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November 5th, 2002:

One early bright spot

From the election returns on the Secretary of State web page:


U. S. Representative District 23

Candidate          Total  Pct   Early  Pct
Henry Bonilla* REP 13,586 29.3% 11,163 26.2%
Henry Cuellar  DEM 32,426 69.9% 31,053 73.0%
Jeffrey Blunt  LIB    279  0.6%    225  0.5%
Ed Scharf      GRN    128  0.3%    104  0.2%
----------------------------
Vote Total 46,419       42,545
Precincts Reporting  45 of 339 Precincts 13.3%

This would be a Democratic pickup if it holds. Some other races with Dem incumbents are close early on, so this one would be nice to have.

Glitches and delays

Straight party ballots in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) did not register a vote for any candidate, an apparent programming glitch with their electronic voting machines. No results are expected until Wednesday morning.

Fox26 in Houston (which, amazingly, doesn’t seem to have a real web page) is reporting delays in counting the early ballots in Bexar County (San Antonio). The Express-News has nothing on that right now.

All GOP statewide candidates seem to have early leads. John Sharp is closest (according to the Fox26 ticket), trailing 52-46.

A tour of Texas blogger voting

Rob Humenik likes eSlate with a couple of reservations. He also has a boatload of links about turnout and some advice on who to vote for.

Larry finds an interesting analogy for voting. He also thinks that the eSlate machines are poorly designed.

Karin is a voter of few words.

Jack Cluth closes out his campaign for Governor by promising to name his dog the Official State Mascot.

Ted is still AWOL. One suspects he voted for a few Democrats either today or during early voting.

Alex is on hiatus as well, but before he left he gave us some thoughts about the Governor’s race and the Hatfields and McCoys of Pasadena.

Scott was unable to vote due to an out of date registration.

Kevin was an early bird today and will reward himself with various distractions for the rest of the day.

Emilie recalls Election Days past.

Greg is celebrating his birthday today by voting straight Democrat, among other planned festivities. He also gives the wherefores of voting.

Binkley has a whole lot of election stuff. Start at the top and scroll down.

HWRNMNBSOL has all the news you’ll need.

Greg Wythe encountered some sleepy poll workers and a paper ballot for a State Senate race. He also has some interesting numbers up, so start at the top and scroll down.

Angie Schultz corrects the Corner’s weather report.

Owen is voting Republican. No surprise there. He also has his predictions up.

I plan on watching Buffy and 24. Such are the benefits of voting early.

A really important election

From Ananova:

Voters in a US town are being asked to decide whether nude bathing should be banned.

The local council in Wilmington, Vermont, voted to bar naked bathers after some locals complained about lewd behaviour at a popular skinny-dipping spot.

Voters narrowly upheld the ruling at a special town meeting in August.

But supporters of nude bathing drew up a petition in a bid to reverse the decision.

This means voters are being balloted again on whether the ban should stand.

The fans of the all-over tan say the nudists are polite and bring needed tourists dollars to town.

But opponents say the nude beach is littered with used condoms.

Jeez, it’s in Vermont for Pete’s sake. How long is the skinny-dipping season up there, two weeks?

Thanks to Mikey for the link.

Good weather, long lines

As cold and wet and nasty as yesterday was, you couldn’t ask for a nicer day today – bright and sunny, clear blue skies, high around 70, no wind. If people can’t be bothered to vote, it won’t be because of inclement weather.

Early indicators are long lines and some confusion with the eSlate machines, but no major problems as yet. Turnout is still forecast as being in the 5 million range, which is about 40%.

I stopped by my neighborhood polling place while walking my dog and chatted with a couple of leafletters. As of 4:30 PM they were reporting that things were kinda slow, but most people weren’t home from work yet.

A little less than two hours till polls close.

Here’s a list of vote suppression tactics going on around the country, including this one in Hidalgo County. The Secretary of State has a toll-free number (1-800-252-8683) for those who wish to complain.

Our long local nightmare is almost over

The 55 MPH speed limit is officially dead, to the point where even Miracle Max couldn’t revive it. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go and put the lead weights back in my shoes. Woo hoo!

RIP, KIKK

Longtime Houston country radio station KIKK has changed format to “smooth jazz”.

The station was rechristened KHJZ “Smooth Jazz 95.7 The Wave” at noon Monday. Sade’s Smooth Operator was the first song played.

The new station will feature Anita Baker, David Koz, Kenny G and Luther Vandross, along with classic jazz by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and Dave Brubeck.

