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November 30th, 2009:

Runoff EV report, Day One

I’ve updated my early vote spreadsheet from the first round to include the early vote totals for the runoff. Note that this is almost entirely City of Houston – there are a few Bellaire voters in there, and maybe a stray HISD Trustee vote or two from outside the city limits, but for the most part, it’s all municipal. Note also the smaller number of locations. Overall, that’s a pretty good total for Day One, especially given the crappy weather. I don’t know if that will continue, but it’s a good start. Do bear in mind that I believe a substantial number of voters will vote early, so don’t make too much of these totals just yet.

It’s interesting to note the Mayoral candidates’ positions on turnout, as expressed by them on a KHOU story during the five o’clock news. I can’t find the link, but basically Parker talks about turning out her voters, while Locke says that turnout “may surprise you”. In other words, they both seem to agree with the conventional wisdom that lower turnout benefits Parker, while higher turnout benefits Locke.

There was also a story about Locke’s current attack ad on Parker, and Parker’s promise to respond in kind. Honestly, I don’t feel like getting into any of that. I don’t know that too many minds are going to be changed by such tactics; it’s more a matter of who you can spur to turn out, and who you can discourage from doing so. Of more interest to me is this.

Locke said he is refraining from “divisive campaigning,” adding, “I am not going to go into issues of race, issues of sexuality.” He said he is asking his supporters to follow his lead in their own public statements because these topics are distractions from important issues such as public safety and creating new jobs in Houston.

When I pressed Locke about whether he would accept or reject Hotze’s endorsement, he repeated the statement. My colleague Bradley Olson reported Nov. 13 that Locke had met with Hotze and sought his endorsement.

Pretty much what I expected. How can you reject something you actively sought out? I’m going to echo the comment John left, which sums up my feelings quite well.

When this race began, I looked at Brown, Locke, and Parker and saw it as a can’t-lose situation for the city. Although I supported Parker from the start, I thought that if she didn’t lose, we’d have a good mayor anyway. But I must say that I have lost enormous amounts of respect for Mr. Locke as this has played out.

Does he think that a Hotze endorsement is what will get him over the finish line? I think that’s a foolish idea, and all he’s doing it raising doubts among those of us who never had those doubts before. And that makes me wonder about his judgment in general.

I think he’s just handling it terribly… and his record is good enough that it’s painful to watch.

It’s a sad thing watching a good man do such bad things to win an election. But he did them, and he owns them. I hope he thinks it was worth it. PDiddie, Stace, and Nancy Sims have more.

Me in the Trib

You might have noticed, when you opened your metaphorical copy of the Texas Tribune this morning, that they’re hosting a discussion between myself and David Benzion on the merits of Houston Mayor and (by God we sure hope he’s a) candidate for Governor of Texas Bill White. You can find the discussion, which we’re conducting by email, here. They’re updating that post each time one of us replies to the other. It’s going to go through Thursday, after which White will (please! pretty please!) end the suspense by confirming that he is in fact a candidate for Governor. So check it out, leave a comment, and let me know what you think. My thanks to Evan Smith for the chance to clutter up their homepage.

Early voting starts today

Today marks the start of early voting for all of the runoff elections, which include Houston, Bellaire, and HISD. Early voting schedule and locations can be found here; remember that EV locations outside of Houston city limits are mostly closed, as there’s no action out there. Early voting runs through December 8, so take advantage when you can.

It’s never too early to speculate about turnout. I’m not going to guess a number just yet, but I am going to guess that about half of all votes will be cast early, based on recent behavior in city runoff elections. Here’s a peek:

Runoff Pct Early ==================== 03 Mayor 36.00 03 Dist F 41.38 03 Dist G 35.53 03 Dist H 26.62 03 AL #3 35.46 03 AL #4 36.80 03 Ctrlr 36.48 05 Dist B 44.71 05 Dist C 31.97 05 AL #2 37.19 07 AL #3 51.88 07 Dist D 46.66 07 Dist E 45.47 07 AL #5 46.12 09 Dist H 47.88

Early here includes votes by mail. The 2007 At Large #3 and the 2009 District H races were both in May. I want to say that the trend is clear, but the voter universes in those non-Mayoral races were so tiny – the 35,922 ballots cast in the 2005 At Large #2 runoff were by far the most in any race – that I hesitate to draw too firm a conclusion from these samples. But my guess is that at least 40% of the votes will be cast before Election Day, perhaps as many as half of them. We’ll see how that goes.

Gattis drops out, Ogden to run for re-election

Well, this is a surprise.

State Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, confirmed today that he is dropping out of the race to succeed Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan. Ogden, who announced earlier this year that he was retiring from the Legislature, has changed course and decided to seek re-election.

Gattis was the heavy favorite to succeed Ogden in a GOP-friendly district that includes all of Williamson County and all of the Bryan-College Station area.

“With a young and growing family and a tough economic climate, my focus needs to be on them,” said Gattis, whose children are ages 6, 3 and 1. “That was a decision that my wife and I reached through a lot of prayer and consideration.”

Gattis will not seek re-election to his House seat, where at least three Republicans have been running to succeed him.

Didn’t see that one coming. Far as I can tell, Gattis didn’t have any serious competition for this seat as yet, and frankly once he was past the primary it would have been easy going, so I confess to being a little puzzled by this. Maybe he just didn’t have the fire in the belly for it. Wouldn’t be the first person this has happened to, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. Much better to realize it now and drop out before the election than go to the trouble of winning and then decide it wasn’t what you wanted. EoW and the Trib have more.

Turkey of the Year 2009

Among other things, the Thanksgiving season signals the arrival of year end lists – Top Ten this and that, Best Of, Worst Of, you name it. The local highlight is the Houston Press’ annual Turkey of the Year award, which has been made easier in recent times by the presence of Tom DeLay. He may be gone from the political scene, but thanks to the magic of reality television, he’s still out there racking up the awards. He wasn’t the top turkey this year – click over for that, I won’t spoil it – but you still have to give him an A for effort. It’s a lot harder in the Internet age for a has-been to regain any kind of relevance. As long as he doesn’t take advice on what his next career move should be from Levi Johnston, it’s all good.

In case you needed another reason to vote against Rick Perry

Just in case the fact that he’s Rick Perry isn’t enough, how about the fact that he’s objectively anti-microbrewery?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, running for re-election in 2010, just got the endorsement of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas. Therefore, that makes Perry the enemy of craft beer lovers in Texas.

If you read this blog earlier in the year, you know that WBDT and its lobbyist, Mike McKinney, single-handedly killed off a bill during the 81st Legislative Session that would have allowed microbrewers to sell their product on the premises of the brewery — a sales-boosting opportunity afforded to Texas wineries, but not to beermakers. They also killed a similar bill in 2007 during the 80th session. The wholesalers have a stranglehold on how beer gets from the brewing tanks to you. Understandably, they don’t want that stranglehold taken away, but the legislators (and Governor) ought to be serving the public, not the lobby.

So if WBDT is getting whole hog behind Perry, then you can guess how things are gonna go in the unlikely event an on-site sales bill ever reaches his desk.

What more do you need to know?