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The runoffs

The runoff elections for the City of Houston municipal races that went into overtime will be Saturday, December 10, with early voting from November 30 to December 6 (all info courtesy of a phone call to the Harris County Clerk’s office). There will be six races on the ballot, though the only one that everyone will see will be City Council At Large #2 – the others are Council Districts B and C, both HISD races in Position 1 and Position 9, and HD143.

Today’s Chron covers the latter three races. For the HISD contenders, it’s all about making sure the people who voted for you once get out and do it again.

Incumbent Houston Independent School District Trustee Larry Marshall is trying to fend off a challenge for his District 9 seat from retired Sterling High School Principal Daisy Maura, who finished a strong second with 43 percent of the Nov. 8 vote to Marshall’s 49 percent.


Maura scored slightly more Election Day votes than Marshall, who built a strong lead in absentee and early voting.

Marshall’s $36,000 campaign-finance report shows he spent $10,000 mailing absentee ballots and paying workers to call potential voters. Maura spent $10,000 on her campaign.

Maura drew the bulk of her support from the neighborhoods surrounding the two high schools where she has worked — Worthing and Sterling.

Maura said she has bought 500 more yard signs (she already had 1,000) and plans to send mailers to the 12,000 people who voted Nov. 8.

“If we could get those 12,000 back to the polls, that’s going to be a chore,” she said.

The HISD race that I’ll see on my ballot is in Position 1.

The race for an open District 1 seat pits lawyer and former teacher Natasha Kamrani against Anne Flores Santiago, owner of an ambulance service.


For Kamrani, the leading vote-getter in last week’s general election, a Dec. 10 victory hinges on the Heights and Garden Oaks neighborhoods. High voter turnout in those communities gave Kamrani 39 percent of the vote Nov. 8.

A former Teach for America bilingual classroom teacher, Kamrani held a major financial advantage over Santiago because she still had more than $15,000 in unspent campaign funds as of Oct. 31.

Santiago had about $1,500 at the same point.

Santiago won twice as many precincts on Election Day as Kamrani, but turnout in those mostly Hispanic neighborhoods was much lower, giving her 31 percent of the overall vote and just enough to make the runoff.

She is also courting Hispanic voters who helped third-place finisher Richard Cantú finish within 63 votes of Santiago.

“We’re going to reach out to all voters in the Hispanic community and everywhere else in the Heights and Garden Oaks area,” said Jorge Mendoza, Santiago’s campaign manager.

It’s easy to see where Kamrani’s support runs the deepest – just drive through the Heights and count the “One Smart Mommy” signs. In theory, with the larger initial tally and the clearly motivated base, she should be in a strong position to win next month. There is another dynamic at work here, which is alluded to in this story but best summarized by Marc Campos:

Here’s an interesting one. Local Latino electeds supported Richard Cantu for HISD School Board. Cantu missed the runoff. The local Latino electeds don’t like the only Latina that did make the runoff, actually, they don’t like her momma. Do the local Latino electeds support the non-Latina that led in the first go around? I love watching folks squirm.

Haven’t heard anything on that score, but if Kamrani gets an endorsement from Cantu or his elected supporters, it’s all over. If Flores gets it, she moves into the driver’s seat but still has work to do. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and let you know if I hear anything.

Over in HD143, there’s no question about who’s endorsing whom: All of the candidates who did not make the cut are siding with Laura Salinas over Ana Hernandez, who led the vote tally on Election Day.

At her news conference, the former candidates endorsing her characterized Salinas as a grass-roots candidate who would be an independent voice in the Texas House.

“Laura is a strong individual who will be able to make a difference in Austin,” said civil attorney Rick Molina, who was joined by the three other eliminated candidates — corrections officer Charles George, construction- firm owner Dorothy Olmos and lawyer Al Flores.

All six ran as Democrats in the special, nonpartisan election Nov. 8.

The race in the east Houston and Harris County district has stirred up old rivalries among long-standing factions in the Hispanic political community and also has created some realignments. Hernandez is supported by state Sen. Mario Gallegos and his political allies. Salinas is supported by her aunt and uncle, former state Reps. Diana Davila and Roman Martinez, and their allies.

Gallegos and Martinez have been foes since they squared off in an acrimonious 1994 Democratic primary battle to represent Senate District 6 and become Harris County’s only Hispanic senator. Gallegos won.

