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Election 2006

Bell ordered to pay $300K to RGA


Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Unsuccessful 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell, once awarded $2 million in his lawsuit against the Republican Governors Association, has instead been ordered to pay the organization $300,000 in legal fees after losing on appeal.

The case dates to the closing days of the 2006 campaign, when the national association wrote two $500,000 checks to the campaign of Gov. Rick Perry, Bell’s Republican opponent.

After losing to Perry by 9 percentage points, Bell filed suit, arguing that the association violated state law by making political donations without appointing a Texas campaign treasurer or supplying a complete donor list. In 2010, Travis County District Judge John Dietz agreed, awarding Bell $2 million, or double the amount of the disputed contribution, as allowed by state law.

Last year, however, the 3rd Court of Appeals overturned Dietz’s ruling, saying out-of-state organizations cannot be penalized for disclosure violations and are not required to designate a state treasurer. Bell appealed, but the Texas Supreme Court declined to accept the case, leaving the appeals court ruling intact.

The appeals court also returned the case to Dietz to determine how much money — if any — Bell owed the association for attorney fees.

Last week, Dietz signed a judgment ordering Bell to pay $300,000 — with an additional $30,000 due if Bell appeals to the 3rd Court of Appeals, plus another $10,000 if he turns to the Texas Supreme Court.

See here, here, and here for the background. Bell is considering an appeal and has until next month to ask for a retrial on the legal fees issue. Judge Dietz is retiring at the end of the year, though, so a new trial would be in front of a new judge. Can’t say I envy him having this hang over his expected Mayoral campaign for next year. Hope he has better luck if there is a next time.

Bell lawsuit award against RGA tossed by appeals court

Some old history got raked up recently.

Chris Bell

An attorney for failed 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is considering appealing a state appeals court’s decision to throw out a $2 million award to Bell in a lawsuit where Bell contended a national Republican organization violated state laws with $1 million in campaign donations to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin tossed the August 2010 judgment by a Travis County judge who ruled in Bell’s favor, agreeing instead with arguments from the defendant, the Republican Governors Association, that out-of-state organizations can’t be penalized for disclosure violations and aren’t required to designate a state treasurer.

Bell’s lawyer, Buck Wood, told the Austin American-Statesman [last] Friday he may ask the appeals court to reconsider its ruling or take the case to the Texas Supreme Court.

“As soon as everyone figures out what I already know, then there won’t be any reporting (of political contributions),” Wood said. “There will be lots of money thrown into Texas, and you won’t have any idea where it’s coming from.”


The Republican governor’s group received money from Houston developer Bob Perry, the nation’s largest individual donor during the 2006 election cycle, and Bell’s lawsuit accused the governor of trying to hide the donation. The governor is not related to the developer.

Bell argued the money was illegally funneled through the organization in the final days of the 2006 campaign.

See here for the background. As William Faulkner once said, past elections are never dead, they’re not even past. My first reaction when I heard this was “Wait, wasn’t there a settlement in that lawsuit?” No, there was a settlement in Bell’s separate lawsuit against Rick Perry over the same thing; see here and here for background on that. I wonder if Perry is kicking himself now for having settled. In any event, I don’t know why we have rules if they never get enforced. Of course, the way things are going at the federal level, we might not have any rules soon enough.

Bell scores $2 million verdict against RGA

Chris Bell racks up his second legal victory related to a lawsuit stemming from the 2006 Governor’s race.

A state district judge Tuesday ruled that the Republican Governors Association violated state campaign finance laws and ordered it to pay Chris Bell, the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor, $2 million.

Judge John Dietz’s order, following a May trial, found that the GOP group failed to disclose two $500,000 donations made to Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign in the final days of the 2006 campaign.

The $2 million judgment comes after it was disclosed this summer that the Perry campaign had paid Bell $426,000 to settle similar claims against him.

Bell can’t comment about the Perry settlement because of a confidential agreement, but he was free to react to Tuesday’s decision.

“People should be glad that there are repercussions when people try to hide the source of campaign donations,” Bell said. “If the judge had ruled for them, most of our election laws would have gone out the window.”

Bell had previously settled with the Perry campaign for $426K. The Chron has more, including the final judgment and findings of fact, which seem pretty clear. The RGA will appeal anyway, so this story isn’t over quite yet.

Perry settles lawsuit with Bell

The settlement in the lawsuit by Chris Bell against the Rick Perry campaign over allegations of illegal campaign contributions to Perry by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is now official.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign paid $426,000 to former Democratic challenger Chris Bell to settle a lawsuit.

Bell, Perry’s unsuccessful Democratic challenger in 2006, sued the Perry campaign a few years ago, claiming that it had accepted contributions that were improperly routed through the Republican Governors Association to hide their true source.

Shortly before giving Perry $1 million in the closing days of the 2006 campaign, the RGA received a couple of major donations from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry.

The Perry campaign paid Bell on March 3, the day after this year’s primary. The money went to Bell personally, not to a political campaign.

Actually, if you read the lawsuit Bell filed, the claim Bell made that he said entitled him to damages was that the Republican Governors Association PAC was not a qualified PAC in Texas at the time of the donation. The Bob Perry issue was mentioned in the suit, but it was a political matter, the idea being that by having him give a million bucks to the RGA, which then sent two donations totaling that amount to Perry, that donation was effectively hidden from public view. (See here for a copy of the original Chron story reporting on that.) You may recall that towards the end of the race, the Bell campaign got an infusion of over a million dollars from Houston trial lawyer John O’Quinn, which Perry used to bash Bell. One can certainly understand why Perry didn’t want it widely known that he was taking a similar infusion from this well-known Republican sugar daddy. But the crux of the lawsuit was the claim that the RGA was not legally able to make a donation to Perry’s campaign at that time because they were not officially recognized as a political organization in Texas. (Or at the federal level, apparently.)

Interestingly, the Houston Chronicle reported [Friday] morning that the Democratic Governors Association, which has given former Houston Mayor Bill White more than $1 million this year, has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Texas donors.

That Chron story is here. I understand the parallel that is being drawn, but unless someone is claiming that the DGA hasn’t filed the proper paperwork as was the case with the RGA in 2006, it has nothing to do with anything. Fortunately, the full Statesman article clears that up.

Whereas the Bell lawsuit alleged that Perry did not properly report contributions from the governors’ group in 2006, White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said White’s campaign made the required disclosures when his out-of-state money came in. The ethics commission confirmed that the proper reports were filed.

It also notes that as Perry has been the Chair of the RGA, some of their abundant resources will likely be headed his way.

The Kinky/Strayhorn effect

As I did my analysis of the Latino vote in the 2006 election, it occurred to me that I had stumbled across a framework for trying to understand what the effect was of Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s candidacies on Rick Perry and Chris Bell. Basically, I would see what percentage of the part vote they got in each State Rep district (SRD), to see if (for example) they were hurt more in areas that were otherwise solid for their partymates. With an assist from Greg Wythe, I got all the relevant data for the 150 SRDs, and went to work. You can see the spreadsheet here (zipped XLS file – it was too big to upload to Google Docs), and a summary of my findings is beneath the fold.

What I did was this: I added up the total Republican and Democratic votes in each of the nine other contested statewide races, and took their average, then computed the R and D average percentage (“R pct” and “D pct” in the header below). I then compared Perry and Bell’s vote totals and percentages to each. “P share” is the ratio of Perry’s vote percentage in that SRD to the average Republican percentage (R pct), and “D share” is the same for Bell. “Diff” is the difference between “P share” and “D share”, so a positive number means Perry retained a higher share of the Republican vote in that SRD than Bell did with the Democratic vote.

While that’s an interesting statistic, what we really care about is how many votes were lost to the third-party candidates. So, I also compared the total votes Perry and Bell got to the party averages in each SRD. “P delta” and “B delta” are the differences between the party averages and the individual totals for each. Finally, I subtracted Bell’s deltas from Perry’s (“P minus B”) to see who suffered the greater loss.

You can see all the data beneath the fold, and you can play with the spreadsheet if you want. Not too surprisingly, as far as the total votes go, Perry and Bell lost the most in the districts where their partymates did the best. That just makes sense, as it’s where the votes are. There wasn’t much of a pattern in terms of vote share in the districts that went the most strongly for one side or the other. Perry and Bell did about as well at retaining vote share overall, though there were some individual variations. Bell tended to do his best at retaining vote share in the African-American SRDs. Perry did well at that in two places: West Texas, and Latino districts. In fact, in SRD31 (Ryan Guillen, Webb County), Perry exceeded the Republican average vote. Bell, by contrast, had some trouble retaining the vote in a number of these districts, though it should be noted that in some of them the overall Democratic vote wasn’t that strong. That as we know is partly a function of the drop in turnout from 2002. But while Perry’s total vote percentage in the Latino SRDs dropped from 2002, it was nonetheless the case that he got his share of what Republican vote there was. Add that to the vote that wandered away from Bell, and it’s clear that there are folks who are open to persuasion. It’s Bill White’s job, and the job of the rest of the Democratic ticket, to keep these voters on their side.


Rick Perry and the Latino vote, part 3

Having looked at the 2002 election last week, I turn my attention now to 2006. This presents a number of challenges, thanks to the bizarre four-way contest that was the Governor’s race. In all my previous work on the 2006 elections, I’ve generally skipped over the Governor’s race because the numbers are so different from all the other races. Today it can’t be helped.

Let’s start with the basics. Here’s how the four candidates did in the 29 State Rep Districts (SRDs) in which the Spanish surname voter registration (SSRV) percentage was at least 50. Note that these are not the exact same SRDs as in 2002. SRD78 was a smidge over 50% in SSRV in 2002, but not in 2006, while SRD140 did not meet the threshhold in 2002 but did do so in 2006. All other SRDs are the same.

