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At Large #4

Where are the women?

I have several things to say about this.

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

The slate running to replace Mayor Annise Parker features a globetrotting sailor, a triathlete grandfather, a millionaire minister and no women.

Despite the most-crowded pack of mayoral contenders in decades, no female candidates are expected to announce bids this spring, a reality that all but guarantees women will have fewer positions of power at City Hall next year than they had during the last six.

“You are sending a message,” said Kathryn McNeil, a longtime fundraiser who helped elect Parker. “My niece is now 16. For the last six years, she’s seen a strong woman running the city. There’s no question in her mind that a woman could be mayor.”

Though more than 10 candidates likely will appear on November’s ballot, few women even seriously considered the race, which some call a reminder of how much more work Houston’s women must do to achieve political equality.

Some say it creates a less compassionate and less personal, even if equally qualified, field of candidates. It also affects the strength of the democratic process, limiting the diversity of the candidates that voters can choose from when they imagine whom they would like as their next mayor.

“Regardless of who actually wins the race, not having a viable woman candidate can be a disservice for everyone,” said Dee Dee Grays, the incoming president of Women Professionals in Government in Houston.

For the record, in the eleven city elections post-Kathy Whitmire (i.e., since 1993), there has been at least one female Mayoral candidate not named Annise Parker in eight of them:

2013 – Charyl Drab, Keryl Douglas, Victoria Lane
2011 – Amanda Ulman
2009 – Amanda Ulman
2007 – Amanda Ulman
2005 – Gladys House
2003 – Veronique Gregory
2001 – None
1999 – None
1997 – Helen Huey, Gracie Saenz
1995 – Elizabeth Spates
1993 – None

Now, most of these were fringe candidacies – only term-limited Council members Helen Huey and Gracie Saenz in 1997 could have been considered viable, and they were both crushed in the wake of the Lee Brown/Rob Mosbacher/George Greanias campaigns. But for what it’s worth, history does suggest there will be at least one female name on the ballot this year.

Research shows that women nationally need to be recruited to run for office much more than men. That especially is true for executive positions, such as governor or mayor.

Amber Mostyn, the former chair of Annie’s List, a statewide organization that recruits and backs Democratic female candidates, said there is a need for local versions of the organization that would encourage qualified women to make bids for mayor.

“You’ll see men throwing their hat in the ring when they’ve never done the job before and say, ‘I’ll figure it out,’ ” said Mostyn, a Houston lawyer and prominent donor. “Women are very reluctant to do that.”

I’m well aware of the research regarding the recruitment of female candidates. It’s definitely an issue, though I wonder if it will turn out to be a generational one. Perhaps today’s girls and younger women won’t need the same kind of encouragement that their elders currently require. Be that as it may, if there was ever a bad year for that dynamic in the Mayor’s race, it’s this year. I mean, nearly the entire field, not to mention Adrian Garcia, has been known to be planning to run for a long time now. With that many candidates already at the starting line, and presumably working to collect commitments and financial support and campaign advisers, it would undoubtedly be that much harder to make a case for someone else to gear up now and thrown her hat in the ring. As I’ve said many times already, there’s only so much room for viable candidates in this race.

Cindy Clifford, a public relations executive and City Hall lobbyist, said the key to electing a female mayor is to first focus on recruiting women for lower-level elected office and to serve on boards and commissions. That requires a commitment by the city’s leaders to tapping individual women and showing them that they have support.

“If we’re not doing it, no one’s going to come and look for us,” Clifford said. “I always think the cream rises once they’re in the process.”

Council members Brenda Stardig and Ellen Cohen could be joined next year by several top-tier female candidates in council elections this fall, but some worry that the political “pipeline” of female candidates is thin, with few who conceivably could have run for mayor this year. One, Laura Murillo, the head of Houston’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, did publicly explore a mayoral bid last summer before deciding against it.

I would point out that one of the top tier candidates for Mayor this year is someone whose entire political career has been in the Legislature, and that the three main candidates currently running for Mayor in San Antonio include two former legislators and one former County Commissioner. One doesn’t have to be a city officeholder to be a viable Mayoral candidate, is what I’m saying. Hell, none of the three Mayors before Annise Parker had been elected to anything before running for the top job, let alone running for Council. The size of the “pipeline” is as much a matter of framing as anything else. Note also that several women who were once elected to city offices now hold office elsewhere – I’m thinking specifically of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Rep. Carol Alvarado, and HISD Trustee Wanda Adams. Pipelines can flow in both directions.

As for the four open Council slots, the seat most likely to be won by a female candidate as things stand right now is At Large #4, where two of the three announced candidates so far are women. Jenifer Pool is running in At Large #1, but if I were forced to make a prediction about it now, I’d say that a Lane Lewis/Chris Oliver runoff is the single most likely outcome. Two of the three candidates that I know of in District H are male – Roland Chavez and Jason Cisneroz – and the third candidate, former HISD Trustee Diana Davila, is ethically challenged. One’s commitment to diversity does not include supporting someone one doesn’t trust. I have no idea at this time who may be running in District G, which is the other term-limited seat. Beyond those races, any additional women will have to get there by knocking off an incumbent.

One last thing: There may not be room for another viable candidate for Mayor, but that isn’t the case for City Controller. There are three known candidates at this time, with two more thinking about it, all men. A Controller campaign would take less time and money, and would therefore likely be fairly ripe for recruitment, especially given that a female candidate in that race would have immediate prominence. As Mayor Parker, and for that matter former Mayor Whitmire, can attest, that office can be a pretty good stepping stone. Just a thought.

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that HCC Trustee Sandie Mullins is planning to run in District G. That not only adds another female candidate for Council, it also indicates that an HCC seat will be open this fall.