Cap Inside ran a piece on this yesterday:

The four candidates who were eliminated from the competition last week have grumbled that Hernandez is an opportunist who hadn’t been living in the district. They feel that Hernandez got an unfair jump on the competition by launching her campaign almost immediately after Moreno’s death – and they’ve complained that Hernandez and her supporters have tried to steamroll a path to the statehouse with heavy-handed tactics and threats.

The accusations, which Hernandez supporters say are overblown if not fictional, are part of the political territory in a section of the state’s largest city where Moreno and State Rep. Jessica Farrar emerged as key players in the machine run by ex-City Councilman and former legislator Ben Reyes before he went to prison on a bribery conviction on the heels of an FBI undercover sting. Hernandez, a corporate attorney for Conoco/Phillips, worked as an aide to both Moreno and Farrar, who has been a key force in the aspiring candidate’s special election campaign. Moreno had also worked for Farrar – and the two lawmakers had remained close friends.

Salinas is the niece of former State House member Diana Davila, who served six years as the representative for the district that State Rep. Rick Noriega now represents. Davila is married to her former boss, ex-House member Roman Martinez, a one-time Reyes ally until being pit in a bitter 1994 primary battle in a Senate contest that State Senator Mario Gallegos won in a runoff after trailing in the initial election.

There had been speculation shortly after Moreno’s death that Gallegos would support Salinas in the special election campaign. But he got behind the Hernandez effort instead.

The residency issue is one that the Salinas campaign, espcially via Marc Campos, has pushed since she entered the race. It’s interesting to see the others pick up on it, though, since Campos always insisted that Salinas was the only candidate who met the requirement. I guess whatever they feel about Hernandez is stronger than whatever they felt about being lumped with her on that issue.

On a side note, there is a connection between HISD1 and HD143, in that Anne Flores Santiago’s “momma” is Yolanda Navarro Flores, who unsuccessfully challenged Mario Gallegos in the Democratic primary for SD6 last year. Make of that what you will.

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  1. Marie says:

    Natasha Kamrani received the endorsement last Thursday of the Harris County Tejano Democrats.
    Ana Hernandez has run a strong, clean campaign based on the issues and her qualifications. Laura Salinas has taken $65K from Speaker Craddick via Texans for Lawsuit Reform. The voters in District 143 are threatened by the Republican majority’s influence and encroachment upon a strong Democratic district in the form of Laura Salinas.

  2. Anne says:

    Ummm…grassroots candidate? I hardly call a campaign that cost over 100k to finance with a high powered and expensive consultant a “grassroots” campaign. That’s an even bigger joke than the Salinas caniddacy being taken seriously.

  3. Paul says:

    Ana Hernandez is taking Bob Perry money. I guess this is not Republican money?

    I guess having two State Reps and a State Senator pushing cards on Election Day and actively campaigning for Ana Hernandez is not a sign that they are taking Laura Salinas seriously. If these elected officials put this much time and effort into constituent issues, our communities would be better off!

    Spare me the BS, especially the part that Ana Hernandez is running a clean campaign!

  4. Manuel says:

    Noticed that you did not print my comments. Can’t print the truth or you only pick on minorities? Or you don’t like to admit that your folks ain’t perfect. I remember you comments sounds like republicans. we ain’t republicans we just honest mexicans wanting to help all of the community including the heights.
    Link above has the sale and two loan applications.

  5. Manuel, I didn’t approve your first comment because I don’t want unsubstantiated claims about a candidate allegedly doing something wrong here. If you don’t like my policies, go start your own blog. And for the record, you should see some of the comments about Richard Cantu and Laura Salinas that I’ve rejected.

    Here you at least provided a link, so here you are. I still don’t know what exactly it is you’re alleging, but if it’s so serious, why not take it to the Chronicle, or for that matter to the District Attorney? Leaving a comment on some guy’s blog isn’t exactly sticking your neck out. How seriously is anyone supposed to take this if that’s all you’re willing to do?

  6. Pete says:

    Somebody help me out…she bought a house? She’s not married? What’s the issue here?

  7. Manuel says:

    Thanks, don’t necessarily want to have any one go to jail (why not take to the DA) The Chronicle is biased as heck against certain people. As to what is being alleged is that she swore she was married and swore she was a single person (to obtain a loan) on the same day. It is against the law to swear to something that is not true. I think that is one of the charges against Libby. The allegations may be taken to the DA still considering that option.

