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At Large #1

Chris Oliver joins the At Large #1 crowd

From the inbox:

Chris Oliver

Chris Oliver

Houston Community College Trustee Chris Oliver has announced his candidacy for the open Houston City Council, At-Large Position 1 seat to be filled this November. Chris brings years of experience as a businessman, legislative advocate, and Houston Community College Trustee for District IX to his campaign for Houston City Council.

“It’s exciting,” said Oliver. “I’ve spent a significant portion of my professional career working for the people of Houston helping to empower them through the catalyst of education. I look forward to serving them further as their At-Large City Council Member for Position 1.”

As Houston Community College Trustee for District IX Chris has sought to deliver every student a quality, affordable education. Chris’ long list of accomplishments as Trustee includes overseeing several HCC expansion initiatives, including the opening of Willie Lee Gay Hall on U.S. 288 and Airport. This milestone for the city represents the first time an academic institution of higher learning has reached this corner of the community.

“Education is crucial to the current and future success of all of Houston’s diverse communities,” explained Oliver. “I’ll look to add my perspective to Houston City Council by not just concentrating on community education, but also by focusing on the city’s fiscal future, its infrastructural issues, and the safety of all of our communities.”

Chris was elected to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees in 1995 and served as Board Chairman from 1999 to 2007. His diverse professional career spans serving in the United States Congress as legislative aid, the U.S. Department of Labor overseeing contractor compliance, and owning his own business – Tekoa Property Management Group, Inc., a construction final cleaning company. He will look to leverage these experiences in his role as City Council Member At-Large for Position 1.

“I am looking forward to talking with Houstonians about myself, my candidacy, and my vision for our city,” said Oliver. “I believe that my diverse background as a public servant, small business owner, and as a legislative professional has not only prepared me to lead – it has equipped me with the skills to do so on day one.”

You can see the email here, and you can listen to the interview I did with Oliver for his 2011 re-election here. There’s now at least five candidates in this race, and as I have observed about the Mayor’s race, there likely isn’t the room for all of them to run viable campaigns. At some point, it’s going to make sense for someone to shift to another race, whether the open At Large #4 race, for which there is currently one candidate, or a challenge to an incumbent. We are still very early in the cycle, so there is plenty of time for things to happen.

Lane Lewis announces for At Large #1

Interesting.

Lane Lewis

Lane Lewis

Harris County Democratic Party chair Lane Lewis will run for an at-large city council position, he told Democratic activists Wednesday evening.

Lewis, who has led the county’s party operation since 2011, is running to succeed Stephen Costello in At-Large Position 1, one of two open-seat at-large races next year. Lewis will remain party chair during his campaign.

Several other candidates already have appointed campaign treasurers in advance of runs for at-large positions, though only Philippe Nassif, a local Democratic activist, has specified that he will run for Position 1.

As does Texpatriate, I like Chairman Lewis. Also like Texpatriate, I’m not sure why there’s so much more focus on At Large #1 right now than on any other position. Jenifer Pool may not have officially specified what position she’s running for, but she has been telling people it’s AL1, and her business cards identify her as a candidate for that office. At Large 4, currently held by CM Bradford, will also be open, though no one has yet indicated they will run for it. At Large 5 may be open as well if CM Christie runs for Mayor, and even if he doesn’t I believe he has a glass jaw. I will be more than a little surprised if no one files to run against CM Kubosh in At Large 3. It’s early days and we should expect a lot of activity to begin in a few weeks, but as things stand right now I don’t look forward to the choice I’ll have to make in At Large #1. Stace has more.

Precinct analysis: At Large 1, 4, and 5

Last week, we looked at the competitive At Large Council races. Now let’s look at the three At Large races that weren’t competitive. First up is At Large #1, where CM Stephen Costello won a third term.

Dist Costello Griffin Costello% Griffin% ========================================= A 5,465 4,784 53.32% 46.68% B 5,535 4,291 56.33% 43.67% C 15,767 7,919 66.57% 33.43% D 7,852 6,098 56.29% 43.71% E 7,844 5,554 58.55% 41.45% F 3,241 2,247 59.06% 40.94% G 12,328 7,177 63.20% 36.80% H 5,024 2,492 66.84% 33.16% I 4,702 2,416 66.06% 33.94% J 2,549 1,749 59.31% 40.69% K 6,620 4,643 58.78% 41.22%

This is a solid, across-the-board victory, with no obvious weak spots though perhaps some softness here and there. Greg, who has one of his customary color-coded maps, summarizes as follows:

Costello’s win certainly qualifies as a win and I won’t take anything away from it. There are more than one ways to look at the map below and one of them goes something like “Gee, that certainly is a broad base of support throughout the city.” But it still looks a bit weak when you look at how broad the 35-40% of what I’ll chalk up to as “anti-incumbent” vote.

I don’t think that a bar owner most familiar for his displays of team loyalty in the Luv Ya Blue era of Oiler football qualifies as a candidate with massive amounts of name ID. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s always a given that Griff earns a solid 30-40% of the vote just by putting his name on the ballot.

Keeping the dream alive

It’s an interesting question: How much of the Griff Griffin vote is an actual vote for Griff Griffin, and how much is basically a vote for “not the incumbent”? To try to answer that, because I’m just that kind of sucker, I went back and looked at every previous election that featured Griff somewhere on the ballot:

2011 AL2 (open), 10 candidates, 8.22%

2009 AL2 (Lovell), 4 candidates, 19.97%

2007 AL2 (Lovell), 2 candidates, 47.12%

2005 AL1 (open), 3 candidates, 17.06%

2001 AL4 (open), 5 candidates, 13.73%

1999 District C (open), 7 candidates, 15.32%

January 1997 AL4 (open), 16 candidates, 6.40%

1997 AL5 (open), 9 candidates, 13.45%

1995 AL3 (open), 11 candidates, 11.31%

1993 AL3 (open), 14 candidates, 7.08%

What do we take away from this, other than Griff has a preference for open seat races? Given that he has run in many multi-candidate races where there was likely to be at least one acceptable choice to even the most curmudgeonly, there’s a core of maybe 10 to 15% of the electorate that will choose to vote for Griff. Note that in several of these races, Griff finished third or fourth in the large field of candidates, so by any reasonable accounting he’s at least one step up from a placeholder. Viewed in that light, Costello’s performance looks a little better. And for what it’s worth, the one other time Griff ran in a two-candidate race, he got 47% of the vote against then-CM Sue Lovell. CM Costello easily cleared that mark. Make of all that what you will.

Here’s At Large #4:

Dist Bradford Dadoush Bradford% Dadoush% ========================================= A 7,990 2,228 78.20% 21.80% B 10,861 835 92.86% 7.14% C 17,525 5,185 77.17% 22.83% D 14,861 1,551 90.55% 9.45% E 10,315 3,280 75.87% 24.13% F 4,133 1,388 74.86% 25.14% G 15,450 3,865 79.99% 20.01% H 5,909 1,685 77.81% 22.19% I 5,472 1,780 75.46% 24.54% J 3,422 964 78.02% 21.98% K 10,350 1,824 85.02% 14.98%

Now that’s a dominant victory. CM Bradford made a point of telling me, after I’d interviewed him, that he was not a candidate for Mayor in 2015. It wouldn’t make sense for him to support Ben Hall, he told me, if he wanted to be Mayor in 2015. All that may be true, but it’s hard to look at these numbers and not see a potentially formidable Mayoral candidate. He’d have some tough competition – besides Costello, Sheriff Adrian Garcia is said to be interested in running, and there’s still Ronald Green and a whole lot of others that are at least thinking about it – but after three easy electoral victories citywide, he has to be considered one of the top dogs.

Finally, At Large #5:

Dist Christie Shabazz Horwitz Christie% Shabazz% Horwitz% ========================================================== A 6,709 2,199 1,258 65.99% 21.63% 12.37% B 3,353 6,183 762 32.56% 60.04% 7.40% C 13,603 4,092 4,189 62.16% 18.70% 19.14% D 4,677 9,133 1,209 31.14% 60.81% 8.05% E 9,207 2,315 1,676 69.76% 17.54% 12.70% F 2,852 1,756 817 52.57% 32.37% 15.06% G 15,167 2,441 2,249 76.38% 12.29% 11.33% H 3,345 2,700 1,064 47.05% 37.98% 14.97% I 3,236 2,615 979 47.38% 38.29% 14.33% J 2,337 1,273 635 55.05% 29.99% 14.96% K 4,841 5,009 1,477 42.74% 44.22% 13.04%

Consider this: Ben Hall, who ran a year-long multi-million dollar campaign for Mayor, received 23,055 votes in Council districts B, D, and K, where he needed to run up the score in order to have a chance to make a runoff against Mayor Parker. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, a late filing, low-dollar candidate in At Large #5, received 20,325 votes in those districts, with a higher percentage of the vote in all three. Had the undervote rate been remotely comparable between the two races – 28.03% of all Harris County voters in AL5 simply skipped the race, ten times as many as the 2.76% undervote for Mayor – she would almost certainly have collected more total votes in these districts than he did. Have I made it clear yet how poor a performance Hall had?

As for Christie, he’s sort of the alternate universe in which Bill Frazer gets elected Controller. You can see what Frazer’s path forward might be based on Christie’s better numbers in Democratic districts, and you can also see where Christie could be in trouble against a stronger opponent or pair of opponents, in particular against opposition that gets an earlier start. There are going to be two open At Large seats in 2015, and I won’t be surprised if the winner of the Kubosh/Morales runoff faces a strong challenger. For that matter, the field for Controller is pretty open beyond Frazer if he’s into it. Christie might wind up getting a pass just because there are enough other opportunities available for the ambitious. Regardless, my point is that it’s better to start early than jump in at the last minute. Greg has more.

Endorsement watch: Our first twofer

The Chron has two endorsements today, one that was easy and one that was likely more challenging. First, the easy one.

CM Stephen Costello

CM Stephen Costello

In four years as an at-large city councilman, Stephen Costello has gradually become a “go to” guy on two major issues facing the city of Houston: drainage; and finance and pensions.

Costello, a civil engineer, richly deserves a third term at the council table. We endorse his re-election to At-large Council Position 1.

[…]

Costello acknowledges that he prioritized [ReBuild Houston] projects based on engineering needs, overlooking the need to also address political priorities. That situation is being addressed, he said.

The councilman says he learned a lesson they don’t teach in engineering school. “You have to pay attention to political metrics, too,” he said.

To his credit, Costello has taken a leadership role on council working to solve the employee pension problem, which threatens the city with bankruptcy not too far down the road if left untended.

“We’re in the ‘numb stage'” on pensions, Costello says. To move beyond it, the councilman is working on a matrix showing the alternatives of increasing revenues, reducing benefits and reducing services that should offer a guide to council, taxpayers and the city’s workers to resolve the crisis.

Costello readily acknowledges he plans to run for mayor following his council service. We would recommend that the best way for someone in his position to reach the big office on the third floor at City Hall is to be the best at-large councilman he can be if elected to a third two-year term.

Costello’s Mayoral ambitions are an open secret – I myself noted them earlier this year – but this is the first public acknowledgement of them I’ve seen to date. In any event, Costello is an effective, productive, and well-regarded Council member, and he’s running against the perennialest of perennial candidates, Griff Griffin. It is for situations like this that the word “no-brainer” was coined.

The far more complicated decision was in District A, where the Chron wants to turn back the clock.

Brenda Stardig

Brenda Stardig

Brenda Stardig is the most qualified candidate for that job.