Two more for At Large #4

We know that At Large #1, one of two open At Large seats for this year, has already drawn a crowd. Now the other open seat, At Large #4, is drawing one as well.

CM C.O. "Brad" Bradford

CM C.O. “Brad” Bradford

Laurie Robinson, Amanda Edwards and Larry Blackmon will all run for the at-large city council seat to be vacated by C.O. “Brad” Bradford, according to campaign treasurer designations filed in recent weeks.

Bradford, a former chief of the Houston Police Department, was elected to at-large position four in 2009 and is now term limited. The seat in recent years has been held by an African American.

Robinson, who leads a management consulting firm, lost her race for an at-large seat in 2011, and considered, but declined, a repeat run in 2013. Edwards is an associate at the law firm Bracewell and Giuliani, and Blackmon is a retired school teacher active in local politics.

See here for the announcement about Robinson. A little googling around for Amanda Edwards yields her Bracewell & Giuliani bio page, this Modern Luxury Home profile that notes her work with Project Row Houses, and her nomination for a 2014 Houston Tomorrow Catalyst Award. As for Larry Blackmon, he was quoted in this NYT story from 2003 as an alumnus of Yates High School and parent of a Yates student regarding exaggerated claims about how many Yates kids were going on to college. He’s listed as the director of the Jack Yates Class of 1968 Alumni. Neither has a finance report for January, of course. I’m sure we’ll learn more about them in the coming weeks and months.

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.

Laurie Robinson to run in At Large #4

From Texpatriate:

Laurie Robinson

Laurie Robinson

Laurie Robinson, a local businesswoman, will run for the Houston City Council next year. Specifically, as Houston Chronicle reported Theodore Schleifer reported on Twitter, she will seek out At-Large Position #4. The seat is currently held by Councilmember C.O. Bradford (D-At Large 4), who is term limited. The seat, which was previously held by now-Controller Ronald Green, has historically been held by an African-American officeholder, and this recent history has been noted repeatedly in recent weeks as a plethora of Caucasian candidates have stampeded into At-Large Position #1 and only that position, the other open seat.

A number of other names have popped up for this seat in conversations taking place behind closed doors, but none with enough certainty to be written in ink. Thus far, as noted above, most activity has taken place around Position #1, currently held by the term limited Councilmember Stephen Costello (R-At Large 1), a likely mayoral candidate. As I noted in the article I linked above, Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Lane Lewis will run for the post, as will Jenifer Pool, Philippe Nassif, Trebor Gordon and Griff Griffin. All except Nassif have run for office a few times (Griffin in particular about a dozen times).

Just a nitpicky note here, but it was At Large #5 that was held by African Americans for a long time; in particular, by Judson Robinson from 1971 to 1990, then by his son Judson Robinson III through 1997, then Carroll Robinson through 2001. It was in 2003, when Michael Berry, who had previously served one term in At Large #4 before making an aborted run for Mayor in 2003, won to break the streak, after which we had Jolanda Jones and then Jack Christie. AL4 was held by Anthony Hall and Sheila Jackson Lee before John Peavy won a special election in 1995 to succeed SJL after she ousted Craig Washington in the primary for CD18; Peavy was re-elected in November of 1995, then Chris Bell (’97 and ’99) and Berry (’01) represented AL4. Had Berry not chosen to make a run for Mayor in 2003, thus paving the way for Ronald Green with an assist from Bert Keller’s bumbling campaign, he might have won two more terms there, and then who knows what might have happened. (All data on city elections courtesy of the City Secretary webpage.) Berry himself was the beneficiary of some infighting over whom to support to continue the tradition of African American representation in AL5. Point being, the history is more interesting than what we have been saying, and for a few terms back in the day there were consistently two African American Council members serving at large; there were three following the 1991 election, when little-known Beverly Clark ousted Jim Westmoreland after he was caught making racist remarks relating to the late Mickey Leland and an effort to rename IAH in his honor. Clark served one term and was succeeded by Gracie Saenz. Thus endeth the history lecture.

Aaaaaaaaanyway. Robinson made a decent showing in AL5 in 2011 (my interview with her for that race is here, and though she was rumored to be a candidate for AL3 in 2013, she declined to run, saying she might try again another time. Which appears to be now. As for Griff Griffin, all I can say is that we can’t miss you if you won’t go away.

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: Brad and Graci

Another endorsement twofer from the Chron, this time an incumbent and an open seat. First up, the Chron endorses CM Brad Bradford for a third term.

CM C.O. "Brad" Bradford

CM C.O. “Brad” Bradford

The duties of an at-large council member are not as specific as those of a district council member and At-large Council Member C.O. “Brad” Bradford has some ideas about changing that, which we’ll return to a minute.

But first things first. Bradford, the former chief of the Houston Police Department, has continued to serve this city well in two terms in At-large Position 4. He deserves to be returned to City Hall for a third and final two years at the council table.

[…]

[T]he council member has presented an ambitious proposal to change the Houston City Charter.

Among the ideas? Giving the five at-large council members specific portfolios such as public safety, budget and finance, parks and recreation, etc.

Bradford has drawn a worthy opponent in Issa Dadoush, a former director of the city of Houston General Services Department who is a licensed professional engineer and an MBA.

We encourage Dadoush, now in the private sector, to remain interested in elective service at City Hall. But for the next two years, our clear recommendation for voters is C.O. “Brad” Bradford for City Council At-large Position 4.

I was beginning to wonder when the Chron would get around to the last four races. For this race at least I didn’t expect anything unusual. I don’t have much to add to the Chron’s endorsement. CM Bradford is a sharp guy, and while I don’t always agree with him, he does bring a lot to the table. My interview with CM Bradford is here.

