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December 5th, 2009:

Runoff EV report, Day 6

Today was a beautiful day following yesterday’s snow and ice, there were twelve full hours of early voting, and there were a total of 6,072 in-person ballots cast (no mail ballots today), which is almost indistinguishable from the first four days. Here’s the spreadsheet, for your edification. I expect tomorrow to be slow, as the Sunday of early voting usually is, with the last two days being busier than the first four. How busy is the question. So far, there have been 41,389 votes. A total of 62,641 Mayoral ballots were cast early in Round One. Here’s how many early votes you need given different levels of EV proportion to equal the November Mayoral turnout of 178,777 (counting undervotes):

EV % EVs needed To Go ========================= 30 53,633 12,244 35 62,572 21,183 40 71,511 30,122 45 80,450 39,061 50 89,388 47,999

I think 30,000 votes by the end of Tuesday is possible. There were about 26,000 votes cast on the last two days of early voting in November, though that was for all of Harris County; the Houston-only total would have been a bit more than 20,000. Given that I expect forty percent or more of the votes to have been cast by the end of early voting, you can see why I remain pessimistic about the chances of this election’s turnout exceeding that of the November election. We’ll have a much better feel for it on Tuesday night.

Saturday video break: I triple dog dare ya!

A little snow on the ground, and my thoughts turn to this:

The secret to getting unstuck, as I understand it, is to pour some warm water over the affected area. I do not know this from personal experience.

More on the early voting turnout so far

The Chron writes about the early voting turnout so far.

After four days, nearly 10,000 more Houstonians voted early than in the general election, a trend Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said she predicted.

“Voters just weren’t engaged back in November,” she said. “Now that the race has narrowed to two candidates, there’s much more interest.”

After four days of early voting in October, only 3,773 ballots had been mailed to Kaufman’s office, compared to 8,193 this week.

Voters showing up at polling places in October totaled 14,805, compared to 23,199 this time.

I’ll say again, I remain unconvinced that the larger early vote turnout so far indicates a greater turnout overall, as Kaufman and Prof. Murray suggest. I think the trend is towards more early voting than we’ve seen in previous elections. That was the case for the November election, in which 31% of votes were cast early, compared to 25% early voting in the three previous elections. Yet the early vote percentage in the 2003 runoff was 36%, a considerable increase over the November proportion. Because I believe what we’re seeing is more a shift in behavior than anything else, I’m skeptical of the more optimistic turnout projections. Obviously, I could be wrong – as Keir Murray noted in the comments of my previous post, the number of runoff voters who did not participate in November is inching up, and is now 13% of the total. Maybe that will compensate, I don’t know. For now, I’m still taking the under.

One more thing:

Kyle Johnson of Johnson Campaigns has found that early voters in the runoff are: 28 percent black, 7 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian and 61 percent white or other. Women outnumber men 55 percent to 45 percent; older voters, 65 and up, accounted for 57 percent of early voters to date.

That would be Kyle Johnston, not Johnson. Murray made the same typo in his blog post. I’ve seen his figures as well, and the reason why so many voters so far are over 65 is because 96% of the absentee ballots have come from folks in that age group. Their share of in-person early votes is still the biggest, but it’s only 44% of that. I suspect that will decline more as we go along, but will probably still be the plurality.

Ministers speak out against homophobia

More like this, please.

A group of Houston clergy members has signed a letter objecting to recent anti-gay sentiment “espoused by those who co-opt religion as a cover for hatred.”

The letter reads as follows:

We the undersigned religious leaders have gathered our names here to make clear our strong objection to the recent swell in anti-gay sentiment espoused by those who co-opt religion as a cover for hatred. Our diverse traditions are unified in their care and concern for all persons and we firmly believe that our respective religious traditions are weakened by the hate-filled language touted by some as the word of God.

As religious leaders we recognize and respect the dignity and worth of all persons regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. Therefore, we strongly rebuke those who insist on misusing religious texts and traditions to vilify those whose differences have made them most vulnerable. As a diverse group of religious leaders we are unified in our objection to the slander of any one of God’s creation.

