Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

November 13th, 2015:

Friday random ten: Revisiting the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs list, part 20

Here’s their list.

1. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike & Tina Turner (#33)
2. Sympathy For The Devil – Blood, Sweat & Tears (orig. Rolling Stones, #32)
3. I Walk The Line – Lager Rhythms (orig. Johnny Cash, #30)
4. A Day In The Life – Big Daddy (orig. The Beatles, #28)
5. Layla – Eric Clapton (orig. Derek and The Dominoes, #27)
6. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding (#26)
7. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys (#25; also a cover by Petra Hayden)
8. In My Life – Johnny Cash (orig. The Beatles, #23)
9. Be My Baby – The Ronettes (#22)
10. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen (#21; also a cover by Frankie Goes To Hollywood)

Song I used to have but don’t any more: “Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin (#31). Had it on vinyl, lost it somewhere along the line. I can always tune to the last dinosaur classic rock station if I really need to hear it again. Trout Fishing in America refers to it in their fractured-nursery-rhymes song “The Window” as “a massively popular and financially lucrative nursery rhyme from the 1970s”. That’s about right.

The other songs listed that I don’t have: “Help” (Beatles, #29) and “People Get Ready” (The Impressions, #24). I looked ahead and there’s a lot of Beatles in the top 20. Next week ought to be the last list, then it will be on to something else.

Precinct analysis: Districts with runoffs

District F was a three-way race, with challenger Steve Le leading first-term incumbent Richard Nguyen. Kendall Baker ran as a HERO hater, and finished third overall but did manage to come in first or second in nine precincts. I thought I’d take a look at those precincts to see if they’d tell me anything about how the runoff might go.


Pcnct   Le  Baker  Nguyen  Turner  King  Other   Yes   No
=========================================================
0298   196    180     146      84   238   272    202  395
0509    19     32      14      15    10    59     36   58
0559   198    181     175     259   117   294    274  399
0566    99    162     137     175    86   240    210  277
0620   189    219     164     105   303   280    229  466
0627   194    115     109     138    77   272    179  295
0814    62     67      54      94    20   104     84  130
0971     3      5       1       5     1     3      4    5
1000    28     29      27      42    10    45     29   60

“Yes” and “No” refer to the HERO vote. The bulk of the “other” votes went to Adrian Garcia, who finished second overall in F. Beyond that, there’s not much of a pattern to detect. Baker did well in a couple of precincts where Bill King did well, presumably where there was a decent share of Republicans who voted the Hotze slate, and he did well in a couple of precincts where Sylvester Turner did well, possibly because of a decent African-American population. What happens to these voters in the runoff is anyone’s guess.

As for Le and Nguyen, the bulk of the remaining precincts was won by Le. Here’s a summary:


   Le  Baker  Nguyen  Turner  King
==================================
3,292  1,865   2,535   2,399 1,755
  654    440     702     501   247
Richard Nguyen

Richard Nguyen

CM Nguyen won a plurality in Fort Bend, though there weren’t many votes there.

If you’re a supporter of CM Nguyen, there’s not a whole lot here to feel optimistic about. While the No vote on HERO tracks pretty closely to the combined Le/Baker total in those precincts where Baker did well, there’s a falloff between the Yes voters and the Nguyen voters. This to me is a sign of a candidate who is not very well known; given that Nguyen won in a surprise two years ago on a mostly shoe-leather campaign, that’s not much of a surprise. He won far fewer precincts than Le, and he won them by a smaller amount. I see two bits of good news for him. One is that he had $38K on hand as of his 8 day report (Le had $6K on hand, but he’d also loaned himself some money and likely could do more of that), so at least he ought to have the resources to reach out to voters. The other is that as Sylvester Turner won this district, and Bill King came in third, he can try to cleave himself to Turner and hope to catch a coattail. I make Le the favorite here, but Nguyen does have a chance, and if the HCDP wants to do something in the runoffs as its previous email announced, this race ought to be a priority for them.