The Chron also endorsed Graci Garces in District I.

Graci Garces

Graci Garces

Whoever represents District I should have no learning curve at City Hall, and be ready to serve families in the district’s Hispanic communities and also booming downtown businesses. An inexperienced city council member risks killing the goose that laid the golden egg. We believe that Graci Garces, with her years of service within local government, is the best candidate for District I.

Once represented by Hispanic political kingpin Ben Reyes, before he was busted in a federal bribery sting, District I has been held by a clean line of succession for the past 12 years. State Rep. Carol Alvarado was elected to that seat for three terms, followed by her chief of staff, James G. Rodriguez, who is completing his third and final term on council. Garces, Rodriguez’s chief of staff, would continue the Alvarado dynasty at City Hall.

That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Lifelong staffers like Garces, 33, lack important private sector experience, and may have a greater sense of loyalty to their mentors than their constituents.

But Garces hasn’t been some behind-the-scenes insider. For the past 10 years, she’s been the eyes and ears for City Hall in District I. Her specific, localized ideas go beyond the usual infrastructure and jobs agenda, with goals of reducing animal overpopulation in neighborhoods and tearing down blight. She’s walked the streets for a decade and knows the area well. After working in D.C. and Austin for a host of Hispanic representatives, Garces will be able to serve as a bridge between government and the community.

Here’s my interview with Graci Garces. The Chron also gave a shoutout to Ben Mendez in their endorsement. Garces is a strong candidate, but as I’ll mention in a subsequent post, I don’t see any of the four having a clearcut edge over the others. Perhaps this will give her a boost towards the runoff. If you live in District I, who is your preferred choice?

Interview with Issa Dadoush

Issa Dadoush

Issa Dadoush

Filing to run just before the deadline against CM Bradford in At Large #4 is Issa Dadoush. Dadoush spent a number of years in city government, serving as the Director of General Services Department for six years under Mayor Bill White, having previously been the Chief of Design and Construction/Lead Assistant Director. He left that job in 2010 to become the General Manager of Construction and Facility Services for HISD – he left that job with a bit of rancor – and from there he became a Commercial Vice President for the Parsons Corporation. Here’s what we talked about:

Issa Dadoush interview

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

Interview with CM Bradford

CM C.O. "Brad" Bradford

CM C.O. “Brad” Bradford

This week we venture back to the At Large Council races, as there were a couple of late filers that brought opponents to previously unchallenged incumbents. One of those incumbents is Council Member C. O. “Brad” Bradford, now in his second term in At Large #4. Bradford is an attorney and served as Chief of Police under Mayor Lee Brown. He has been a strong proponent for an independent crime lab, as the full extent of the crime lab’s problems came to light during his time as Chief. The most prominent critic of Mayor Parker on Council, CM Bradford serves as the Chair of the Ethics, Elections, and Council Governance Committee, and as Vice Mayor Pro Tem. Here’s what we talked about:

CM Brad Bradford 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.

Endorsement watch: Noriega and Bradford

Another twofer, and another easy and obvious choice in At Large #3.

For the past four years Houston has been well served in At-Large City Council Position 3 by Melissa Noriega. We recommend Noriega for a third and final term at City Hall. In her service on council, Noriega has demonstrated a welcome ability to be a team player and consensus builder in city government. The Scarborough High School graduate, hailing from a family with deep roots in education, is herself a career educator, having served 27 years in several key administrative and staff positions at the Houston Independent School District.

[…]

Noriega and the other four at-large council members have a unique role in working with district representatives and, in particular, identifying those areas where quality of life is suffering because of inequities in the placement of capital improvement projects. She is committed to pressing for fairness in this process to help close gaps in the quality of life for residents in different parts of the city.

Melissa Noriega will give all Houstonians informed, energetic representation in a third term as an at-large councilmember. We urge city voters to cast a ballot for Noriega.

You can listen to my interview with CM Noriega here. I think she does excellent work, and I agree with the Chron’s assessment.

The Chron stayed with the incumbent in At Large #4 as well.

In the race for Houston City Council At-Large Position 4, voters have a choice among two attractive political newcomers and a well-regarded incumbent, former Chief of Police C.O. “Brad” Bradford.

With a nod of encouragement to the newcomers to continue with their political efforts in the future, we heartily recommend Bradford for a new term. He brings to council judgment, maturity and wide experience in handling budgets, personnel and management issues.

[…]

C.O. “Brad” Bradford is a significant leadership resource on Houston City Council. We commend him to voters for another term.

My interview with CM Bradford is here, with Louis Molnar is here, and with Amy Price is here. As I’ve noted, the Chron doesn’t usually mention anyone but the endorsed candidate – this is only the third time out of fifteen, and one of those was to castigate the incumbent as they recommended his opponent – so good for them for that.

The Chron seems to have set itself up for an eventful weekend, with At Large #5 presumably coming tomorrow, and Mayor on Sunday. My prediction is that the Chron will decline to endorse CM Jolanda Jones for a third term. They did endorse her in 2009 and in 2007, so I could very well be wrong about this. What do you think?

Interview with Amy Price

Amy Price

Also running in At Large #4 is Amy Price, who is running under the auspices of the Green Party. Price is a violin teacher and professional musician who has performed with such bands as Gordian Knot, The Buddhacrush, and Orange Is In. She’s also someone I’ve known and been friends with for over 20 years. 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.