Stardig, a 55-year-old real estate broker, served one term as council member for District A but lost her first re-election race in 2011. Blame that result on extremely low turnout, poor campaigning or anti-government sentiment across the board, but we still believe that Stardig is the right representative for the district.

[…]

“Good schools, good churches, good housing inventory, good infrastructure, good grocery.”

That was Stardig’s mantra when she met with the Houston Chronicle editorial board. It is an agenda that voters should send back to City Hall.

Mike Knox, a former police officer, also stands out as an experienced candidate who would serve district A well. However, we question his disagreement with meet-and-confer for the firefighters pension and his opposition to extending council member terms.

After two years of Helena Brown, it is clear that District A needs a new representative on council. From day one, Brown has prioritized bizarre grandstanding over serving her constituents. She’s accused Republicans of supporting communism, altered staff time sheets, had a questionable relationship with her volunteer chief adviser William Park and requested city reimbursement for a private trip to Asia. And the list goes on. But Brown hit rock bottom when she supported selling a plot of land near an elementary school that the community had been trying for years to turn into a park. While on council, Stardig had successfully blocked the sale. Under Brown, it became a parking lot.

The choice is clear. Vote for Stardig.

“Mantra” is a good word for that quoted phrase. Stardig said it often in the interview I did with her. The way I see it, there are three types of voters in District A: Those who like Helena, those who liked and still like Brenda, and those who want someone else. You can’t say you don’t know what you’re getting with either of the first two. Personally, I thought Mike Knox and Amy Peck both made strong cases for themselves, if one is inclined for there to be a change in A. I also thought Knox had one of the more well-informed answers to my question about pensions and meet-and-confer for the firefighters’ pension fund. He was one of only a few candidates to note that part of the problem we face now is due to the city underpaying into the police and municipal employees’ pension funds in years past. I consider this to be a more nuanced issue than the Chron’s obsessive fixation on meet-and-confer makes it out to be, but hey, it’s their endorsement. In light of that, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that retired firefighter Roland Chavez, who also opposed meet-and-confer when I interviewed him, will not be the endorsed candidate in At Large #3. We’ll see how I do with that. What do you think about the Chron going with Stardig?

Interview with CM Stephen Costello

CM Stephen Costello

CM Stephen Costello

At Large #1 incumbent CM Stephen Costello is running for his third term. While most new Council members spend their first term learning the ropes and staying more in the background, CM Costello made an immediate splash by spearheading the charge for Renew/Rebuild Houston, the charter amendment that created a fee to fund road and drainage repairs and improvements, converting the process from debt service to pay-as-you-go. It was a tight election that had to survive a lawsuit afterward and some controversy surrounding its implementation, but it has transformed the infrastructure process and now offers the city a chance to redo a lot of its roads as Complete Streets. Since then, Costello has been at the forefront of the debate over the city’s long-term finances, as he chaired a task force to study the issue and recommend solutions, and he has worked on diverse issues like food deserts and payday lending regulation. We discussed all that and more in this interview:

Stephen Costello interview

You can see all of my interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates on my 2013 Election page.

July finance reports for At Large candidates

Still plowing my way through all the July finance reports. July and January are very busy months, since everybody has finance reports to do. After I’m done with the city candidates, I’ll be looking at HISD and HCC candidates, then Harris County officeholders and area legislators. Thank $deity the special sessions are finally over.

I’m going to split the At Large candidates into three groups – the three (so far) unchallenged incumbents, the At Large #2 candidates, and the open At Large #3 candidates. Here’s a summary of everyone’s finance reports so far:

Race Candidate Raised Spent On Hand Loan ------------------------------------------------------- AL1 Costello 155,590 42,389 161,646 15,000 AL2 Burks 40,910 17,867 18,042 0 AL2 Robinson 82,454 7,664 52,746 0 AL2 Gordon 1,540 100 1,078 0 AL2 Shabazz AL3 Kubosh 109,057 38,223 85,833 15,000 AL3 Calvert 83,906 18,587 75,318 10,000 AL3 Morales 37,625 2,413 35,211 0 AL3 Chavez 27,255 4,728 23,658 160 AL3 Pool 33,695 28,503 5,192 10,000 AL3 Carmona 0 0 0 0 AL3 Edwards AL4 Bradford 54,225 6,750 51,746 0 AL5 Christie 94,980 36,777 61,588 0

Unchallenged incumbents

Costello report
Bradford report
Christie report

All three are strong fundraisers, though clearly CM Costello is in a class by himself. If the rumblings I have heard about his future Mayoral ambitions are true, he’ll be very well placed in two years’ time. In addition to all of the usual PACs and big name players, with more donations of $1000+ than I’ve seen anywhere else save for perhaps Mayor Parker, the most interesting donation he got might have been the $40 he got from Stuart Rosenberg, who happens to be Mayor Parker’s campaign manager. I haven’t noticed Rosenberg’s name on any other report so far. Since I talked about consultant expenses in my post on Controller finance reports, I will note that Costello spent $36,500 on consultant fees, all of which were recurring expenses for his regular campaign operative. If you’re raising $150K+, that’s a sustainable amount.

CM Bradford, the other sitting Member with rumored Mayoral visions, raised about the same amount as he did in the same period in 2011. Thirty-six hundred of his total was in kind, for use of his personal vehicle and for office space. He had basically no expenses – that was the case for July 2011 as well – so I’m not sure why his cash on hand total isn’t higher. He didn’t file a January report as far as I can tell, and his January 2012 report showed a cash balance of $20K. I presume he had some expenses between then and January 2013, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. I can tell you that his July report showed no expenditures made on consultant services.

CM Christie also had a solid report, and like CM Bradford the last report I show for him is January 2012, when he had only $3K on hand after his bruising runoff win. He made numerous, mostly modest, contributions to various Republican groups, but I didn’t see any Republican officials among his donors. He spent $18K on consultant services, which represents six monthly payments to his primary person.

At Large #2

Burks report
Robinson report
Gordon report

There is a fourth candidate, Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, according to Campos‘ scouting of the filings with the City Secretary’s office. She did not have a report filed as of this publication. Note that Campos lists a Brent Gordon for At Large #2, and his political page has a Trebor Gordon in At Large #3. I think these are the same person, and he filed a second designation of treasurer to reflect that he switched races. But I’m just guessing.

CM Burks is in his first term after finally winning a race in 2011. This will be the first time he’s had to run as a serious candidate rather than as a gadfly. As you can see, compared to some others his report isn’t that impressive. He did get $17,500 in PAC donations ($5K each from HPD and HFD), which feels like it’s on the low end to me, but I didn’t do the math on the other candidates, so I could be wrong about that. I didn’t see any consultant fees, but he did list an expense of $1,250.65 for “placement of 4X8 signs around Houston”. You’ve probably seen a few of them adorning various hurricane fences around town.

David Robinson’s report is more like what you’d expect from an incumbent. You may recall that Robinson finished just out of the money in At Large #2 in 2011, and he made the calculation that I thought someone would that a rematch against now-CM Burks offered better odds than a multi-candidate pileup on AL3. He received contributions from numerous interesting people, including $3000 from Peter Brown, $500 from Anne Clutterbuck, $200 from Kristi Thibaut, and $100 from Sue Lovell, but none stood out to me more than the $1000 he got from chef/entrepreneur Bobby Heugel. I’m going to step out on a limb here and guess that Robinson will be a food truck supporter.

Gordon’s report omitted $8,610 worth of in kind donations, and $10K in pledged donations in its totals. There are always a few candidates who get confused about how to fill in these forms.

At Large #3

Kubosh report
Calvert report
Morales report
Chavez report
Pool report
Carmona report

Al Edwards and Trebor Gordon, if he is a distinct person from Brent Gordon, did not file reports as of publication.

At Large #3 is the one open At Large seat, and it has drawn a large crowd of candidates that can plausibly claim a path to victory. There’s quite a bit of variation in the finance reports, however.

Michael Kubosh

Michael Kubosh

Greg pointed out that Michael Kubosh’s report contained a $72,000 donation from “Felix M. Kubosh”, which would be illegal if it were a contribution from another person. (“Felix M. Kubosh” also made three more contributions, for another $24K, or $96K in total.) This drew a disdainful response from Big Jolly, because everybody knows that “Felix M. Kubosh” and “Michael Kubosh” are the same person. I mean, duh, right? So obvi.

Greg then fessed up to his sad lack of Kubosh family knowledge. I will simply note two things. One is that as far as I can tell, the name “Felix” is not to be found on the Kubosh for Council webpage. Similarly, a Google search for “Felix M Kubosh” does not display the name “Michael” on the first two result pages, though “Michael Felix” does appear on page 3. Suggestive, but hardly conclusive, since for all we know “Felix” is Michael Kubosh’s middle name, and the “M” in “Felix M Kubosh” could stand for Mark or Milton or Madagascar for all we know.

The other thing is that if you do a search on the name “Kubosh” at the Tax Assessor’s website, you will find not only a registration for Felix Michael Kubosh but also a registration for Christopher Michael Kubosh. Perhaps Big Jolly knows how to tell at a glance who is the One True Michael Kubosh, but I’m afraid that knowledge eludes a mere mortal such as myself. Thank goodness we have Big Jolly around to show us the way.

Be that as it may, the fact that Felix M. “Michael” Kubosh contributed $96K of his $109 total means he got $13K from everyone else, and if you subtract out the $5K he got from his brother Paul, he raised only $8K from people not named Kubosh. That casts his report in a rather different light. As to why he contributed to himself rather than loaning it to himself, or paying for things from personal funds with the intent to seek repayment later, since one can only repay a maximum of $15K on a loan to oneself for an At Large seat, I don’t know. I do know that Kubosh spent $19,500 on consultants, so perhaps they can explain the different options for self-funding to him. Kubosh also paid $3975 to one of those consultants for advertising and signage, and donated $5K to the Spring Branch Republicans.

That leaves Rogene Calvert with the strongest report among AL3 contenders. Like David Robinson, she had some interesting donors as well – $5K from Andrea White, $1K from Gordon Quan, and $100 from former County Clerk Beverly Kaufmann. Her expenses were fairly modest as well, so she should be in good position going forward. Remember, no one should ever overestimate their name ID in a race like this. Spend your money making sure the voters have at least heard of you.

One person that might be reasonably well known to the voters is former HCDE Trustee Roy Morales, who ran for At Large #3 twice in 2007, and for Mayor in 2011. He needed only 35 donors to generate that $37K in cash, for an average contribution by my calculation of $1077 per person.

Former Houston firefighter Roland Chavez received $10K from the HPFFA, which is the kind of support you’d expect them to show him, but it means they can’t give him any more unless he makes it to a runoff. He also got $200 from Sue Lovell and $100 from Bill White’s former chief of staff Michael Moore.

Jenifer Pool is one of two candidates in this race to have run for an At Large seat in 2011; Chris Carmona, who filed a report claiming no money raised or spent and who ran against AL3 incumbent Melissa Noriega last time, is the other. Pool’s contributions included $5K in kind. Though she spent a fair bit of money, she had no large single expenditures – I think I saw maybe one or two expenses that exceeded $1000. She had many small listings for consulting services that amounted to things like field work, social media, field supplies, and phone calls.

Al Edwards did not have a report filed as of this posting. I still don’t know what to make of his candidacy.

