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As we approach the wire in the runoffs

Three more days of early voting. One week till the runoff. We’ll all need the break that Christmas will provide.

Couple things happening beneath the radar that you ought to know about. First, a little while back the question of whom Democrats ought to support in the City Council District C runoff was asked. That question has been pretty definitively answered, and the answer is Anne Clutterbuck, who has picked up endorsements from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and general election opponent Mark Lee. Perhaps realizing this, George Hittner has taken a turn to the right in his campaign. Greg has a copy of Hittner’s latest mailer, apparently sent by uberconservative Steven Hotze. Take a look if you’re in District C and still undecided.

Meanwhile, over in City Council At Large #2, there’s been a lot of heat coming from the Lovell camp over some inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric from Houston talk radio host Edd Hendee, which he said while also endorsing Jay Aiyer. Lovell and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus has demanded that Aiyer disavow Hendee:

We call on Jay Aiyer and his supporters to repudiate publicly the vile remarks made Tuesday by radio host Edd Hendee and Mr. Hendee’s endorsement, which Mr. Aiyer sought. Mr. Hendee’s statements attacking families and children, and implying that adopted children have an inferior status in the life of a family, are wrong, morally offensive, and have absolutely no place in what should be a civilized and informative campaign for public office. His attack on Sue Lovell’s children and family, and the families of her supporters, are particularly mean and vicious and he should be told loudly and by all that this is unacceptable.

Mr. Aiyer and his supporters should reject publicly Mr. Hendee’s endorsement and send a message that hate has no place in Houston. As Mayor Bill White said at his inauguration, “We’re all in this together and that’s the way we ought to approach solving the problems of the City of Houston.”

Aiyer responded as follows:

All too often in politics today, the low road is the one most traveled. In May, I signed the Texas Code of Fair Campaign Practices, partially in response to disturbing racially bigoted comments coming from Ms. Lovell’s campaign. In the spirit of having a rigorous contest on the substantive issues of importance to Houstonians, I called on the other candidates in the race to join me in signing the pledge. No one else signed.

Hate has no place in Houston. Any such prejudicial comments, be they based on sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other “lowest common denominator” divisive issue are wrong and have no place in public discourse. I will always oppose discrimination in all its forms, and reject personal attacks against candidates or their family members.

I take Mayor White’s call to never let people divide Houston very seriously. That is why I have worked hard to run an inclusive, non-partisan campaign that reaches out to Houstonians from all walks of life. There is far too much work to be done continuing to move our city forward to take the low road.

That wasn’t enough for Lovell:

I and my supporters renew our call on Jay Aiyer to repudiate the endorsement and vicious statements of Edd Hendee. Mr. Aiyer to this date has not done so.

I repudiated and rejected the unsought endorsement and ugly statements of James Galvan, immediately and without reservation. I did not want that kind of sentiment associated with my campaign.

Mr. Aiyer sought Mr. Hendee’s endorsement, according to Mr. Hendee. Mr. Aiyer should now reject that endorsement and prove to Houstonians that he will stand up to bigotry and hatred.

Greg has the transcript and more than a few choice words for Lovell, whom he accuses of hypocrisy in the whole affair. A site called Sepia Mutiny notes that one of Lovell’s senior campaign advisers has been publicly calling Jay a “dot-headed terrorist”. There’s more back-and-forth about it there, so go see for yourself. Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is the sort of thing that might, I don’t know, attract some media coverage?

Finally, as Stace notes, there have been some ugly things said in the HISD1 runoff as well. From Friday’s story, which was about a re-airing of the ethics charges against Anne Flores Santiago from her mother’s primary challenge to State Sen. Mario Gallegos last year:

At one point, Santiago’s aunt, 71-year-old Dolores Torres, shouted that people should vote for her niece because, “She’s Hispanic and grew up in the community. She’s not Iranian.”

Santiago’s opponent was born in Ohio to an Iranian-born father and a mother from Kentucky. She came to Houston in 1990 as a Teach for America corps member assigned to teach Spanish-speaking middle school students. Kamrani is now a lawyer, married to Chris Barbic, founder of YES College Preparatory Charter School.

“Foreigners are coming in not knowing the community,” Torres said. “Anne grew up here.”

Like I said, ugly things. But the end is in sight. If any of this makes you depressed and less likely to haul yourself to a polling place, please shake it off. The need to participate doesn’t change because of regrettable words. If anything, and however much I’m tired of the negativity, I’m more determined to cast my votes now.

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2 Comments

  1. Manuel says:

    It is a darn shame when there are over 20 people at and event and a young white male reporter who spends half his time whispering with Kamrani’s staff focuses on what and elderly woman says. I noticed that you have not had the gall to print that Kamrani has trouble with the truth, just like the chronicle reporter. I know it is not education because you have stated that you would support A. Garcia v. A. Parker, so much for education. It can not be because Kamrani is a Democrat because she has no history of being one. Is it a yuppie thing? So what is that makes a good candidate? I notice that you rejoice when the Republicans are caught in lies but take no such pleasure when your neighbor who happens to be running for HISD does the same. Double standard? Some times the actions of individuals speak louder then the words of a 71 year old woman.

  2. Mini says:

    Charles,

    I’m a consultant on Jay’s campaign and also an Indian American. I wanted to repeat here what I recently posted to the guys over at sepiamutiny.com:

    1. This is not an isolated incident. Our campaign has received numerous reports from numerous sources, since the SPRING, of racist comments coming from the Sue Lovell campaign.

    2. This is not the first time Sue Lovell’s campaign has engaged in such behavior. Members of Councilman Ronald Green’s campaign team have reminded us that Sue Lovell’s campaign repeatedly denigrated Mr. Green’s race during the 2003 campaign.

    3. Sue Lovell’s campaign has never really denied these comments. Their only excuse has been that this person is not a paid staffer. These comments are coming from a senior advisor to her campaign, and someone who is a state Democratic Party official.

    4. In the spirit of keeping this campaign about substantive issues, Jay let these comments go as just insider dirty politics. But when Sue Lovell had the audacity to accuse Jay of “gay-baiting”, he decided enough was enough.

    Jay is going to win because he is the most qualified candidate and is running a campaign that is inclusive of all Houstonians. But in the meantime, the Indian American community is not going to suffer the innuendos and bigoted whispers of the Sue Lovell campaign quietly.

    Thanks for your coverage. I also wanted to note that I am a supporter of Natasha Kamrani because she is also above and beyond the most qualified candidate in the race for HISD pos. 1. The comments made by her opponents aunt regarding her Iranian roots are ridiculous and irrelevant and disgusting in their implication.