HD Perry Bell Kinky Strayhorn ======================================= 31 3,094 8,896 717 1,567 33 9,595 8,996 3,831 5,212 34 9,781 9,354 3,458 4,664 35 9,867 10,337 4,156 6,615 36 3,845 5,766 533 1,812 37 4,054 5,503 828 3,179 38 6,298 6,191 1,009 4,240 39 3,505 5,112 503 2,096 40 2,309 4,545 483 1,747 41 6,370 4,981 1,125 2,748 42 3,741 7,308 1,019 2,699 43 7,176 6,236 1,561 3,721 74 9,812 8,194 3,436 5,269 75 5,223 5,996 1,527 3,278 76 3,502 7,769 1,209 2,953 77 3,840 6,572 1,555 2,741 79 5,534 5,361 1,625 3,577 80 7,595 8,168 2,713 5,030 104 2,347 6,142 1,088 1,409 116 5,178 7,828 2,615 4,044 117 7,357 7,366 2,848 4,932 118 6,561 8,160 2,974 5,482 119 5,318 7,931 2,679 4,836 123 8,114 5,436 3,164 3,983 124 6,257 7,834 2,493 5,165 125 7,498 8,894 3,244 5,584 140 2,168 4,055 871 956 143 2,284 4,273 1,097 1,020 145 2,649 4,904 1,308 1,243 160,872 198,108 55,669 101,802 HD Perry% Bell% Kinky% CKS% ====================================== 31 21.68% 62.32% 5.02% 10.98% 33 34.72% 32.55% 13.86% 18.86% 34 35.88% 34.32% 12.69% 17.11% 35 31.85% 33.37% 13.42% 21.36% 36 32.16% 48.23% 4.46% 15.16% 37 29.89% 40.57% 6.10% 23.44% 38 35.51% 34.90% 5.69% 23.90% 39 31.25% 45.58% 4.48% 18.69% 40 25.42% 50.03% 5.32% 19.23% 41 41.84% 32.72% 7.39% 18.05% 42 25.33% 49.49% 6.90% 18.28% 43 38.39% 33.36% 8.35% 19.90% 74 36.73% 30.68% 12.86% 19.73% 75 32.59% 37.42% 9.53% 20.46% 76 22.69% 50.34% 7.83% 19.13% 77 26.11% 44.68% 10.57% 18.64% 79 34.38% 33.30% 10.10% 22.22% 80 32.31% 34.75% 11.54% 21.40% 104 21.36% 55.91% 9.90% 12.83% 116 26.33% 39.81% 13.30% 20.56% 117 32.69% 32.73% 12.66% 21.92% 118 28.31% 35.21% 12.83% 23.65% 119 25.61% 38.20% 12.90% 23.29% 123 39.20% 26.26% 15.29% 19.24% 124 28.77% 36.02% 11.46% 23.75% 125 29.73% 35.27% 12.86% 22.14% 140 26.93% 50.37% 10.82% 11.88% 143 26.33% 49.26% 12.65% 11.76% 145 26.22% 48.54% 12.95% 12.30% 31.15% 38.36% 10.78% 19.71%

Perry’s percentage drops a bit from 2002, while Bell’s percentage is dramatically lower than Sanchez’s. I’ll get into the details of that in a minute, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that there were two SRDs in which Perry received more votes in 2006 than in 2002, even though his overall total in these districts declined from 232,177 to 160,872. Those districts were SRDs 31 and 42, both of which include Sanchez’s home base of Webb County and which were easily his best-performing SRDs. They’re also the SRDs with the highest (SRD 31, 91.2%) and third-highest (SRD 42, 85.9%) SSRV. In the district with the second-highest SSRV (SRD40, 88%), Perry’s 2006 vote total was 81.6% of what it was in 2002, but given that his overall vote total was only 69.2% of what it was in 2002, that’s not bad at all.

As with 2002, I then compared Perry’s performance with four other Republican candidates. As before, I used the Senate and Lt. Gov. races, but this time I looked at the Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner races for the other two, as the downballot races were where Democrats did the best. Here’s how that looked:

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio ================================================ Senate Hutchison 2,661,789 63.12 0.62 Lt. Governor Dewhurst 2,513,530 60.85 0.65 Ag Commish Staples 2,307,406 56.72 0.69 RR Commish Ames Jones 2,269,743 56.42 0.70 Governor Perry 1,716,792 39.37 1.00 Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio State ======================================================= Senate Hutchison 243,158 49.20 0.63 0.62 Lt. Governor Dewhurst 211.977 43.28 0.72 0.65 Ag Commish Staples 187,330 39.39 0.79 0.69 RR Commish Ames Jones 188,359 40.68 0.77 0.70 Governor Perry 160,872 31.15 1.00 1.00

Unlike 2002, Perry performed better relative to other Republicans across the board in 2006. Since it would not necessarily be the case that Bell’s relative performance would be the inverse of Perry’s, I checked that as well:

Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio ================================================ Senate Radnofsky 1,555,202 36.88 0.81 Lt. Governor Alvarado 1,617,490 39.15 0.77 Ag Commish Gilbert 1,760,402 43.28 0.69 RR Commish Henry 1,752,947 43.58 0.69 Governor Bell 1,310,337 29.97 1.00 Race Candidate Votes Pct Ratio State ======================================================= Senate Radnofsky 251,022 50.80 0.76 0.81 Lt. Governor Alvarado 277,788 56.72 0.72 0.77 Ag Commish Gilbert 288,303 60.61 0.63 0.69 RR Commish Henry 274,721 59.32 0.65 0.69 Governor Bell 198,108 38.36 1.00 1.00

Indeed, Bell did do worse relative to other Democrats. This suggests to me that he was hurt more by the presence of Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Rylander in these districts than Perry was. My guess is that the reverse may be true in red areas, but that’s a post for another time.

Finally, we have to consider turnout here, and the effect that the overall lesser turnout may have had on each side. I took the four non-Governor’s races from each year and compared the totals in each of the common SRDs:

HD R Tot D Tot R Avg D Avg 2002 R% 2002 D% 31 9,680 61,788 2,420 15,447 13.54% 86.46% 33 50,184 62,661 12,546 15,665 44.47% 55.53% 34 54,074 57,600 13,519 14,400 48.42% 51.58% 35 59,829 67,349 14,957 16,837 47.04% 52.96% 36 17,447 51,982 4,362 12,996 25.13% 74.87% 37 17,562 39,030 4,391 9,758 31.03% 68.97% 38 27,565 44,873 6,891 11,218 38.05% 61.95% 39 19,088 44,219 4,772 11,055 30.15% 69.85% 40 10,571 42,410 2,643 10,603 19.95% 80.05% 41 35,185 39,008 8,796 9,752 47.42% 52.58% 42 22,601 90,335 5,650 22,584 20.01% 79.99% 43 36,529 57,211 9,132 14,303 38.97% 61.03% 74 53,337 60,369 13,334 15,092 46.91% 53.09% 75 22,776 43,592 5,694 10,898 34.32% 65.68% 76 15,391 61,788 3,848 15,447 19.94% 80.06% 77 18,797 47,873 4,699 11,968 28.19% 71.81% 79 27,140 40,596 6,785 10,149 40.07% 59.93% 80 42,063 58,150 10,516 14,538 41.97% 58.03% 104 15,605 37,932 3,901 9,483 29.15% 70.85% 116 36,438 48,683 9,110 12,171 42.81% 57.19% 117 39,691 40,307 9,923 10,077 49.61% 50.39% 118 39,867 45,324 9,967 11,331 46.80% 53.20% 119 35,600 49,944 8,900 12,486 41.62% 58.38% 123 39,940 51,019 9,985 12,755 43.91% 56.09% 124 37,774 47,238 9,444 11,810 44.43% 55.57% 125 48,220 53,471 12,055 13,368 47.42% 52.58% 143 15,890 33,709 3,973 8,427 32.04% 67.96% 145 19,341 34,858 4,835 8,715 35.69% 64.31% 868,185 1,413,319 217,046 353,330 38.05% 61.95% HD R Tot D Tot R Avg D Avg 2006 R% 2006 D% 31 9,408 43,773 2,352 10,943 17.69% 82.31% 32 50,671 51,515 12,668 12,879 49.59% 50.41% 34 52,947 49,150 13,237 12,288 51.86% 48.14% 35 60,151 55,072 15,038 13,768 52.20% 47.80% 36 15,498 29,340 3,875 7,335 34.56% 65.44% 37 17,958 31,196 4,490 7,799 36.53% 63.47% 38 27,804 36,470 6,951 9,118 43.26% 56.74% 39 15,390 26,989 3,848 6,747 36.32% 63.68% 40 10,023 24,290 2,506 6,073 29.21% 70.79% 41 30,067 27,416 7,517 6,854 52.31% 47.69% 42 16,658 38,631 4,165 9,658 30.13% 69.87% 43 33,073 35,885 8,268 8,971 47.96% 52.04% 74 51,648 45,024 12,912 11,256 53.43% 46.57% 75 24,952 35,500 6,238 8,875 41.28% 58.72% 76 15,442 42,765 3,861 10,691 26.53% 73.47% 77 17,947 36,841 4,487 9,210 32.76% 67.24% 79 26,924 33,351 6,731 8,338 44.67% 55.33% 80 42,838 43,873 10,710 10,968 49.40% 50.60% 104 12,019 29,325 3,005 7,331 29.07% 70.93% 116 30,992 42,673 7,748 10,668 42.07% 57.93% 117 43,302 40,557 10,826 10,139 51.64% 48.36% 118 41,429 44,839 10,357 11,210 48.02% 51.98% 119 32,761 44,731 8,190 11,183 42.28% 57.72% 123 32,767 44,169 8,192 11,042 42.59% 57.41% 124 37,005 44,844 9,251 11,211 45.21% 54.79% 125 44,754 49,759 11,189 12,440 47.35% 52.65% 143 11,597 20,667 2,899 5,167 35.94% 64.06% 145 13,781 23,991 3,445 5,998 36.48% 63.52% 819,806 1,072,636 204,952 268,159 43.32% 56.68%

The third and fourth columns are the average vote totals in the four examined races for each SRD. Republicans did better overall in 2006 than in 2002. What’s clear is that the decrease in turnout from 2002 to 2006, which we have discussed before, affected Democrats more than it affected Republicans. The Democrats’ task in these areas isn’t as much persuasion as it is base turnout. If these folks come out to the ballot box, they’ll vote Democratic in large numbers. It’s just that they may or may not show up. The job for Bill White and every other Democrat on the ticket is to give them a reason to participate.

It’s also important to note that while Perry held onto a larger share of the vote in these SRDs than Bell did, it’s still the case that his support declined. Again, we can’t say for certain what proportion of the vote in these SRDs is Latino Perry voters, but it’s clear he didn’t get 35% in 2006, and if he didn’t do that in these SRDs, he didn’t do it overall, either. He has his work cut out for him just to match the 37% he rung up in 2002.

I have one more post for this series. I hope you’ve found it useful. Let me know if you have any questions.

Settlement reached in Bell lawsuit against Perry

Texas Watchdog:

A 2007 lawsuit alleging Texas Gov. Rick Perry unlawfully hid $1 million in illegal campaign contributions has been settled in a confidential agreement, a lawyer connected to the case said Friday.

The case was filed by Chris Bell, Perry’s Democratic opponent in the 2006 gubernatorial contest. Bell, a former Congressman, claimed that Perry tried to hide the source of money he took from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation). The suit claims the money was illegally funneled through the Republican Governors Association in the waning days of the 2006 campaign, which Perry won.