On a side note, PDiddie complains about the emphasis on finance reports as a proxy for candidate viability. He and I disagree on this point, which is fine and I don’t want to rehash any of that. I will simply note that finance reports are public information that candidates are required to disclose. I believe that information deserves to be reviewed and examined, so that anything questionable can be brought up. How else can we know if the candidates are doing what they’re supposed to do? You can assign any value you want to the contents of the report, I see this as an exercise in transparency.

That’s it for the citywide candidates. I’ll wrap up the Houston elections next with a look at the district races. Any questions or requests, let me know.

Precinct analysis: 2011 At Large races, part 1

Here’s a look at the election returns in each Council district for the three “normal” At Large races, in At Large #1, #3, and #4. First up is #1, where first term incumbent CM Stephen Costello won a narrow majority for a second term.

Dist Costello Galvan Boates Cook ====================================== A 46.25% 7.44% 28.98% 17.34% B 42.41% 9.19% 18.17% 30.24% C 63.58% 5.07% 19.66% 11.68% D 46.48% 8.23% 20.82% 24.47% E 42.68% 6.21% 33.25% 17.86% F 45.46% 9.03% 22.44% 23.07% G 53.55% 3.44% 30.58% 12.43% H 53.68% 18.22% 12.30% 15.80% I 48.36% 22.10% 12.91% 16.62% J 50.64% 9.05% 21.56% 18.74% K 52.14% 7.15% 19.85% 20.87%

Costello’s numbers roughly match those of Mayor Parker – he did a little better in some districts, a little worse in others, and finished about a percentage point higher than the Mayor. A couple of things stand out to me. One, for all of the anti-Renew Houston backlash in District A, Costello didn’t do too badly there; he received as many votes as Brenda Stardig but had a higher percentage of the vote, as there was a greater undervote in his race. The total among his three opponents was about the same as Helena Brown’s total, so who knows, maybe all of the Bob Schoellkopf voters skipped this race. Two, the fact that James Partsch-Galvan was able to score in double digits in Districts H and I is a clear indicator to me that little to no voter outreach was done in those districts, at least for this race. No rational voter, given even minimal information about the candidates, would ever choose Partsch-Galvan. Greg suggests that CM Costello needs to work on increasing his name recognition, and I’m inclined to agree. When people don’t know anything about the candidates they’re voting for beyond the names they see in front of them, strange things happen.

Moving on to At Large #3:

Dist Noriega Carmona Batteau ============================== A 48.35% 34.81% 16.84% B 53.76% 15.36% 30.88% C 66.58% 23.62% 9.80% D 51.89% 14.82% 33.28% E 43.06% 41.43% 15.51% F 49.26% 32.34% 18.39% G 46.92% 40.23% 12.85% H 68.16% 19.62% 12.23% I 70.08% 18.12% 11.80% J 55.64% 26.48% 17.88% K 56.49% 20.80% 22.71%

CM Noriega had over 55% of the vote, which is right in line with her performance in the 2007 special election runoff. She won majorities outside of the Republican districts, though her totals in B, D, and K were likely diminished by the presence of Brad Batteau, even if some people thought he was in another race. Carmona did decently in E and G but was mostly background noise in the rest of the districts. He had less money than Scott Boates did, but as Carmona did not try to have it both ways with his party ID, it probably worked better for him. One more thing to note is how well Noriega did in Districts H and I. Having a Latino name surely didn’t hurt, but let’s not forget that Noriega lives in District I and is pretty well known in and around there. She did better in I than its district Council Member, James Rodriguez: Noriega received 4,282 votes to Rodriguez’s 4,045. Point being, once again, that being known to the voters is a necessary condition for performing to expectations.

Finally, At Large #4:

Dist Bradford Molnar Price ============================== A 59.66% 14.08% 26.26% B 84.79% 4.63% 10.58% C 65.64% 10.81% 23.55% D 83.70% 4.51% 11.79% E 60.52% 12.40% 27.08% F 55.85% 15.19% 28.96% G 67.61% 10.75% 21.64% H 57.52% 17.58% 24.90% I 52.43% 21.77% 25.81% J 57.19% 14.69% 28.12% K 73.82% 7.76% 18.42%

CM Bradford had easily the best showing among contested citywide candidates, and one of the best showings overall. He also did not have something that Costello, Noriega, and Jolanda Jones had: A Republican opponent. My guess is that if you’d thrown a token R into his race – imagine Jack O’Connor moving into At Large #4 instead of the Mayor’s race after leaving At Large #5 – you’d likely move Bradford’s numbers down into the Costello-Noriega range. It’s impossible to say with any certainty, of course. There are so many factors to consider. Unlike Costello and Noriega, Bradford did get the CCLUB endorsement, which surely helped him in the Republican areas, but who knows if he’d have gotten it over a real Republican. I don’t want to understate Bradford’s strength as a candidate – he’s now won two multi-candidate races in a row with large majorities, which is no small feat – but I don’t want to overstate it, either. He was in a different race than his colleagues, and that makes it hard to compare them.

I’m working on analyses of the At Large #2 cattle call, and of course the At Large #5 race as well. Look for them shortly. Let me know what you think of this.

2011 Houston results

Let’s go through the races…

– Mayor Parker won with a shade under 51%, with none of her opponents cracking 15% on their own. Obviously, this is not a position a Mayor with no serious opposition wants to be in, and it won’t surprise anyone if one or more potential opponents for 2013 are on the phone already calling potential financial backers. It’s certainly possible, perhaps likely, that she will face a much tougher challenge in two years. It’s also possible, given a better economy, a less dire budget, and fewer externally-driven issues like a red light camera referendum, that she could be in a stronger position for re-election in two years and that the time to have beaten her was now. Many people thought Rick Perry looked vulnerable after winning with 39% of the vote in 2006, but things don’t always go as you think they will. Often uncertain the future is, that’s all I’m saying.

– Brenda Stardig trailed Helena Brown in District A by 479 votes. She and Jolanda Jones, who led Jack Christie by about 6700 votes, will be headed to a runoff. All other incumbents won majorities, with CM Stephen Costello having the closest race but winning with 51.2%. So much for the anti-Renew Houston slate.

– Only two of the five open seats will feature runoffs. Ellen Cohen in C (53.62%), Mike Laster in J (67.27%), and Larry Green in District K (67.23%) all won. Alvin Byrd (25.11%) and Jerry Davis (24.38%) head to overtime in District B, while the perennially perennial Andrew Burks led the field in At Large #2, garnering 17.33%. Kristi Thibaut came in second, with 15.65%, followed by Elizabeth Perez and David Robinson. This is at least the third time Burks has made it to a city election runoff – he lost to Sue Lovell in overtime in 2009 – and I wonder if he will get any official support. Being in a runoff with Jolanda Jones and a District B race also on the ballot will help him, but beyond that it’s hard to see him doing much of anything. You have to wonder what Michael P. Williams is thinking this morning. Oh, and Eric Dick finished seventh out of ten. Apparently, it takes more than spreading campaign signs like grass seed and putting out puerile press releases to win public office. Good to know.

– Paula Harris and Juliet Stipeche easily won re-election in HISD, as did Chris Oliver in HCC. Carroll Robinson defeated Jew Don Boney by a 55-45 margin to succeed Williams as the District IV Trustee. The closest race of the election, one that will have people gnashing their teeth all winter, was in HISD III, where Manuel Rodriguez barely held on. I’m a staunch advocate of early voting, but you have to wonder how many early-goers to the ballot box may have regretted pushing the button for Rodriguez before his shameful gay-baiting mailer came out.

– There were 123,047 city of Houston votes cast in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, making this election a near exact duplicate of 2007 turnout-wise. There were 164,283 votes cast in Harris County, of which 120,931 were Houston votes, for a Houston share of 73.6%. The final early vote total for Harris County was 60,122, almost exactly what I hypothesized it would be, and the early vote total was 36.6% of the overall tally in Harris. There were 920,172 registered voters in Houston, about 15,000 fewer than in 2009 but 7000 more than in 2007. City turnout was 13.14% in Harris County.

I have my second tour of jury duty today, this time in the municipal courts, so that’s all from me for now. I may have some deeper thoughts later. What do you think of how the election went? PDiddie has more.

UPDATE: Robert Miller offers his perspective.

UPDATE: Nancy Sims weighs in.

Eight day finance reports, part II

Finishing what I started…

Fernando Herrera‘s report appeared on Tuesday. He raised $15,835, spent $27,185, and has $242.87 on hand. There were several expenditures on signs and a couple for “Advertising” that didn’t give me much of a clue about what kind of advertising they may be – there were two items totaling $4060 to Concepts In Advertising, $500 to St. Julien Communications, and $2500 to Van TV 55.2, whatever the heck that is. He also spent $500 on the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity for printing and poll workers.

– In addition to the airplane ad, Jack O’Connor spent $4K on yard signs. I’ve seen numerous Herrera yard signs around my neighborhood, but offhand I’m not sure I’ve seen any O’Connor signs, at least not in any actual yards. Maybe one, I’m not sure. But it’s a big city, and I only see a little piece of it in a normal day. Is there some hotbed of O’Connor support out there somewhere?

– Hatemeister/vanity candidate Dave Wilson spent $33K after loaning himself $35K in the 30 Day report. He dropped $4200 on signs, $14,400 on printing expenses, which I presume means direct mail, and $10,605 on advertising – $5965 at Clear Channel, $4640 at KSEV. This would be a good time to plug your iPod in while driving.

Kevin Simms spent $2000 on online ads, and $350 on phone banking. Good luck with that.

– As for the Mayor herself, her buys are a bit bigger. $686K on TV ads, $26K on radio ads, and $132K on direct mail. And she remains with $1.5 million in the bank, which any story that gets written after the election about potential challengers will have to mention as a barrier.

– District K candidate Larry Green used quite a bit of the green he’d been accumulating, spending $52K. That included three direct mail pieces, for a total of $15K, and three listings for radio ads, totaling $5850. His opponent Pat Frazier didn’t raise much, but between her 30 Day and her 8 Day she listed $25K in loans, borrowing $5K each from four individuals as well as giving herself another $5K. She bought $2K worth of radio ads, and most of the rest of her expenditures were for signs, door hangers, and card pushers.

– I don’t know if it’ll help me get a handle on who if anyone may have an edge in the At Large #2 scramble, but here’s a look at how those candidates are spending money on voter contact, according to their 8 day reports:

Bo Fraga – $9,039 on field, $5,350 on door hangers, $1,277 on signs.

Jenifer Pool – $6,775 on field, $1,455 on signs, and $150 on a print ad.

Kristi Thibaut – $34,599 on direct mail.

David Robinson – $6500 on print ads, $6000 of which went to the Texas Conservative Review, and $31K on “media”, which I know includes TV advertising. Far as I know, it’s him, CM Costello, and Mayor Parker on the tube. He also spent about five grand on postage, but I did not see any expenditures for direct mail, including in his 30 day report. I have no idea what all those stamps are being used for.

Griff Griffin – $1200 for signs, and a bunch of ad buys in neighborhood newspapers, including $633 for the Northwest Leader, $150 for Guidry’s, and $669 for the Bay Area Citizen. Oh, and $720 to the Sacred Heart Society for wine, which is my nominee for best expense report item so far. He’s still too dumb or lazy to list totals, however.

Andrew Burks – Five paid poll workers at $480 apiece plus another $850 for canvassers, and $800 for radio ads on KCOH. Burks had reported a $20K loan from his wife in July, which turns out to be a no-no, but an easily fixed one. He also has over $12K left unspent, which appears to be par for the course for him.

Eric Dick – Another $1700 to Ron the Sign Man, plus $187 on Facebook ads. Spend enough early on making the city your bulletin board, and you don’t have to spend much late. He also paid back a $15K loan to himself, and failed to give any totals on his form.