“It’s all about the mood. It’s sophisticated, contemporary and very metropolitan (music),” said Laura Morris, vice president and general manager of Infinity Radio’s four Houston stations. “Houston is a sophisticated, metropolitan city that deserves this kind of a mix.”

Infinity has been successful with smooth-jazz formats in Los Angeles and Dallas. Morris said Houston was one of only two of the top 10 radio markets in the nation without a smooth jazz station.

While I certainly won’t argue against a station that plays Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, I personally will not run the risk of encountering a Kenny G. song on my radio. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I think the biggest effect of this change will be all the pickup trucks that have KIKK bumper stickers on them that say things like “KIKKup truck” and “Proud to be a KIKKer”. I can’t imagine any of them good ol’ boys humming along to Sade, but in some cases the sticker may be the only thing affixing the bumper to the chassis. Something will have to give, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

I’m moderately surprised to see that the Evil Empire (aka Clear Channel) was not involved in any way. That’s not to say that the general evil of ownership consolidation wasn’t involved:

KIKK began operation in 1959 and was a country powerhouse for years. It regularly ranked as the top station in Houston. As recently as 1993, it ranked No. 2 among all Houston radio stations, just behind KILT.

But its fortunes changed when Westinghouse Broadcasting, owner of KILT, acquired KIKK in 1993. New management fired many longtime KIKK DJs and ratings plummeted.

KILT and the former KIKK are now both owned by Infinity. Though the purchase that started KIKK’s troubles predates the odious Telecommunications Act of 1996, it’s still a casualty of consolidated corporate ownership. Can any free-market libertarian explain to me why it’s a Good Thing that a handful of companies can own all of the dozens of radio stations in a given market? I’m just not seeing it.

OK I lied – this is the last one

Alex points out what can happen when a politician doesn’t register his preferred domain name in time. Anyone that slow on the ball in 2002 deserves to lose, and I’m not just saying that because the candidate in question is David Dewhurst.

(Best of luck with your novel, Alex.)

It’s almost over

This is my last post on the election until the results are in. At this point, I’ll be as glad as anyone to see it in my rear-view mirror.

The weather should not be a factor in Harris County. That’s good news.

Over 418,000 people voted early, a 70% increase from 1998.

Both sides are expressing optimism about today. Lots of folks are making predictions. I generally avoid making predictions because I hate being wrong and I’m just superstitious enough to worry about putting a hex on things.

Finally, to the Libertarian candidate for a local office in Austin who spammed me over the weekend: There’s a reason why targeted campaigning is more effective than scattershooting. Welcome to our corporate killfile. Enjoy your stay.

Coattails

I spent another two hours at Tony Sanchez’s Houston headquarters last night calling voters. As before, the people I spoke to were planning on voting or had already voted. No one expressed no interest in the election.

No one seemed daunted by recent polls showing Governor Goodhair in the lead. In fact, a couple of the people there spoke of a Zogby poll (presumably based on early voting) that showed Sanchez with a six-point lead in Harris County. A quick Google search didn’t turn up any links to such a beast, and even if I could find one it’s a small slice of a small slice of the vote. Still, as I said to one of them last night, better six up than six down.

Last night I was wondering about coattails in this race. Republican US Rep. Henry Bonilla over in the 23rd Congressional District is worried about the potential effect that Sanchez may have on his race. I’ve been wondering if some competitive local races such as Sylvia Garcia’s effort to become the first woman elected and the first Hispanic to serve as County Commissioner and Debra Danburg’s battle against Martha Wong in the redrawn 134th State House District will provide coattails for Sanchez. I feel confident that success for Sanchez will correlate with Democratic success at the top of the ticket as well as in races like these. I just can’t decide how much will be cause and how much will be effect with the regional races.

You learn something new every day

Headline in today’s Yahoo News: Gay Sheep May Help Explain Biology of Homosexuals:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gay sheep that mate only with other rams have different brain structures from “straight” sheep, a finding that may shed light on human sexuality, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The differences are similar to those seen in some homosexual humans, but probably only go a small way to explaining the causes of different sexual preferences, the team at Oregon Health & Science University said.

“We are not trying to explain human sexuality by this study,” Charles Roselli, a professor of physiology and pharmacology who led the study, said in a telephone interview. “Whether this is a big component of what contributes in humans, that’s still debatable.”

OK, how many of you, like me, were unable to get past the headline without thinking “I didn’t know there were gay sheep”?

The story’s actually pretty interesting regardless of its obvious appeal to morning radio show personalities. Some things are just too hard to resist, though:

First the scientists watched the sheep to be sure of their behavior — something that cannot be done with humans. Then they took apart their brains.

One supposes that last part can’t be done with humans, either.