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August 1st, 2012:

2012 Democratic primary runoffs

All state results here. Best news of the night was Paul Sadler‘s easy win. Can we please raise some money for this guy?

Congressional results: James Cargas in CD07, Pete Gallego in CD23, Rose Meza Harrison in CD27, Marc Veasey in CD33, and Filemon Vela in CD34. I’m delighted that three quality members of the Texas Democratic legislative caucus will have a shot at serving in Congress next year. As for Filemon Vela, I’m still suspicious of the guy, but we’ll see how it goes.

In the Lege, Gene Wu had another strong showing in HD137, and I feel very good about his chances to win this Dem-favored-but-not-a-lock seat in November. Parent PAC didn’t have any skin in the runoffs, but Annie’s List did, and they went one for two, as Nicole Collier will succeed Veasey in HD95, but Tina Torres lost to Phillip Cortez for the nomination in HD117. That’s a critical race in November.

The biggest surprise of the night was also some good news, as Erica Lee romped to a huge win in the HCDE Position 6, Precinct 1 runoff. She won with close to 75% of the vote, so maybe, just maybe, that will be enough to convince anyone who might file another lawsuit that they’d be wasting their time. I truly hope this is the end of it, because this is by far the best possible outcome. Congrats to Erica Lee, to Alan Rosen in Constable Precinct 1, to Zerick Guinn in Constable Precinct 2, and to all the other winners last night. Onward to November, y’all.

UPDATE: Litigation is coming for the HCDE election.

The Department of Education has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to void the May primary and Tuesday’s runoff. Lee, Harris County and both political parties want to dismiss the case, which is ongoing.

Johnson said he had planned legal action on behalf of the 1,400 excluded voters whether he won the runoff or not.

“The whole point of this was to make sure the disenfranchised voters had a voice,” Johnson said.”

I guess it was too much to hope for otherwise.

UPDATE: When I went to bed last night, Zerick Guinn was leading by what I thought was a safe margin. Apparently, not safe enough as today Chris Diaz is shown as the winner by 3 votes. I smell a recount coming.

UPDATE: The plot thickens. Here’s the 10:12 PM update from the County Clerk website, which the last update I saw before I went to bed. See how Zerick Guinn has 2695 votes? Now here is the 12:43 AM update in which Guinn has mysteriously dropped to 2061 votes, which puts him behind Diaz and his 2064. How does that happen?

2012 Republican primary runoffs

All the results are here. In the end, Ted Cruz won a pretty solid victory. I’ll note that in the last two publicly released polls, PPP had Cruz up by 10, whereas Baselice & Associates claimed Dewhurst was up by 5. Oops. The latter poll sampled people who hadn’t actually voted in the May primary, which sure seems like a stretch now. By the way, Baselice & Associates is the pollster that did that first Metro poll. Two completely different universes, and one silly poll result doesn’t cast a shadow on another, it’s just a reminder that polling isn’t destiny.

In the Congressional primaries of interest, Randy Weber in CD14 and Roger Williams in CD25 won easily, while Steve Stockman won a closer race for CD36. Multiple incumbents went down to defeat, most spectacularly Sen. Jeff Wentworth in SD25. Am I the only one who thinks that he might have been better off switching parties? Hard to imagine he could have done worse in November than this. Nutjob John Devine won himself a spot on the Supreme Court, which like the Senate just got appreciably more stupid. I will console myself with the thought that Devine, who is in many ways a huckster, is highly likely to run afoul of the code of judicial conduct at some point. Speaking of party switching, former Democrat Chuck Hopson is now an ex-Representative, as are Sid “Sonogram” Miller and Jim Landtroop. The only legislative incumbent to survive was the other party switcher, JM Lozano, who now faces a tough race in November. The runoff was even hard on former incumbents, as Warren Chisum lost his bid for the Railroad Commission. However, Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman did survive, and former SBOE member Geraldine Miller got her spot back.

In other races of interest, Rick Miller won the nomination in HD26, thus likely delaying the de-honkification of the Fort Bend County delegation for at least another two years. By my count, of the eight Parent PAC candidates in the runoff, all but Wentworth and Hopson won, which is a pretty impressive result. Maybe, just maybe, the Lege will be marginally less hostile to public education next year.