We the undersigned state here our belief that those who manipulate tenets of faith to support secular, political discrimination against those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or transgender in the name of sacred faith weaken the very faith they claim to bolster. Religion is weakened by the hypocrisy that lies at the core of homophobia.

Our religions champion the dignity of all persons and we are compelled to set the record straight: our houses of worship, schools, and meeting rooms are inhabited by the diversity that is human kind. While our faiths take differing positions on what human sexuality means before God, we are united in our belief that anti-gay rhetoric in the name of the God for secular, political purposes undermines faith and weakens the bonds between people that make communal life and faith meaningful. Fear and hatred of some diminishes the freedom of all. We deplore the assumption played out in public statements that says that to be religious means to be intolerant.

Religiously based bigotry against gays and lesbians does not represent the core beliefs of our respective faiths. Inflammatory and hateful remarks do not reflect the feelings of most individuals who fill our houses of worship and affiliate with our movements. The language of faith is not the language of fear and hatred. The language of faith is love and respect for all people.

The Reverend Douglas Anders, Conference Minister, South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ

Mr. Burton Bagby-Grose, American Baptist Churches, USA Licensed Minister

The Reverend Carissa Baldwin, Assistant Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

The Reverend Ginny Brown, Daniel Plymouth United Church

The Reverend Dr. Becky Edmiston-Lange and The Reverend Mark Edmiston-Lange Emerson, Unitarian Universalist Church, A “Welcoming Congregation”

Mr. Mark Eggleston, Director of Outreach Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church

The Reverend Dr. Millard F. Eiland Member, Covenant Baptist Church, an ecumenical liberal Baptist congregation, former board member of Alliance of Baptists

The Reverend Rick Elliott, Presbyterian minister

The Reverend Elder Darlene Garner Regional Elder for Southern Texas Region of Metropolitan Community Churches

The Reverend Lura N. Groen, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

Minister Freedom K.D. Gulley, Th.M., Senior Pastor of Progressive Open Door Christian Center-A Fellowship Church

The Reverend Teddy Hardy, St. John United Church of Christ, Campus Minister at Houston Community College Central

The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Rev. Lori Keaton, United Church of Christ Houston Association

The Reverend Dr. David Keyes. Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston

The Rev. Kristen Klein-Cechettini, Director of Life Development, Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church

The Reverend Ralph Lasher, United Church of Christ, Ordained Minister

Rabbi David A. Lyon, Congregation Beth Israel

The Reverend Timothy Marquez, Clergy-Office Manager, South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ

The Reverend Laura Mayo, Covenant Church: an ecumenical, liberal, Baptist congregation (American Baptist Churches/Alliance of Baptists)

Rabbi Mark J. Miller, Congregation Beth Israel

The Reverend David Pantermuehl, Grace United Church of Christ

The Reverend Adam J. Robinson, Affiliate Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston

The Reverend Jeremy Rutledge, Covenant Church: an ecumenical, liberal, Baptist congregation, (American Baptist Churches/Alliance of Baptists)

The Rev Seido, head priest, St. Nichiren Buddhist Temple

Rabbi Laura Sheinkopf, Houston

Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, Brite Divinity School

The Reverend Les Switzer, Acting Minister for Christian Education, First Congregational Church of Houston

The Reverend Ernie Turney, Senior Pastor, Bering Memorial United Methodist Church

The Reverend Timothy B. Tutt, Senior Pastor, United Christian Church Austin

Rabbi Roy A. Walter, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu El

Rabbi Kenny Weiss, Houston

As Martha says, these ministers speak for me.

Carole the chameleon and Kinky the commissioner

This would be a little too weird.

[Bill] White, expected to say Friday that he’s shifting his political sights from the U.S. Senate to the Democratic nod for governor, confirmed Thursday that [former Comptroller Carole Keeton] Strayhorn has tried to reach him.

Asked if he’d welcome Strayhorn to the Democratic ticket as, say, a candidate for her former office of state comptroller, White weaved. (The only Democratic figure otherwise believed to be eyeing the state comptroller slot: former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson.)

“I’m not a political commentator,” White said. “I return telephone calls from people but I really don’t get into the business of giving people political advice.”