“The agreement is confidential, and I am not privy to it,” said Terry Scarborough, a lawyer representing the governors association, a D.C.-based political committee.

The case has two elements, with Bell going against two named defendants: Texans for Perry and the governors’ association. The settled case, against Perry, was dismissed by the court May 20 after a joint motion for dismissal with prejudice, meaning the plaintiff cannot file another case on the same claim. There is no mention of the settlement in the court file.

The case involving the governor’s association remains active after a trial before a judge, also held May 20. A ruling is expected shortly.

The case against both defendants survived a motion to dismiss a year ago; my post on the original suit is here. At this point, that’s all I know. Thanks to Local Texans for the heads up.

Straight ticket voting trends

One last look at partisan voting trends this decade, with a peek at how straight ticket voting has changed over time. This one is a bit trickier to determine, since it’s not tracked by the Secretary of State. You have to go to each individual County Clerk website to figure it out. Some counties I looked at – Cameron, Comal, Galveston, and Hays – either didn’t have election result archives, or they had incomplete information. Here’s what I found for the counties that did have this data:


Population and voting trends: 2002 and 2006 judicial elections, Part II

In the previous entry, I said there was another way we could compare the 2002 and 2006 statewide judicial elections to get a feel for how partisan voting patterns changed at the county level. Turns out that the two Democratic candidates for statewide judicial office in 2006, Bill Moody and JR Molina, were also candidates in 2006. Let’s see how they did in each year.

County Jefferson Willett Change Moody2 Moody6 Change Dem Net =================================================================== Webb 6,557 3,588 -2,969 29,653 13,295 -16,358 -13,389 Hidalgo 19,517 15,739 -3,778 43,163 28,576 -14,587 -10,809 El Paso 27,602 24,960 -2,642 69,700 60,271 -9,429 -6,787 Jefferson 21,574 18,747 -2,827 30,805 24,553 -6,252 -3,425 Maverick 1,085 800 -285 4,699 2,736 -1,963 -1,678 Cameron 15,315 13,633 -1,682 26,239 22,977 -3,262 -1,580 Willacy 845 593 -252 2,530 1,234 -1,296 -1,044 Brooks 349 207 -142 1,828 891 -937 -795 Zapata 393 237 -156 1,786 845 -941 -785 Angelina 9,838 11,161 1,323 8,260 8,866 606 -717 County Jefferson Willett Change Moody2 Moody6 Change Dem Net ================================================================== Montgomery 55,526 54,018 -1,508 15,711 20,632 4,921 6,429 Fort Bend 49,406 49,953 547 34,660 42,890 8,230 7,683 Williamson 48,389 43,193 -5,196 22,913 31,466 8,553 13,749 Denton 72,040 63,475 -8,565 28,145 35,905 7,760 16,325 Collin 92,093 82,834 -9,259 30,313 42,514 12,201 21,460 Bexar 137,679 117,031 -20,648 124,500 134,383 9,883 30,531 Tarrant 195,001 166,293 -28,708 128,590 133,600 5,010 33,718 Travis 98,489 73,382 -25,107 110,926 130,546 19,620 44,727 Dallas 217,489 168,162 -49,327 205,742 204,310 -1,432 47,895 Harris 336,493 275,807 -60,686 280,739 271,021 -9,718 50,968 County Cochran Keller Change Molina2 Molina6 Change Dem net ================================================================== Webb 5,117 3,575 -1,542 30,982 14,135 -16,847 -15,305 Hidalgo 19,267 16,124 -3,143 44,009 29,133 -14,876 -11,733 El Paso 34,133 32,492 -1,641 60,608 54,028 -6,580 -4,939 Jefferson 21,786 19,747 -2,039 29,687 24,046 -5,641 -3,602 Cameron 15,383 14,924 -459 26,519 23,444 -3,075 -2,616 Maverick 980 862 -118 4,810 2,805 -2,005 -1,887 Angelina 10,267 12,216 1,949 7,662 8,280 618 -1,331 Willacy 868 659 -209 2,538 1,258 -1,280 -1,071 Dawson 766 1,755 989 1,289 1,227 -62 -1,051 Jim Wells 2,517 2,314 -203 6,023 4,839 -1,184 -981 County Cochran Keller Change Molina2 Molina6 Change Dem net ================================================================== Montgomery 56,686 57,502 816 13,683 19,490 5,807 4,991 Fort Bend 49,567 52,085 2,518 33,157 42,670 9,513 6,995 Williamso 50,071 48,599 -1,472 19,859 30,545 10,686 12,158 Bexar 136,742 133,090 -3,652 118,952 127,905 8,953 12,605 Denton 73,752 68,435 -5,317 24,636 34,432 9,796 15,113 Collin 93,516 88,847 -4,669 27,634 41,003 13,369 18,038 Tarrant 199,542 180,813 -18,729 119,562 128,575 9,013 27,742 Dallas 221,884 186,960 -34,924 194,803 195,356 553 35,477 Harris 339,473 295,795 -43,678 267,941 262,496 -5,445 38,233 Travis 99,173 83,346 -15,827 99,833 131,035 31,202 47,029

Note again that each 2006 race also featured a Libertarian candidate; the 2002 race between Molina and Cathy Cochran included a Green Party candidate.

The list of counties and the reasons for the changes in their performance are familiar by now, and I don’t have any new insights to add. The reason why Moody and Molina each did better in this comparison is simple: The previous comparison matched them up with the top performing Democrat in 2002 for each court. As it happens, they were each the second-best performing Democrat; there were five contested Supreme Court races, with Moody doing better than three others and worse than one, and three contested CCA races, with Molina doing better than one and worse than one. They were the only Democratic challengers in 2006, so the comparisons can only get more favorable from here. As you can see, their percentage and total votes improved even though turnout was down by 100,000 to 300,000 votes. I don’t know how many ways there are for me to say that the trend has been decidedly Democratic, but I guess I need to find one more, because there it is again.

I had thought this would be the last thing to say about this subject, but since I started writing this entry I thought of one more comparison to make, which I’ll publish next week. As always, let me know what you think.

Population and voting trends: 2002 and 2006 judicial elections, Part I

For the next entry in this series, we’re going to look at how county returns changed from 2002 to 2006 in statewide judicial races in Texas. Again, I’m using judicial races here because they tend to reflect straight partisan preference a bit more closely. It might have been nice to compare Senate races or Governor’s races, but those contests were too different in each year to really tell us much. As with the previous entry, I’m comparing one Supreme Court race – Steven Wayne Smith versus Margaret Mirabal in 2002, and Don Willett versus Bill Moody in 2006 – and one Court of Criminal Appeals race – Paul Womack versus Pat Montgomery in 2002, and Sharon Keller versus JR Molina in 2006. Here are my observations:

– Right off the bat, the main difference between this comparison and 2004-2008 comparisons is with turnout. Where 2008 saw 650,000 more voters than 2004, 2006 saw a decline from 2002. In the Governor’s race, for example, there were 4,553,987 votes cast in 2002, but only 4,399,116 in 2006. I attribute this to there being fewer high profile races – in 2006, about all that people were really paying attention to was the Governor’s race, and that was more for the wackiness factor, while 2002 had high-profile, big-dollar races for the Senate and Lite Guv as well. In addition, the lack of a Democratic “ticket” meant there was basically no statewide GOTV effort. You’ll clearly see the effect of this in some counties.

– In the races we’re actually considering, Willett/Moody drew 295,700 fewer votes than Smith/Mirabal, while Keller/Molina attracted 149,880 fewer than Womack/Montgomery. It should be noted that there was a Libertarian candidate in the Willett/Moody race; that was the only such contest with a third candidate. As always, only the R and D vote totals are considered.

– As such, in the end everyone lost votes from 2002 to 2006. The Republicans lost more votes, however, so the Democrats had a net gain in each race. Smith got 2,331,140 votes, Willett got 2,135,612, for a drop of 195,528. Mirabal received 1,978,081 votes to Moody’s 1,877,909, a decline of 100,182 but a net reduction of the Dems’ deficit of 95,356, from -353,059 to -257,703. On the CCA side, it was Womack 2,463,069 and Keller 2,346,204, a dip of 116,865, and Montgomery 1,828,431, Molina 1,795,416, a drop of 33,015 but a net pickup on the deficit of 83,850 as it reduced from -634,638 to -550,788.

– In the Supreme Court race, Democrats lost ground in 90 counties, gained in 163, and stayed even in one, Freestone, where the deficit was exactly 432 votes each time. In nine of the ten counties where the Dems took the biggest step backwards, both parties lost votes from 2002 but the Democrats lost more. A look at these ten counties will give you the reason why:

County Smith Willett Loss Mirabal Moody Loss Dem Net =================================================================== Webb 5,723 3,588 -2,135 30,712 13,295 -17,417 -15,282 Hidalgo 18,523 15,739 -2,784 44,133 28,576 -15,557 -12,773 Harris 308,107 275,807 -32,300 309,802 271,021 -38,871 -6,481 Jefferson 20,775 18,747 -2,028 31,564 24,553 -7,011 -4,983 Cameron 14,953 13,633 -1,320 26,804 22,977 -3,827 -2,507 Bexar 121,614 117,031 -4,583 141,088 134,383 -6,705 -2,122 Maverick 1,048 800 -248 4,742 2,736 -2,006 -1,758 Smith 30,053 28,469 -1,584 15,124 11,931 -3,193 -1,609 Angelina 9,485 11,161 1,676 8,704 8,866 162 -1,514 Nueces 29,099 27,979 -1,120 35,969 33,417 -2,552 -1,432

Say what you want about Tony Sanchez and his Titanic campaign, but he helped bring a huge number of Democratic voters out to the polls. Just look at the huge dropoffs in 2006 in Webb (Sanchez’s home base), Hidalgo, and Maverick. If we were to continue down this list, we’d see similar declines. Willacy, Jim Wells, Brooks, Zapata, Frio, Zavala, Jim Hogg, and Dimmitt – all of them saw their Democratic turnout drop by as much as 50% or more. To a lesser degree, it was the same effect in Cameron, Nueces, and Bexar. When you hear people talk about the Democrats’ strategy or lack of same for the Valley and South Texas, this is their Exhibit A. We know about Jefferson and Angelina, which were moving away from the Democrats from 2004 to 2008; this is just a part of that trend, with Jefferson also being at the bottom of a population dip in 2006. Smith is also a county that is moving away from the Democrats, though that effect was masked in 2008 due in part to its higher than average African-American population. As for Harris, I’d attribute the downer to there being basically no Democratic ground game in 2006. I can say with confidence that will not be the case this year.