As of this publication, I do not see 8 day reports for Rozzy Shorter, Elizabeth Perez, or Gordon Goss.

– In At Large #1, Scott Boates spent $8500 on direct mail, $750 on phone banking, and $12K on radio ads, running on KSEV, all from personal funds.

– Finally, in At Large #5, Jolanda Jones spent $61K in all, including $23K on two direct mail pieces, $8K on radio ads, and $7K on polling. I’d kill to see that polling memo. Jack Christie spent almost $63K, $24,500 of which (for a direct mail piece) came from personal funds. He spent another $27,700 on mailers, and $6K on a Texas Conservative Review ad. I have not seen a finance report for Laurie Robinson or Bob Ryan as yet.

I think that does it for me with finance reports. I will post the list of non-filers tomorrow, to give everyone one last day.

Two finance report updates

Since I’ve made a big deal out of who hasn’t filed their 30 Day campaign finance reports, I am compelled to note that as of October 27, Scott Boates in At Large #1 has now filed his. Eight day reports are due tomorrow, and the last 30 Day reports before this one were filed on the 11th, but nonetheless it has been filed.

And since I was one of several people to note Bo Fraga’s apparently illegal $35,000 loan from Lupe Fraga of Tejas Office Products, I am also compelled to note that on the same date, he filed an amended report which reports that the loan has been paid back in full. He now reports a cash on hand balance of $17,733 as of that report, which no longer puts him among the leaders in that race.

Anyway. The 8 Day reports are due tomorrow, and I expect the early filings will start to show up later in the day. I’ve been called for jury duty, so don’t expect me to get to them right away, but I will upload them as I can.

Endorsement watch: Costello and Thibaut

Another day, another twofer as the Chron makes recommendations in the first two At Large races. In At Large #1, they go with the incumbent:

Houston City Council member Stephen Costello, an engineer, is best known as the force behind Rebuild Houston, the initiative to upgrade our city’s ailing streets and drainage system. Given the nation’s anti-tax mood in November 2010, asking voters to approve spending money on infrastructure took nerve. But Costello had faith that Houston was willing to invest in its future.

[…]

Besides Rebuild Houston, Costello has logged other achievements in his first term in office. As chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee, he helped preserve core city services while making the painful cuts that lagging revenues required.

And as at-large Position 1 council member, he made an admirable effort to help people too often underrepresented at the council table. He’s worked to bring grocery stores to “food deserts,” low-income areas where it’s easier to buy French fries than a fresh potato. And he’s now investigating programs to serve the homeless in ways that are both more humane and more cost-effective than addressing their problems in jails and emergency rooms.

For his engineer’s approach to solving problems, for his willingness to pursue long-term solutions and for his willingness to tackle hard problems, we urge the citizens of Houston to send Stephen Costello back to City Hall for a second term.

I’m a fan of people who make a sincere effort to fix problems. I may or may not agree with a given solution, but I figure that as long as we can agree on what the problems are, we can find an agreeable path to resolving it. CM Costello fits this mold very well, and I fully concur with the Chron’s endorsement of him. You can listen to my interview with CM Costello here; I also did interview with two of his opponents, Scott Boates and Don Cook.

The open At Large 2 race is a much tougher call, as there are several strong candidates running. The Chron picked Kristi Thibaut from that group for their choice.

The Chronicle believes former state Rep. Kristi Thibaut has the experience, temperament and idealism to best represent the city’s politically and ethnically diverse population.

As a Democrat in the minority in the highly partisan Texas House for one term, Thibaut proved she can bridge ideological divides and find common ground on tough issues. She was voted freshman of the year by her colleagues. We believe she will be the same positive force on the expanded City Council.

[…]

The Chronicle twice endorsed Thibaut in her state campaigns based on her enthusiasm for public service tempered by practicality and political savvy. We think those qualities will make her an effective addition to City Council.

Like I said, there are several strong candidates in this race. There are also a few jokers. In a low turnout race and a multi-candidate field, it won’t take many votes for anyone to make it to the runoff. Choose wisely, that’s what I’m saying. It helps to know something about the candidates, and to that end here are the interviews I’ve done in AL2:

Kristi Thibaut
David Robinson
Jenifer Pool
Bolivar Fraga
Eric Dick

Stace has more.

Interview with Don Cook

Don Cook

Also running in At Large #1 is Don Cook, who does not currently have a website. Cook ran for this office in 2009 as a member of the Progressive Coalition. He was also the Green Party candidate for Harris County Clerk in 2010. Here’s the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page.

Interview with Scott Boates

Scott Boates

This week I will run interviews with some candidates who are challenging Council incumbents, some of whom entered their races more recently in the cycle. I will finish the Council races with At Large #5 next week, then the Mayor and Controller, and finally on to the HISD and HCC races. Today’s interview is with Scott Boates, who is running in At Large #1. Boates is an attorney who served as a Municipal Judge for six years before stepping down this year. Here’s our conversation:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page.

Tuesday late filers report

This is a semi-regular tracker of late campaign finance report filings for City of Houston elections. I’ll keep this up until either everyone has filed, or we all get sick of it and I move onto other trivial obsessions. With that said, here are today’s contestants:

1. Andrew Burks, District D. Burks actually filed his report on time – it made it onto the city’s CFR website late Friday – but I include him here because I had not been aware he was running, at least not for this particular seat. Burks is a perennial candidate who nonetheless made it into a runoff with CM Sue Lovell last year. As with Griff Griffin, who topped 47% against Lovell in 2007, if he had had any semblance of a campaign or rationale for running other than “there’s nothing good on TV”, he might have actually won. Given that Burks accepted the endorsement of gay-hating Steven Hotze in his runoff against Lovell, I’m glad he lost then and I hope he loses this time as well.

2. Bob Schoellkopf, District A. Like Burks, Schoellkopf filed on Friday; like Burks, I had previously been unaware of his entry into this race; and like Burks, he filed a blank report. These two are the first opponents to district Council members that I know of.

3. Alexander Gonik, District K. Gonik filed a blank report that was posted Sunday. He’s the third candidate to file a report for District K. That is the sum total of my knowledge of him.

4. Bryan Smart, District B. Smart put out a press release Sunday evening touting a fundraising haul of $43,755 in donations, with $24,397.12 on hand. The report appeared this morning. Those numbers dominate those of his opponents, but as with several other candidates, a big chunk of that first figure comes from in-kind donations, including:

– Two $5000 donations, from Ruby Ramirez and Hugo Mojica (who ran in the 2009 special election in H) for “Latino Voter Outreach”.

– A $4000 donation from Jerome Brooks, who sent the aforementioned press release, for “Consulting Services”.

– A $3000 donation from Max Temkin for “Web/Graphic Design”.

– A $1250 donation from the Texas Democratic Party for “Voter File Access”, which I didn’t think you could do as an in-kind donation.

Smart listed less than $1000 in expenditures, so there’s your difference between contributions received and cash on hand.

5. Scott Boates, At Large #1. Boates’ report, which listed contributions of $18,247 and cash on hand of $11,713, was rather a family affair, in that a total of $12,000 – two $5k donations and two $1K donations – came from people with the surname “Boates”. Gotta hit your inner circle first. Boates also loaned himself $1200. On the expense side, he spent $180 each on buttons and balloons, with vendors located in Iowa and New York, respectively, and in my favorite listing since the Pam Holm for Controller koozies, he spent $369.92 at Custom Wristbands in Richmond, TX, for “wristband printing”. I guess those are for entry to the VIP room. Anyway, these are the reports that have been added since last time. The remaining non-filers:

Michael Williams, At Large #2
Griff Griffin, At Large #2
Joe Edmonds, At Large #5
Kenneth Perkins, District B
Randy Locke, District C
Otis Jordan, District K

While going through my archives to find some of the links used in this post, I noticed that Perkins, who was a candidate for At Large #1 in 2009, never filed a finance report that year. I don’t suppose that will change this year. We’ll see who drops off this list tomorrow.

UPDATE: I have since been informed that Otis Jordan is not running, so I have stricken him from the list of non-filers. I have also since received a press release from Jack Christie officially announcing his entry into the At Large #5 field.

Interview with CM Stephen Costello

CM Stephen Costello

We begin the 2011 election interview season with first term Council Member Stephen Costello, elected in 2009 in At Large #1. He had a mission in mind when he ran for office, and that was a plan to fund street and drainage improvements in Houston. That plan became Renew Houston, now known as Rebuild Houston, for which a charter amendment was passed last year. He has also served as the Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee. We chatted about these things and about what he’s working on now, which may surprise you, all of which you can listen to here:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page. My schedule for this will probably be two interviews a week to start, then ramping up to three later and possibly more towards the end. As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Runoff precinct analysis, At Large Council races

Continuing on with the precinct analyses from the runoff, here’s a look at the City Council At Large races. First up, At Large #1:

Dist Derr Costello Derr% Cost% ==================================== A 7,200 8,160 46.9 53.1 B 5,737 4,859 54.1 45.9 C 9,001 9,870 47.7 52.3 D 11,804 7,487 61.2 38.8 E 5,754 9,154 38.6 61.4 F 3,345 3,753 47.1 52.9 G 8,373 14,662 36.4 63.6 H 6,960 4,891 58.7 41.3 I 3,144 3,598 46.6 53.4

Derr did very well in her backyard of District H, and had a fairly strong showing in A and D, while Costello ran strongly just about everywhere else. I have to believe that his financial advantage, which included being on TV quite a bit in the closing days, helped push him over the top. Derr did have a slight lead after early voting – counting absentee and in-person ballots, she took a 28,373 to 27,898 lead in Harris County into Runoff Day – but her surprisingly weak showing in African American areas like District B and Fort Bend County, which Costello carried by over 500 votes, helped do her in. There was a push in the runoff to identify Derr as the Democratic candidate and Costello as not, and I can only presume that it either wasn’t received in sufficient number, or wasn’t perceived to be important enough, perhaps due to Costello’s ad blitz. You have to wonder what might have happened if Derr had spent more money on voter outreach.

At Large #2:

Dist Lovell Burks Lovell% Burks% ==================================== A 8,953 5,571 61.6 38.4 B 3,128 7,773 28.7 72.3 C 12,427 5,962 67.6 32.4 D 8,015 11,974 40.1 59.9 E 7,659 6,834 52.9 47.1 F 3,967 2,966 57.2 42.8 G 12,963 8,770 59.7 40.3 H 7,235 3,721 66.0 34.0 I 3,625 3,036 54.4 45.6

As before, not much to see here. The only places Burks did well were the African American districts, and even there he didn’t really do all that much. If he hoped to get a boost from the Hotze endorsement, I’d say Lovell’s showing in Districts A, E, and G stuck a pin in those hopes. There’s a reason why perennial candidates keep losing.

