November 01, 2008
Endorsement watch: That's a wrap

I was sure the Chron would still be doing endorsements right up until Election Day, but I'm glad to see they beat that deadline by finishing the last of them off today. First, they make their choices for Constable:

Jack Abercia for Constable, Precinct 1: A Democrat and four-term incumbent, Abercia knows the constable's duties from top to bottom, having started his career at the county in the 1970s. Since 1991, Abercia has kept a steady, guiding hand over Precinct 1, which includes the downtown area. Under a longtime arrangement, the Precinct 1 constable is responsible for executing all mental health warrants in the county. Abercia has made a special point of keeping current on developments in this critical area. During Hurricane Ike, Abercia says the Precinct 1 Constable's Office worked a 24-hour schedule. He is mindful of concerns about a lack of communication between county and city of Houston law enforcement agencies but says problems in Precinct 1 are being resolved.

Gary Freeman for Constable, Precinct 2: A Democrat and 20-year incumbent, Freeman emphasizes the importance of civil process work done by his office. He says his employees are willing to go "all over the state" to track down those who owe child support. Freeman says the contract deputy programs in force in his southeast Harris County precinct provide significant benefits to all taxpayers in the area by freeing up officers under other jurisdictions. Freeman says interagency communications are "not near as bad" as 20 years ago and that a new radio system used by the county has been a "godsend," but he concedes communications with the Houston Police Department need to be worked on.

Ken Jones for Constable, Precinct 3: A Democrat and seven-year veteran, Jones considers his constable's office a business, with the taxpayer as the No. 1 customer. He says his office reflects the diversity of his east Harris County precinct with staffing that is one-third women, one-third African-American and one-third Hispanic. Jones is proud of his office's record serving civil process, citing prompt service as the key to good results. Jones believes that contract deputies are a "very good program" but concedes the contract deputies program is very expensive.

Sam Pearson for Constable, Precinct 5: The Democratic challenger, Pearson would bring long service in law enforcement and an impressive academic background to the Precinct 5 Constable's Office. A sergeant in the Harris County Sheriff's Department, Pearson holds a master's degree in criminal justice management from Sam Houston State. Throughout his career the Virginia native has been a teacher and trainer. Pearson notes that the southwest area of the county is diverse and Precinct 5 needs a change in leadership. He says he has kept pace with new technology and is a strong advocate for improved communication with the Houston Police Department.

And for Justice of the Peace:

Russ Ridgway for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1: In this largest JP precinct in the state, with more than a million residents, Republican incumbent Ridgway has performed well in his first full term in office. He has reduced a massive backlog of cases inherited from his predecessor and modernized operations with online dockets and a Web site to access legal forms.

Jeff Heintschel for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 8, Place 1: In the contest to replace retiring incumbent Molly Maness-Barnes in this east Harris County precinct, the Chronicle recommends area native Jeff Heintschel, a Democrat and practicing attorney with extensive court experience. Heintschel pledges to be on the bench full time, to pay close attention to truancy issues and to learn to speak Spanish.

In each case, the Chron limited itself to contested races. And in each case, they proved me wrong, by going with Pearson over incumbent Phil Camus, and Heintschel over Republican Holly Williamson. Both of which, of course, are fine by me.

So how did I do in my endorsement predictions? Let's take a look.

President/Vice President - I'm pleased as punch to say I called that one wrong.

US Senate - I was correct.

US House - I called them all correctly.

Railroad Commissioner - Correct.

State Supreme Court - Two out of three. I got Jefferson and Yanez, but suggested that the Chron would go with Sam Houston if they endorsed Obama for President. They did not, sticking with Dale Wainwright instead.

Court of Criminal Appeals - Correct.

State Board of Education - Correct.

State Senate - All three were called correctly.

State House - Of the 14 contested races, I missed the mark on three: HDs 129 (I guessed Matula, they went with Davis); 133 (I leaned towards Murphy, they picked Thibaut); and 138 (my choice was McDavid, theirs was Bohac). I got the other 11 right.

Countywide offices - I called them all correctly except for Tax Assessor, where I thought they'd stick with Bettencourt, and District Clerk, which I saw as a tossup but maybe with a lean towards Chang.

County Commissioner - Correct.

Judicial races - I didn't make any specific predictions here, just a general observation that they'd recommend candidates from each party. Which they did, so I got it right, but the degree of difficulty on that one was pretty low.

So there you have it. Either they're getting easier to predict, or that correspondence course I took in mind control is starting to pay dividends.

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