  8. Marie says:

    Ana Hernandez has a record to run on and the support of community leaders and the voters in all areas of the district. When you have those things, negative mail and dirty campaigning is all the other side has. Have at it.
    What has Laura promised Tom Craddick and Rick Perry for all that cash? What has her uncle promised them? That she’ll dissappear from the House floor with Turner, Edwards & Luna when it matters the most? Laura is a Craddickcrat in training.

  9. Marie says:

    Ten thousand buys lots of signs. $65K buys lots of walked votes with Turner, Luna, Edwards and Giddings when it matters the most. Laura is a Craddickcrat in training. It’s best to keep her out now and keep a true Democrat in HD143.

  10. Carmen says:

    Hey Paul,

    What stunts or spins has the Hernandez campaign pulled…I’d love to know. Campos on the other hand is notorious for this sort of thing. 10k that came in the form of support from a group in Ana’s professional field is HARDLY the same thing as 65k for a “grassroots” campaign to a secretary in the commerical real estate field. Get real! You honestly think Salinas is better qualified for the job? How about Davila and Martinez know the well dried up years ago and being unable to win a city council race a year or so ago had no other options but to run their niece who is as hopeful and ambitious as she is inexperienced and oblivious so they could get back in the game. Poor Laura…in Marc Campos’s words…a kamikaze candidate.

  11. vcastillo417 says:

    The 143 race looks like it’s going to be a joke. Ms. Hernandez is running on her “experience” as an intern and claims to a true Democrat while cozing up to Mr. Perry–this is laughable. She has no real legal experience–she worked for a big oil company. She has been licensed less than one year. Chances are she doesn’t even now where the courthouse is located much less how to represent a client in court. Ms. Salinas is just as guilty of taking the Republican money. However, I think Ms. Hernandez is the bigger sell-out because Ms. Hernandez didn’t need to take the money and she took it anyway. It appears that Ms. Salinas needed to take the money because she had no other funding sources. Which is worse? I also don’t hear Ms. Salinas walking around talking about how much “experience” she has. Both of these ladies aren’t really all that qualified–Ms. Hernandez is just a bigger liar about all her experience. A former intern and unexperienced lawyer hardly makes Ms. Hernandez qualified for anything but making copies, making coffee, and doing whatever her supporters tell her to do.

  12. Marie says:

    VCastillo obviously doesn’t have a clue of what it takes to work at the Texas Legislature and the sexist remarks are proof of his disrespect for women in general.

  13. vcastillo417 says:

    well, well, well–it didn’t take long for Marie to get defensive, ignore the facts, and claim victim status–she certainly must be republican. Fact–Ana Hernandez was only an intern. This hardly qualifies anyone to be brag about their “legislative experience.” Marie wrongly assumes that only females can be interns–she is indeed being very sexist herself. Fact–Bob Perry funded the Swift Boat Vets, Tom Delay, and the Texans for a Republican Majority–whose only purpose was to defeat Texas Democrats. Fact–Ana Hernandez willingly accepted $10k from Mr. Perry even though she didn’t need it because she had already accepted over $100k from other PACs. She now hypocritically states she is a proud Democrat. She even proudly lists Bob Perry on her website as a supporter. Fact–Ana Hernandez has less than 1 year experience as a lawyer and has never represented or fought for anyone or anything. Fact–Ana Hernandez has no experience and is simply relying on the fact that she was Joe Moreno’s and Jessica Farrar’a intern. Marie, you more than anyone have personally attacked Laura Salinas. You should look in the mirror before showing your ignorance and hypocrisy. Further evidence of your republican status is that you can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

  14. Marie says:

    Your comments are baseless and ridiculous. Employee records for Ana Hernandez and any state employee, former or present, are matters of public record, alond with job titles and compensation histories. State employees who work for elected officials are not interns. That’s highly insulting. Furthermore, a majority of our elected officials have staff experience that gives them the perspective of what it takes to get things accomplished legislatively and in the district. I don’t know Laura Salinas and
    have no cause for attacking her personally. Sure, she’s unqualified, but I think she’s being used by her uncle to screw with the leadership as a pre-cursor to a 2008 showdown with Gallegos. Marc is just interested in the paycheck. If it bothers you that much that Ana accepted money from one donor, then you have every right to not support her. I’m sure any candidate would be heartbroken not to have your support.