You may also note that Mirabal won a majority in Harris County, making her the only Democrat to do so that year. If we swap out Willett/Moody for the one race in which a Democrat won a majority in Harris in 2006, that of Elsie Alcala versus Jim Sharp, we get the following:

County Smith Alcala Loss Mirabal Sharp Loss Dem Net =================================================================== Harris 308,107 276,529 -31,578 309,802 277,820 -31,982 -404

Hold that thought, because we’ll eventually come back to it. The story is more than a little different when we look at the CCA races:

County Womack Keller Change Mntgmry Molina Change Dem net =================================================================== Webb 6,121 3,575 -2,546 30,116 14,135 -15,981 -13,435 Hidalgo 19,306 16,124 -3,182 43,563 29,133 -14,430 -11,248 El Paso 34,007 32,492 -1,515 62,196 54,028 -8,168 -6,653 Jefferson 22,190 19,747 -2,443 29,993 24,046 -5,947 -3,504 Nueces 31,311 32,235 924 33,076 31,479 -1,597 -2,521 Cameron 15,562 14,924 -638 26,442 23,444 -2,998 -2,360 Angelina 10,070 12,216 2,146 8,072 8,280 208 -1,938 Maverick 1,074 862 -212 4,754 2,805 -1,949 -1,737 Medina 5,590 6,073 483 3,597 2,978 -619 -1,102 Wilson 4,999 6,312 1,313 3,483 3,744 261 -1,052

Webb, Hidalgo, Maverick, Cameron, and Nueces are all still there, with their issues of depressed Democratic turnout from 2002. Note, however, that JR Molina failed to win Nueces while Moody, who ran an actual campaign, carried it. Angelina and Jefferson, with their increasingly red (and in Jefferson’s case, shrinking overall) populations are there as well. El Paso had the same turnout issues as the first five counties, with about 10,000 fewer voters showing up in 2006, but it’s also Bill Moody’s home turf, and he killed there, getting over 70% of the vote and more than 6,000 more tallies than Molina, giving him a net gain over Mirabal.

The other two new counties here are small ones. Moody lost ground in Medina and Wilson counties, he just lost less than Molina did, with -1850 in Medina and -750 in Wilson. What’s more interesting is the counties they replaced: Harris and Bexar. Margaret Mirabal ran very strongly in Harris in 2002, just a wee bit better than Bill Moody, but enough to represent a big drop in net margin. Montgomery and Molina were more representative of average performance in each year, so Molina wound up with a net gain. Same story with Bexar, though Moody won it as Mirabal had, just by a smaller margin. Again, we’ll revisit all this later.

Here’s where Moody and Molina saw their biggest gains:

County Smith Willett Change Mirabal Moody Change Dem net =================================================================== Travis 87,540 73,382 -14,158 122,214 130,546 8,332 22,490 Dallas 204,686 168,162 -36,524 219,999 204,310 -15,689 20,835 Tarrant 186,595 166,293 -20,302 136,564 133,600 -2,964 17,338 Collin 88,762 82,834 -5,928 33,893 42,514 8,621 14,549 Denton 69,899 63,475 -6,424 30,361 35,905 5,544 11,968 Williamson 46,480 43,193 -3,287 25,501 31,466 5,965 9,252 Montgomery 53,977 54,018 41 17,451 20,632 3,181 3,140 Hays 14,238 13,644 -594 11,891 14,131 2,240 2,834 Fort Bend 47,008 49,953 2,945 37,145 42,890 5,745 2,800 McLennan 27,860 26,554 -1,306 22,211 23,005 794 2,100 County Womack Keller Change Mntgmry Molina Change Dem net ================================================================= Travis 95,152 83,346 -11,806 112,709 131,035 18,326 30,132 Harris 337,368 295,795 -41,573 277,639 262,496 -15,143 26,430 Dallas 215,763 186,960 -28,803 205,495 195,356 -10,139 18,664 Tarrant 196,164 180,813 -15,351 126,457 128,575 2,118 17,469 Collin 91,795 88,847 -2,948 30,228 41,003 10,775 13,723 Denton 72,230 68,435 -3,795 27,549 34,432 6,883 10,678 Williamson 48,838 48,599 -239 22,728 30,545 7,817 8,056 Fort Bend 49,783 52,085 2,302 33,904 42,670 8,766 6,464 Lubbock 38,458 35,657 -2,801 14,976 15,913 937 3,738 Hays 14,887 15,330 443 10,955 14,046 3,091 2,648

Most of this you’re already familiar with, so I won’t belabor it. Note that Harris went from one of Moody’s biggest net losses to one of Molina’s biggest net gains; that says more about Margaret Mirabal than anything else. Note also that the Dallas Democratic sweep of 2006 was happening even as Democratic turnout from 2002 was down. That says more about the demographics of that area than anything else, and it’s one reason why I believe suggestions of a Republican comeback there, outside of perhaps the District Attorney’s race and its unique dynamics, are farfetched.

So that’s our first look at the 2002 and 2006 judicial elections. There’s one more way to look at them, and that’s what we’ll do in the last entry of this series.

IRS complaint filed against Perry-backing foundation


A project to mobilize faith-based voters to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage may have illegally served Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign, according to a complaint filed Thursday with the Internal Revenue Service.

The Texas Freedom Network, a religious watchdog group, asked the IRS to investigate a Houston-based foundation that allegedly violated its tax-exempt status by mobilizing Christian voters to support Perry.

The group says that several of Perry’s top contributors funneled money through the Niemoller Foundation to the Texas Restoration Project, a group of 2,000 socially conservative pastors.

The Restoration Project held six “policy briefings” in 2005 centered on voter turnout for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Perry spoke at those meetings.

The complaint alleges the foundation operated outside laws that give tax-exempt status only to groups that do not participate in political campaigns.

“The Texas Restoration Project appears to have served as a partisan voter-mobilization tool for the Perry re-election campaign, with affiliated pastors encouraged to use their churches as partisan, political extensions of that campaign,” TFN President Kathy Miller said in a letter to Linda Stiff, IRS acting commissioner.


The tax records show the foundation spent about $1.26 million to fund the Texas Restoration Project.

The closed-door policy briefings occurred at a time when U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and state Comptroller Carole Strayhorn were considering challenging Perry in the March 2006 GOP primary.

Although neither Hutchison nor Strayhorn challenged Perry in the primary, Strayhorn ran as one of two independent candidates, along with Democratic nominee Chris Bell, in the November general election.

“That the governor of Texas was able to speak at each of six briefings — including two on one day in Fort Worth and Dallas and two on one day in San Antonio and Houston — clearly suggests careful co- ordination between Texas Restoration Project organizers and Gov. Perry’s office and campaign,” Miller said in the complaint.

Quinn said the governor’s campaign and supporters sent out communications and had conference calls with pastors on the Restoration Project’s list. The pastors were invited to Perry’s inauguration in last year.

I’ve no idea what if any action the IRS will take on this. Between this and the Chris Bell lawsuit, Perry’s going to have his hands full for awhile. Good thing for him he may not be too busy with the Presidential election much longer, given how things are going for his preferred candidate. BOR has more.

“No ducking truth behind Perry’s gift”

From the weekend, the Statesman lays out the issue of Rick Perry’s RGA troubles.

Even by Texas standards, the Republican Governors Association’s argument that it isn’t a political committee is absurd. Not only absurd, it’s obscene.

Just before last year’s election, the association gave Gov. Rick Perry $1 million in his hard-fought bid for re-election. But the group didn’t report the donation to the Texas Ethics Commission as required under Texas law. And Perry didn’t list the individual donors behind the large gift.

Turns out that most of that money came from controversial Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who has had his fingers in a lot of GOP fundraising pies in recent years. Bob Perry’s money was behind the scurrilous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth political ads that undercut Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

Now the governor is saying that concealing Bob Perry’s name was an oversight, a clerical error. And the Republican Governors Association is saying it isn’t a political committee, so it didn’t have to disclose the donors. Sorry, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

This year-old episode not only quacks, it stinks. And Travis County Attorney David Escamilla is reviewing the circumstances of the two $500,000 contributions dumped into Perry’s treasury in the final two weeks of the campaign.


In addition to a possible $2 million penalty, the candidate accepting the money also could be guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. That is a heavy weight hanging over Perry’s head.

More bizarre still is the Republican Governors Association’s argument that, although it raises and donates money to GOP candidates, it isn’t a political committee. The law isn’t precise in its definition, says Ben Ginsberg, the association’s attorney.

He argues that Texas law wasn’t properly crafted to include every entity that might contribute to a candidate. If the law is so flawed that a political committee that gives $1 million to a candidate for governor isn’t defined as a political committee, then that law needs a serious overhaul.

The courts aren’t likely to agree with Ginsberg and the governors association. Indeed, if the Republican Governors Association isn’t a political committee when it contributes to candidates, then nothing is. And millions in secret donations can flood Texas elections.

This has the potential to be all kinds of fun. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

NASA chief rebuked for DeLay endorsement

You may recall back in March that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin stirred up some trouble when he gave a public address that included an exhortation to the audience to keep Tom DeLay in office. This is because of the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from endorsing political candidates. It took awhile, but the federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates and enforces alleged violations of the Hatch Act has reprimanded Griffin for his statements. Muse and Bay Area Houston have the details.

Janette Sexton

I’m not sure why this has come up right now, but both Perry and Stace are using the case of Janette Sexton in HD144 to make a point in a larger argument about who did and didn’t do what to help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in 2006. I don’t have any quibble with their basic point, that there wasn’t nearly enough support being given by the various power brokers within the party to candidates who were not in races deemed top tier, but I have a serious disagreement with the way they’re using the data to make their point. Perry, who ranks all Democratic State House challengers from Harris and Montgomery Counties by their vote percentage, says:

It’s worth noting that Cohen raised $500,000 for her campaign, with the assistance of many of the previously named legislators, an army of volunteers and the wherewithal to take a ten-month leave of absence from her position as the director of the Houston Area Women’s Center. Thibaut, an adroit fundraiser, collected $150,000 and also a core of vigorous volunteer support. Matula, who ran in neighboring HD-129, benefited from the teachers PAC and strong efforts from the Bay Area New Democrats, Area 5 Democrats and Battleground Democrats — all clubs that could have chipped in volunteer assistance to Padilla-Sexton as well — enabling her to have extensive blockwalking and phonebanking. BAND, to their credit, provided robocalls to Janette’s campaign. John Cobarruvias, the president of the club, admitted that BAND’s efforts were stretched too thin over the Bell, Lampson and Matula campaigns to provide much in the way of anything extra. So with virtually no help and no resources – no money, no volunteers, consequently no direct mail, blockwalking or phonebanking, not even any campaign literature – Padilla-Sexton performed fourth of eleven political novices. Trautman, McDavid, and Khan all had greater resources and performed less well in their districts.