Interview with Louis Molnar

Louis Molnar

Moving over to At Large #4, one of the candidates hoping to unseat CM Bradford is Louis Molnar. Molnar is a small business owner and realtor who also teaches law, ethics, and urban planning at the Spencer School of Real Estate. Here’s what we talked about:

Download the MP3 file

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

Who has filed so far

Today is the first day of the filing season for Houston Mayor, Controller, and City Council. The filing period runs through September 7. You can see the list of official filers here; as of this moment, it’s Ellen Cohen in C, Mike Sullivan in E, and Larry Green in K. You can be sure that plenty more will follow, including a few you’ve not heard of before, and a few that you might have expected to file will not do so. Nothing is set in stone until September 7, possibly later if there are any disputes over someone’s filing, which is something we’ve seen before in recent elections.

I can add news about two other candidates as well. I have been informed that Joe Edmonds, who had announced his candidacy for At Large #5 but had not been heard from since, will not be a candidate; I will remove his name from the 2011 Election page. Balancing out his departure is the entry of Green Party candidate Amy Price into At Large #4. I should say that Amy is a longtime friend of mine – I’ve known her since my first year in Houston, more than 20 years ago – but I only heard about her candidacy recently and have not as yet discussed it with her. As I said, I’m sure we’ll hear some more new names in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on that filings page and we’ll see who does and does not show up.

Interview with CM Brad Bradford

CM C.O. Bradford

CM C.O. “Brad” Bradford is in his first term of service in At Large #4. A former Chief of Police with HPD and the Democratic nominee for District Attorney in 2008, CM Bradford has been one of the more high profile Council members recently, frequently as a critic of Mayor Parker. I can’t say I’ve always understood his perspective in these matters, but I can say that I came away from our conversation with a fuller understanding of where he’s coming from, and I appreciate that. Give it a listen and see what you think:

Download the MP3 file

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

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.

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.

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.

Correction!

Now that everyone has had a chance to look over everyone else’s campaign finance reports, a number of candidates have made some corrections to their reports.

Former City Attorney Gene Locke and City Controller Annise Parker received money from donors who gave to their campaigns during “contractor blackout” periods. City ordinance prohibits donors from making contributions during the time a contract involving them is awarded or for 30 days afterward.

The Locke campaign returned $15,000 and Parker’s $7,900 after both were contacted by the Chronicle this week and last.

[…]

A review of contributions to the Locke, Parker and City Councilman Peter Brown, who also is running for mayor, showed nine donors over the $5,000 limit — five for Locke, two for Parker and and one for Brown.

[…]

Harris County Board of Education Trustee Roy Morales, who also is running for mayor and has raised a fraction of what his opponents have hauled in , did not appear to have violated any donation limits or regulations.

Actually, if you read the Chron profile of Morales, you’d know that his report did contain at least one “minor error”. Which, as noted in the comments, he would still be held accountable for by the TEC if a complaint were to be filed. I’m just saying.

Meanwhile, the story notes some issues with C.O. Bradford’s report that had been blogged about before, such as the complaint with the TEC that was filed against him.

Others have raised questions about Bradford’s report because more than 60 percent of his total of $112,945 was in-kind rather than monetary donations. These included $7,200 in donations for the value of the use of donors’ property for placement of large political signs.

Several political professionals unaffiliated with Bradford’s or his opponents’ campaigns said they had never heard of this being reported as an in-kind contribution. They suggested it was an effort to create the appearance of greater support.

“He wanted to show the bottom-line funds on his report as higher than he had received in cash donations or checks,” said Nancy Sims, a longtime Houston political consultant who now works in public relations and is blogging about the mayor’s race. “He’s stretched a bit to beef those numbers up and make the race look competitive.”

I’d actually argue that the effect was to make the race look less competitive, as Bradford’s initially reported total far exceeded that of Noel Freeman. In any event, Bradford filed several correction affidavits on the 14th. You can see one of them here, which notes the lowered values of the in-kind donations. As far as I can see, however, looking at the updated report that went with it, the totals and individual contributions reported are still the same. I don’t know if the affidavit itself is sufficient, or if a report that reflects those revised amounts should have been filed as well. If it’s the latter, I believe he still has work to do.

And finally, there’s KA Khan and his clearly bogus non-electronic report, in which he swore in an affidavit that he hadn’t raised more than $20K, then reported that he’d raised $34K. He also didn’t account for the many mailers he’d sent by then. What’s up with that?

Khan said he filed the affidavit because he was unable to get a password to file his report electronically from the city secretary’s office on the day it was due. He said the mailing expenses were not reported because he had not been billed for them yet, although the law requires that expenses be reported when they are incurred.

Okay then. I’ll just note again that in the report Khan filed, it says “I swear or affirm that I have not accepted more than $20,000 in political contributions or made more than $20,000 in political expenditures in a calendar year.” I don’t think “my dog ate my password” is an acceptable excuse for not living up to that, but then you never know how the TEC might rule on a complaint, if one ever gets filed against him. I for one am looking forward to Khan’s eight days out report.

UPDATE: Greg adds on about Khan.

Ethics complaint filed against Bradford

I’ve received word via email that an ethics complaint has been filed against At Large #4 candidate C.O. Bradford, alleging violations in his October campaign finance report. The sender included a PDF of the complaint, but I’m not posting it here as it contained a scan of his drivers license. The details of the complaint are as follows:

Respondent has violated §18-38 City of Houston Code of Ordinances by accepting political contributions in excess of the $5,000.00 personal contribution limit from four separate individuals.

Title 15 of the Texas Election Code defines “contribution” as, “a direct or indirect transfer of money, goods, services, or any other thing of value” and “campaign contribution” as “a contribution to a candidate or political committee that is offered or given with the intent that it be used in connection with a campaign for elective office or on a measure. Whether a contribution is made before, during, or after an election does not affect its status as a campaign contribution.”

