Time to guess the Chronicle’s endorsements


We are a bit more than a month out from the start of early voting, and as such we are getting close to the start of Chronicle endorsement season. I know from doing candidate interviews that the Chron has been holding screenings in recent days, so it shouldn’t be long now. So while we wait for that, why not take a crack at guessing what their endorsements will be?

I want to stress up front that these are not my endorsements. I’m not making any endorsements, here or elsewhere. Nor are these necessarily the candidates I think the Chronicle should endorse. I’m not making any value judgments. These are my best guesses at who the Chron will endorse, based on past history and my read on what they are looking for this year.

What are they looking for this year? I don’t think that’s any mystery. They’re looking for candidates who support HERO and who are sufficiently “serious” about pension reform. That doesn’t mean these are their only criteria, nor does it mean that they can’t or won’t endorse a candidate who doesn’t agree with them on one or both of them. I’m not there in the screenings, I don’t know what else might be on their minds. I’m just making what I hope are reasonable guesses. None of this should be taken seriously. Consider this the political nerd’s equivalent of Sean Pendergast predicting the Texans’ season, with fewer references to the WWE and Game of Thrones.

So with all of that said, let’s begin.


At first glance, you’d think this would be a tough one to guess, but looking back at what I wrote above, it jumps right out at you: I believe the Chron will endorse Steve Costello. He checks all their boxes, and he has the most experience in city government to boot. King and Hall are both anti-HERO. McVey is an extreme longshot. I think they will be too critical of the recent issues with the jail to go with Garcia. Bell and Turner are possible, I guess, but I don’t think the Chron would consider them “serious” enough on pensions; the Chron did not care for the agreement that Turner helped broker with the firefighters earlier this year. The more I think about it, the clearer it seems. I’ll be surprised if it’s not Costello.


This one is murkier. Chris Brown is possible, but I think they will ding him for being Ronald Green’s second in command, and it’s not like they were ever big fans of his father. They endorsed Bill Frazer in 2013 and could endorse him again, but I think that was at least partly about Green’s baggage. I also think that if I’m right about Costello, they may be reluctant to endorse two Anglo Republicans for the top offices of a city that is not particularly Anglo nor Republican. I believe they will view Carroll Robinson’s tenure with the HCC Board as a negative. Honestly, I think the favorite at this point is Dwight Jefferson, who was part of the best Metro board in recent memory and who has no obvious negatives about him. I’ll say Jefferson 60%, Frazer 25%, Brown 15%.

At Large incumbents

With incumbents there’s an extra factor to consider, namely whether the incumbent in question has done anything to disqualify himself or herself. There are no Helena Browns this year, so the main question is how big a strike against someone is a vote against HERO? I’ll get to that in a minute. In At Large #2, I think David Robinson is an easy call. He checks the boxes, and none of his opponents are anyone I’d expect the Chron to consider seriously. Kubosh and Christie are the tougher ones to guess. How much will their opposition to HERO be held against them? My guess is “some”, but unless the screening goes badly for them or I’ve underestimated the commitment the Chron has to HERO, I figure they’re both favorites. I’ll make it 80% for Kubosh and 65% for Christie, with the difference being that Christie made some goofy statements about vaccines in his first term, and Philippe Nassif is compelling enough that the Chron might take a flyer on him as a “breath of fresh air” candidate.

At Large open seats

I’m going to go with Tom McCasland in AL1 and Amanda Edwards in AL4. Edwards feels like the safer choice. It would have been a harder call if Laurie Robinson hadn’t flipflopped on HERO, but if my conviction about this means anything, it means it in this race. In AL1, I could see the Chron supporting Lane Lewis or Jenifer Pool – as with Carroll Robinson, I think the Chron will not consider Chris Oliver’s time with HCC to be a positive – but I think McCasland’s resume will carry the day. Let’s say 60% McCasland, 30% Lewis, 10% Pool.