To which Stace says:

Considering we had other “favorites” that raised so much more and performed just as well as Padilla-Sexton I wonder if they did as well because of effective campaigning, or just for being the alternative on the ballot.

I’m sorry, but comparing candidates in this fashion is not illuminating. It’s like ranking baseball players by batting average without taking into account league and park effects. Putting it another way, the overall National League batting average in 1930 was .303, and in 1968 it was .243. Calling a .300 hitter in 1930 better than a .280 hitter in 1968 would be completely misguided – hell, a .300 hitter in 1930 was, compared to his peers, mediocre, while in 1968 a .280 hitter was an All Star. Context matters.

I say if you really want to know how a State House candidate did, you need to compare her to her peers on the ballot. Here’s how the nine Harris County State House challengers did relative to the other countywide Democrats in their districts:

Candidate Dist Pct County% Diff Rank ============================================== Trautman 127 40.78 32.25 +8.53 1 Cohen 134 55.75 48.42 +7.33 1 Matula 129 42.31 37.55 +4.76 1 Thibaut 133 42.80 42.05 +0.75 8 Brann 136 29.89 29.96 -0.07 9 Khan 126 33.47 33.83 -0.36 12 Sexton 144 41.87 43.04 -1.17 17 Nelson-Turnier 150 29.71 31.67 -1.86 18 McDavid 138 39.86 42.77 -2.91 18

“County% is the average percentage of the 18 countywide Dems. As I’ve discussed before, the Harris County candidates did about three points better overall than the statewides did, and there was less variation among them, so I consider this to be the most accurate measure of how blue or red a given district is. “Diff” is the difference, positive or negative, between the State Rep’s performance and the average countywide candidate’s performance. (All percentages are for the two-candidate GOP/Dem race; all third parties are dropped from consideration.) “Rank” means where out of 19 total candidates (themselves included) in the district the candidate’s performance rates.

These numbers speak for themselves. Trautman, Cohen, and Matula significantly overperformed relative to their districts, as I showed before. Sexton ran a little more than a point worse than average, and did better than only two others on the ballot – John Shike and Goodwille Pierre. Thibaut, who did have significant resources but barely beat average, can fairly be said to have underperformed, but to say Sexton did better than Trautman is just wrong.

Again, none of this obviates the point Perry and Stace made about the commitment or lack thereof made by the powers that be to the candidates on the ballot. I’m disputing the notion that Sexton’s performance is comparable to those of the candidates who did get insitutional backing of some kind. Maybe she would have done better if she’d had that kind of backing; maybe the same is true for Scott Brann, Mark McDavid, Dot Nelson-Turnier, and Chad Khan as well. They didn’t get it, so we’ll never know. I have a lot of respect for these folks and the effort they put forth. But as we criticize the establishment for abandoning these candidates, bear in mind the possibility that the real abdication was in not recruiting candidates they were willing to support and thus leaving the race to unfunded novices.

CD29 results thread

I’m following the CD29 results here. The folks who are embedded with the DiNovo campaign are doing the same here and here. With all of Matagorda and about half of Brazoria in, the standings are here, and K-T’s assessment at this juncture is here. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It’s over. Runoff yes, DiNovo no. Alas.

HD29 special election today

Today is the day for the last election of 2006, the special election in HD29 to fill the seat of the late Rep. Glenda Dawson. I’ve got a writeup on it over at Kuff’s World, and to that I’ll add links to Muse and Cobarruvias. If you live in Brazoria or Matagorda Counties, you might need to vote today. Check Dr. DiNovo’s page for a listing of polling locations. I’ll have updates on this race later today.

No love from the National Journal

Last Thursday, I blogged about how the National Journal twice quoted an incorrect assertion that Tom DeLay’s 2003 re-redistricting netted the GOP a mere two seats. PerryVsWorld has also blogged about this – though I disagree about his assessment of Henry Bonilla’s future, I think he’s right to say that Bonilla was a dead duck under the old lines.) So far, the comment I left here has never been approved (though one by Ryan Goodland making the same point was), and I’ve never gotten a response to the email I sent to John Mercurio. I don’t know why such a silly, easily-debunked error has gained such currency, but my respect for the National Journal has gone down a notch because of it. Don’t be fooled: Tom DeLay paid a high price for his scheme, but even with the loss of CD22 this year (whether for one cycle or long-term), he got a decent payoff for it. Anyone who says otherwise is just wrong.

One more to go: HD29

The last election of 2006 (but not necessarily the last election of this cycle) will take place on Tuesday. It’s the special election for HD29 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of State Rep. Glenda Dawson. There are multiple Republicans and one Democrat in this race, Dr. Anthony DiNovo, who ideally would make it to a January runoff (*that* would be the last election of this cycle). If nothing else, if DiNovo just makes it to the runoff, that’s one less assured vote for Tom Craddick as Speaker. Anything that makes Craddick sweat is good, and who knows? After Ciro Rodriguez’s laugher last week, can anyone say for sure what might happen in a runoff?

Various folks are currently involved in the GOTV work for DiNovo. If you’ve got the time and the inclination, please join in with Muse, Coby, Kaos, Karl-T, and Hal at DiNovo headquarters. Especially Hal. Dems started the year with a special election win. Wouldn’t it be great to end it that way, too?

Williamson County election update

Eye on Williamson brings the latest news about the major voting problems they had in that county this year.

Williamson County officials took a major step Thursday to restore residents’ trust in the voting system after numerous problems in the November election led to a partial recount and the resignation of the county elections administrator.

At least 100 election workers and staff members voiced concerns Thursday at a meeting called by the county’s elections commission.

“This election did not go as smoothly as previous elections had gone when I had been a judge,” election judge Eric Whitfield said after the hearing. “We need a way to make sure that people who move here and are interested enough in voting, that they can do that.”

After the hearing, acting Elections Administrator John Willingham said the main complaints were about staffing, training and technical support. He will make recommendations to officials in the next six to eight weeks, including calling for the formation of a panel of election workers that will regularly report to the commission.

“I think it’s difficult for someone who’s not involved in elections every day . . . to hold the officials and staff accountable,” he said. “I think election judges do have that opportunity, and they can see things that are going wrong.”


Several workers said Thursday that staffing was inadequate and that their requests for additional help weren’t met.

“If you don’t have enough clerks at a polling place, voters are going to leave,” Willingham said. “We need to make sure there are procedures in place (so) that staffing concerns won’t be ignored. It’s something that could have been handled fairly easily.”

Workers also repeated complaints that they did not receive proper training in handling electronic voting machines and what election judge Betty Brown called “problem citizens,” who disturb the voting process in some way.

I’d like to know more about what Ms. Brown meant by “problem citizens”. Maybe there’s a law enforcement issue in here as well.

EoW thinks Willingham did a good job when he was elections supervisor and has hope that he can get things straightened out. We’ll see. There’s some video of the meeting as well. Check it out.

DeLay’s net gain

Long as I’m in a quibbling mood, I need to point out an error in this Hotline post about CD23.

[Congressional guru Rich] Cohen also makes one other point. This is now the second seat in TX this cycle that has switched hands from the GOP to the Dems as a result of Tom DeLay’s re-redistricting efforts. The other seat, of course, was DeLay’s. So the net result for the GOP based on DeLay’s re-redistricting was all of 2 seats. Was that really worth all the hassle and the subpoenas and courtroom dramas? Many a Republican is probably wondering that same thing tonight, in particular, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Henry Bonilla.

Far be it from me to offer any balm to Tom DeLay, but Cohen’s math is funny, to say the least. I left the following comment on the post, which apparently hasn’t been approved yet:


The Dems lost TX-01 (Sandlin), TX-02 (Turner), TX-04 (Hall, who switched parties), TX-09 (Lampson, who ran in the new TX-02), TX-19 (Stenholm), and TX-32 (Frost). They went from 17 members to 11. Now that Lampson is in TX-22 and Rodriguez has ousted Bonilla in TX-23, they have 13 members. That looks a lot like a net four seat loss. Even if you discount Hall, who was a true DINO that should have switched along with Phil Gramm in the 80s, that’s three seats down. Cohen’s math makes no sense.

Maybe a four seat gain isn’t worth it, either – ideally, for DeLay, the GOP would have netted seven seats, but Chet Edwards spoiled that plan in 2004. And I, at least, believe that some other districts might be susceptible to a better-funded Democratic attack in 2008, which would render DeLay’s scheme even less meaningful. But let’s not overdo it just yet. His scheme was very costly to the Democrats, both in terms of caucus size and seniority. Some of that has now been regained, but there’s still a long way to go.

Ciro wins!


U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla conceded defeat to former congressman Ciro Rodriguez in a stunning upset that completed the Democratic takeover of Congress.

The Republican incumbent lost Bexar County for the first time in his political career Tuesday night, and trailed Rodriguez, his Democratic challenger, in total votes across the sprawling Congressional District 23.

The Associated Press called the election for Rodriguez shortly before 9 p.m. Bonilla telephoned Rodriguez to concede around that time, according to his spokesman, Phil Ricks.


Bonilla lost at least four counties in his West Texas stronghold that he won just five weeks ago. He carried Dimmit, Culberson, Presidio and Brewster counties in the seven-way special election on Nov. 7, but lost all four to Rodriguez on Tuesday.

“It’s an uphill battle, no doubt about it,” Bonilla spokesman Phil Ricks said at 8:15 p.m. “I think the other side was much more organized in getting the early vote out, and that’s why they sought extra days of early voting.”

Soon after Gov. Rick Perry set the runoff date, the League of United Latin American Citizens sued and eventually wrangled three extra days of early voting before dropping the complaint.


Bonilla came into the runoff with $1.6 million in the bank and the advantages of incumbency — a familiar name across the sprawling district and list of projects for which he’d secured federal funding.

Rodriguez hobbled out of the special election in debt and with the reputation of a less than savvy campaigner.

But he had a name that registered in Bexar County and into South Texas, and soon he had the interest of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The organization wound up spending more than $900,000 on mail-outs and television ads.

Adam Segal, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University, said he’s talked informally with both campaigns in the past month.

“I think a lot of Democrats involved think making the investment was a wise decision that just weeks ago looked pretty risky,” Segal said.