Respondent violated limitations on campaign contributions set forth by §18-38 City of Houston Code of Ordinances by accepting political contributions totalling $11,000.00 from Wendy Richard, consisting of separate contributions in the amount of $1,500.00 on March 31, 2009, $1,500.00 on April 30, 2009, $1,500.00 on May 31, 2009, $1,500.00 on June 30, 3009, $2,000.00 on July 1, 2009, $1,500.00 on August 1, 2009, and $1,500.00 on September 1, 2009.

Respondent violated limitations on campaign contributions set forth by §18-38 City of Houston Code of Ordinances by accepting political contributions totalling $7,500.00 from T. Piper Media, consisting of separate contributions in the amount of $1,000.00 on July 1, 2009, $3,000.00 on August 1, 2009, and $3,500.00 on September 1, 2009.

Respondent violated limitations on campaign contributions set forth by §18-38 City of Houston Code of Ordinances by accepting political contributions totalling $10,000.00 from Peter Rene, consisting of separate contributions in the amount of $5,000.00 on April 1, 2009 and $5,000.00 on September 24, 2009.

Respondent violated limitations on campaign contributions set forth by §18-38 City of Houston Code of Ordinances by accepting political contributions totalling $6,000.00 from James Evans, consisting of separate contributions in the amount of $3,000.00 on June 30, 2009 and $3,000.00 on September 24, 2009.

Each of the contributions listed above has been reported on campaign finance reports, Form C/OH, submitted by the Respondent to the Secretary of the City of Houston on July 14, 2009 and October 5, 2009 and made available to the general public on the City of Houston website.

We’ll see what happens. The Texas Ethics Commission doesn’t act with anything resembling haste, so who knows when they’ll give a ruling. Coby, who anticipated that someone would file such a complaint, has more.

Corrections, clarifications, and conundrums

This is a followup to my post from this morning about the 30 days out reports. I’m sure there will be more of this stuff to come, from plenty of folks, but this is what I’ve got as of now.

– First, please be sure to see the updates I made to that post. In particular, be sure to read Martha‘s posts about the reports filed by C.O. Bradford and Roy Morales, and see my update about Phillip Garrison’s report. More generally, David Ortez has some observations about the reports as well.

– I doubt I’ll have the time to closely examine every report in detail, but I took a closer look at a couple that had oddities in them that I wanted to examine. One of them is the report of perennial candidate Michael “Griff” Griffin. Griff, who I can only speculate must really like seeing his name on a ballot, reported no contributions in either July or October, and loaned himself $1000 in April, yet he reports expenditures totaling over $3000 since the beginning of the year. He spent about $2200 before July 1 and a bit more than $800 since then. Needless to say, that doesn’t add up. I don’t know if the expenses above the $1000 loan that he declared should be considered subsequent loans to himself or if there’s something else going on, but regardless it seems to me this is the sort of thing that should be spelled out in a campaign finance report. I realize this is small potatoes, but by the same token, how hard could it be to do that?

– Along similar lines, I note that District F candidate Joe Chow reported exactly zero dollars on hand in both July and October. Yet his October report, which includes a $5000 loan to himself from June, shows that he took in less money than he spent. Now, he listed one single expenditure for the period ending June 30, a printing fee of $120, though he added some more pre-July expenditures in the October report, and given that he raised $5510 in the first six months, I’m sure he has some cash on hand, whether the loan amount is accounted for as cash on hand or not. But you can’t easily tell how much cash he has from what he reported.

– As I said, Griff’s report is small potatoes, though in the context of District F Chow’s totals are much more substantial. I’m pointing them out because they seem like such obvious red flags that I don’t quite understand why the forms weren’t simply rejected out of hand by the City Secretary. How can you leave the boxes for the totals blank, as Griff did? Davetta Daniels in At Large #5 did the same thing. At least in her case the contributions she listed outweighed the expenses, but the bottom line remains that you can’t tell at a glance what her cash on hand position is. Nor can you tell for Chow, who like Daniels appears to have several thousand dollars at his disposal. So I ask again: How is it that a form where certain required values are left blank can get accepted? If this were a web form, they wouldn’t have been allowed to submit it till those boxes were filled in. Shouldn’t the City Secretary do the same?

– Meanwhile, several candidates’ reports are still not available online. Among them are Alex Wathen and Bob Schoelkopf in District A (there’s no July form for Schoelkopf, either); Roger Bowden in B; Otis Jordan and Larry McKinzie in D; Lewis Cook, Peter Acquaro, and Robert Kane in F (no July forms for Cook or Kane, either); and Mills Worsham in G. Bear in mind that quite a few reports didn’t appear until many days after July 15, despite the fact that they had been submitted. I’m just noting this for the record, and will continue to look for them and update the spreadsheet as I find them.

– What is now available are the HISD Trustee candidates’ reports. Ericka Mellon summarizes them for us.

– One other report that isn’t there is for CM Noriega in At Large #3. I am told that unopposed candidates are not required to file a 30 days out report, or an 8 days out report, so that’s the reason for that.

– Finally, on a tangential note, Karen Derr also writes in to say that she has been producing campaign videos as well. I appreciate the update, and invite anyone else that I’ve omitted to correct me on this point.

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

Endorsement watch: SEIU and HOPE

The Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 members have made their endorsements for the November elections. From the press release:

Mayor – Annise Parker
At Large 1 – Karen Derr
At Large 2 – Sue Lovell
At Large 3 – Melissa Noriega
At Large 5 – Jolanda Jones
District A – Lane Lewis
District B – Jarvis Johnson
District D – Wanda Adams
District F – Mike Laster
District H – Ed Gonzalez
District I – James Rodriguez
City Controller – Ron Green

You can read the full release here. I note that they did not mention the At Large #4 race, for which the endorsement status has been the subject of controversy. I sent an inquiry in about this and received a reply that indeed, no endorsement was made. Seems a bit anti-climactic, but there you have it.

