, the halls of Congress will likely be populated by strengthened Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Texas will need able representation in all arenas in that shifting legislative environment.
It will be especially important for Texans to have a strong, respected voice inside the expected Democratic majority in the Senate. Rick Noriega offers such a voice, with a distinctive Lone Star tone and perspective. The Chronicle endorses Noriega for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican John Cornyn.
Noriega, a Houstonian, describes himself as a Texas Democrat. That term, once common currency in the state's political conversation, seems to have fallen out of favor over the past several Republican-dominated years. But it resonates once more in this season of voter discontent with partisanship uber alles. Some old-fashioned moderate bipartisanship, Texas style, should be much welcomed in the Washington debate, particularly on overheated topics such as energy and immigration. Rick Noriega can provide it.
Noriega well understands that there are subjects on which Texas Democrats must stand apart from the party's national leadership. Energy is one. He is committed to bringing the message that the nation will need new domestic oil and gas supplies as it builds a bridge to greater energy independence and increased reliance on alternative energy sources. He will be able to point out in a forceful and personal way the folly of relying almost exclusively on hurricane-prone areas of the Gulf for supplies when abundant reserves can be tapped on the East and West coasts with little risk to the environment.
On immigration, Noriega is in step with traditional Texas views of tolerance and a warm embrace of cultural differences, rooted in respect for the law. He will bring calm and reason to the national debate.
As his role model for senatorial conduct, Noriega has selected the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. When facing difficult decisions in the Senate, Noriega says he would ask the question, "What would Lloyd Bentsen do?" This is more than a catchy slogan or a nostalgia trip: As a North Star for conduct and policy judgment, Noriega could scarcely choose truer than Bentsen.
Our decision to support Noriega was not made without due consideration of Cornyn's strengths. The one-term incumbent has been a strong and reliable supporter of freedom of information and open government laws. And he worked to speed up the citizenship process for immigrants serving in the military. But John Cornyn also has been a too-loyal foot soldier for the Bush administration, willing to make a right turn off the cliff in support of fatally flawed policies on Iraq and torture, as well as casting improvident votes on a host of social issues. Unlike Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, he is not known for his attention to constituent services.