Way back when, I thought the Dems should have made CD23 a priority. It took longer than I would have liked, and I admit that along the way I too had serious doubts about Ciro Rodriguez’s ability to win (he did drop out of the race at one point, after all), but it should be crystal clear now why this was a good idea. Not just to bump the Democrats’ gains up one seat to a net of 30, but to knock off a prominent Republican incumbent who might be Texas’ junior Senator-elect today had Kay Bailey Hutchison chosen to come home. That’s a huge deal.

Richard Langlois, chairman of the Bexar County Republican County, blamed Bonilla’s fall in Bexar County on his supporters staying home Tuesday.

“Obviously, it was voter apathy,” Langlois said. “Obviously, something happened.”

Apathy is of course the flip side of motivation, which as we know is what the Democrats had coming into today. Heck, they had it well before today – look at the early vote totals. Seeing Ciro in the lead there must have been quite a shock to Team Bonilla.

Anyway. Here’s the county canvass report with eight boxes in Medina County still to be counted, here’s wrapups from Burnt Orange Report and Paul Burka, and here’s a beautiful picture from Swing State Project. Congratulations, Congressman Ciro Rodriguez!

Clinton and Cisneros

Were you not able to be in San Antonio for the get-out-the-vote rally with Bill Clinton and Henry Cisneros? Have no fear, PM Bryant was there, and he’s got pictures and video from the event for you. A quick review of what took place:

Performing were well-known Tejano musicians Los Texmaniacs and Johnny Canales, and speaking was a long list of prominent local Democratic politicians, from Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, to newly-elected state senator Carlos Uresti, to former mayor and former Clinton HUD secretary Henry Cisneros. Uresti’s speech was short and sweet, amounting to a brief cheerleading session. Cisneros took a different approach with a rabble-rousing diatrabe against Henry Bonilla’s treachery and in favor of Ciro Rodriguez’s character.

The stars of the show were, of course, Ciro Rodriguez and President Bill Clinton, who entered the stage together. Ciro introduced the former leader of the free world, who then gave typical strong performance. Clinton’s take-home message is that this election is going to be all about turnout–who wants it more. He asked us in the crowd if we wanted to join the 29 districts who ousted Republicans in favor of Democrats, or if we would be join the list of 10 or 11 districts that came up just a percentage point short. The crowd’s answer was loud and clear.

Jaime Castillo says that momentum favors Ciro right now:

The signs of a tight horserace are now too many to discount.

They include:

Bonilla’s late decision to not only go negative in TV and radio ads, but to go with over-the-top spots that paint Rodriguez as having terrorist ties;

The continued involvement of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with personnel, polls and expensive ads on behalf of Rodriguez;

Bonilla’s decision not to ignore, but to run a response to a critical DCCC spot that says Bonilla voted eight times to give himself a raise (The Bonilla ad says Rodriguez voted four times for congressional pay hikes);

And, finally, President Clinton’s swing through San Antonio on Sunday on behalf of Rodriguez.

Unless this race is close, none of those things happen.

Bonilla wouldn’t go negative. The national Democrats wouldn’t stick around. And Clinton would certainly have something better to do on the Sabbath than stump for a lost cause in San Antonio.

The early vote also suggests things are tight. We’ll know tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can still phonebank for Ciro if you’re not in CD23 and want to help.

HD29 weekend activities

CD23 isn’t the only election going on this month – the special election to fill the vacant HD29 is Tuesday, December 19, with early voting going on Monday through Friday of next week. There’s phonebanking and blockwalking going on this weekend and next week in support of Democratic contender Anthony DiNovo. If you’re in the area and want to help, Muse has the details. The Bay Area New Democrats are also involved – contact them if you want to help.

CD23 roundup

Lots of stuff happening in the CD23 runoff as early voting draws to an end. Here’s a link dump for you so you can keep up:

Henry Bonilla goes very negative amid rumors that his lead over Ciro Rodriguez is three points, not seven. Bonilla is also being criticized for not having gone negative sooner than he did. By the way, SUSA has issued a correction to its initial summary of that poll.

The DCCC sees CD23 as their 30th pickup of the year. They’ve already invested close to $1 million in the race, which makes up a huge part of the fundraising advantage that Bonilla had.

If you live in the district, there are many opportunities to get involved in Rodriguez’s GOTV operation this weekend. If you don’t live in the district, you can still phonebank.

SurveyUSA says: Bonilla leads by seven

We have a poll for the runoff.

In a runoff election today, 12/4/06, in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla appears to edge Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, 53% to 46%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WOAI-TV San Antonio. The runoff is in 8 days, on 12/12/06. Bonilla gets 70% of White votes. Rodriguez gets 72% of Hispanic votes. In SurveyUSA’s turnout model, 59% of likely runoff voters are white, 36% are Hispanic. If Hispanics, who are 55% of the population in TX 23, make up more than 36% of those who vote in the Runoff, the contest will be closer than SurveyUSA’s numbers here show. Bonilla gets 94% of Republican votes. Rodriguez gets 89% of Democratic votes. Independents split. Bonilla wins by 25 points among higher-income voters, and by 15 points among middle-income voters. Rodriguez wins by 25 points among lower-income voters. Texas’s Congressional map was redrawn after a Supreme Court case in August 2006. Since there was no time for party primaries, there was a special election on November 7th in the affected districts, in which more than one candidate per party could run. In the 23rd Congressional District, Bonilla defeated Rodriguez and several other Democrats, but received only 48% of the vote, triggering the runoff. Those who voted for other candidates on 11/7/06 now prefer Rodriguez by 3:1. Bonilla was first elected to Congress in 1992. Rodriguez represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District from 1997 to 2005.

Two points: One, as Carlos Guerra reminds us, 27 percent support among Hispanic voters would be high for Bonilla.

Now seeking his eighth term in a runoff against former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, Bonilla’s first victory came by ousting scandal-plagued Albert Bustamante. Later, he was quick to hop on Newt Gingrich’s bandwagon, becoming an avid supporter of 12-year term limits for House and Senate members.

Bonilla also became a trusted and loyal soldier for DeLay, and in 1999 was made head of American Dream PAC, whose mission, he said, was “to give significant, direct financial assistance to first-rate minority GOP candidates.”

But with each re-election, Bonilla’s Mexican American support slipped, and in 2002, only 8 percent of those voters cast ballots for him.

To keep Bonilla in office, DeLay’s 2003 redistricting plan shifted 100,000 voters from heavily Mexican American areas out of his district, and in 2004, the more heavily Anglo district re-elected Bonilla by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

And two, according to the crosstabs, Rodriguez wins the people who voted for one of the non-runoff candidates, all of whom have endorsed him, by a not-as-good-as-it-could-be 74-23 margin.

The point I’m making here is that there will be more factors at play than just Anglo versus Hispanic turnout levels. In a race like this any poll is going to be an educated guess at best. Having said that, this isn’t all that bad a result for Ciro Rodriguez. A win is definitely within reach.

If you want to help with that, you can get involved with blockwalking, online phonebanking, or just volunteer or contribute.

Otherwise, as BOR notes, there’s still some pending action by the Justice Department that may wind up pushing Election Day back a week, though it seems unlikely at this time. And finally, South Texas Chisme and The Stakeholder remind us that way back when nanny problems were all the rage, Henry Bonilla was in on the action.


BOR has done a series of posts on how the Dems made gains in this last election cycle. The latest entry gives props to the least well known of the factors, the House Democratic Campaign Committee, or HDCC. Check it out.

The best and worst of 2006

Vince has put together a Best and Worst of 2006 survey that’s worth checking out. I just finished filling in my responses – click on the More link to see what I entered., or click here to see PDiddie’s.


Precinct analysis: The overachievers

Continuing with my series of reports on how Harris County candidates did this year, I’d like to focus on three State Rep candidates who clearly exceeded the baseline Democratic performance of their districts.

We’ll start in HD129, where Sherrie Matula provided John Davis’ first Democratic challenge since 1998, an election that Davis won with over 70% of the vote.

Matula Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct =============================================== 14,379 42.31 +3,037 +7.80 +1,189 +4.76

Matula garnered slightly more than 3000 votes over the average Democratic statewide candidate, and nearly 1200 votes more than the average Democratic countywide candidate. She ran nearly eight points better than the statewides, and nearly five points better than the countywides. She was the second best votegetter among Democrats, trailing only Nick Lampson, while Davis lagged behind everyone except Elsie Alcala and Don Willet, each of whom he exceeded by fewer than 70 tallies.

It should be noted that this district was about as red as it was in 2004, when it was basically a two-to-one GOP area. The high Democratic score then was Kathy Stone’s 35%. The baseline, which clocked in at 37.55% for county candidates, clearly inched up some, to which I’d credit Lampson and Matula, a little bit of demographics, and the overall climate. Everything Matula accomplished was done on a miniscule budget. She worked this the old fashioned way, by being everywhere and talking to everyone. In a higher turnout year, with a real campaign warchest, who knows what might happen? Among other things, Davis is rumored to be looking at SD11, where incumbent Mike Jackson is rumored to be retiring. This is a district that won’t look terribly competitive based on the raw numbers, but should be treated as though it is for Matula’s expected second go-round. It’s definitely within range.

Next up is someone with whom we’re already pretty familiar, Ellen Cohen.

Cohen Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct =============================================== 25,180 55.75 +5,545 +9.86 +4,743 +7.33

It’s nearly impossible to overstate Cohen’s dominance in this race. By my count, she won four precincts in which no other Democrat achieved a majority; she ran at least 9 points better than the combined average percentage in those precincts, including one (Precinct 87), which she won by eight votes, in which the baseline Dem performance was 36.9%. Cohen would have won HDs 138 and 144 had she performed at this level in them.

The thing to keep in mind with Cohen is that even with her big bucks, and even with Martha Wong’s godawful campaign, she still had to be at least an above average candidate to win. HD134 is still Republican turf, even if it’s less so than it once was. As I said before, of the 29 candidates who were on the ballot everywhere in HD134 (*), only six Democrats carried it (Henley, Moody, Sharp, Green, and R. Garcia being the other five; Matula’s level of performance would have been more than enough to win as well). Cohen made it look easy, but don’t let that fool you. She worked for it, and she earned it. Though I expect the Republicans to mount a serious challenge to her in 2008, I think this seat is hers for as long as she respects and votes the district.

And as good as Ellen Cohen was, she still wasn’t the top performer in Harris County. That honor goes to Diane Trautman in HD127.

Trautman Pct SW Avg SW Pct CW Avg CW Pct ================================================= 14,297 40.78 +4,200 +11.36 +3,303 +8.53

Trautman was five and a half points better than the next strongest Democrat in this district. Seven Democrats failed to crack 30% there. She had at least 2000 more votes than any other Democrat, and exceeded most people by at least 3000. That’s an awful lot of ballots on which she was the only Democrat.

