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October 15th, 2004:

Endorsement watch: District court judges

We have our first endorsement of a non-incumbent today, as the Chron supports Bruce Mosier for the 189th District (Civil) Court. Mosier was the closest challenger to win in the Bar Poll, and as expected, the Chron followed those recommendations to the letter otherwise. Which means that Kathy Stone joined Mosier as the only other Democrat to get endorsed. If you’re a Harris County Democratvoter, remember those names. They’re definitely worth your vote.

UPDATE: More from Greg, who laments that Zone Nguyen didn’t get a nod. I’ll second that, and note that I’ve met all of the Democratic judicial candidates in Harris County, and would recommend all of them.

A little Austin weekend activism

You Austinites who don’t mind missing a little football have a GOTV opportunity this Sunday. Click the More link for more.


Old campaign issues never die

They just get recycled in more dishonest forms.

For a politician to accuse an opponent of “voting against our troops” during a time of war is the campaign equivalent of dropping a bomb.

That’s what challenger Ann Witt does in a glossy full-color mailout attacking Democratic state Rep. Scott Hochberg.


In copy pasted over photos of soldiers in tanks and of a soldier saluting the American flag, Witt accuses Hochberg of voting “to make it more difficult for” troops stationed away from home to vote in state and local elections.

The brochure quotes Lt. Col. Jerry Patterson, the Republican Texas Land Commissioner, as saying, “A politician who votes to deny overseas military personnel the right to vote in local elections, is a politician who doesn’t deserve your vote in any election!”

But to characterize the vote in question as indicating Hochberg is anti-military is a huge leap.

In 1997, Hochberg joined 71 other members of the Texas House, mostly Democrats, in voting for an Election Code amendment sponsored by then-Rep. Hugo Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi.

The vote took place in the wake of an election controversy in Val Verde County, home of the city of Del Rio and of Laughlin Air Force Base, a 3,300-person training facility for undergraduate pilots.

In the 1996 elections, two Republican candidates, one for sheriff and one for county commissioner, won by margins so close that they appeared to be affected by the votes of military personnel stationed elsewhere.

Democrats filed a lawsuit under the belief that a significant number of the 800 military voters had questionable connections to Val Verde County. The suit claimed allowing their vote violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the vote of Hispanic residents of the county.

Affidavits from some of the voters did raise interesting issues.

More than 200 of the voters had left blank a space for residency in the federal application to vote they filled out.

One said he did intend to return to Texas someday, but to Austin or San Antonio. Another owned and lived in a Florida home that he listed as his homestead for tax purposes.

Yet another hadn’t even been stationed at Laughlin. He had visited Del Rio 26 years earlier to visit his grandmother on his honeymoon.

The suit eventually failed, but it was in the context of this controversy that Berlanga offered his amendment.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it came up in last year’s Mayoral race. (Nice to know that Jerry Patterson is keeping busy, by the way. He must not have all that much to do as Land Commissioner, beyond making these charges and challenging New Mexico to a duel.) At least that attack had some basis in reality, given Bill White’s role in the Val Verde aftermath as State Democratic Party Chair. Ann Witt’s smear is straight out of the my-opponent-supports-terrorism handbook. Props to Hotshot Casey for filling in the details. If you agree, drop by Scott Hochberg‘s place and show him some love.


How did the Astros blow it last night? Let me count the ways:

– Biggio hacks at a 1-0 pitch after Matt Morris walked the pitcher to load the bases. Would it have killed you to take a strike, Craig?

– Bagwell and Beltran get confused over the steal sign, turning Jeff Kent’s 3-2 strikeout into an easy double play.

– Speaking of double plays, Ensberg and Kent fail to turn one in the fifth, which would have gotten Pete Munro out of the inning. Instead, Larry Walker homers, then so does Scott Rolen. Bye bye, 3-0 lead.

– Eric Bruntlett’s botched sacrifice after (mirabile dictu!) Vizcaino and Ausmus both single to lead off the sixth.

It was like watching a football team roll up 500 yards of offense but turn the ball over six times. How else do you explain eighteen baserunners and only four runs? Argh.