Freeman and Bradford spar over SEIU endorsement

Last night, Noel Freeman sent out this press release:

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 confirmed Tuesday during a screening interview with City Council At-Large Position 4 candidate Noel Freeman that his opponent, C.O. Bradford, has falsely claimed to have received its endorsement.

Bradford issued a press release on August 17, 2009 announcing he had received SEIU’s endorsement. According to SEIU officials, Bradford had been asked to remove the endorsement from his campaign website more than a week ago, but as of 11:00 pm on September 1st, the endorsement still appeared on the website.

“I find it disappointing my opponent would attempt to mislead voters by claiming an endorsement he does not have.” Freeman said. “My opponent’s claim that he received SEIU’s endorsement more than two weeks before they even finished screening candidates in this race does a tremendous disservice to the proud men and women of SEIU who take the political process seriously.”

This morning, C.O. Bradford responded with a press release of his own:

“C.O. “Brad” Bradford does have Labor’s endorsement. Noel Freeman’s claim that C. O. Bradford is falsely claiming that he had received the endorsement of the SEIU, Local 1 is not truthful. I am the person that told C. O. Bradford that he had the endorsement of the Harris County AFL-CIO Council and of all of the Unions affiliated with it – including SEIU, Local 1. It is possible that SEIU, Local 1, is reserving their endorsement and they have every right to do so. I gave C. O. Bradford the wrong information. Noel is off base on this one and is stirring up trouble to get attention. The Unions of the Harris County AFL-CIO Council did endorse C. O. Bradford. If one or two of the 77 Unions choose to do otherwise, this is still an endorsement of the whole (thousands and thousands of members who will be informed of the endorsement) of the Labor movement for a very good candidate who will represent Houstonians very well on City Council. Noel Freeman does not have our endorsement,” stated Mr. Richard Shaw, Harris County AFL-CIO Council.

“I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Labor Unions in Harris County. I am committed to helping the thousands of workers who are striving for better conditions, benefits, safety equipment, and training for the greater good of all in our community,” stated Bradford.

Both Freeman and Bradford suggested that I speak to Tiffany Hogue with the SEIU, Local 1 organization. So I did, and this is what she told me:

– Generally speaking, all of the local unions participate in the AFL-CIO screening process, with the AFL-CIO acting as an umbrella organization for this purpose. Each union has the right to conduct its own screenings and make its own recommendations, but most of them follow the AFL-CIO’s lead. This is basically what Shaw said.

– SEIU, Local 1, and HOPE, which is affiliated with AFSCME, is in the process of conducting its own screenings and making its own endorsements for all city races. They have already issued an endorsement of Annise Parker for Mayor, but have not yet completed the screening process for other races. They anticipate doing so and announcing their endorsements in the coming weeks. I specifically asked if this meant that they could endorse Freeman, and she said yes, that could happen.

What that says to me is that Freeman’s claim that Bradford did not have the SEIU endorsement is truthful. On the other hand, Bradford certainly had reason to believe he had the SEIU endorsement once he had won the AFL-CIO Council nod, based on the usual way these things go and on what Shaw told him. I don’t think either of these points is seriously in dispute.

Where it gets dicey is the claim that Bradford had been told to remove SEIU’s name from his endorsement list. Bradford denied being asked by anyone to do this. Freeman says he had several conversations with Hogue about this, that she told him she had asked Bradford to take SEIU’s name off his list, and that when he asked her at his screening interview to confirm that someone had asked him to take it down, she said Yes. Hogue agrees she told Freeman that she had heard that someone had asked Bradford to do this, but she told me she didn’t know who that was, and she couldn’t say for certain that it had happened at all. Freeman, in a followup email, gave specific dates and times for the conversations in which he said he asked about this.

So that’s where it stands. I’m somewhat at a loss for what to make of it. It’s clear there was miscommunication, but it’s not clear where it all comes from. This is hard for me, because obviously I wasn’t party to any of the original conversations, and because I like everyone involved. I don’t know what actually happened, but this is what I’ve been told about it. I don’t know how much this clears things up, but it’s what I know. If I hear more, I’ll update this post.

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 Noel Freeman

Noel FreemanContinuing with the At Large candidate interviews, today we hear from Noel Freeman, who is running in At Large #4. Freeman was a candidate for the At Large #3 special election of 2007, finishing seventh in the field of 11. He is an employee of the city’s Public Works and Engineering department, and he 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
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1

City campaign finance reports followup

A few things to add to last night’s post.

– Ronald Green’s numbers for City Controller are now in – my spreadsheet has been updated to reflect that. He took in $48,515 and has $32,700 on hand. Which is to say, about 10% of what each of his opponents has. You can do the math from there.

– Here’s the Chron story about the fundraising totals, which is all about the Mayor’s race. I agree with Professor Murray that the city’s Republican voters are largely up for grabs. I think even with his non-existent fundraising, Roy Morales will get his share of them – he’s basically the “none of the above” choice for these voters. I also agree with Greg that a lot of these folks may simply not turn out, though with interesting races in Districts A and G, plus a challenge to incumbent Mike Sullivan in E, I don’t think their turnout will be too dampened. It’ll be interesting to see if the Mayor’s race gets fewer votes than the Council races in those districts, however. And who knows what the effect of runoffs in A and G might have on the eventual Mayoral runoff. That may be an even bigger factor down the line.