  15. vcastillo417 says:

    It’s common knowledge that Ana Hernandez went to law school in Austin and she has lived there for the past several years and yes, when she recently moved back to Houston she did not move into the district. Ana Hernandez’s experience level has been reduced to a semantic discussion over whether she was an “intern” or as you call it “staff” while she was a law school student in Austin. I think at Wal-Mart they call a lot of their employees “partners.” I think that you are being too snobbish to say being called an “intern” is insulting while being called “staff” is okay. Unless you are Ana Hernandez herself I do not see why you are so offended by being an intern. I realize that interns perform a necessary administrative and clerical function at all private and governmental offices such as answering phones, filing, etc… Let’s stop kidding ourselves on what experience she had as an intern/staff member. You are again missing the point on the Bob Perry money. It’s the hypocrisy that’s amazing. You and Ana Hernandez are not better Democrats than Laura Salinas–in fact you are arguably worse for the reasons previously stated. Oh well–Happy Thanksgiving.

  16. David G. says:

    Hey VCastillo…Laura Salinas is an administrative assistant at Moody Rambin…pick up the phone, make the call and ask…oh yeah, she was also only part time. So Laura more than anyone has the experience to “perform a necessary administrative and clerical function at all private and governmental offices such as answering phones, filing, etc.”

    Are you telling me that working as a secretary at a real estate firm gives you MORE experience that the formal law school education and three legislative sessions combined? You are seriously deluded. It’s sad.

  17. vcastillo says:

    DaviDG, thanks for responding and proving my point that Ana Hernandez has no experience. The point is Ana Hernandez is the one talking about how much experience she has. Pleeease. You and the other Hernandez apologists are just bigger hypocrites. You do have to admit though that the similarities between the two is frightening. They are roughly the same age, experience level, similar life experiences–both married and divorced, and both ambitious. We’ll see how it turns out.

  18. Marie says:

    Legislative experience means drafting and writing legislation, following bills through committee and knowing the political process of getting things done for the district. Not good enough for you? In the words of David Spade, “And you are… ??? I ‘d like to see you get elected without a broad range of support. So when you’re done being so misogynistic and self righteous, put your name on a ballot, “V. Castillo.” We’ll see how far you get.

  19. vcastillo says:

    “Marie,” igoring the facts doesn’t change the fact that Ana Hernadez was just an intern and that she has no legal experience. Who knows, if she is elected she may even make a good legislator, but as of now she has no experience. You and the other Hernandez apologists have called Laura Salinas every name in the book. How about Ana Hernandez? How come I don’t hear you talking about Ana Hernandez’s quickie teenage marriage? As you know, Ana Hernandez was married at 18–now that’s classy. What do say about the marriage ending within 10-11 months? Even today, teen marriages are rare unless of course you have to get married. “Marie,” you seem to have a hangup on Laura Salinas, and everyone else for that matter–please share with everyone your thoughts on Ana Hernandez’s quickie teen marriage. Will you talk about Ana Hernandez’s past like you have talked about Laura Salinas’s?

  20. Marie says:

    This isn’t a race for Lawyer, and even if it were Ana would be the only qualified candidate on the ballot on December 10th. Again, I refuse to acknowledge your misogynistic remarks as they have no bearing on any candidate in any election.

  21. vcastillo says:

    The people of district 143 need someone that is going to truly fight for their interests. Marie and the other Hernandez people have personally insulted and called Lauara Salinas every name in the book since the beginning of this race. Not once did you ever hear Laura Salians whine about being a victim–she just kept on fighting. Now that Ana Hernandez is even remotely called out on being a fake, her people instantly and hypocritcally claim they are victims. But they have yet to deny the facts, because they can’t. Politcal whining is not attractive when the republicans do it and it’s not attractive when Ana Hernandez’s people do it. And yes, Ana Hernandez’s 10-11 month marriage when she was 18-19 yrs/ old is relevant, especially since Laura Salinas has been ridiculed repeatedly. We all make fun of this when it happens to celebrities because it shows how unstable they are. I’m sure the voters want to know if Ana Hernandez is an emotional flake before they elect her to fight on the House floor, or was it just “youthful indiscretion.”

  22. Pico Lindo says:

    Wasn’t LULAC #60 trying to set up a debate or forum for this race? I for one would have attended.