Early voting is going on now in SD17

Today is Day Two of early voting in the SD17 runoff, which continues through Friday. As a reminder, you can find early voting locations for Harris County here, and for Fort Bend County here; locations for Galveston County are at the end of this story. If you just want to help get people to the polls, you can do virtual phonebanking. We can win this, but it’s going to take a full-on effort. Please do what you can.

Big Jolly has an interesting analysis of the race so far.

Question is, will this election be decided by the so called ‘critical middle’ or by motivating and turning out the base of each party? Typically, it is the latter that decides runoff elecitons.

Ms. Huffman seems to be focusing on the core conservative base. In a recent radio appearance, she focused on illegal immigration, property tax appraisal caps, cutting spending and abortion. When asked what she would cut, she replied something to the effect of cutting the waste from the bureaucracy.

Mr. Bell seems to be focusing on the ‘critical middle’. His website features special pages on both education and health care, with detailed analysis of each. In an unusual move for a Texas politician, Mr. Bell wears his support for abortion rights on his sleeve, forcefully making his case for stem cell research and funding for Planned Parenthood. Recall when he and his wife Alison hosted a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of Houston and South East Texas which raised $220,000.

In the HRC poll, abortion and illegal immigration are non-issues for the ‘critical middle’ but education and health care are major ones. They do care about property taxes, even more so than the conservative base (see the report, page 37, slide 36).

I’ve finally had a chance to read through the poll memo, which provides quite a bit of food for thought. That’s for another day, but for now, I’ll say that the Democratic base is fully engaged on Bell’s behalf, at least if the nonstop flow of “We need to help Chris Bell” emails and Facebook messages I’ve been receiving is any indicator. If being right on the issues is a help in this kind of race, then that’s in Bell’s favor as well. I certainly hope so.

Speaking of issues, the Chron’s Houston Politics blog will be hosting a live chat with Bell and Huffman tomorrow at noon – see here for details. I presume the chat link will be at the top of the page. Drop in and ask them some questions. And please, make sure you vote for Chris Bell if you live in the district. Thanks very much.

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