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December 12th, 2009:

Runoff results open thread

As tonight is Lights in the Heights, I will be paying attention to things other than election results this evening. Assuming you’re not at an election night party, you can follow results as they are posted here or on the interwebs in various places like Mayoral Musings, Houston Politics, KHOU, and on Twitter via the #houmayor hashtag. As I will be only periodically online this evening, please use this as an open thread to post whatever observations you’ve got. I’ll add in results as I can.

UPDATE: Early results are in:

Parker – 33,945 votes, 50.99%
Locke – 32,623 votes, 49.01%

Gonna be a long night. Ronald Green leads MJ Khan by 53.13-46.87%, Jolanda Jones and Sue Lovell also lead by similar amounts, while Karen Derr has a less than 500 vote lead on Stephen Costello.

UPDATE: 99 of 738 Harris County precincts are in. Adding in Fort Bend early results.

Parker – 40,890
Locke – 38,994

No clue about Montgomery. Slow, slow slow…

UPDATE: 256 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting, Fort Bend all in:

Parker – 53,174
Locke – 50,162

FB turnout in November, 2780. FB turnout in December, 2932. Don’t think that’s gonna do it for Locke, but as yet I’ve no idea which precincts in Harris have reported, so who knows. Still no clue about Montgomery.

UPDATE: 317 of 738 Harris County precincts reporting:

Parker – 57,875
Locke – 54,006

Parker’s election day lead in Harris is 55.75% to 44.25%. Sure wish I knew which precincts were in.

UPDATE: Coming in a bit faster now. 389 precincts in Harris County reporting:

Parker – 62,684
Locke – 57,939

Parker leads Harris County by a 53%-47% margin.

UPDATE: 497 Harris County precincts reporting. Here are all the citywide results so far:

Parker – 71,326
Locke – 64,076

Green – 65,192
Khan – 60,594

Costello – 58,690
Derr – 55,020

Lovell – 60,310
Burks – 50,694

Jones – 61,471
Christie – 58,647

The difference between Andrew Burks and a candidate with a real base of support can be seen in the Fort Bend results. Locke, Green, and Jones all won Fort Bend by 2000+ votes. Burks won it by 1004 votes. Not that it would matter, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

UPDATE: It’s over. All precincts are in, Locke has conceded, Annise Parker has been elected Mayor of Houston. Hot damn! Read her statement here. My congratulations to Team Parker for a job well done, and my thanks to Gene Locke for his service to Houston and his gracious concession speech.

Saturday video break: Eight days of Hanukkah

When was the last time you heard a Hanukkah song that was written by a Mormon Senator? Well, here’s your chance:

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Pretty catchy, actually. The story behind it is here. You’re no Adam Sandler, Senator Hatch, but you’re pretty good.

Vote today!

Today is Runoff Day. If you did not vote during Early Voting, this is your lasr chance. The following is from the Harris County Clerk’s office:

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, the chief elections officer of the County, made available a list of important election related facts voters should be aware of as they go to the polls to participate in Saturday’s Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election:

  • On Saturday, Dec. 12th, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • To participate in the Joint Runoff Election a person must be registered to vote in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire or District 1 or 9 of the Houston Independent School District.
  • Eligible voters that did not vote on Nov. 3rd may vote in the Dec. 12th Joint Runoff Election.
  • On Election Day a voter must vote at the poll the precinct where he/she is registered to vote is voting.
  • There will be 11 elections on the Joint Runoff ballot. However, the address in which a voter is registered will determine the number of contests that will appear on the ballot. A voter may visit the Tax Assessor Collectors website to find out which political subdivisions are connected to the voter’s address:

  • Acceptable forms of identification to vote include: 1. A voter registration certificate; 2. a driver’s license or personal identification card issued to the voter by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the voter by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired; 3. a form of identification containing the voter’s photograph that establishes the voter’s identity; 4. a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the voter’s identity; 5. United States citizenship papers issued to the voter; 6. a United States passport issued to the voter; 7. official mail addressed to the voter, by name, from a governmental entity; 8. a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
  • State law provides that a voter may bring someone of their choosing to the polling place to provide assistance. The person providing assistance must sign the Affidavit of Voter Assistance and print his/her name on the poll list, to attest to the fact that they will not unduly influence the voter.
  • Individuals who go vote on Election Day and are not found on the poll book may vote provisionally. [The acceptance of the provisional vote will be determined by an independent Ballot Board during the period that falls between Election Day and before the results are made official by the governing authority (City of Houston) who ordered the election. Some, but not all, of the factors the Board considers in making a determination on the provisional ballot include, is the person in question actually registered voter in one of the political subdivisions who had items on the ballot? And, did the person vote at the correct polling location?]