– I’ve added in all Council incumbents to the spreadsheet, which I didn’t have time to do last night. No real surprises among the reports that were present. Anne Clutterbuck has the most cash on hand so far, while Ed Gonzalez, who was only elected a month ago, has the least. He did report over $50K raised, which I presume is since his previous report on June 5, and I am unaware of anyone currently planning to run against him, so he’s in good shape.

– Clutterbuck, who has Green Party candidate Alfred Molison (no report yet) running against her, and Sullivan are the only district Council incumbents to have opponents so far. Sullivan raised $75,550 and has $83,900 in the bank. His opponent, Phillip Garrison, raised $24,190 and has $21,085 on hand. That would make him a contender in some other races, but he trails the money race by a decent margin here.

– The At Large races are still up in the air. I’m a bit surprised at how little has been raised in At Large #4. Like Greg, I think there may be an opening in that race. I’ve said before that it was awfully late for someone to jump into a race by now, but as neither candidate has piled up a lot of cash, a late entrant would not start out as far behind. A potentially more likely scenario is for one of the #1 candidates to switch over. Neither Karen Derr nor Herman Litt, who clearly has some high profile supporters behind him, have reported yet. Given Steve Costello’s impressive haul, it would not be ridiculous for one of them to think this race has gotten a little crowded, and to contemplate other options.

– Likewise, I’m surprised at the relative lack of cash in District A. I have to assume that will pick up in the next few months. I’ll reserve judgment on F and G until I see some more reports.

– Finally, I think I’ve identified all the candidates in my spreadsheet, though of course we won’t know for sure till the filing deadline. I actually found another candidate in A while searching through the reports, a fellow named Darrell Rodriguez. If I’m missing anyone you know of, please leave a comment and tell me who it is. Thanks!

UPDATE: I’ve made a correction to the earlier post to note tha MJ Khan’s cash on hand is $353K, not $312K.

City campaign finance reports come rolling in

As the campaign finance reports for City of Houston races come online, I’ve been collecting all the reports and putting them together into an easier-to-read format. I’ve also received a bunch of press releases, which I’ll be reproducing beneath the fold. Here are some quick hits.

– According to his press release, Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke raised $1.15 million for the six-month reporting period that just ended. That’s about $200K more than Annise Parker raised, and is a very strong showing, especially for a first time candidate.

Peter Brown‘s press release reports $477,000 raised and over $1.7 million cash on hand. He also reported a loan of $765,000. Even without that, he’d have a sizable lead in COH, as Locke has $574K and Parker $602K.

– All of the Mayoral candidates can claim success, and indeed all of them have – Parker put out another release later in the day today comparing her achievements with those of Locke and Brown. I think they all did pretty well in a tough environment, and I feel confident you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from all three of them starting real soon.

– By the way, in case you’re curious, Roy Morales raised $18,720 and has a smidge under $10K on hand. He’s not going to be a factor. I could not find a report for TJ Huntley as yet.

– On the Controller side, Pam Holm raised $292K, with $348K on hand; MJ Khan raised $87,350 and has $312K $353K on hand. Ronald Green had not yet filed a report. As I said before, he’s got his work cut out for him.

(UPDATE: Fixed MJ Khan’s cash on hand number. My thanks to Andre Castro from his campaign for the correction.)

– For the At Large races, there are several reports missing. The biggest money-raiser so far is Stephen Costello in #1, who hauled in a fairly impressive $156K, with $106K on hand. The only other report I’ve seen so far is for Rick Rodriguez, who raised very little. In At Large #4, Noel Freeman sent out a release claiming $35,985.75 from nearly 175 donors, which edged out Brad Bradford’s $31,285.

– At Large incumbents Sue Lovell and Melissa Noriega each raised over $100K, with Jolanda Jones pulling in $64K. Roslyn Shorter, who is an announced candidate against Lovell, raised no money; Carlos Obando, running against Jones, had not yet filed his report.

– Finally, among the open district seats, the leading fundraisers were Lane Lewis in District A with $34,858 raised and $13,066 cash on hand; Mike Laster in F with $38,629 raised and $31,608 on hand; and Oliver Pennington in G with an impressive $182K raised and $101K on hand. Not everyone in those races has reported yet, so there could wind up being a reshuffling. I’ve put what I’ve got so far in this Google spreadsheet, so check that for further updates.

Beneath the fold are all of the press releases I got. If I get any more, I’ll add them as well. Let me know what you think about how the candidates have done.

UPDATE: Nancy Sims and Greg Wythe weigh in.

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Rerun for Welsh?

Maverick Welsh is a young first-time candidate who exceeded expectations in his initial campaign. I most certainly do expect we’ll see him run for office again.

“I absolutely will run for council again,” Welsh said. “I had way too good a time, met too many wonderful people. I saw too many issues around the city to just go away. I will absolutely run again, I just don’t know when or where it will be.”

The two races he’s looking at closely include giving District H another go in November — due to some changes in polling places he believes could work to his advantage — and running for one of the five At-Large City Council seats.

The At Large races are starting to get a little crowded. There’s a GLBT candidate in each of the two open seat At Large races, so the support Welsh had in this go-round in H may or may not be there for him in one of those. I tend to think a November rematch is unlikely to go any better for the runnerup, but there’s not much history to base that feeling on – pretty much just the 2007 special in which Melissa Noriega beat Roy Morales in June and then again by a wider margin in November – and I’m certainly not going to underestimate Welsh. That said, I wonder if waiting till 2011 and the possibility of a new map that creates a district that joins Montrose and the Heights isn’t the better idea. There are no guarantees that will happen, of course, so it’s as much a gamble as anything else. Worth a mention, though.