Another way of looking at it is this: Trautman lost this deep red district by 6,461 votes. There were 11,265 straight-ticket Republican ballots cast, and 5,210 straight-ticket Dem ballots, meaning that straight-ticket voting accounts for all but 406 votes of her deficit. Everybody else lost by at least 10,000 votes, meaning they lost the non-straight-party voters by at least 4000. Given that there were about 20,000 non-straight-ticket ballots, that means she ran close to even where everyone else was losing at least 60-40. Any way you approach it, what she did was just mind-boggling. Oh, and she would have won HDs 133, 134, 138, and 144 at this level of performance.

As with Matula and HD129, this is a district that has no right to be competitive. It too saw its Democratic performance tick up a bit, but given that it was at about 28% in 2004, it’s hard to imagine otherwise. Still, it did increase by about four points at the county level, and I can’t help but think that Trautman was a big part of that. Unlike Matula and Cohen, it’s not known yet if she’ll try again in 2008. Joe Crabb has also had retirement rumors surround him for awhile; given how much he’s disliked, that may not be a good thing from a Democratic campaign perspective. Frankly, I could make a pretty good case for Trautman to try a different race, one that would be a bit more winnable – City Council District E leaps to mind, as Addie Wiseman is term-limited. Hell, she’d probably give Ted Poe or State Sen. Tommy Williams a good run for their money. Whatever she tries, if she does decide to have another go, she’ll be formidable.

Next up: The targets for 2008.

(*) – As is my habit with these analyses, I’m excluding the four-headed Governor’s race from consideration, as it’s too weird to add much of value. That said, Chris Bell was the high votegetter among the gubernatorials in HD134 – he got 36.5% of the vote there to Rick Perry’s 32.8%, with Strayhorn (17.3) and Friedman (13.3) much farther back.

Richmond Rail Effect followup

There seems to be some confusion about what I was trying to show with my posts on the Richmond Rail Effect from this past election. I think way more is being made about what I said and what the data says than I intended. Let me try to clear this up.

My thesis was very simple: Would John Culberson’s vehement anti-Richmond rail stance help him in the precincts that immediately surround the affected stretch of Richmond Ave? Rich Connelly summed up what I was looking for in his Houston Press article on Jim Henley:

Usually [the inner-loop neighborhoods along Richmond] could be relied on for some Democratic support, but they are mightily pissed at Metro for trying to build a light-rail line through their neighborhoods. Culberson has made clear he agrees with them, and if reelected he’d be a formidable ally for the residents.

In other words, much of the area right around Richmond, especially in Montrose, is Democratic. Under normal circumstances, Culberson would expect to do poorly in them. The one thing that might change this dynamic is a hyperlocal issue that directly affects the people living there – the proposed construction of a light rail line on Richmond Avenue.

So imagine you’re a typical Montrose liberal who happens to oppose rail on Richmond. Normally, you’d support Jim Henley against John Culberson because Henley is more in tune with your general belief system. But not this year. This year, you don’t care about Iraq or immigration or gay marriage or the culture of corruption or any of those other things. This year, you will break out of your normal habit of pushing the Democratic button, at least in this election (and maybe one other), because you care more about that damned light rail line than you do about those other things, and you know that Culberson has promised to do everything in his not-inconsiderable power to keep it out of your front yard. It’s as simple as that.

And that’s what I was looking for in the data – any evidence that the normal partisan preference for those areas might have changed this year, in this election. If so – if Culberson had gained support in places like the liberal Montrose precincts – I would have concluded that his vocal anti-Richmond rail stance had won over people who would not otherwise be inclined to vote for him. I’d come to that conclusion because what else could explain it? Nothing that I can think of.

The rest you already know. There is no evidence in the precinct data to support the idea that being anti-Richmond rail moved votes into Culberson’s column. He lost support in every precinct surrounding Richmond except for Afton Oaks. He lost votes overall in the surrounding area. He underperformed relative to other Republicans in those precincts, meaning that it wasn’t the case that it was just the bad year for the GOP that did him in. He even lost support in the precincts along Westpark, just as he lost support along Richmond. In short, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that being anti-rail on Richmond was a winning issue for Culberson. Which is what I’ve been saying all along.

As for Martha Wong, I’d agree that the Richmond rail issue was not as big a deal in her campaign as it was in Culberson’s. But her position was no secret:

Houston Chronicle, February 17:

Some 350 people arrived in cars, buses and light rail trains Thursday to hear 28 of them advise the Metro board on whether its planned University line should go on Richmond Avenue.


State Rep. Martha Wong, one of five elected officials who spoke, also favored Westpark. Wong said many small businesses on Richmond would suffer while Westpark has relatively few to be affected.

“We voted on it to go down Westpark, and we feel you ought to follow the vote,” said Wong, R-Houston.

Houston Chronicle, March 16:

Opponents of a Metro light rail line being considered for Richmond Avenue found no allies in their fight to reroute the line to Westpark Drive at West University Place’s City Council meeting Monday.

State Rep. Martha Wong, R-District 134, and a small contingent of business owners and stakeholders trying to stop Metro from placing its University Line project along Richmond Avenue appeared before the council to gauge the city’s interest in joining them in their effort to route the line on Westpark.

Houston Chronicle, August 17:

[West University] Council voted unanimously to support the Metro Solutions Transit Plan to construct the University Corridor light rail line along Richmond Avenue, a topic that has been emotionally debated, particularly by southeast residents.


[Council member Mike] Woods criticized state Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, saying he feels Wong’s apparent support of a Westpark rail alignment does not represent the interests of West University.

“In the spring, she came before council stating her support for a Westpark line and asking for ours,” he said. “I don’t feel that rail on the Westpark side is in the best interest of Greater Houston. Rail is a regional issue, and the discomfort to immediate areas during construction is unfortunate but inevitable to the success of an effective rail system.”

Houston Chronicle, September 22:

On another issue during the debate, Cohen deflected a question about whether Metro’s University light rail line should run on Richmond, saying that the Legislature has nothing to do with Metro.

Wong reproached Cohen, saying the Legislature authorized the creation of local transit authorities in 1973.

And finally, Blue Bayou related a conversation between Wong and one of her constituents, who favored rail on Richmond.

Basically, anyone who paid any attention to the issues in this affluent, educated, well-informed district knew who stood where. And again, if there was any propensity for voters to override their normal preferences based on opposition to rail on Richmond, it simply does not show up in the precinct data. Wong did worse than Culberson in these areas. And again, as before, I can’t say that being against rail on Richmond cost Wong votes, but I can and do say that it did not gain her any.

I hope this clears things up. Any questions, let me know.

Richmond rail effect revisited

I have four things to say about this Chron article regarding the Richmond rail issue and its possible effects on the Wong-Cohen race:

1. I covered this exact topic more than two weeks ago, both here and at Kuff’s World.

2. I have sent an email to Rad Sallee and James Campbell pointing this out and asking why my work was not acknowledged. I will print any response I get.

3. The story contains two factual matters that need to be addressed:

Wong ran stronger in boxes farther west. In Precinct 233, which includes the Greenway Plaza complex, Cohen had only a narrow majority. This is one of several locations where Metro could cross the line over from Richmond to Westpark.

And Wong swamped Cohen with 62 percent of the vote in precincts 177 and 178, which include Afton Oaks and adjoining Highland Village. Afton Oaks residents have led opposition to the Richmond route.

All of this is true. It also fails to mention that Wong had carried Precinct 233 in 2004 (as Culberson did in both 2004 and 2006), and that Wong lost support in boxes 177 and 178 when compared to 2004 (64.89% in ’04 versus 59.07% in ’06 for Wong in 177, 67.24% and 66.27% in 178). In fact, Wong lost support in every single precinct that contains Richmond Ave from 2004 to 2006. There is no “other hand” for her here.

Daphne Scarbrough, a leader of the Richmond Avenue Coalition, which opposes rail there, said she thinks the issue played little if any role in Wong’s defeat.

“Our area is much more Democratic than it is Republican,” said Scarbrough, who owns and lives above a metal arts shop on Richmond near Shepherd.

If by “our area”, Scarbrough means “the precincts east of Kirby that include Richmond”, then Scarborough is right. That’s definitely Democratic turf. However, if she meant all of HD134 (which is my interpretation), then she’s wrong. The average Democratic statewide candidate got 45.89% in HD134, and the average Democratic countywide candidate got 48.42%. Only six Democrats – Jim Henley, Bill Moody, Jim Sharp, Mary Kay Green, Richard Garcia, and Cohen – got a majority of the vote there. That makes HD134 less Republican than it was in 2004 and 2002, but still Republican overall.

4. Finally, short of exit polling, you can’t really say that rail was a factor in Wong’s defeat. It wasn’t that big a theme in the campaign – education, health care, and the gay marriage amendment were all more dominant. What you can say, what I did say about Culberson as well, was that being anti-Richmond rail did not help Wong. She did not pick up any support in the areas that would be inclined to vote for Cohen based on other issues; in fact, as noted, she lost support everywhere, including in the one precinct where anti-Richmond sentiment was strongest. Being anti-Richmond rail may or may not have cost Martha Wong votes, but it sure didn’t help her gain any votes.

Having said that, these paragraphs don’t make sense to me:

Hot opposition to rail on Richmond flared red in the Nov. 7 election, but a Houston Chronicle analysis of the vote suggests that outside the most vocal neighborhoods the passion drops off.


Wong first won the District 134 seat in 2002 and held it in 2004, but this time she lost by 12 percentage points despite the district’s Republican-leaning history. In the district’s seven precincts that include or border Richmond, Cohen drew 59 percent of the vote and Wong 38 percent, with the remainder going to a Libertarian candidate.

In 2004, Wong took 45 percent in those same precincts, which run from Graustark to the West Loop. Although some of the precincts extend north to Westheimer, all of their voters live less than a mile from Richmond and most are much closer.

The problem with this is that paragraph 1 implies that there was some kind of anti-Richmond rail effect that was visible in the returns from the precincts close to Richmond Ave, when as we’ve already seen what there was specifically contradicts that, which those subsequent paragraphs acknowledge. The story is very simple: Being anti-Richmond rail did not help Martha Wong. It may or may not have hurt her, but it did not help her. Period.

Now we’ll see what feedback I get from the Chron. Stay tuned.

Follow the bouncing election dates

As we have seen, the runoff dates for CD23 and HD29 are a week apart, with CD23 coming first on December 12. That date, which is the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe for Catholics, has drawn complaints by Latino organizations. They have now taken those complaints to the Justice Department.