For more information pertaining to Election Day polling locations, voters may call 713.755.6965 or visit the Harris County Clerk Elections website, To check on voter registration status, voters should call the Voter Registrar at 713-368-2200.

Do be aware that for runoffs, some polling places that were open for the general election may not be open this time around. Here’s a message about that from the Harris County Democratic Party:

The Harris County Democratic Party wants to remind voters that they may confirm their Election Day polling location by visiting our website,, or by calling our office at (713) 802-0085. Our hardworking volunteers and staff will be happy to assist you in locating your polling location for the runoff election this coming Saturday, December 12. The polls will be open from 7am to 7pm.

With every election, we hear countless stories of voters discovering too late that their polling locations have changed. Polling locations tend to change or move during runoff elections. Several precincts can be combined and assigned to a single polling location during runoff elections.

The Runoff Election on Saturday, Dec. 12, is being conducted for races in the City of Houston, City of Bellaire, and the Houston Independent School District.

The Harris County Democratic Party urges all voters to call the office at (713) 802-0085 or visit our website at and confirm your Election Day polling location.

Here’s a reminder from the Chron about why you should vote, and a reminder about who they think you should vote for. Hair Balls has more.

Two for Treasurer

As of today, there are two declared Democratic candidates for Harris County Treasurer – Chad Khan, a three-time candidate for State Representative, and attorney Billy Briscoe, whose press release is beneath the fold. As you may recall, I spent a lot of time in 2006 arguing for the abolition of the office of Harris County Treasurer as I supported the campaign of Richard Garcia, whose platform included a pledge to work to do just that. Nothing since then has changed my mind about the uselessness of the office or of its current inhabitant, Orlando Sanchez, but I no longer believe that getting legislation passed to abolish it – I believe a Constitutional amendment would be needed – is likely. So what I’m looking for this time around is someone to explain to me how exactly they plan to make the Treasurer be something other than a waste of tax money. Find something useful to do in that office – a promise to attend every Commissioners Court meeting with the intent of being a general pain in their ass would be a good start – and I’ll support you. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


Villarreal files for re-election, not Comptroller

Not really a surprise, I guess. A shame, but not a surprise.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, will run for re-election next year instead of launching a statewide race for comptroller.

The five-term legislator says allies encouraged him to run for comptroller, which he briefly considered before deciding to stay where he is.

“Before this and still today, I believe the state is hungering for a different type of leadership that is pragmatic and that focuses on real problems facing Texas families, Villarreal says.

Starting Monday, folks can go to his new website where those problems will be explored. The new site also will feature on-line video.

When the reports of his run first emerged, I was hopeful but not expectant. It’s a tough jump from State Rep to statewide, especially if you don’t start out with a million bucks or so in your campaign account. But the House is where a lot of the up-and-coming talent is, so unless some of these folks get a shot at the Senate or a Congressional seat or something like that, it’s what they’ll have to do, probably starting in 2014. I’m glad to have Mike Villarreal in the House, but sooner or later we’re going to need people like him to make the leap.

Herzog and Harvey to the Hall

Meet your newest members of the Hall of Fame.

Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey got the call Monday, elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Herzog and Harvey missed by one vote in their previous tries. This time, they easily drew enough support to reach Cooperstown.

“I don’t think I would’ve had my heart broken if I’d missed by another vote or two. But I’m damn happy it’s over,” Herzog said at Busch Stadium.

“It was just in the last few years when I was only missing by a few votes that I thought, maybe I do deserve it,” he said.

He did, and I’m glad to see the Veterans Committee get this right. It’s just a shame that they didn’t get the even more glaring matter of Marvin Miller right as well.

A separate 12-person committee that reviewed 10 executives didn’t elect anyone. John Fetzer, who owned the Detroit Tigers from 1956-83, got eight votes and fell one vote short.

Miller, who became head of the players’ association in 1966 and built the union into a powerful force, drew seven votes. Jacob Ruppert, who owned the Yankees when they acquired Babe Ruth, also drew seven.

All due respect here, but what exactly are John Fetzer’s qualifications? In the 27 years he owned the team, they won one World Series (1968) and one division title (1972). That’s it. The Yankees (11), Orioles (6), Athletics (3), and Red Sox (2) all won more pennants in that time frame. I’m a pretty knowledgeable fan, but I’d never heard his name before now. Checking his Wikipedia page, the only thing I can see that would suggest an extra reason to vote for him is “[Fetzer] was active in negotiating broadcast packages for Major League Baseball.” How in the world did this guy almost get elected to the Hall? Am I missing something?

And for goodness’ sake, voting in any executive over Miller, let alone one as seemingly undistinguished as Fetzer, would be a farce. I realize the deck is stacked against Miller, to the point where’s he’s told the VC to shove it, but did they have to rub salt in it, too? Was the election of Bowie freaking Kuhn not insult enough?