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Endorsement watch: Have you always been concerned about that?

Before I get to today’s endorsements, let’s briefly discuss this item from yesterday, in which the Chron gravely intoned of a looming catastrophe.

We would respectfully request those considering a straight ticket vote in either party to reconsider their decision.

Such an approach dismisses worthy candidates in both parties, especially in local races for judicial benches and other such posts. It also increases the likelihood that unqualified candidates will slip into positions of responsibility.

If voters choose to cast ballots for a straight ticket after examination of the ballot on a race-by-race basis, that is their perfect right. But they do themselves, their fellow citizens and the system no favor by opting for the straight-party ticket without careful thought.

I wonder if there was a similar thing written back in 1994, when it was clear to everyone that Democratic judges were about to go extinct. I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion, but as I can’t say I’ve ever heard any member of the Republican establishment express regret that some highly-qualified jurists were ejected that year. As an extra added bonus, that was the election that first installed John Devine on the bench. So, I have no current plans to feel guilty about any future Democratic sweeps, if they should happen. The Chron made their feelings known when they gave their endorsements. I don’t see why they saw fit to underline them in this way. And by the way, as I said before, if their poll is an accurate guide, we’ll see an abnormally low rate of straight-ticket votes this year anyway. So why worry?

Now then. The Chron finally tackles the SD17 special election by giving their endorsement to Chris Bell.

A Dallas native and a University of Texas graduate, Bell brings to the race a solid track record in public office. He served five years on Houston City Council where he chaired the council’s ethics committee. It produced recommendations that tightened up the city’s campaign finance rules and mandated financial disclosure measures for elected officials.

After unsuccessfully running for mayor, Bell was elected to Congress, where he earned favorable notice as a freshman and founded the Port Security Caucus while serving as a whip for the Democratic leadership. Bell filed ethics complaints against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the first shots in a fight that led to DeLay’s resignation.

Bell found himself a target of the 2003 redistricting effort masterminded by DeLay, which sought to defeat some incumbent Anglo Democrats across the state by making their districts majority minority. He was defeated in the Democratic primary by Al Green. Two years ago, he won the Democratic nomination for governor and came in second behind Republican Rick Perry in a four-way race.

A lawyer with the firm Patton Boggs, Bell is registered as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., but dropped that status in Texas before seeking office. He pledges not to lobby in the state if elected.

In the current race, Bell is calling for utility rate reform, tripling the homestead exemption and reversing tuition deregulation at public universities. The candidate has demonstrated in previous elective office that he can be an effective advocate for his constituents.

Not sure what took them so long on this one, but they got it right, and that’s what matters. They also endorsed Michael Williams for re-election to the Railroad Commission. Both recommendations were as predicted.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t specifically an endorsement, but Mayor Bill White took the time to defend Adrian Garcia against some attack ads that Sheriff Tommy Thomas had been running.

By the time we got to the weekly Mayor’s press conference, White spoke more directly. He was unhappy with the ad by Sheriff Tommy Thomas recently began airing. In the attack ad, Thomas’ campaign says that Garcia admitted to using marijuana “more than 100 times”. Apparently, the campaign got it from an HPD application form, and whatever Garcia wrote, he was referring to things he did when he was 16-17 years old.

The Mayor was not happy, and took the unusual step of defending Garcia at his weekly news conference. “I’m not doing endorsements I’m just telling people that I know he’s a person of outstanding character, he’s been hard working and a great public servant,” said White.

“I think people need to stand up for people when people attack their character if they know him.”

Garcia tried to stay above the fray, saying he only attacks his opponent’s record, and not his personal issues. He also said he was simply being honest about his teenage years, but he doesn’t know where the “100 times” reference is coming from.

Good for Mayor White. That ad is apparently no longer running, so perhaps the point has been made.

Remember Sally Ride, the first American woman in outer space? She’s endorsing Barack Obama. Not that there’s anything unusual about that these days, but I thought it was cool.

Finally, I present this without comment, because frankly, what can one add to that? I don’t know how I wound up as a recipient on the mailing list that distributed it, but I ain’t complaining.

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One Comment

  1. cb says:

    I agree, the Chronicle commentary on straight ticket voting is not the norm for the Chronicle during elections. For the Chronicle to argue that some of the candidates are not qualified is without basis. If the Chronicle has facts to support this assertion than they have a civic duty to report such facts. They have none.