LULAC has objected to the date for the District 23 runoff because it falls on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a religious holy day celebrated by many Catholic Hispanics by attending Mass, holding processions and family gatherings and other events. The district that stretches from near El Paso to South Texas and takes in several counties on the border has a 61 percent Hispanic voting age population.

“The state representative district is predominantly white-Anglo population and would not be affected by ‘El dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe’,” LULAC national attorney Luis Vera Jr. said in the DOJ filing, using the Spanish translation of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The 23rd district’s voters are “adversely affected by setting it on the holiest of religious holidays. There can possibly be no other reason for the different dates than an attempt to suppress the Latino vote.”

Vera also contends the state could have set the District 23 [runoff date] on a Saturday and that it did not have to be on a Tuesday.


Because Texas has a history of discriminating against minority voters, it is required to seek approval of election changes and decisions from the Department of Justice. Vera is asking DOJ not to approve the runoff date unless the state extends early voting to include a Saturday or Sunday and the election date is not on a holy day and a day that provides adequate time for all voters to be notified of the election.

I’m not equipped to evaluate the legal merits of LULAC’s complaint here, but I will say that I can think of no good reason why early voting would not include both a Saturday and a Sunday. According to South Texas Chisme, who has been following the backs and forths in this, the Bexar County Commissioners’ Court has extended early voting to do just that, in defiance of the Secretary of State. I really don’t understand what the state’s resistance is about here, especially if by adding the extra Early Voting dates the complaint to Justice would be dropped. Well, okay, I do understand their resistance, but I’m trying to think of a non-partisan objection. And I’m coming up blank.

Precinct analysis: One more thing about Danno

Didn’t quite get the chance to do the next writeup that I have in mind, but in the course of noodling around with it, I found another nice little illustration of why Dan Patrick was not exactly all that and a bag of chips. While looking at the data in HD138, I noticed the following:

Pcnct Culberson Henley Murphy Thibaut Patrick Kubosh ======================================================= 130 933 302 918 320 902 326 356 778 397 786 386 782 406 395 600 245 608 246 581 270 438 742 237 737 246 725 250 483 918 562 884 598 915 583 492 658 310 652 328 645 340 493 574 243 581 242 543 272 499 884 317 896 321 844 352 504 789 328 777 348 758 358 625 513 290 501 303 515 297 626 616 410 598 428 583 453 706 102 65 103 65 107 64 727 207 283 193 280 194 298 Total 8,314 3,989 8,234 4,111 8,094 4,269

We already knew that Patrick trailed most of the State Rep candidates, Murphy included. This is the precinct breakdown of that, with Culberson/Henley thrown in for extra contrast. Even though Culberson and Murphy had to contend with a Libertarian on the ballot as well as their Democratic opponents, at least one of them topped Patrick’s vote total in 10 of the 12 precincts, with both of them doing better than Danno in 8 of them. Maybe three-term Congressman Culberson should be leading the pack here, even with a Genuine Celebrity on the ballot and even though Henley provided a fairly strong challenge, but what about fellow first-time candidate Jim Murphy? You’d think Danno’s star would have outshined Murphy’s, but you’d be wrong. And note again that this is not due to undervoting – Michael Kubosh picks up all of the tallies that evaporate from the R column. The total spread across the three races is a mere 58 votes, so this is as concise a comparison as you could want.

Anyway. It doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, but it’s a nice capsule review of the phenomenon. More to come from other races soon.

Cuellar backs Ciro

Maybe this has something to do with his rumored interest in the 2008 Senate race and maybe it doesn’t, but I for one am glad to see Rep. Henry Cuellar bury the hatchet and get behind Ciro Rodriguez in his runoff race versus Rep. Henry Bonilla.

Rodriguez and Cuellar had been friends but had a falling out when Cuellar opposed Rodriguez in 2004. Cuellar, who also squashed Rodriguez’s attempt to win back his seat in March, now represents the 28th congressional district.

Cuellar joined Texas’ House Democrats, 11 total, in signing a letter to Rodriguez pledging support.

“The members of the delegation are committed to travel to your district, send you resources and work with our colleagues in the House to get you re-elected,” they said in the letter.

Vince is also pleased by this development. Look, I was as big a booster of Ciro over Cuellar in March as anyone. I’d still prefer Ciro over Cuellar if that were the choice before me. But that fight was fought, and the side I picked lost. It’s time to get over it and move on, because the prize here is the even bigger one of ousting Bonilla. I applaud Cuellar for doing his part, and I promise to do mine. We’re on the same team now, so let’s make the most of it.

Greg also notes this story, and has a video of the DCCC’s ad that’s now playing in the district. Check it out.

Precinct analysis: SD07

I was going to save this one for later, but given the mostly fawning profile that just ran in the Statesman, plus my own recent tweaking of him, I suppose now is as good a time as any to analyze the performance of Dan Patrick in SD07.

To be honest, I wasn’t planning to even run the numbers in this one. The district is pretty monolithic, and it’s not like Patrick’s opponent (and onetime financial backer) Michael Kubosh ran any sort of campaign against him, so I didn’t think there’d be anything of interest there. But I reached the end of the State Rep districts and had a little extra time on my hands, so I figured what the heck.

And I’m glad I did, because I didn’t get the result I had expected. I thought Patrick, given his celebrity status, universal name recognition, and (let’s be honest) high charisma level, would be the pacesetter in his district. I fully anticipated seeing him at the top of the heap.

I was wrong. By any reasonable measure, Patrick’s performance was mediocre when compared to his fellow Republicans. Take a look at how he stacks up to the statewide and countywide candidates:

Candidate Votes Pct Opponent Votes ============================================== Abbott 125,195 74.23 Van Os 43,457 Hutchison 123,420 73.60 Radnofsky 44,270 Combs 123,070 73.37 Head 44,672 Dewhurst 120,539 72.93 Alvarado 44,731 Kaufman 120,491 71.80 Pierre 47,326 State GOP 118,883 71.65 State Dem 47,049 Cong GOP 118,480 71.34 Cong Dem 47,607 Patrick 117,975 69.19 Kubosh 52,531 Keller 117,578 70.32 Molina 49,629 Bacarisse 117,377 70.71 Shike 48,630 Patterson 117,042 71.41 Hathcox 46,848 Staples 116,591 70.72 Gilbert 48,277 Ames Jones 115,698 70.48 Henry 48,456 County GOP 114,251 69.01 County Dem 51,297 Willet 110,812 67.60 Moody 53,100

Recall that every statewide race save for Keller-Molina had a Libertarian in it as well; there was no Lib in SD07. I’d guess that Patterson and possibly Staples would have surpassed Patrick otherwise. Patrick did do slightly better than average at the county level, but then so did Kubosh – he garnered more Dem votes than everyone except for Sharp, Moody, Garcia, and Green.

Note also that the combined GOP Congressional vote exceeded Patrick’s total. This provides a nice comparison, since every precinct in SD07 is also in either CD02, 07, or 10. Here’s how that broke down:

Candidate Votes Pct ========================== Poe 24,289 74.72 Binderim 8,217 25.28 Patrick 22,514 69.07 Kubosh 10,084 30.93 ---------- Culberson 61,433 68.22 Henley 28,614 31.78 Patrick 60,749 67.05 Kubosh 29,854 32.95 ---------- McCaul 32,758 75.25 Ankrum 10,776 24.75 Patrick 33,443 74.61 Kubosh 11,382 25.39

Patrick got a teensy bit more votes than McCaul, but Kubosh got almost as many votes more than Ankrum, so the percentages favor McCaul, who as with the statewides and like Culberson and Poe had to contend with a Lib candidate as well.

Want more? Here’s how Patrick compares to the various State Reps who faced a contested election:

StateRepGOP Votes Pct StateRepDem Votes Pct ================================================== Harless 14,885 74.62 Khan 5,064 25.38 Patrick 14,896 73.54 Kubosh 5,360 26.46 Murphy 8,234 66.70 Thibaut 4,111 33.30 Patrick 8,094 65.47 Kubosh 4,269 34.53 Wong 1,965 53.76 Cohen 1,690 46.24 Patrick 2,049 57.80 Kubosh 1,496 42.20 Woolley 19,806 71.75 Brann 7,799 28.28 Patrick 19,461 69.34 Kubosh 8,605 30.66 Spivey 186 31.79 Hochberg 399 68.21 Patrick 193 33.33 Kubosh 386 66.67 Bohac 2,336 63.79 McDavid 1,326 36.21 Patrick 2,283 61.60 Kubosh 1,423 38.40 Riddle 22,384 70.23 N-Turnier 9,487 29.77 Patrick 22,177 69.54 Kubosh 9,713 30.46 Total GOP 69,796 70.03 Total Dem 29,876 29.97 Patrick 69,153 68.87 Kubosh 31,152 31.13

The totals are smaller here because some of the State Rep districts in SD07 were uncontested. Patrick did do better than Sylvia Spivey and Martha Wong. I think that’s the definition of not saying much.

The point I’m making here is that despite everything that he had going for him, Dan Patrick performed only slightly better than the average anonymous downballot Republican judicial candidate. He got only a few more votes than the second tier Republican statewides, who had to contend with greater dropoff and third-party candidates. He failed to match any of the three Congressmen (in a year where Congressional approval levels threatened to dip below those of the Ebola virus) and most of the State Reps. In short, the only remarkable thing about his performance was that there was nothing remarkable about it.

And remember, he was running against a fringe candidate who did no visible campaigning and reported zero dollars raised during the race. Really, if anything stands out in all these numbers, it’s how much better than the other Dems Michael Kubosh did. Some of this can be explained by the lack of a Libertarian to serve as the not-Republican alternative, but not all of it. At the statewide level, there were generally about 5000 votes cast for the Lib in the SD07 precincts. You’d have to transfer all of those votes and then some (about 1000 more for the lower tier races, 3000-4000 for the top four) to Kubosh to balance things out. Maybe Kubosh did pick up all those votes, I can’t say for sure. As there was no reason to vote for Michael Kubosh, the one explanation that makes sense to me is that there was a small but dedicated group of people who just wanted to vote against Dan Patrick. Didn’t matter who the alternative was as long as it wasn’t Danno. Kubosh was the beneficiary of that. Who knows, maybe if Kubosh had been a real candidate who ran a viable campaign, he might have done even better. I don’t expect to find that out in a district like SD07, but maybe we will someplace that isn’t so brightly red, say statewide. (Not that such a thought has ever occurred to Danno. Oh, no, not him.)

Anyway. You just never know what the numbers will say. That’s what makes this so much fun. Tune in tomorrow for another installment in this series.