Looking back on the race, Welsh said the deck was stacked against him with a large base of institutional support going to Gonzalez. He ran a grassroots campaign, which is one of the reasons he said he did not regret the mail pieces that brought about some controversy in the final week of campaigning.

“I have no regrets at all,” he said. “I don’t believe my mail pieces got personal. Look, I was running against the establishment for District H. Ed had worked in Adrian (Garcia)’s office…I didn’t get personal in the mail, and I think that’s important. You’ve got to look at the race and go with your strategy, and my strategy was that I was the grassroots guy.”

I agree that Welsh was running as the non-establishment candidate, and that the mailers simply reflected that. In fact, I said exactly that when the mailings first came out and caused a stir. I also said I wasn’t sure that was the best strategy in this case. Of course, it’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. I have no idea what, if any, strategy might have worked better. I thought Welsh ran a strong race. I based my vote for him in the first place in part on the fact that I was impressed by the campaign he ran. If and when he does run again, here or elsewhere, it’ll be up to him to figure out how to build on that. I see no reason why he can’t do that, and I look forward to his next effort.

Foulard announces in G, Khan for Controller

With the Legislature out of session (hopefully till 2011) and the District H special election about to wrap up, it’s time to refocus on the November elections for Houston. I think we will have a pretty good idea of who all the candidates are going to be very shortly, modulo a potential surprise or two. One newcomer to add to the mix is a fellow named George Foulard, who becomes by my count the fourth candidate for District G. I actually became aware of him a couple of days ago when he followed me on Twitter, and now I’ve gotten the more traditional press release about him, which I’ve reproduced below. We may get a couple more announcements like this in the next few weeks, but I’d say the window for a serious candidate rollout won’t be open much past July 4. Other than Rick Rodriguez, the former District H candidate who is reportedly looking at At Large #1, anyone hearing of new possibilities out there? Leave a comment and let me know.

Meanwhie, District F City Council member MJ Khan made the formal announcement of his campaign for City Controller in an email to supporters, which I’ve reproduced below as well. Khan’s interest in this office has been known for a long time, so this was just a confirmation of it. He joins fellow Republican Pam Holm, the outgoing City Council member in District G, and Democrat Ronald Green, who is term-limited out of At Large #4, in the race. I find it interesting that there are more Republicans running for Controller than Democrats, given that no prominent Republicans are running for Mayor (sorry, Roy). Bill King, at least, didn’t think that it was winnable for a Republican like him. I think Green is the clear favorite here, but we’ll see if the Controller’s race is any different.

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More candidates

I was just saying to someone the other day that while I thought the fields for the upcoming city races were largely set, there would certainly be a few more candidates appearing between now and the filing deadline. Lo and behold, here are three of which I’m recently aware. Two of them are running for At Large #4: Jay Green, president of the Shady Acres Civic Club, and Sandra Dahlke, whose “Issues” and “Supporters” links open in a new window and give you a 404 error. Probably better to get that sort of thing ironed out before you go live, but there you have it.

Also on the scene is a new Mayoral candidate, TJ Huntley (warning: auto-starting video), who got a mention on the Chron’s Houston Politics blog.

“Like Bill White, I am good in business,” he told us.

But unlike White, Lanier and this year’s crop of better known candidates, Huntley lacks a college degree and says he has never been to a City Council meeting. His real estate business, which he frequently manages via laptop computer from various Starbucks stores in Houston, is in Missouri, he says. He has lived here for about 8 years, he says, because he likes the place. He does not own a home in Houston.

Yeah, I’m thinking that might not go over so well.

Huntley’s entry into the race was too late to get an invitation to the Mayoral forum on the arts on Tuesday; more on that is here. Which, honestly, is fine by me. I’d rather these events were limited to the candidates who have some remote hope of winning. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, this seems as good a place as any to pass along the information that there will be another Mayoral forum, this one hosted by the Texas Business Alliance and focusing on small business development, on Thursday, May 21, at 6 PM at Texas Southern University. A press release from the TBA with details is beneath the fold.

UPDATE: I’ve received some feedback that despite her campaign website, Sandra Dahlke is no longer a candidate for Council.

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More candidates

I was just saying to someone the other day that while I thought the fields for the upcoming city races were largely set, there would certainly be a few more candidates appearing between now and the filing deadline. Lo and behold, here are three of which I’m recently aware. Two of them are running for At Large #4: Jay Green, president of the Shady Acres Civic Club, and Sandra Dahlke, whose “Issues” and “Supporters” links open in a new window and give you a 404 error. Probably better to get that sort of thing ironed out before you go live, but there you have it.

Also on the scene is a new Mayoral candidate, TJ Huntley (warning: auto-starting video), who got a mention on the Chron’s Houston Politics blog.

“Like Bill White, I am good in business,” he told us.

But unlike White, Lanier and this year’s crop of better known candidates, Huntley lacks a college degree and says he has never been to a City Council meeting. His real estate business, which he frequently manages via laptop computer from various Starbucks stores in Houston, is in Missouri, he says. He has lived here for about 8 years, he says, because he likes the place. He does not own a home in Houston.

Yeah, I’m thinking that might not go over so well.

Huntley’s entry into the race was too late to get an invitation to the Mayoral forum on the arts on Tuesday; more on that is here. Which, honestly, is fine by me. I’d rather these events were limited to the candidates who have some remote hope of winning. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, this seems as good a place as any to pass along the information that there will be another Mayoral forum, this one hosted by the Texas Business Alliance and focusing on small business development, on Thursday, May 21, at 6 PM at Texas Southern University. A press release from the TBA with details is beneath the fold.

UPDATE: I’ve received some feedback that despite her campaign website, Sandra Dahlke is no longer a candidate for Council.

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