Last but certainly not least, At Large #5:

Dist Christie Jones Chris% Jones% =================================== A 10,541 5,300 66.5 33.5 B 1,658 10,673 13.4 86.6 C 10,675 9,215 53.7 46.3 D 3,681 17,653 17.2 82.8 E 10,894 4,771 69.5 30.5 F 4,404 2,964 59.8 40.2 G 18,001 6,039 74.9 25.1 H 5,011 6,531 43.4 56.6 I 3,025 4,119 42.3 57.7

You want sharp contrasts, look no further. I’m still boggling over the numbers Jones put up in B and D, which along with Fort Bend were what she needed to hang on. Christie, meanwhile, clearly got a huge bang for all those bucks he and others put into mailers that attacked Jones. All of that activity had an effect on turnout – while the other two At Large races had about the same number of votes as they did in Round One, this race had about 3000 more, with a relatively miniscule 12.64% undervote rate. This race was also a good illustration of the partisan vote patterns – Jones had by far the biggest lead in Harris County in early voting, racking up nearly an 8000 vote advantage from in-person votes, for a net lead of about 5000 overall once absentee ballots are factored in. She then lost that lead in Harris on Election Day. Again, the 2009 pattern seems to be more of what we saw in 2008, with Democrats voting heavily early, and Republicans showing up on Election Day. That may have been the nature of those particular races – the Democratic message in 2008 was long, strong, and consistent about voting early, while the lack of any Republican interest for the most part until late in the game shaped this year’s contests – but it bears keeping in mind as we head into 2010.

I will have some commentary on the two district Council runoffs and the HISD I runoff before closing the books on 2009. As always, let me know what you think.

Initial thoughts on the runoffs

I’ll go through them one race at a time, with the unofficial vote totals minus Montgomery County for each. Once I have precinct results, I’ll go through those and do a more detailed analysis.

Mayor

Annise Parker – 81,971, 52.78%
Gene Locke – 73,331, 47.22%

This was perhaps a bit closer than one might have thought given the most recent poll. At a guess, given the Fort Bend County results, I’d say that African American voters broke more strongly to Locke than had been previously indicated, but that there just weren’t that many of them in the end. Certainly, all the predictions that turnout for the runoff would exceed that of the general were way off. There were about 87,000 votes cast Saturday in Harris County, far less than the 112,000 predicted by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman. In the end, 67,653 early votes were cast in the Mayoral race, or 43.8% of the final Harris County tally of 154,618. In other words, this runoff was just like the last three runoffs in terms of early vote share compared to that of the general. I called it right, and I’m going to gloat a little about that.

Parker’s election has made the national news, and she’s a trending topic on Twitter. Lots of people are going to be talking about this for a long time. I don’t think we fully realize yet the impact her election will have. I think this will make an awful lot of people take a second and third look at Houston, and may finally make some of my progressive colleagues outside of Texas realize that there’s more to the state than just Austin.

Oh, and Parker made history in more ways than one, too. Go Rice Owls!

Controller

Ronald Green – 74,262, 51.48%
MJ Khan – 69,991, 48.52%

Green won early in-person voting by a fairly wide margin, but trailed in absentee ballots and also in Harris on Election Day. This suggests to me that as was the case in November, the early electorate was much more Democratic than the Election Day electorate. That was the case in Harris County last November as well. I sure hope the local Democratic strategists are paying attention to that. Green carried Fort Bend by 2,016 votes but would have won anyway. Oddly, I was more nervous about his chances going into today than I was about Parker’s, but less so about them once the early results were in. I figured if there was an African American surge that could carry Locke to a win, it would bring Green in its wake as well.

City Council At Large #1

Stephen Costello – 67,842, 52.15%
Karen Derr – 62,249, 47.85%

I had no feel at all for this race. The only thing that would have surprised me was a not-close result. Derr led coming into Election Day, but Costello pulled it out. If I had to guess, I’d say his late TV blitz – after not seeing any of his ads in months, I saw it four times this week – was a factor. Surely having such a large financial advantage should mean something. Costello had a fair amount of crossover support, and while I’m sad to see Derr lose I think he’ll make a fine Council member.

City Council At Large #2

Sue Lovell – 68,676, 54.08%
Andrew Burks – 58,317, 45.92%

Lovell has the easiest win of the night in the race with the highest undervote. Make of that what you will.

City Council At Large #5

Jolanda Jones – 69,763, 50.61%
Jack Christie – 68,080, 49.39%

Let this be Exhibit A for how hard it is to unelect a sitting Council member in Houston. It’s hard for me to imagine conditions more favorable for Jack Christie going into Election Day. Ultimately, he could not overcome the Democratic tilt of the early vote. Jones won early in person voting by a 58-42 margin, easily the widest of any candidate, but Christie ran strongly on Saturday, capturing Harris by 53.5-46.5, which combined with the absentee vote put him over the top in this county. Unfortunately for him, Fort Bend was to Jones what it was to Lee Brown in 2001, and that was enough for her to hang on. I voted for Jones, I’m very glad she won, but I have nothing bad to say about Christie, who ran a clean and honorable race. I sincerely hope that Council Member Jones uses this experience to help her channel her considerable talent and smarts more productively.

Houston City Council, District A

Brenda Stardig – 9,258, 56.59%
Lane Lewis – 7,103, 43.41%

Houston City Council, District F

Al Hoang – 4,681, 52.72%
Mike Laster – 4,180, 47.28%

The City of Houston proved its Democratic bona fides, but Districts A and F remained Republican. I’ll be interested to see how the citywide candidates did in each of these districts. Beyond that, my congratulations to the winners and my condolences to the losers. Oh, and in my favorite bit of trivia for the evening, Laster and Hoang split the Fort Bend vote evenly, with 19 ballots apiece.

HISD Trustee, District I

Anna Eastman – 4,959, 50.99%
Alma Lara – 4,766, 49.01%

HISD Trustee, District IX

Larry Marshall – 6,295, 51.15%
Adrian Collins – 6,012, 48.85%

A bad night for the Houston Federation of Teachers, as both of their candidates lost. Conversely, a good night for the HISD Parent Visionaries, who ultimately went three for three in the Trustee races. Lara had a slight early lead, which Eastman overcame, while Marshall led all along for yet another close escape. Again, my congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to the losers.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll have more when the precinct results are in. Chron coverage is here, here, here, and here. Let me know what your thoughts are about this election.

Eight days out finance reports, At Large candidates

Continuing on with our look at the eight days out reports, here’s how things stack up for the At Large Council candidates in the runoffs.

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Derr 26,692 13,034 5,000 5,487 8,650 32.4 Costello 193,225 165,200 15,000 16,065 71,000 36.7 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Derr 0 0 0 0 250 Costello 125,000 0 0 4,200 6,000

First, if I didn’t already know Costello was an engineer, I might have guessed it from his exceedingly orderly finance report, in which PAC and corporate donations were separated from individual ones, and each were alphabetized. As with the general election, he continues to raise money like gangbusters, and is putting a lot of it into TV ads. I have no idea what Derr is doing beyond having a presence at the early vote locations and all those yard signs that have been in place for months. It’s almost bizarre comparing the finances of these two candidates, in that if you knew nothing else you’d expect Costello to win without breaking a sweat. But Derr has nearly all of the establishment Democratic support, and with the primary history of early voters being roughly 60D/30R, with the rest having no primary history, that may be enough. Here are the current and former officeholders and candidates who have donated to each:

Derr – State Rep. Garnet Coleman (500), State Rep. Ana Hernandez (100), former At Large #4 candidate Deborah Shafto (50)

Costello – Lonnie Allsbrooks (200), former Council Member Gracie Saenz (75), UH Board of Trustees President Welcome Wilson (250)

Coleman’s name will appear on the report of every candidate he endorsed. Rep. Hernandez’s husband Greg Luna also chipped in $100 to Derr. Allsbrooks held a meet-and-greet for Costello at Beer Island over the weekend, according to a postcard I got in the mail from Allsbrooks. That’s more mail than either candidate has apparently sent recently.

Moving on to At Large #2:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Lovell 75,104 59,791 0 102,896 39,758 52.9 Burks 12,030 13,118 10,000 964 1,750 14.5 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Lovell 51,255 0 1,500 0 0 Burks 0 1,959 3,000 1,250 430

Again, no real contest in terms of who raised what, though in this case it really is the case that Lovell ought to win, if not that easily. I confess, I don’t get why she’s sitting on $100K in cash – that $51K won’t buy that much TV time (though I did finally see one of her ads on the air, during “The Closer” last night), and there’s little else to her outreach. I might have sent some mail or done some phonebanking or something. We’ll see how it goes for her. Here’s the officeholder/candidate list for each:

Lovell – Coleman (1000), Council Member Jarvis Johnson (100), Don Large (100), District Judge Randy Roll (50), State Rep. Ellen Cohen (50)

Burks – Dexter Handy (100), Justice of the Peace Zinetta Burney (100), Constable May Walker (250), Farouk Shami (1000)

I have no idea what the Shami-Burks connection is. Anyone want to guess?

And finally, At Large #5:

Candidate Raised Spent Loans Cash PAC $$ PAC % =============================================================== Jones 80,248 33,016 0 49,957 22,358 27.9 Christie 42,925 68,714 500 35,844 10,500 24.5 Candidate TV Radio Mail Phone Field ==================================================== Jones 0 8,000 20,000 0 0 Christie 0 956 56,267 5,310 0

Jones has raised a respectable amount, but Christie has spent more, putting a huge sum into an effective attack mailer. She’s still got to be the favorite based on partisan affinity, but this may be the tightest race of the bunch. The list of who gave what to whom contains a couple of interesting bits:

Jones – Burney (150), Saenz (50), Handy (100), Coleman (1000), Ron Reynolds, Democratic candidate for State Rep. in Fort Bend, (250), State Rep. Kristi Thibaut (1000), District Judge Steve Kirkland (250), State Sen. John Whitmire (1000), State Rep. Sylvester Turner (400), Saenz (75), John Sharp (3000), US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (250), Wilson (500), Roll (50), former State Rep. (running again in 2010) Borris Miles (1000)

Christie – Council Member Anne Clutterbuck (10,000), Chase Untermeyer (250), State Rep. Beverly Woolley (500)

Clutterbuck’s $10K donation from her campaign fund is by far the biggest donation from any of the politicos, and is nearly 25% of Christie’s total haul for this period. It’s also the only example I saw of a Council member donating to the opponent of a sitting member. That could liven up some future committee meetings. I guess I have to take back what I said about Ronald Green getting the most donations from colleagues, as it sure looks like Jones has him beat on that score.

Just the district Council races to go. I should have those tomorrow.

At Large #1 runoff overview

I believe this will be the last of the runoff overview stories.

The runoff for an at-large City Council seat has devolved into a battle over the subtle connotations of the phrase “city contractor.”

One of the candidates for Position One, Stephen Costello, has worked as a drainage engineer for Houston, Harris County and numerous municipal utility districts. His opponent, Karen Derr, has said that government contractors like Costello and his supporters view Houston “as a big place to make money.”

“His support is heavily, heavily weighted with people who contract with the city of Houston,” said Derr, 50, who built a successful residential realty firm focused on the Heights area. She recently sold the company, but still has a real estate license. “My support is very broad-based with people who live in the city, regular folks, taxpayers.”

Costello acknowledged that his company, Costello Inc., has received about $3.5 million in Houston contracts over the past 18 years. But he called Derr’s attitude “offensive.”

“The people that back me are people who bring jobs to the city, who bring economic development to the city,” the 56-year-old said.

I get the impression that this race is the farthest beneath the radar among the runoffs. It hasn’t generated a whole lot of heat that I’ve seen. Each candidate has been endorsed by two of their former opponents, Herman Litt and Donald Cook for Derr, Rick Rodriguez and Lonnie Allsbrooks for Costello. For the record, I voted for Derr, but I don’t have anything bad to say about Costello. What do you think about this race?