Strayhorn, who lost a run for mayor of Austin last year, hasn’t yet returned my calls on if she’s eyeing a statewide run, though two people close to her—her son, Bradley McClellan, and her long-time adviser, Mark Sanders—each said he hadn’t heard she was looking at another campaign.

There was a time when I would have welcomed a return by Strayhorn to her political roots in the Democratic Party and a run for statewide office under its banner. That was in the 2003-2005 time period, when she was probably the single most effective critic of Governor Rick Perry, thanks to her high profile and non-shyness in seeking attention. Since then, we’ve seen her disastrous, amateurish run for Governor as an independent, followed by a third-place finish in this year’s Austin mayoral election, and my reaction to this is “oh, good Lord, would you please retire already?” Carole, if you feel you must be involved somehow, by all means please feel free to host a fundraiser or two for White. Maybe you could write some op-eds bashing Perry for old time’s sake as well. But let’s leave it at that, OK? Thanks.

And as long as we’re discussing one of the 2006 gubernatorial alumni, Ross Ramsey speculates about Kinky Friedman.

Take a look at this teaser from gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, issued after Hank Gilbert exited the governor’s race, set his heart on being agriculture commissioner, and endorsed Farouk Shami:

“I think that all of these things are good for the party and good for the ticket. We all want new leadership in Austin and I think each candidate should be evaluating how best to achieve that. Everyone on the ticket or thinking of joining the ticket should be thinking about what will be best for Democrats in November. We will take the weekend to visit with all of the candidates, my advisors, and many of my supporters and have an announcement about how I believe I can best support our party on Monday.”

Don’t be surprised if he moves to another race. And don’t forget that one of the people in this particular smoke-filled room is former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, who knows a little something about one of the agencies on the ballot.


A bit of ballet lies ahead if Friedman wants to run for agriculture commissioner. Gilbert endorsed Shami and Shami “accepted” his endorsment and said nice things about him. But he didn’t endorse Gilbert for ag commissioner. Shami is a longtime business associate of John McCall, who was Friedman’s financial angel in the 2006 race for governor. McCall hasn’t been nearly as generous this time around — you have to wonder if that has anything to do with having two friends in the same race — and might be more comfortable if Friedman ran for, say, ag commissioner. As long as there’s no deal to break between Shami and Gilbert, that could work.

Friedman will make his announcement after the weekend.

Shami, of course, is also a friend and associate of Friedman’s. BOR thinks he might wind up running for Land Commissioner instead. I have to say, Kinky versus Jerry Patterson would provide the most colorful set of characters that office has ever seen. Beyond that, I can’t say I really care what Kinky does.

The Rick ‘n’ Kay letters

It’s always sad to see a relationship go down the tubes, isn’t it?

Long before the campaigns of Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry started calling each other “Kay Bailout” and “Tricky Ricky,” the senator and governor exchanged handwritten birthday notes and congratulatory letters.

The Republican political heavyweights have never been close. But Perry and Hutchison have maintained a professional, cordial and sometimes friendly relationship over the years, according to interviews with former aides and political observers and a Dallas Morning News review of official correspondence.

As their GOP primary brawl nears, the senator and governor are blasting each other daily in news releases, Web videos and ads. But in the past, they worked together when need be and thanked each other for their civic service.


The letters and notes show a gradual disintegration of the relationship, with warm, personal notes after Perry became governor in 2000. More recent letters are stiff and formal, with the occasional political barb.

Mere words cannot adequately convey the pathos here. We need a video for that.

I think that about sums it up.

On a (slightly) more serious note:

The campaign battle only figures to get fiercer as the March primary approaches, but some Republicans close to both politicians hope the passions will eventually subside.

“If they got to know each other,” said Royal Masset, a Republican strategist not working for either Perry or Hutchison, “they actually would very much like each other.”

Doesn’t matter. This is the nature of primaries. Starting out with a close relationship is no buffer against nastiness as the campaign goes on. Quite the reverse, in my experience. The one thing the Republicans will have going for them is the same thing the Democrats had going for them in 2008, which is that there’s a long time between the primary and the general. People will mostly forget about what happened in March once it’s time to join together and fight against the other guy.