Finally, in Harris County, it took awhile for the results to come in, but Louis Guthrie won the right to face Sheriff Adrian Garcia in the fall. That will be one to watch. Did any of these results surprise you? Leave a comment and let me know.

UPDATE: Make that five of eight for Parent PAC. When I went to bed, Trent McKnight was leading in HD68, but by the time I got up this morning he had lost.

One more thing about the Buffalo Bayou transformation

You saw Trudi Smith’s guest post about the transformation of Buffalo Bayou, which was recently kicked into high gear. There’s a point that needs to be addressed about the project and the lovely park that’s being built up, and the Chron discussed it in a recent editorial.

How will people get there? And where will they park?

While the Rosemont Bridge and a few over/under passes on the north side help people cross Memorial, Allen Parkway is severely lacking in easy bicycle and pedestrian crossing. Crossing at Waugh or Montrose can feel pretty risky, especially during heavy traffic. And the intersection at Taft has no crosswalk at all, with joggers and bikers playing a life-size game of Frogger across the mini-highway that is Allen Parkway.

As it is now, Allen Parkway makes it difficult for Buffalo Bayou Park to become a neighborhood green space for people in Montrose and the Fourth Ward. Updates to the park will be nice, but of limited value if people cannot get to them.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership chairman Bob Phillips and Andy Icken responded in an op-ed a few days later.

The Buffalo Bayou Park Master Plan outlines very specific ways to create better and safer public access to Buffalo Bayou Park from Shepherd Street to Sabine Street. The proposed solutions that are outlined in the Master Plan will require effective use of city property and collaboration with the city of Houston and developers in the surrounding neighborhoods. Examples include new pedestrian crosswalks to allow safer access into the park and improvements to Allen Parkway to increase parking.

Our goal is to finalize our strategy now so when the construction is complete in 2015, we can welcome people who are walking, biking, using public transportation or driving.

Most of the items they specify in their piece have to do with parking, which highlights the irony of building a gorgeous bike trail that people have to access by car. I live a bit more than a mile and a half from the entry to the trail at Studemont/Montrose, but there’s no good way for me to get there by bike. Biking on Studemont from where it underpasses I-10 borders on suicidal. The only other roads to get you there coming from the north are Heights/Waugh and Durham/Shepherd. The latter is as bad as Studemont, the former is okay except for the stretch where it passes over Memorial and Allen Parkway. I might brave it myself some day, but I’d never want to have my kids ride along with me, it’s too dangerous. It’s a shame that it has to be this way, especially since the trail provides a useful entryway into downtown and thus can serve as a path for bike commuters. I wish I could say I had a good suggestion to deal with this, but I don’t. This is the way things are in Houston.

How cool are we?

Way cool, apparently.

Houston is known for many things: Oil, NASA, urban sprawl and business-friendly policies. But the Texas city deserves to be known for something else: coolness.

The Bayou City may not be the first place you associate with being hip or trendy. But Houston has something many other major cities don’t: jobs. With the local economy humming through the recession, Houston enjoyed 2.6% job growth last year and nearly 50,000 Americans flocked there in response — particularly young professionals. In fact, the median age of a Houston resident is a youthful 33.

The result? Over the past decade, the dreary corporate cityscape has been quietly transforming. Stylish housing developments have popped up downtown, restaurants have taken up residence in former factories and art galleries like the Station Museum have been inhabiting warehouses.

Combine that with a strong theater scene, world-class museums and a multicultural, zoning-free mashup of a streetscape and you have the recipe for the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Coolest Cities To Live.

I like the fact that it remains the case that national media outlets are incapable of saying something nice about Houston in a non-backhanded manner. I wouldn’t know what to do with unqualified adulation. Forbes is comparing MSAs, so this isn’t just Houston but the Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land MSA, so make of it what you will. The Statesman tries to put a positive spin on things for Austin, and Hair Balls, TM Daily Post, CultureMap, and Mean Green Cougar Red have more.