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November 18th, 2021:

Beto raises $2 million on his first official day as a candidate

I did say this would be the next story, didn’t I?

Beto O’Rourke raised $2 million in the first 24 hours of his run for governor, his campaign tells The Texas Tribune.

His campaign called it a record “for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the first 24 hours” of a campaign. They also said it was the most raised in the “first 24 hours of any campaign in 2021.”

O’Rourke is a fundraising powerhouse, though he faces an even more formidable fundraiser in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He had $55 million cash on hand at the end of June.

O’Rourke’s fundraising total for his first 24 hours was $2,015,885, his campaign said. The haul came from more than 20,000 donors.

O’Rourke has been on the road since launching his campaign Monday morning, making stops in Fort Stockton, San Antonio and Laredo. He is scheduled to visit the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday.

See here for the background. To be sure, this would have been a story had he fallen short of expectations, too. This way is definitely better. That said, all Beto needs to do is the same thing each day for the next four weeks, and then he’ll be caught up to where Abbott was as of July. Yeah, I know, he doesn’t need to actually match Abbott dollar for dollar – he’s already well known, he’s got plenty of volunteer and activist energy behind him, there are tons of things to talk about, and at some point marginal dollars aren’t worth all that much. But there’s no way around it, he’s going to need tons of money. This is why a lot of people wanted him to start sooner, but Beto’s gonna Beto. At least he’s off to a flying start.

On a side note, there has been a lot of stuff written about Beto and his campaign, his abysmal Presidential campaign, his past and present stances, why 2022 and Greg Abbott are not 2018 and Ted Cruz (gee, ya think?), and so on and so forth. I’m going to try to be judicious about what I read, let alone what I link to, especially now when there’s a lot of other campaign news of interest. Don’t worry, there will be plenty more to say about Beto and this race going forward.

Ben Chou files for Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Second to announce, first to officially file.

Ben Chou

I’m running for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 4!

I’m a progressive Democrat, lawyer, and community organizer. I’m running for County Commissioner because I think we need to build a Harris County for all of our residents — one that centers our efforts around the pursuit of economic, racial, and environmental justice; a future we are proud to pass down to our kids.

I’m running because we can accomplish bold reforms while getting the basics done. We’ve got streets filled with potholes, sidewalks left broken for too long, and street lights that don’t turn on. Meanwhile flooding continues to plague our communities as small businesses and neighborhood safety teeter on the brink.

What’s happening in Texas today is appalling. Republicans have effectively banned abortion, are limiting what books can be taught in schools, and are trying to suppress the right to vote. That’s why this moment is so important. I’m running to bring the progressive, bold change needed to Harris County while also fighting back against Republican extremism.

We can’t afford to wait for change. We need leaders who embrace innovation and have a proven record of getting things done – now.

The Democratic primary for this seat is only a few months away on March 1, 2022. If you’re ready to move Harris County towards a better, brighter, more equitable future, then join me at: www.benchoutx.com.

He filed over the weekend, so he’s officially in, joining Lesley Briones and almost surely others. He’s the candidate I was aware of when Briones made her announcement. I will of course do interviews for this race. Stace has more.

Texas sues over the health care workers vaccine mandate

It’s a trifecta.

In Texas’ latest legal challenge targeting federal vaccination mandates, Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over its recent order requiring health workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Biden administration issued an emergency order, which went into effect Nov. 4, requiring eligible workers at health care facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to get the first shot of a two-dose vaccine or a one-dose vaccine by Dec. 6.

Paxton called the mandate “an unprecedented federal vaccine decree” on health care workers.

“At a time when we need healthcare workers more than ever before, amid a harrowing worker shortage, the Biden Administration has prioritized this unlawful vaccine mandate over the healthcare of all Americans,” Paxton said Monday night in a statement. “We need healthcare workers, regardless of their vaccination status, and this decision puts us on track for an impending disaster within the healthcare industry.”

Texas joins 10 other states suing the Biden administration over the mandate.

This joins the federal contractors mandate lawsuit and the employer mandate lawsuit, which by the way will now go to the Sixth Circuit, which may not be an improvement. There’s no point in making arguments about public safety or any other merit-base claim. The Fifth Circuit is gonna do what the Fifth Circuit does, and then either SCOTUS will step in or they’ll wave their hands at the complex legal complexities of it all and hope it’s all moot by the time it gets back to them. If you want to do something about it, support the Democratic nominee for AG against Ken Paxton or one of the Ken Paxton wannabes in 2022. That’s the one fully clear thing in this mess.

Texas blog roundup for the week of November 15

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns the people we lost at Astroworld as it brings you this week’s roundup.

(more…)

No independent investigation of the AstroWorld tragedy

Not sure how I feel about this yet.

Harris County will not launch an independent investigation into the Astroworld festival disaster after commissioners declined to support a plan by County Judge Lina Hidalgo to do so.

Instead, the group on Tuesday voted unanimously to conduct an internal review, at the request of Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

“I proposed a more thorough and detailed scope to increase the likelihood of objectivity and an impactful outcome,” Hidalgo said. “While this scales back my proposal, I am happy to see the court move as a unit on some next steps.”

Garcia, a former Houston Police Department officer, made a motion to support that agency’s investigation. The motion also directed the county administrator, Harris County Sports Authority and Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation to examine safety regulations for outdoor concerts.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces in this particular event, so my motion is intended to help us move forward in the spirit of making sure that we are coordinating and collaborating, but at the same time looking forward,” Garcia said.

He expressed concern that authorizing a new investigation would expose the county to lawsuits.

[…]

Hidalgo, as a member of the three-member Democratic majority, rarely loses votes on Commissioners Court. She was unable, however, to convince any of her colleagues behind closed doors to support her plan for an independent investigation of the festival, which she said would not interfere with the Houston Police Department’s probe.

Hidalgo said she hopes the review would suggest actions the county can take to make concerts safer.

I hope so, too. I liked the idea of an independent investigation, though there had been no discussion of what that might look like and what powers the investigator would have. Campos thinks it’s a mistake for the county to not pursue this, while Erica Greider has mixed feelings. The county’s review will not overlap with the HPD criminal probe, so maybe it will turn up some useful information. Like I said, I hope this is worthwhile.

UPDATE: Stace also thinks Commissioners Court should have approved the independent investigation.