Hotze endorses Locke

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, and now it’s on its way to a mailbox near you, as local hatemeister Steven Hotze has endorsed candidates in all six City of Houston runoffs and sent a mail piece out touting his preferred slate. Martha has all of the scans of the mailers. Pay particular attention to these two images, which capture the case Hotze makes for and against each candidate. He uses the phrase “radical liberal” six times – interestingly, the one candidate he doesn’t affix that label to is Annise Parker, though he does say she’s “supported by liberal Chicago labor union interests”, whatever that means – and he makes a point of noting that all seven candidates he opposes have been endorsed by the “Gay Lesbian political action committee”. I don’t think you need an advanced degree in literature to be able to read the subtext here.

The question now is whether Gene Locke will live up to his previous statement that he “rejects any association” with this style of campaigning and repudiates Hotze’s endorsement. If he does, he’ll follow the example set by At Large #1 candidate Steven Costello, who to his great credit sent out the following statement:

Today, some people received a mail piece from Steven Hotze with his endorsements in the upcoming city runoff elections. I did not seek this endorsement and I specifically asked not be endorsed by Mr. Hotze. I am running to represent all Houstonians and my door at City Hall will be open to everyone.

Now that’s how you do it. Note that Costello is a member of the Republican Leadership Council, according to the local GOP. Rejecting Hotze like this, when he’s sending mail to people who would have been inclined to support Costello anyway, took real courage, and I salute him for that. Of course, the problem for Locke is that he did in fact seek out Hotze’s endorsement, so this mailer represents him getting what he wanted. This is why Democrats – and that includes Andrew Burks – need to stay the hell away from Steven Hotze and all that he represents. No good can come from associating with him. So what are you going to do about it now, Gene?

There isn’t a story about this in the Chron yet; hopefully, they will fill in some blanks, such as how many pieces Hotze intends to mail. I don’t know if he’s required to fill out a finance report for a city election – I see some SPAC filings among the city campaign finance reports of recent years, but I’m not sure if he falls under that rubric or not. We may not know for sure what he’s up to unless he brags to a newsie about it. If you receive this mailer, please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks very much.

Endorsement watch: Second time’s the charm

Among the runoff elections, only one does not include a candidate that was endorsed by the Chron in the first round. That race is City Council At Large #1, and today the Chron made their choice for the runoff by endorsing Karen Derr.

[Derr] would bring to the position well-honed expertise on quality-of-life issues, including historic preservation and protecting neighborhoods from unwise development.

“We have neighborhood problems that affect our economic growth in Houston,” says Derr, pointing to the negative impact of flooding, high crime and deteriorating infrastructure. If elected she promises to push for more neighborhood patrols by police, an expanded recycling program and improved drainage. She envisions the city evolving into a series of communities connected by expanded light rail, improved bus service and more hike-and-bike trails. “We need more connectivity where areas can keep their culture and distinctive architecture while eliminating blight,” says Derr.

Congrats to Team Derr on getting the endorsement. I presume from the wording of this piece, as well as their past history, that all of the relevant November endorsements will carry through, meaning Ronald Green for Controller, Sue Lovell in At Large #2, Jolanda Jones in At Large #5, Lane Lewis in District A, Mike Laster in District F, Anna Eastman in HISD I, and Adrian Collins in HISD IX are all still their recommended choices. That leaves the Mayor’s race, which as we know was dual-endorsed in the first go-round. You’ll see it in tomorrow’s paper, and I’ll blog about it then, but the word is already out that the Chron has endorsed Annise Parker for the runoff. Yes, no twofers this time – they made a choice, and it’s the right one. More on that tomorrow.

Precinct analysis: City Council At Large races

Moving on to the At Large City Council races. I’m going to look at each of them here. First up, At Large #1:

Dist Cook Litt Alls Cost Derr Rodr Perk Batt ============================================================ A 1,521 1,629 397 4,806 4,144 2,087 919 439 B 1,091 679 252 1,063 1,622 1,466 3,133 1,138 C 1,340 6,626 339 4,423 2,852 1,611 826 673 D 1,689 2,994 526 2,372 3,472 2,026 2,203 2,821 E 1,903 1,287 475 4,842 2,979 2,343 1,104 725 F 1,298 779 193 1,610 1,128 1,153 553 324 G 2,056 3,039 417 8,914 4,218 1,860 1,140 630 H 684 1,309 359 1,635 3,790 3,304 585 334 I 609 671 169 999 1,017 2,976 471 640

I think this is the kind of result you get when you have a lot of candidates, none of whom have citywide name recognition, and not a whole lot of money spent, Stephen Costello somewhat excepted. Costello ran strong in Republican areas, especially District G. I presume that’s where his ads ran on cable. He also led in F and was runnerup in C. Karen Derr did well in her backyard of District H, and reasonably well in neighboring District A. She led in District D, though with a fairly modest 19% of the vote. You can see each of their paths to victory here. Costello needs to amp up his numbers in the Republican and outside the Loop districts while staying competitive in C. Derr needs to dominate the Democratic districts – she has already collected a number of endorsements that went to Herman Litt originally, plus that of the HCDP – and stay close in A and G, both of which reach inside the Loop. She should benefit from having Litt, Rick Rodriguez, and Kenneth Perkins (who as far as I can tell never filed a finance report during this cycle) out of the race. Costello had the benefit of being the only Republican candidate in Round One, and so probably shouldn’t expect too many votes to be transferred to him – he apparently has Lonnie Allsbrooks’ endorsement, judging by the appearance of Costello signs at Beer Island – but the votes he does have should be pretty solid. This one could go either way.

At Large #2:

Dist Lovell Burks Shorter Griff =================================== A 8,333 2,311 940 3,908 B 3,156 3,841 1,684 1,332 C 10,803 2,582 1,254 3,342 D 7,108 6,390 3,039 2,071 E 7,278 3,330 1,175 3,717 F 3,333 1,317 740 1,568 G 11,617 3,404 1,087 5,762 H 5,856 1,708 1,023 1,930 I 3,272 1,434 945 1,233

Not much to see here, really. Lovell came close to an outright win, with Burks and Griff having a nearly equal share of the vote against her. She had majorities in districts A, C, G, and H. She has some issues with the African-American community but still did reasonably well in B and D. I don’t see any path to victory for Andrew Burks that doesn’t include dominating those two districts, and even then it’s unclear how he gets to a majority. You never know what can happen, but I don’t see how Lovell doesn’t win next month.

At Large #4:

Dist Bradford Shafto Freeman Garmon ======================================= A 5,762 2,935 4,031 2,873 B 9,561 666 883 589 C 8,815 2,780 4,261 1,905 D 14,467 1,673 2,884 848 E 6,614 2,604 3,792 3,266 F 3,051 1,227 1,779 959 G 9,296 3,226 5,447 3,942 H 4,942 1,933 2,683 905 I 3,757 1,264 1,517 660

I’m not sure if I underestimated Bradford, overestimated Freeman, or both. It had seemed clear to me that Bradford’s name recognition was a double-edged sword for him – if it had been an unequivocal positive, he’d be our District Attorney right now. By my calculation, he ran about a point and a half behind the average Democratic judicial candidate inside the city of Houston last year, which was enough to hold him back. But if there were any lingering negative effects, it’s just not apparent in the data. He did very well in the African-American districts, easily outpacing Gene Locke in each. He performed well in the three Republican districts, carrying each one and only dropping below 40% in District A. He had a near-majority in Freeman’s home district H, and a clear majority in District I. I don’t know if things might have been different had Freeman been able to raise more money, but it doesn’t really matter. However you slice it, Bradford is Council Member-elect, and all the others who had opponents are in runoffs. You have to tip your cap to him for that.

At Large #5:

Dist Obando Christie Daniels Jones ======================================== A 2,190 8,713 944 4,544 B 843 1,002 940 8,907 C 2,522 6,322 1,532 7,844 D 1,485 1,877 2,727 14,022 E 2,333 9,040 1,143 3,978 F 1,214 3,032 625 2,304 G 2,456 14,922 1,118 5,376 H 2,752 2,536 841 4,735 I 2,156 1,478 725 3,154

When Jack Christie first entered this race, I thought he had a good chance to make things interesting. Then he posted non-existent numbers for the 30 days out report, and I thought it meant his campaign was a non-starter. And then his 8 days out report showed a bunch of spending and I had to reassess again. He showed a lot of strength in the Republican districts, and he did well in C and F besides. I get the impression that the Republican base is more excited about his candidacy than any of the other citywide races, so he should get a lot of his voters back for the overtime period. If he can bring out some new voters, or find a way to grow a little inside the Loop, he can win. Jones, like Bradford, basically maxed out in B and D; I thought it was possible for Davetta Daniels to siphon off some support from her in those districts, but she was a non-entity in B, and didn’t do that much in D. If anything, Jones was probably more hurt by Carlos Obando’s presence in H and I than Daniels’ in D. If she can shore up her support in those places, and keep Christie at arms’ length in C, she ought to win. I think she’s the favorite to win here, but I wouldn’t put it at better than 3:2 odds.

So that’s the end of these analyses. I may have one or two more things to add later. Hope you found this useful.

UPDATE: Greg brings the neighborhood data.

Khan has an announcement

Council Member and candidate for Controller MJ Khan has an announcement to make tomorrow. From his press release:

Who: Councilman M.J. Khan, Candidate for Houston City Controller

What: Press Conference on a major announcement from the M.J. Khan for City Controller campaign.

When: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (after City Council has adjourned)

Where: Steps of Houston City Hall
901 Babgy
Houston, TX 77002

Info: Natural light and sound

I suppose that last bit is for the TV folks. My guess is that he’ll be announcing Pam Holm’s endorsement. I can’t think of anything else offhand that’s likely to occur and would qualify as a “major” announcement. No, these things are not automatic – remember, Sylvester Turner never endorsed Bill White even though you might have thought that would be natural for him to do. I could be wrong – he could just be announcing some other Republican endorsements, which may or may not be truly press conference-worthy. Or he could surprise me and announce the support of some high-profile Democrat, or some other members of Council. But if I had to place a bet, it would be on a Holm endorsement. We’ll know soon enough.

Speaking of endorsements, the HCDP made its endorsements for the runoffs. From their Facebook page:

The Harris County Democratic Party is proud to announce that it has endorsed the following candidates in the City of Houston Runoff Election, which will be held on Saturday, December 12, 2009:

RONALD GREEN for Houston City Comptroller
KAREN DERR for Houston City Council Member, At Large Place 1
JOLANDA (“JO”) JONES for Houston City Council Member, At Large Place 5
LANE LEWIS for Houston City Council Member, District A
MIKE LASTER for Houston City Council Member, District F

In the interest of party unity, the Steering Committee of the Harris County Democratic Party has elected to refrain from making an endorsement in races where two Democrats are running against each other.

In the citywide races and in District F (which you may recall voted strongly Democratic in 2008) this makes a lot of sense; it’s less clear you want to partisanize things in District A, but you do want to make sure your voters get out, so there you have it. As you’ve seen in the Controller’s race and will see tomorrow in the At Large races, improving performance in the core Democratic districts will be key to winning for them.