In J, CM Mike Laster got more than double the votes of his closest competitor, Jim Bigham, who snuck into the runoff a mere 28 votes ahead of anti-HERO candidate Manny Barrera. The precinct data tells a pretty simple story here, as not-close election data often do. Laster won or tied for first in 27 of 32 precincts (the one tie had only 15 votes cast; he and Bigham each got 6). Of the 27 precincts Laster won, Bigham finished last nine times, and third six times. He was first only once, in precinct 426, where he finished exactly two votes ahead of Laster; Barrera and fourth candidate Dung Le each won two precincts. I have no idea what a path to victory for Bigham looks like. Turner also won in J with King coming in third, so Laster simply running as the Democratic candidate works for him. Anything can happen, of course, but anything other than a Laster win would be a big surprise.

I didn’t do a detailed analysis of H, even though it’s my district. The battle lines are less clear here, since Karla Cisneros and Jason Cisneroz were both pro-HERO and aren’t terribly far apart on many policy issues. If there’s one thing to watch for, it’s that a Karla Cisneros win would mean only one Latino member of Council for the next four years. There were plenty of lamentations about Adrian Garcia’s performance, but this seems to me to be a bigger issue. Will Latino leaders rally around Jason Cisneroz? For that matter, will Roland Chavez, who didn’t miss making the runoff by much, endorse a candidate? One could also note that right now there are only two women on Council, with three in the At Large runoffs. A Karla Cisneros victory would even things out a bit on that score. I could see this one going either way.

Endorsement watch: Costello for Turner

I’m glad to see this.

CM Stephen Costello

CM Stephen Costello

Houston City Councilman Steve Costello endorsed Sylvester Turner for mayor Wednesday, dealing a potential financial blow to fellow conservative Bill King as he looks to expand his donor base in the runoff.

An engineer who finished sixth on Election Day with 7 percent of the vote, Costello is not likely to sway a large share of the electorate, but his endorsement could bolster Turner’s fundraising efforts, particularly among local engineers and contractors, who are consistent donors in municipal races.

Last week, former mayoral candidate Adrian Garcia also endorsed Turner.

“The real blow here is for fundraising,” Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said. “I think one of the goals for Turner in this runoff is to create an aura of inevitability behind his candidacy, and this, along with the Garcia endorsement, certainly aids that effort.”

[…]

In a statement announcing his endorsement, Costello cited ReBuild, public safety and transportation as reasons for backing Turner, a Democrat.

He said Turner agrees that ReBuild is a good baseline program from which to improve and that the Houston Police Department should be expanded with a focus on community policing.

Costello, who is term-limited, added that he will focus on improving Houston’s mass transit after leaving office.

“Sylvester Turner is the best candidate to connect all of Houston through multi-modal transportation, and I look forward to working with him on critical transportation issues like commuter rail,” Costello said.

A copy of the statement is beneath the fold. All due respect to Prof. Jones, but I’d put fundraising lower on the list of reasons why this is good for Turner. For one thing, while Costello didn’t get a large number of votes, I get the impression that his voters are the kind of people who are likely to show up for a runoff. As such, his endorsement ought to move some actual voters to Turner, since this endorsement could have gone either way. It also obviously makes Turner’s coalition a little broader, and it narrows the pool of voters that King will be fishing in. And while endorsements are often about supporting the person you want to win, they are also often about supporting the person you think actually will win. It’s not unreasonable to see Costello’s endorsement as a signal of which way the wind is perceived to be blowing.

Or maybe it’s much ado about nothing. Nobody really knows what any single endorsement is worth – we’re all just guessing. Maybe no one who wasn’t already voting for Turner cares. Maybe as many Costello voters think he’s nuts to endorse Turner as those who applaud it. We just don’t know. Be that as it may, campaigns love endorsements, and everybody reacts to them as if they mean something. Turner also received endorsements from multiple Latino elected officials, while King touted a few of his own, from former electeds and business leaders. I’m sure when more endorsements are made, we will all hear about them.

