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June 6th, 2009:

One week of early voting in the District H runoff

I did my civic duty on Friday at Moody Park, early in the morning – according to the sign-in sheet, I was the fifth person to vote that day. That makes me one of 1302 people to cast their ballot, in person or by mail, so far in this runoff. Unless the weekend totals are a complete bust, I imagine we’ll have on the order of 2000 votes by close of business Tuesday, which means my original projection is almost certain to be low, quite possibly very low. It’s not out of the question to me at this point that the runoff could get almost as many voters as the May election. Probably not, but if we’re at 2000 votes on Wednesday, an equivalent amount on the 13th is conceivable.

This week we saw the first example of negative campaigning, as Maverick Welsh sent out a couple of mailers that said Ed Gonzalez was part of the “same tired system” and represents “politics as usual”. This has made some folks, like Stace, unhappy with Welsh. I have three things to say about this. One, I thought these mailers were pretty generic as far as attacks go – I definitely thought the stuff sent out in 2003 about Adrian Garcia was worse. As such, they didn’t particularly bother me. Two, the language used in these pieces strikes me as the kind of thing one candidate says when the other candidate has the support of much of the political establishment, including the previous occupant of the office. At its core, the message is “Vote for change”, which when you consider that seven months ago the people in District H voted like crazy for Adrian Garcia for Sheriff, may perhaps not be an optimal strategy. And finally, along those lines, some other late in the game attacks against Garcia made by his 2003 runoff opponent Diana Davila Martinez seem to have benefited him more than they harmed him, at least in my neck of the woods. We’ll know soon enough if history repeats itself.

Saturday video break: The Bad Precedents

In honor of sine die, Austin’s most powerful band:

Rock on, y’all.

A third try for Sly?

I find this a little hard to understand.

Rep. Sylvester Turner is thinking about running for Mayor of Houston, again. His press folks just confirmed to me that he’s “thinking it over” and will make a decision in two weeks. You’ll remember that six years ago, Turner failed to make the runoff against Bill White, coming in third behind Orlando Sanchez.

He ran for Mayor before that as well, if you remembered what happened then, you’ve truly been around for a while.

Yes, I’m old enough to remember the 1991 Mayoral race and its aftermath, of which KTRK was a key player (scroll down a bit). I can understand why Turner might be thinking about hanging up his spikes in the Lege, but I don’t honestly see how there’s room for him in this race. The Chron talks to him about this.

“There have been some people that have asked me to take a look at it,” he said, declining to provide names. “Some have been elected officials and some have been community folk … I’m not interested in trying to dangle something out in front of people, but I will take a look at it and make a firm decision fairly soon.”

Turner said he was approached about three weeks ago and promised potential supporters he would “take a look at it” after the legislative session concluded, which it did earlier this week.

“It’s no mystery to anybody my interest there in terms of the city of Houston. That’s clearly there,” he said. “I’m not trying to dance on the stage or have people speculating. I have not gone to anybody and said, ‘What do you think?’ I will take a look at how this race has unfolded, whether people are looking for another option and whether or not people think that I would be a good fit for where the city is at this time.”

Throwing his hat in the ring “is a remote possibility for me now,” he said.

Professor Murrary has an in-depth look at Turner’s motivation and chances, and suggests that while anything is possible, it all seems unlikely. I’m definitely in the same boat as he – never say never, and maybe Rep. Turner sees something I’m not, but I have my doubts about his potential candidacy. Marc Campos, who was on Turner’s 2003 campaign, sees it more positively for him. What do you think?

UPDATE: Nancy Sims has both the best blog post title on this subject and the teasing suggestion that Turner may not be the only “surprise” Mayoral candidate in the wings. Hmmm…

Moving rail outward

David Crossley of Houston Tomorrow contributes a blog post to the Chron about an idea for transit in the Energy Corridor out west on I-10 that’s as interesting in its origins as it is in its concept. Check it out.

The secret coaches’ poll

Starting next year, you may know which college football coaches are voting in the USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll, but you may not know how they vote at the end of the year.

The final regular-season ballots in the USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll will no longer be made public beginning with the 2010 season, the American Football Coaches Association announced Wednesday.

The return to a confidential voting process — for the first time since before the 2005 season — was among several changes for the USA Today poll.

The AFCA, which administers the coaches’ poll, opted to make the changes on the recommendation of a three-month independent study by Gallup World Poll of the voter selection process and voting procedures. The coaches’ poll is one of three components used to decide who plays in the Bowl Championship Series title game.

“It’s important that we make the coaches’ poll the best it can be, and putting in place the recommendations coming out of the Gallup study will help ensure that,” AFCA executive director Grant Teaff said in a statement.


Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who voted in the coaches’ poll last year, isn’t sure keeping ballots confidential will change anything.

“It’s still going to be political no matter what happens,” said Leach, who had no problem disclosing final ballots. “There’s still going to be some politics and agendas involved with this no matter what. I don’t know if there is a way to avoid it 100 percent.”

I think Coach Leach is correct, though given that there’s a game that’s been designated as the “championship” game, I doubt it matters that much. The real question, I think, is why do we even bother having a coaches’ poll? Does anyone really think that during the season any coach is familiar enough with opponents that aren’t on their schedule to judge their merits relative to other schools with which they may not be familiar? We actually already know the answer to that, so why do we bother? What purpose, other than tradition, does the coaches’ poll serve?