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October 8th, 2010:

Endorsement watch: Family Court judges

Ten more benches, ten more endorsements, only this time the score is 8-2 Democrats:

245th Family District Court: Janiece Horn, a Democrat, is our choice for this open bench.

246th Family District Court: Sherri Cothrun, the Democratic challenger, says she would bring a more “contemporary perspective” to this bench than the 16-year incumbent.

280th Family District Court: Kathy Vossler, the Democratic candidate, is our choice for this open bench, which has been designated to handle family violence cases.

308th Family District Court: Bruce Kessler, the Democratic candidate, would bring sensitivity and thorough knowledge of the law to this open bench.

309th Family District Court: Bill Rice, the Democratic candidate, would bring 35 years of family law practice experience to this bench.

310th Family District Court: Judy Dougherty, the Democrat, is our choice for this bench.

311th Family District Court: Deborah Wright, the Democratic candidate for this open bench, has extensive experience in private practice and as an associate judge in the family courts.

312th Family District Court: Robert Hinojosa, the Democratic incumbent on the 312th bench, is a veteran of 36 years of family law practice.

And here are their Q&A responses:

Janiece Horn (note: from the primary)

Sherri Cothrun

Kathy Vossler

Bruce Kessler

Bill Rice

Judy Dougherty

Janiece Horn emailed me last night to say that she will send her updated responses shortly. I have not received responses from Deborah Wright or Judge Robert Hinojosa. Responses from the two Democratic candidates who did not get the Chron endorsement are here:

Mary Kay Green, 247th Family Court (note: from the primary)

Sandra Peake, 257th Family Court

You can see Q&As for the Republican candidates at Big Jolly Politics.

Friday random ten: Playoffs

October! Cooler weather! Baseball playoffs! Songs that have the word “play” or “off” in them! Gratuitous exclamation points!

1. Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me – Crow
2. Foul Play – Robert Cray
3. A Passion Play Edit #9 – Jethro Tull
4. Play Guitar – John Mellencamp
5. Play The Game – Queen
6. Drop Me Off In Harlem – from “The Cotton Club” soundtrack
7. Get Off – Foxy
8. Got To Get You Off My Mind – Southside Johnny and The Jukes
9. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off – Harry Connick
10. Off My Line – Spin Doctors

And you can’t talk playoffs without paying homage to this:

What’s playing off of your iPod?

Entire song list report: Started with “Next To You”, by Southside Johnny and The Jukes. Finished with “Oedipus Rex”, by Tom Lehrer, song #3730, for 106 tunes this week. The last N song was “The Nutcracker Suite, Opus 71a”, by the Bonn Classical Philharmonics. Hey, it’s not just all 70s prog rock and 80s power pop around here, you know. The first O song was “O Come All Ye Faithful”, by Amy Grant, which just nosed out “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, from the Christmas On The Border CD, which doesn’t appear to individually identify its artists. Apparently, I also have an “O’Come All Ye Faithful”, also by Amy Grant, presumably done during her Irish phase. Of the 12 songs I have that start with “O” or “O'” – there’s also “O’Mahoney’s Frolics”, by the genuinely Irish band The Chieftains – eight are Christmas-related. Just thought you’d like to know that.

Jenifer Pool announces for Council

We have another contender for the one At Large Council seat that will be open next fall, former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Jenifer Pool. From her press release, which I received late Wednesday:

Jenifer Rene Pool announced her candidacy for Houston City Council, At-Large Position 2 on Saturday, October 2 at a gathering of her supporters. In her announcement, Jenifer Pool said, “I run because I want to serve the citizens of Houston in helping to make my home, this great city, greater. I want to participate in the process of helping to find solutions to our challenges, create opportunities for all our citizens, make sure all constituents are represented, and become the most efficient and effective city government in the history of Houston.”

Appointed by Mayor Bill White, Jenifer Rene Pool currently serves as a City commissioner of the Building & Standards Commission, and appointed by Mayor Annise Parker, serves on the Police Advisory Commission. Mayor Annise Parker, today, named Ms. Pool to a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Building & Standards. She is a local businesswoman, owning a consulting company which specializes in construction permitting, licensing, and project management. Ms. Pool is a long time resident of Houston. Having moved here in 1980, she has worked in the construction industry since arriving.

Ms. Pool is also a long time community activist working with the GLBT community. She is past president of the GLBT Political Caucus, where her communication and organizational abilities brought the Caucus to the forefront of community involvement. She is also a board member of the Houston Transgender Unity Committee. She is a steering committee member and past Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee of the Human Rights Campaign-Houston.

Dr. Maria Gonzalez, professor of English at the University of Houston and past president of the GLBT Political Caucus said, “Jenifer represents the kind of citizen candidate I like to see run for our City Council. She understands the challenges this city faces and wants to work towards solutions. I look forward to volunteering on her campaign.”

When asked why she is choosing to run at this time, Ms. Pool said, “There are issues in our City that require a clear and decisive voice to get things moving for the future well being of all our citizens. We are a great city and will be an even greater city in the future.”

See here and here for some background. Jenifer is a friend of mine – I was there when she made the announcement; the gathering was her birthday party at The Big Mamou in the Heights – so I’m glad to hear that she’s running. She joins at least one other declared candidate and numerous potential ones in what ought to be a crowded field for the At Large #2 seat.

Interview with Hank Gilbert

Hank Gilbert

For the third and final Commissioner candidate, we have Hank Gilbert, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. Gilbert ran in 2006 and was the top non-judicial vote-getter for the Democrats that year. Gilbert is a rancher from the Tyler area who has remained actively involved in state politics since his 2006 campaign. Other than the Governor’s race, this one has gotten more attention than any other. Gilbert has relentlessly attacked incumbent Commissioner Todd Staples on a wide variety of issues. You can hear more of that in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

Chron overview of Tax Assessor race

Sometimes, the difference between two candidates is especially clear.

