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Vasquez and Carrillo

Newly-unelected Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez makes the same complaint about why he is headed for the unemployment line as Victor Carrillo did.

Carrillo started the ethnic angst with an e-mail to supporters indicating racial bias had cost him re-election. That was followed up by Vasquez’s campaign manager and girlfriend, SuZanne Feather, sending out an e-mail saying there were “many similarities” between Carrillo and Vasquez’s loss on Tuesday to tea party activist Don Sumners. Vasquez joined in during an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

“It is perplexing that someone could basically spend no money whatsoever and mount no campaign and win as handily as he did,” Vasquez said. “The same thing happened in the Victor Carrillo race as well.”

But Vasquez’s predecessor in office, Paul Bettencourt said Vasquez lost because he had issues in his personal life that cost him the support of social conservative organizations.

Consultant Allen Blakemore, speaking for social conservative leader Steve Hotze, said Republicans were upset with Vasquez for settling a voter-registration lawsuit with Democrats and for not being as vocal on property tax increases as Bettencourt. Blakemore said the “final blow” came when social conservative leaders learned Vasquez lives with a woman married to another man.

Vasquez admitted social conservative leaders Hotze and Terry Lowry “probably got him (Sumners) another 10,000 votes and maybe even made the full difference between us.”

“The Republican Party, especially in Harris County, has been, unfortunately, overly controlled and influenced by a small, but vocal group on the religious right, and we need to get back to the core principles of fiscal conservative issues rather than these social issues that are being perpetuated by that small, but vocal, minority,” Vasquez said.

You’re just figuring that out now, Leo? What color is the sky on your planet?

As for the justifications Bettencourt and Blakemore give, I’ll say this much. I had heard about Vasquez’ relationship to Feather, and can say with confidence that it would have come up in the general election had Vasquez been the nominee. I have no idea how well known it was among the people who actually voted in that race – Big Jolly mentions it, while also acknowledging Vasquez’ complaint and noting that “there is still a lot of resentment around the county in the wake of Paul Bettencourt’s sudden resignation and Vasquez’ appointment” – but my suspicion is that it wasn’t particularly well known. Had Don Sumners made it a campaign issue, I expect it would have been news, and there was no such news reported. A Google search of “leo vasquez suzanne feather” yields nothing relevant. Similarly, I can’t really evaluate the claim about Vasquez’s settlement of the HCDP lawsuit. Big Jolly didn’t mention it, and a Google search turns up mostly Democratic links. Maybe more people knew about it than I might think, but if it was a campaign issue and not just something that a handful of connected folks were grumbling about, it was a mighty quiet one.

I don’t doubt that the issues Bettencourt and Blakemore cite affected how some people voted. The question is how many of the 120,000+ people who cast a vote in that race were affected by those particular factors. Unlike David Porter, Don Sumners was at least someone who had been an elected official before, and presumably started out with some kind of base. That in and of itself may have been enough for him to win.

One thing I am sure of is that Vasquez is now officially dead to the Republican establishment. Look at what they’re doing to poor Victor Carrillo:

Republican consultant Ted Delisi said Carrillo spent far less than Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones or Michael Williams did on their re-election campaigns and said Carrillo did little personal campaigning.

“In the end, a bad campaign is just a bad campaign,” Delisi said.

That’s a pretty remarkable piece of disinformation. First, it appears to be comparing Williams’ and Ames Jones’ general election efforts to Carrillo’s primary campaign. I say that in part because Michael Williams had no primary opponent in 2008, so however much money he spent in that race, his renomination was never in doubt. As for Ames Jones, she did have a primary opponent in 2006. Her eight days out report for that race shows that she spent $580,116. Carrillo’s eight days out report, by comparison, had expenditures of $525,666. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t meet my definition of “far less”. Finally, since Porter ran no campaign at all, Delisi is implying that Carrillo’s campaign was not merely inadequate but that it must have actively persuaded people to vote against him. Even by the standards of Republican consultants, that’s a pretty damn brazen thing to say. But it’s the sort of thing they’re going to be saying about you now, Leo. I hope you’re prepared for that.

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  1. Mainstream says:

    The Delisi comment sounds to me like Monday morning quarterbacking: “If you had hired me as your consultant instead, and paid me more money, I could have gotten you elected.” The Vasquez negatives may have ahd some marginal effecct, and influenced the endorsement of some precinct chairs who put out their own neighborhood letter, or some endorsing groups, but 3 of 8 endorsing senate district chairs among the GOP supported Vasquez. Whether it is ethnicity or an unfamiliar ballot name, there is no doubt some large number of voters voted by name alone.

  2. Hammond says:

    I stay current with news about the political scene and am a precinct chair. I am also proactive in voting for Hispanic and Black candidates who are Republicans. However, the TWO conservative lists of recommendations which I received in the mail recommended Mr. Vasquez’s opponent. So, I KNEW that they knew something that I did not know. Now, I know it’s his immoral personal relationship. I absolutely would vote against him for this reason only!
    I deeply regret that we are losing such a qualified man as Victor Carrillo. He sent out two excellent mailings. However, I don’t remember any radio appearances or other outreach. I have to assume that those who are politically active know what they are talking about when they say he didn’t campaign very hard. He sure could have spent more money on advertising. He could have held more meetings around the state on the “hot button” issues related to energy independence. Our elected office holders need to speak out more boldly. Paint with bold colors, not pastels.

  3. Fernando says:

    Using historical data (1997 – 2011) one can glean some interesting statistics.

    Only 26% of Hispanic Republican candidates that competed in a Republican primary against a non-Hispanic for a Harris County or statewide office advanced beyond the primaries.

    Even more disturbing…Hispanic candidates running for a Houston at-large city council position only won 13% of the time.

    And of course we know that Hispanics running for Mayor of Houston have a zero percent success rate.

  4. Mainstream says:

    I am skeptical of the accuracy of the stated data, Fernando. Can you publish it as a google doc?

    Are you counting James Partsch-Galvan as Hispanic? His frequent losses might skew the data alone.

    I recall Gracie Saenz, Lionel Castillo, Orlando Sanchez winning citywide. In the recent At Large 2 contest, two Hispanic candidates jointly amassed enough support that if only one had been in the race, he or she might have made the run-off.

    I think a more nuanced analysis would have to look at funding, endorsements. Some of the losing candidates might have lost regardless of ethnicity based on such factors.

    That said, Xavier Rodriquez, Leo Vasquez, Victor Carillo and others have fallen statewide to Anglo challengers perceived by political commentators as less qualified, or in some cases spending much less. But Tony Garza, others have won.

  5. Mainstream says:

    and how does your analysis deal with candidates like Noriega with Hispanic surnames but who are not themselves Hispanic, candidates who are Hispanic but not the preferred candidate of Hispanic voters, candidates like W. R. Morris who have Anglo names but Hispanic heritage?

  6. Fernando says:

    Mainstream, Let me work on creating a google doc. Good suggestion and questions.

  7. Fernando says:

    Mainstream, here is the city link. If you omit James Partsch-Galvan it moves up to about 15%.

  8. Fernando says:

    Mainstream, this is the link to the Republican Primary results.

  9. Fernando says:

    Judge Elsa Alcala—Texas Court of Criminal Appeals—was appointed by Governor Rick Perry. She’ll be in the upcoming Republican primaries. Her opponent is Ken Law. I haven’t researched Mr. Law, but I expect Judge Alcala to lose based on nothing other than her name. We’ll see.