Eight days out: Spending on voter outreach by At Large candidates

As with the Controller’s race, I took a look at spending on voter outreach for At Large candidates in the 30 day out report. Given that some large number of people have no clue about who is running for these offices, I figured I’d better look at the 8 day out reports as well. Here we go, starting with the big field in At Large #1:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Karen Derr 1,000.00 Advertising (HBAD) Karen Derr 150.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Karen Derr 251.00 Advertising (Allen Jamail) Karen Derr 1,813.78 Advertising (Allen Jamail) Herman Litt 300.00 Advertising (Charity Productions) Herman Litt 600.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Herman Litt 15,998.63 Mailer Herman Litt 1,110.65 Yard signs L Allsbrooks 2,000.00 Signs S Costello 840.13 Push cards S Costello 970.30 Push cards S Costello 80,000.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) S Costello 12,625.00 Production S Costello 79,975.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) S Costello 297.42 4 x 4 signs S Costello 2,846.98 4 x 4 signs Don Cook 315.73 Yard signs Don Cook 432.24 Postcard mailer Rick Rodriguez 1,500.00 Door hangers Rick Rodriguez 650.00 Web ad (Houston Chronicle)

Costello’s media buy is the big news here. You figure that has to be an advantage for him for getting into the runoff, as nobody else is doing anything remotely like it. Only Litt has sent a significant amount of mail, so advantage to him as well. I’ve been getting text messages from the Lonnie Allsbrooks campaign, but did not see an expenditure listed for text messaging; it may have simply been classified as “phones” or “phone service” or some such, however. I also didn’t see anything relating to video production, but that expense may be recent enough to not be in the 8 day report. He does have a contribution of $7280 listed in this report from “The New Beginning hosted by Nosa Edebor”, which I suppose could be an in-kind donation of the video production, but 1) it wasn’t listed as such, and 2) that’s above the $5K contribution limit. There was also a $12,125 contribution from the 30 day report that I’d forgotten about till I went back looking for something that might relate to this, with “friends of Barrett Brown” written in the in-kind box. Not sure what that’s about, but again, over the $5K limit. Oops.

UPDATE: I received the following in response to this:

We, here at the Allsbrooks Campaign, saw your latest blog entry about the At Large Candidates spending on voter out reach. We noticed you had some questions about our expenditures and our contributions.

1. First there is the question of text messages. Those are sent directly from our campaign phone and not by an outside company, so that is included in our “phone service”.

2. Secondly there is the video production of our latest video or slide show on YouTube. That video was done by a friend of Mr. Allsbrooks and will be on our next campaign finance report. Given it came out after the final day of our last report.

3. Lastly there is the question of our actual contributions because they appear to be over the $5000 limit. The “friends of Barrett Brown” and “The New Beginning hosted by Nosa Edebor” were two separate fundraisers that had nothing to do with the video production. The reason they are over the $5000 single person limit is because they were hosted by those people and other people were contributing to the campaign.

Thank you for you time,
Allsbrooks Campaign 09

So there you have it.

At Large #2:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Sue Lovell 30,450.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) Sue Lovell 1,418.04 Mail R Shorter 375.00 Advertising (D-Mars) R Shorter 750.00 Signs Griff Griffin 70.00 Signs Griff Griffin 160.00 Push cards Griff Griffin 300.00 Flyers Andrew Burks 1,957.19 Signs Andrew Burks 376.80 Campaign Literature

My understanding is that Lovell’s purchase is enough for a week on cable – MSNBC was the station I’d heard – but I have not seen a video of her ad, nor have I seen it myself (no surprise since I never watch cable news). Anyone out there seen this? As for the rest, I guess they finally had their fill of Subway sandwiches at Griff’s headquarters, as I saw no more purchases of them. Good news for Lovell that nobody else is spending money, bad news that Griff and Burks come with built-in name recognition, thanks to their tireless efforts to be on a ballot as often as possible. She may win without a runoff, but it’s easy to imagine those two getting 20-25% of the vote each, and that leaves her very little room to get to 50% plus one.

At Large #4:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Noel Freeman 4,354.90 Printing & processing bulk mail CO Bradford 125.00 Radio ad (KWWJ) CO Bradford 75.00 Ad (Williams Temple) CO Bradford 1,000.00 Ad (African American News & Issues) CO Bradford 650.00 Radio ad (KCOH) CO Bradford 1,948.50 Door hangers CO Bradford 2,704.52 Push cards CO Bradford 2,186.65 Campaign signs CO Bradford 420.00 T-shirts CO Bradford 5,347.55 Door hangers CO Bradford 500.00 Texting campaign info CO Bradford 225.00 Ad (Jewish Herald Voice) CO Bradford 300.00 Ad (Our Tribune) CO Bradford 530.43 Yard signs Curtis Garmon 357.63 Car magnets Curtis Garmon 525.01 Push cards Curtis Garmon 1,428.48 Bumper stickers Curtis Garmon 2,458.36 Signs Curtis Garmon 1,200.00 Ad (KSEV)

We knew about Freeman’s mail piece, which attacked Bradford; I’m not sure if that had gone out before and this is a second mailing or if it’s just going out now, but he’ll need it to counter some of Bradford’s outreach. As with Gene Locke, Bradford has a paid field campaign, though of course not nearly as large, and he’s been on the radio. Bradford has the better name recognition, too, which cuts both ways for him. Garmon is basically self-financing – he listed no contributions on his form, and all of his expenditures were filed on the Schedule G form, which is for spending money loaned to oneself for the campaign.

Finally, At Large #5:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Jolanda Jones 8,521.44 Printing Jolanda Jones 23,115.12 Direct mail Jolanda Jones 21,273.92 Direct mail Jack Christie 3,003.94 Signs Jack Christie 5,000.00 Ad in mailer (Tx Conservative Review) Jack Christie 5,000.00 Ad in mailer (HCRP) Jack Christie 8,865.10 Mailer Jack Christie 30,000.00 Mailer

Jones hits the mailboxes in a big way, though as yet I have not seen what she may have sent. Anyone gotten this? Christie did pretty well in this period after having squat to report with 30 days out. He raised $48K, helped by six $5K donations, including one each from Bob and Doylene Perry. He also spent $62K, which includes that $30K mailer, which was a loan to himself. Makes you wonder what things would be like if he’d gotten an earlier start. Regardless, I think his late push has the potential to make this a race again. I still expect CM Jones to win, but Christie could sneak up on her and force a runoff. I did not see any reports for Davetta Daniels or Carlos Obando; at least in the latter case, he may have been distracted.

Coming Monday: Spending in the district Council races.

UPDATE: See the note above from the Allsbrooks campaign. As of this morning, reports from the Obando and Daniels campaigns were available online. Obando had some expenditures on signs, and Daniels had three entries totaling $3500 on “advertising/marketing”, whatever that means.

Roy on the air

Behold the power of Roy:

Just as a reminder, Barack Obama got 61% of the vote in Houston last year. I don’t know how effective a boogeyman he’ll make, though I suppose that depends on where the ad airs. Roy’s eight days out report gives no hint of that, and all we know for sure is “it’s on cable”. If you see this on your TV, please leave a comment and let me know. Houston Politics, Martha, Mary Benton, and Greg have more.

You won’t see this on TV, but At Large #1 candidate Lonnie Allsbrooks sent me a link to the following campaign video on YouTube:

I confess, I’m not exactly sure what the message is that’s being conveyed, but there you have it.

Finally, because some things just need to be linked to, I give you this. I knew this was coming, and yet I was unprepared for it.

Endorsement watch: At Large

Having dispatched with the District Council races yesterday, the Chron continues with the schedule I’d hoped they’d follow by making their endorsements in the At Large races. As I thought, they went with incumbents Sue Lovell in #2 and Jolanda Jones in #5. The other two were not what I thought they’d be.

At-Large Position 1

• In a crowded field of eight candidates vying to replace outgoing incumbent and mayoral candidate Peter Brown, the best choice for voters is health care management specialist Herman Litt, a former trustee and board chairman of the Houston Community College. He is also the past president of Southwest Houston 2000, which focused on lowering crime and spurring economic development in the area.

As a qualification for office, Litt cites his experience as a consensus builder in bringing the fractured HCC board together. He has an imposing list of endorsements, including former Houston mayors Fred Hofheinz and Bob Lanier.

Litt pledges to work to extend Houston’s parks and hike-and-bike trails and to establish a regional crime lab to replace the troubled Houston police facility.

I had guessed they’d pick Stephen Costello, but that was strictly a guess, as there are too many well-qualified candidates in this race to get a good feel for it. Litt is one of those strong candidates and a fine choice, and he does have a lot of backing, though Costello and Karen Derr have won plenty of group endorsements as well. Litt hasn’t done as well with fundraising as I originally expected, but perhaps he’ll get a late push from this. In any event, in a low-profile, low-dollar year like this, the Chron endorsement is likely to be a boost, so my congratulations to Herman Litt for getting it.

At-Large Position 4

• In this seat being vacated by outgoing councilman and controller candidate Ronald Green, one candidate stands out among the field of four. He is C.O. “Brad” Bradford, an attorney, veteran Houston police officer and department chief for seven years under Mayors Bob Lanier and Lee Brown. Not surprisingly, Bradford touts his law-enforcement career as the prime reason voters should put him on City Council.

He says the city needs a long term plan to control the rising costs of public safety, which consumes the bulk of the city’s operational budget. High on his agenda is closing the dilapidated city jail and establishing a joint booking and jail facility with Harris County.

This one surprised me. The Chron endorsed Pat Lykos over Bradford in the DA race last year, saying that Bradford’s “under-aggressive responses” to the HPD Crime Lab scandal “weakened his leadership credentials”. They were also scathingly critical of Bradford earlier in the year for his role in the K-Mart Kiddie Roundup after a settlement was reached in the last of the lawsuits. Add that to Bradford’s campaign finance report issues, and, well, I just didn’t expect them to endorse him. I guess you never know.

Meanwhile, the Chron also disposes of the last of the Constitutional amendments on the ballot by endorsing Prop 10, which would extend the term of office for the governing boards of Emergency Services Districts from two years to four.

Extending the terms is recommended for two reasons: cost and efficiency. Under the current system, in which members serve staggered, two-year terms, elections must be held annually. This is a pointless expense, considering the typically light turnout and, more importantly, the urgent need for longer terms, as Proposition 10 would provide.

Four-year terms are preferable because governing-board members need a threshold of knowledge about the areas of service covered by the ESDs. This is more likely to be achieved with a four-year term than a two-year term. The many ESDs around the state whose boards are appointed would be unaffected by this proposed change.

So it’s unanimous, the Chron says to vote Yes for all eleven props. I’m still not sure about some of the others, but this one seems reasonable enough to me.

Interview with Council Member Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Our next Mayoral candidate interview is with City Council Member Peter Brown, who is currently serving his second term as the Member from At Large #1. Brown is a Houston native and UH grad who served six years in the Army Reserve after graduation. Brown is an architect and urban planner who was elected to City Council on his second attempt in 2005, and he is on the board of numerous non-profits. He is married to Anne Brown.

Download the MP3 file.

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A
Herman Litt, At Large #1
Natasha Kamrani, HISD Trustee in District I, not running for re-election
Alex Wathen, District A
Robert Kane, District F
Council Member Melissa Noriega, At Large #3
Jeff Downing, District A
Mike Laster, District F
Council Member Jolanda Jones, At Large #5
Mills Worsham, District G
Rick Rodriguez, At Large #1
Council Member Sue Lovell, At Large #2
Carlos Obando, At Large #5
Richard Sedita, District G
Jack Christie, At Large #5
Dexter Handy, District G
George Foulard, District G
Alma Lara, HISD Trustee District I
Anna Eastman, HISD Trustee District I
Linda Toyota, HISD Trustee District I
Council Member Ed Gonzalez, District H
Council Member Wanda Adams, District D
Council Member Anne Clutterbuck, District C
Progressive Coalition candidates
Council Member Mike Sullivan, District E
Council Member James Rodriguez, District I
Council Member Jarvis Johnson, District B
Mike Lunceford, HISD Trustee District V
Ray Reiner, HISD Trustee District V
Council Member Ronald Green, candidate for Controller
Council Member MJ Khan, candidate for Controller
Council Member Pam Holm, candidate for Controller
Gene Locke, candidate for Mayor

And here’s Locke’s first ad

We were told that the Gene Locke campaign would begin running an ad on TV next week. It’s on YouTube now, so have a peek:

It’s a good effort. The spot is biographical, and Locke has a substantive resume to discuss, so it touches on a number of accomplishments that has has. Locke comes across a competent, gets-things-done kind of guy. He’s going to need to start talking about issues, but I expect that will follow shortly. This ad did what it was intended to do, now it’s just a matter of making sure it gets seen enough, since Peter Brown’s spots have been so ubiquitous. Greg, KT, Nancy Sims, musings, and Hair Balls have more. Relatedly, David Ortez, who’s been busy with law school, gives his take on Parker and Brown’s first ads. I look forward to his review of this one.

