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June 18th, 2006:

It’s a precinct chair’s world

The Chron throws a little love to the GOP precinct chairs of CD22 as they gear up to select a replacement for Tom DeLay.

“We’ve been discovered,” said Harris County precinct chair Kathy Haigler. “We are the lowest level of public officials that exist. We are the last ones on the ballot. But we are the first ones candidates call for an endorsement.”

[…]

A four-member committee representing each of the counties in the district will select the nominee to replace DeLay on the November ballot. And precinct chairs in the district will name the committee from among their ranks, so they’re getting lots of attention from more than half a dozen candidates who covet the spot on the ballot.

Besides selecting the November nominee who may well succeed DeLay in the U.S. House, Harris County GOP precinct chairs also will nominate a candidate to replace County Treasurer Jack Cato, who died May 22.

[…]

“Good precinct chairs know the primary voting history and identification of registered voters for each home in their district,” said Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill.

“They are the building blocks of the party. It’s the secret to having a successful grass-roots organization,” he said.

The job has become less secret because of the battle to succeed DeLay. “These elections have put the precinct chairs in the limelight,” Woodfill said.

Woodfill is seizing the opportunity as a recruiting tool. In Harris County, about 40 percent of the precinct chair posts are vacant.

Woodfill has the ambitious goal of bringing the proportion of occupied GOP precinct chairs to 90 percent.

I’m sure this kind of publicity can only help that effort. I mean, wow.

That nasty old lawsuit wasn’t discussed in this story. There are some pretty good comments about it in that post. As with the selection process itself, that puts us in some uncharted waters. I’d love to see some more written about this. The politics are obvious enough, but the merits – heck, the questions themselves – are less so. Consider this, which hasn’t gotten a whole lot of play (besides Greg).

No matter what court hears the case, the issue is DeLay’s eligibility, Democrats said.

Democrats are calling the former Majority Leader’s move to Virginia “a sham.”

“The merits of this case are still there, no matter what court,” said Hector Nieto, deputy communications director for Texas Democrats. “The fact is we cannot say for certain Tom DeLay is a Virginia resident.

“He was still voting as a Texas congressman in Congress even though he had registered to and voted in Virginia.”

On DeLay’s last day in office, he showed off a sticker that indicated he had voted absentee in the Virginia Republican primary.

A few hours later, he cast his last vote as a congressman as a representative from Texas. DeLay contends his move to Virginia did not prevent him from serving in Congress but did make him ineligible to be on the November ballot for another term in office.

Where do you even begin with that? I’d really like to see more written about this, but a Google news search on “DeLay lawsuit” comes up nearly dry. I just don’t know what to make of that.

And of course, there’s another issue that isn’t touched on in this story:

Haigler, who is seeking to represent Harris County on the selection committee, predicted that the Harris and Fort Bend county representatives will back candidates from their home counties, which could make the other two county representatives the swing votes. “Galveston and Brazoria have no dog in the hunt,” she said.

The hell they don’t. This is not an election, where those two counties would represent about 20% of the voters in CD22. This is a committee-of-four selection. Galveston and Brazoria represent half of that committee. They have exactly as much clout as Harris and Fort Bend, though they weren’t a part of this story. If a hopeful could win the support of both of these committee members, he or she would be Chosen One. It’s as simple as that. (Even winning one might be enough.) There’s a rumor going around that this has already happened. I can only wonder what Kathy Haigler would say to that.

ActBlue active for Texas

Our appeal for ActBlue was successful – thanks to everyone who donated, ActBlue will be activated for Texas state races. You’ll be hearing much more about this in the coming weeks. I’m pleased to see that Dallas Blog picked up on this. Kudos to them for being plugged into what the Texas netroots are doing.

In the meantime, BOR wants to know “what types or mix of candidates or ‘requirements’ would you propose for candidates to be on” the upcoming TexRoots page? What qualities should a candidate have to not just be supported but be advocated by bloggers for their readers? I’d also like to know any feedback you may have on this. Thanks very much.

Implementing the Mayor’s clean air plan

Following up on the earlier report about the air quality situation in Houston, City Council Member Carol Alvarado, a native of the most-affected area, writes an op-ed in the Chron that gives a call to action.

The state Legislature meets again in 2007. It is then that we must devise a regional approach to this problem, encompassing both market-based solutions and ironclad clean air standards backed up by firm regulatory powers.

Furthermore, as the summer wears on, candidates for elected office in Texas will be visiting Houston asking for your vote in November. It is incumbent upon every Houstonian to insist that each candidate for office this fall also commit to taking action on this problem to whatever degree the office they seek permits. Whether you live in the East End or Clear Lake, Kingwood or Meyerland, you should ask them what they are going to do about this issue if they are elected. If they say, “I’m going to study it some more,” they don’t deserve your support.

The facts are indisputable and more than sufficient to demand a firm commitment to action. Houston’s air is full of deadly toxins. The health effects are enormous and the social costs are clear. The financial burden is also significant, and each and every one of us is required to foot the bill.

Even if you live in a part of town that is the least affected by these toxins, understand that the most affected areas are also home to people least likely to be able to afford health insurance. Therefore, they don’t go to the doctor when they sense health problems because they simply can’t. When the problem becomes chronic and severe, they go to the emergency room, and the doctor bill is sent to the taxpayer.

In addition, dirty air and the attendant publicity about it make our region less attractive to new investment. The fact is, this limits our economic potential.

What else can I say besides “I agree”?