(more…)

More prosecution responses to Paxton

Keep ’em coming, y’all.

Best mugshot ever

Prosecutors in the criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton defended themselves in a court filing Tuesday, calling accusations of misconduct leveled by defense lawyers a gratuitous ploy to direct attention away from Paxton’s felony indictments.

“Paxton’s ploy, as any Google search of this case will readily reveal, is merely the latest in a series of unwarranted personal attacks leveled against the special prosecutors in the media by Paxton’s spokesmen, public relations operatives and political supporters,” prosecutors told state District Judge George Gallagher.

The filing was the prosecutors’ second response to a broad attack launched last week by Paxton’s lawyers, who argued in court filings that three felony securities law violations should be dismissed because, among other problems, prosecutors disclosed secret grand jury proceedings in interviews with reporters, supplying information designed to taint the pool of prospective jurors.

[…]

The secrecy of grand jury proceedings, prosecutors argued, does not create a blanket ban on commenting about grand jury actions. Legal ethics also allow prosecutors to discuss the general scope of investigations, they told the judge.

“Paxton’s sole reason for filing this pleading is to cast the special prosecutors as the bad guys in the court of public opinion,” the prosecutors wrote.

See here and here for the background, and here for a copy of this motion. I’m not sure what the purpose is of filing two separate responses like this, but the prosecution did maintain its rather dismissive tone towards Paxton’s motion. In this case, they began with a quote from Mad Men, and on page four cited the Merriam-Webster definition of the word “series” to dispute another of Team Paxton’s allegations. This may already be the greatest special prosecution of an incumbent Texas politician ever, and we’re still in pre-game warmups. I can’t wait to see what comes next. The Press has more.

Sanders to open Texas campaign office

Good.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

The presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expanding its footprint in Texas, setting up a statewide office and expanding its staff with just under four months until the Democratic primary.

In the next few days, the campaign plans to open a Texas headquarters in Austin — among the first known outposts of a presidential campaign in the state besides that of native U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. The office will be located on the city’s east side.

The campaign’s Texas effort is being overseen by Jacob Limón, a legislative staffer and former official at the state Democratic Party. Limón, who was recently named Sanders’ Texas state director, is being joined by six other paid staffers in the state: David Sanchez, North Texas director; Cristina Garcia, Rio Grande Valley director; Theresa Haas, Houston director; Samantha Davis, operations director; Ananda Tomas, San Antonio director; and Sergio Feliciano Cantú, Latino outreach director.

Sanders supporters were introduced to the Texas staff during a meeting Tuesday night in Austin, where they were given a goal of 850,000 phone calls over the next three weeks to identify more Sanders backers. Zack Exley, a senior adviser to the Sanders digital team in Vermont, told the nearly 200 people who showed up to the meeting that they will have to go above and beyond to help him win the March 1 primary in Texas.

[…]

Early, scant polling has found Sanders badly trailing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Texas, where her involvement in state politics dates back to the 1970s. The former secretary of state has not neglected Texas in her second bid for the White House, holding two campaign events in the state — her next one is set for Tuesday in Dallas — as well as several fundraisers. She has also locked up the support of well over a majority of Texas Democrats who serve in the state Legislature and Congress.

While presidential candidates have been paying more attention than usual to Texas due to its relatively early primary, few have opened offices in the state beyond Cruz, whose campaign is based in Houston.

Good for Sen. Sanders. I don’t claim to be on Team Bernie, but I approve of what he’s doing here. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has had some presence in Texas for a few months – and for what it’s worth, I get a ton of email from her campaign, and have yet to hear anything from Sanders’, not that I’m asking for more email in my inbox – but nothing compares to boots on the ground. Along those lines, I trust that Sen. Sanders will follow Clinton’s example and make his data available to the TDP and county parties once the primary is over. In the meantime, I wish his campaign the best of luck.