Elsewhere in campaign videos is this second spot by At Large #1 candidate Stephen Costello. It occurs to me that I’m a little surprised more candidates haven’t done this – Greg notes that C.O. Bradford in At Large #4 and Dexter Handy in District G have each done one – as it’s fairly cheap and if done well can get you a decent amount of exposure. Costello’s spot, which is about flooding and drainage, is worth watching. It’s an important if often overlooked issue, and it’s in his wheelhouse as a civil engineer. Check it out.

UPDATE: And here’s David Ortez’s take on Locke’s ad.

Interview with Progressive Coalition candidates

(l-r) Donald Cook, Deb Shafto, Alfred Molison

(l-r) Donald Cook, Deb Shafto, Alfred Molison

I know I said I was finished with Council candidate interviews, but I wound up with one more, and will have two more HISD Trustee interviews to run next week as well. Today’s interview is a bit of a departure, in that it is with three candidates at once. They are Donald Cook, Deborah Shafto, and Alfred Molison, and they are running as the Progressive Coalition for Houston City Council. Cook is a candidate for At Large #1, Shafto for At Large #4, and Molison is running as a write-in candidate in District C. Their platform and priorities are a little different than the other candidates I’ve spoken to, so it was a very interesting change of pace. Give them a listen and see what you think.

Download the MP3 file.

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A
Herman Litt, At Large #1
Natasha Kamrani, HISD Trustee in District I, not running for re-election
Alex Wathen, District A
Robert Kane, District F
Council Member Melissa Noriega, At Large #3
Jeff Downing, District A
Mike Laster, District F
Council Member Jolanda Jones, At Large #5
Mills Worsham, District G
Rick Rodriguez, At Large #1
Council Member Sue Lovell, At Large #2
Carlos Obando, At Large #5
Richard Sedita, District G
Jack Christie, At Large #5
Dexter Handy, District G
George Foulard, District G
Alma Lara, HISD Trustee District I
Anna Eastman, HISD Trustee District I
Linda Toyota, HISD Trustee District I
Council Member Ed Gonzalez, District H
Council Member Wanda Adams, District D
Council Member Anne Clutterbuck, District C

Interview with Rick Rodriguez

Rick RodriguezToday’s interview subject is Rick Rodriguez, who is running in At Large #1. Rodriguez is a 24-year veteran of HPD, where he has worked in a variety of divisions and units, and is now in the Criminal Intelligence Division. He has been the President of the Houston Police Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers. Rodriguez was a candidate in the May special election for District H – you can listen to the interview he did from that election here – and finished fourth in the nine-candidate field. He is a resident of Lindale.

Download the MP3 file

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A
Herman Litt, At Large #1
Natasha Kamrani, HISD Trustee in District I, not running for re-election
Alex Wathen, District A
Robert Kane, District F
Council Member Melissa Noriega, At Large #3
Jeff Downing, District A
Mike Laster, District F
Council Member Jolanda Jones, At Large #5
Mills Worsham, District G

At Large action

We’ve certainly got a fascinating Mayor’s race going on this year, with three viable candidates that can all plausibly claim a path to victory, but it seems to me that there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in the At Large races as well. Marc Campos writes about a development that could affect one of them.

Yesterday, Commentary’s shop sent out an email announcing the supporters for Rick Rodriguez, candidate for H-Town City Council, At Large, Position 1. We will be helping him out this election season. Rodriguez is being taken very seriously. One opposing campaign asked him to consider running in At-Large, Position 4 race – no thanks. Another major interest group asked Rodriguez to run in At-Large, Position 5 – no thanks again. It is pretty obvious to Commentary that local political players know that Rodriguez has a strong base and is a force to deal with. Stay tuned!

Stace made notes of this as well. The email Campos’ shop sent included State Sen. Mario Gallegos, who I’m told made numerous calls on Rodriguez’s behalf, State Rep. and former City Council Member Carol Alvarado, and current City Council Members Ed Gonzalez and James Rodriguez, as supporters. And according to David Ortez, who attended Gene Locke’s event at Doneraki’s on Tuesday, at which Locke announced the endorsement of Gallegos, Alvarado, and several other local Latino leaders, Locke has “informally endorsed” Rodriguez as well. I wish I’d seen that before I conducted my interview with Rodriguez, who was as non-committal about his preferred candidate for Mayor as just about everyone else has been, but oh well. That’s an impressive amount of support for Rodriguez, and established him as someone to watch in a race that already has several strong candidates.

Having said that, Rodriguez still has to establish himself. He finished fourth in the District H special election, with 9.5% of the vote. He entered this race late, and reported essentially no money raised as of July 15. He has not won any endorsements yet; the Tejano Dems went with Herman Litt. All this backing puts Rodriguez on the map, and may position him to get into a runoff, but winning it would be another matter; ask Joe Trevino about that. Let’s not forget, Steve Costello raised a ton of money in the first six months, and has won several endorsements; he announced the support of the Houston Contractors Association and the Houston Apartment Association Better Government Fund today. Herman Litt starts out as a fave among many Dems for all the work he did on things like the Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner last year, and he came out of the gate with a lot of endorsements from establishment Dems. Karen Derr has been running longer than anyone in this race, and has raised a pretty respectable amount, though she didn’t have much cash on hand as of July 15. She has won some group endorsements as well. Lonnie Allsbrooks trails in all of these categories, but I sure see a lot of his signs in yards around where I live. Point being, this is a crowded field, and everyone in it has a base.

So I can understand the reasons why there might have been suggestions to Rodriguez that he consider another race. I’m going to guess that one reason why he might prefer At Large #1 to #s 4 or 5 is that he might not want to wind up in a runoff against an African-American candidate when there’s a strong likelihood Gene Locke will also be in a runoff for Mayor. On the other hand, a lot of the votes in this year’s runoff are likely to come from Districts A and G, and while Locke has certainly spent time courting Republican support, it’s not at all clear to me that those folks would go on to vote for C.O. Bradford and/or Jolanda Jones as well.

And that brings me to the other At Large races. Melissa Noriega in #3 is uncontested so far, and will likely get nothing more than token opposition. Pretty much everyone likes her, and nobody likes running against an incumbent, especially one with good fundraising numbers. Sue Lovell in #2 has three opponents, first-timer Roslyn Shorter plus perennials Andrew Burks and Griff Griffin. Unlike 2007, when Lovell spent a lot of her time helping Wanda Adams, James Rodriguez, and Jolanda Jones get elected and wound up in a surprisingly close race against the do-nothing Griff, Lovell is taking her re-election very seriously this time. She’s raising money like never before. I see no reason why she won’t win easily, but I daresay she won’t take anything for granted.

At Large #4 hasn’t changed from the beginning. Bradford and Noel Freeman are fairly evenly matched. Both have won some endorsements. Neither has raised a ton of money. Bradford has more name recognition, but that’s not necessarily a positive for him. I understand the logic that would go into gaming out various runoff scenarios, as described above, but I still don’t quite understand why At Large #1 has five candidates and this race has (for all intents and purposes) two. And I say that as someone who likes both of these gentlemen.

And finally, there’s At Large #5. A month or two ago, I’d have expected Jolanda Jones to cruise to re-election. Carlos Obando, whom I interviewed recently, is a nice guy and I thought he had some good things to say, but he has no money and no obvious backing, and it’s just hard to knock off an incumbent in our system; it’s only happened once since we adopted term limits. Now Jones has two more opponents, and I daresay a larger number of people who would prefer to vote for someone else, but I don’t see any of that translating into support for any one person yet. All three of her opponents have fared poorly in previous elections – Obando lost a GOP primary for HD134 last year, Davetta Daniels lost by a 2-1 margin for HISD Trustee in 2007, and the less said about Jack Christie’s abortive attempt to win this same At Large #5 seat in 2007, the better. I can envision there being enough of a not-Jolanda vote to force a runoff, and I can envision the challenger coming out on top in that scenario, but until one of these folks shows me something, like winning an endorsement that Jones has lost or getting some establishment support on his or her side, I think the smart money stays on the incumbent. Again, while I understand the reasons for running in At Large #1, I can’t help but think there’s an opening here for someone.

Interview with Herman Litt

Herman LittMy next interview subject is Herman Litt, who is running for At Large #1. Litt is a rehabilitation counselor and hospital administrator who was elected to the HCC Board of Trustees in 1999 and served for awhile as its Chair. He ran for the District C seat in 2005 and finished fourth in the field of seven, but less than four points behind eventual winner and first-place finisher Anne Clutterbuck. Litt is a resident of Meyerland.

Download the MP3 file.

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A

Endorsement watch: HGLBT Political Caucus on Controller and Council races

From Wednesday night’s meeting of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus:

The Houston Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered Political Caucus met on Wednesday evening to endorse candidates in the 2009 Houston municipal elections as well as HISD Board of Trustee elections.

Those candidates screened and then endorsed by majority vote of the membership assembled are:

  • Ronald Green Houston City Controller
  • Lane Lewis Houston City Council District A
  • Anne Clutterbuck Houston City Council District C
  • Wanda Adams Houston City Council District D
  • Michael Laster Houston City Council District F
  • Ed Gonzales Houston City Council District H
  • James Rodriguez Houston City Council District I
  • Herman Litt Council At Large, Position 1
  • Sue Lovell Council At Large Position 2
  • Melissa Noriega Council At Large Position 3
  • Noel Freeman Council At Large Position 4
  • Jolanda “JO” Jones Council At Large Position 5
  • Alma L. Lara HISD Trustee, District I

Previously endorsed for the Office of Mayor is the Honorable Annise Parker

No endorsements were given in Districts B, E, and G. I was there for some of this, though I was outside with the candidates and campaign managers while most of the debate took place. I’m told it was a fairly close vote for At Large #1, as Karen Derr had a decent amount of support. I did step inside for the debate over At Large #5. Carlos Obando had some supporters who spoke on his behalf, but Council Member Jolanda Jones had many more, and in the end she won the endorsement handily.

I have reprinted several press releases from candidates who received the HGLBTPC endorsement beneath the fold. Click on to see them.

UPDATE: Added one more press release.

(more…)

Interview with Lonnie Allsbrooks

Lonnie AllsbrooksReturning to the At Large races, the next candidate for this year’s interview series is Lonnie Allsbrooks, who is running for At Large #1. Allsbrooks is the owner of the Beer Island bar in the Heights and has been in the restaurant/entertainment business his whole career. His entry into this race was sparked by a dispute with the city over a beer-and-wine license for a second Heights establishment. Allsbrooks is a resident of the Heights.

Download the MP3 file.

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A