Don Sumners has been complaining about government for so long that the Republican’s slogan for his campaign for tax assessor-collector is “I was tea party before tea party was cool.” Elect him, he said, and he will use the office as a megaphone to amplify the message he currently spreads through low-budget yellow fliers: The government taxes and spends too much.

Diane Trautman said the next Harris County tax assessor needs to tone it down, not stir up partisan fights. The Democrat said she would like to lead an office focused on customer service instead of fighting off lawsuits accusing it of suppressing voter registration.

[…]

Trautman wants to save taxpayers time, too. She said she would investigate establishing an express line at the tax office and its branches for customers who have simple transactions. She also said she intends to install a number system so that, instead of standing in line, customers can sit down while waiting their turns at the window. She also proposes setting up pilot voter registration projects in five area high schools.

Trautman said she has heard from people who protest their assessments that they get their tax bills late. She promised to push immediately after the election to get the those bills out in a more timely fashion.

Sumners said he intends to do whatever he can to make those bills lower, starting with pressuring the Harris County Appraisal District to give better treatment to those who protest their property appraisals. Part of the problem, he said, is that HCAD is not transparent. “They need to lay out their appraisal plans and methodology,” he said.

Basically, you’ve got one candidate who wants to make the office better and has numerous ideas for how to achieve that, and one candidate who wants to use the office as his own personal megaphone. I know which one I prefer.

What will the teabaggers do?

For the most part, I don’t really care what they’ll do, but there is one point worth noting:

“I can’t say the tea party support for Rick Perry is very strong, but the opposition to Bill White is intense,” said Don Zimmerman, a state Republican executive committee member who is active in tea party groups around Austin. “I’m supporting Rick Perry, but \u2026 I’m working more on the down-ballot races.”

Many tea party activists have remained silent on the gubernatorial contest, instead focusing on congressional and statehouse races in the Nov. 2 election, said Greg Holloway, a board member for the Austin Tea Party Patriots. Those voters, he said, realize the importance of the Legislature’s decisions on issues such as voter identification, immigration and health care.

Tea party voters who have an anti-incumbent bias and supported maverick candidate Debra Medina in the GOP primary may turn away from Perry and toward Libertarian Kathie Glass or may not vote, Holloway predicted.

For any of this to be meaningful, you have to accept the premise that “tea party” and “Republican Party” are two distinct entities. They’re not – note that in this context, we’re talking about people who voted in the Republican primary – but for the sake of argument, let’s skip over that. If there’s going to be any kind of significant Libertarian effect in the Governor’s race, it’s going to come from these people, Republicans who for whatever the reason don’t want to support the Republican candidate for Governor. It’s my opinion that party affinity is a frequently underestimated force, which is why I don’t put that much stock in predictions of Kathie Glass getting a significant number of votes. I could be wrong about this. Certainly, the 2006 campaign showed that people can be persuaded in large numbers to abandon their party for an alternative. The question is whether or not they’ll do it on their own accord, since Kathie Glass has neither the resources nor the personal following to do more than a token amount of that persuading. I say no, but we’ll soon see.

On a side note, this guy thinks the teabaggers should be abandoning Perry. Fine by me, I’m just not counting on it.

We’ll only debate you on our terms

From the inbox:

Democratic SBOE candidates accept yet another debate invitation – by all-Republican panel

Earlier: Republicans turn down debate after debate and hide from voters, claiming sponsor League of Women Voters is “too Democratic”

Note: The following statement is in reaction to yesterday’s announcement, made by the Texas Business and Education Coalition, that the organization will host a debate of the major party candidates for the SBOE races in districts 5 and 10, marking the first time of many attempts that the Republican nominees for those seats have not ducked a debate invitation.

Harold Cook, a spokesman for both Democratic candidates, said the following today:

“Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau are happy to debate their opponents and face voters any time, anywhere, unlike either of their opponents. There is no stronger evidence of this than the Democrats’ willingness to enthusiastically participate in a debate at which Bill Hammond, one of Texas’ leading Republicans, is among the moderators. The other two moderators have voted in Republican primary elections as well, leaving little doubt that the Republican SBOE candidates are only playing because they’ve stacked the deck.

“Despite the fact that the Republican SBOE candidates are simply exploiting this opportunity to claim that they are also willing to debate, Jennings and Bell-Metereau are nonetheless enthusiastic about the opportunity. They trust that the organizers and moderators will run a fair and enlightening event.

“Contrast that to the Republican SBOE candidates, who ducked a debate sponsored by the well-respected League of Women Voters, and treated as a joke another one sponsored by LULAC, an organization with more than 75 years of proud non-partisan achievement.

“Jennings and Bell-Metereau are more than happy to debate, even if it means participating in a Republican debate. Here’s hoping the two seemingly shy Republican opponents show up ready to admit to their extremist views, even to the Republican allies packing the room.”

See here and here for background. Debate ducking is a national phenomenon this year. I’ve included the press release from the Texas Business and Education Coalition beneath the fold, which needs to be seen to be believed. Yes, it really was DONE IN ALL CAPS, and it includes at least four misspellings that I spotted – “vying”, “incumbent”, “assistant”, and (my personal favorite) Cynthia Dunbar‘s maiden name. You really can’t make this stuff up.

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Texas blog roundup for the week of October 4

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes the arrival of October as it brings you this week’s blog roundup.

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