District seats

All district incumbents will be endorsed. This is easy, as there are no disqualifiers and outside of F and J no challengers that are likely to be considered. The cases worth examining are the open seats in G and H. G is a two-candidate race, and you can make an argument for or against either – both candidates are sufficiently qualified, and both are against HERO in a district where that would be expected. The main negative for Sandie Mullins Moger is being on the HCC board – yeah, there’s a theme here – and the main negative for Greg Travis is that he recently announced an endorsement by Helena Brown. I make it 55-45 for Travis. As for H, I can see any of Jason Cisneroz, Roland Chavez, and Karla Cisneros getting the nod. For no reason I can easily explain, I think Karla Cisneros is a slight favorite – let’s say 40-30-30. Have I mentioned that I’m guessing?


For HISD, they’ll stick with incumbents Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Juliet Stipeche, and they’ll reverse themselves from 2011 and go with Ramiro Fonseca over Manuel Rodriguez. In the open District 4 seat, I don’t seem the picking Jolanda Jones, so I’ll say they’ll endorse Ann McCoy. The only contested races in HCC involve the two incumbents running for re-election, Adriana Tamez and Eva Loredo. I’ll be surprised if they don’t endorse those two.


Obviously, they’ll endorse HERO. I think they’ll be as “meh” on the term limits item as I am, and will either give it a lukewarm thumbs up or they’ll advocate a No. Same for the Harris County bond issue, with a slightly better chance of a Yes. I have no idea on the state constitutional amendments, if they bother with them. There were none that excited me one way or the other, though there are a few I’m likely to vote against.

So that’s how I see it. Go ahead and tell me where I’m wrong in the comments. I’ll check back in a few weeks and see how good a job I did trying to read their mind.

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12 Responses to Time to guess the Chronicle’s endorsements

  1. PDiddie says:

    Reasonable enough, and a fun parlor game.

    But with their track record (Romney, Cruz, etc.) I’ll find whomever they stamp with approval worthy of rejecting.

  2. Eastender says:

    I certainly hope Ramiro Fonseca takes the HISD seat away from Manny.

  3. joshua ben bullard says:

    can you believe the nerve of these council members ?,we call to the base our congress members every 2 years,our state reps every two years and these council members are asking us to give them 4 year presidential terms , are they high???????your not getting 4 year presidential terms, your ass will be lucky if your even re-elected , stay off the straight dope.


  4. N.M. Horwitz says:

    Who will the Chronicle endorse? White people.

  5. Burt Levine says:

    Not in at large four, Noah.

  6. Steven Houston says:

    Noah, the Chronicle picks lots of non-white choices but they also tend to favor a sure win regardless of anything else.

  7. Greg Wythe says:

    I’d agree that Costello would be the smart bet for the endorsement. I’ll be shocked if it’s enough to help him make a runoff, though. Garcia would probably be the second-best option if thye look for a “relatively surer” bet to make the runoff. But I think the fact that Costello lacks a constituency to appeal to makes it a free shot for the Chron to endorse him in the first round. The Chron can rationalize away some of their editorial objections to whoever’s left over in the runoff.

    Of course, all of this falls under the premise that they have to endorse someone. I’m not sure that’s a written rule, though.

  8. A criteria for endorsement by the Chron which no one wants to speak of is the personal and professional connections the candidate or their supporters might have with Chronicle management and the editorial board. Do not underestimate that. A sure fire winner is a safe choice, but not always the bet choice. Question also becomes just how relevant is the Chronicle endorsement in today’s environment? Surely not what it was 20-30 years ago.

  9. Edward Ybarra says:

    Chron usually endorses candidates they believe will win or likely to win, even though they may not always agreed with said candidate. Chronicle endorsement has not been that relevant since they endorsed Ben Barnes for Governor in the 1972 Democratic Primary. Incidentally, he finished a poor third.

  10. Steven Houston says:

    Carl, up until a fairly short time ago, it seemed the Chronicle would go out of their way supporting King, their former columnist and editorial board member. He could do no wrong and comments contrary to his agenda would disappear with amazing regularity. Then, perhaps for some back room reason, it became fair game to start pointing out his shortcomings, so I suspect there was a falling out because I agree with your point.

  11. Pingback: Endorsement watch: Off to a good start, predictions-wise – Off the Kuff

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