A quick look at the Chron’s endorsements page shows they basically did a massive update on Sunday night/Monday morning. Most of them are in legislative races, but there are a couple of others. I think I’m going to need two more of these multi-race endorsement posts to catch up with them, so today we will (mostly) focus on races in which there is not a Democratic incumbent. Today that means the Democrats challenging State House incumbents, plus two JP races. Let’s get going.
HD126: Natali Hurtado.
Natali Hurtado, 34, told us she is running “because I’m tired of just sitting back and watching our state go backwards” while Undrai F. Fizer, 50, said he wants “to inspire hope and passion” in the people of the 126th district.
Hurtado earned degrees from the University of Houston and University of St. Thomas, the latter a masters in public policy and administration, and got a taste of the political life working in City Hall and for politicians including longtime U.S. Rep. Gene Green, a Democrat.
She wants to close property tax loopholes for big business to ease the tax burden on individuals, get rid of Texas Senate Bill 4 — the “sanctuary cities” law that abrogates the discretion of local law enforcement on immigration issues — and accept the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act.
Fizer has a lot of charisma but needs to learn more about the issues. Hurtado has a better grasp of them and her time working with Green and others gives her an invaluable head start in the art of politics. We think both her head and heart are in the right place, and endorse her for this race.
HD132: Gina Calanni.
Candidate Gina Calanni told us [incumbent Rep. Mike] Schofield is “very beatable” because people, including her, are angry that he votes in ways that hurt public schools and favor the charter and private schools popular with Republicans.
Flooding is the other big issue, she said, not just because of the massive damage it caused, but also because many people are still suffering from the effects of it and not getting much help.
Calanni, 40 and a writer of novels, is a single mom without much money to spare, while her opponent former corporate lawyer Carlos Pena, 51, is neither seeking money nor spending much of his own.
“I don’t believe in taking campaign contributions because there are people who feel they are owed,” he said.
He’s out blockwalking, but Calanni is doing that and going to political events where she has gotten endorsements from, among others, the Harris County Tejano Democrats, the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats and the AFL-CIO.
Our view is that Calanni has a fire in the belly to win that Pena may lack and with some money she can make a race of it. For that, she gets our endorsement.
My interview with Calanni is here; Pena never replied to me, and only recently put up a website. I agree with the Chron here. HD132 is a much more competitive district than you might think. It moved in a Democratic direction from 2008 to 2012, and is basically 55-45 going by 2016 numbers. It won’t take much in terms of the overall political climate for this to be a very winnable race, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the Democratic candidate to make an effort to win it. From where I sit, Gina Calanni is the only candidate putting in that effort. She’d get my vote if I were in HD132.
HD133: Marty Schexnayder.
Sandra Moore, 69, and Marty Schexnayder, 51, are both making their first run at political office because of their frustration with [incumbent Rep. Jim] Murphy and state leadership in general.
“I think people in our district are disgusted by the Dan Patrick agenda,” Schexnayder, a lawyer, told us, referring to the state’s lieutenant governor.
Both candidates also spoke of the need for improved health care and education. Schexnayder said the state share of education costs must increase so property taxes will stop going through the roof.
We liked Moore, but overall we think Schexnayder is the stronger candidate and has a broader grasp of the issues. We endorse him for Democratic nominee in District 133.
My interview with Sandra Moore is here and with Marty Schexnayder is here. Moore received the Houston GLBT Political Caucus endorsement, which is the only club or group endorsements that I tracked that was given in this race. The main point here is that both of them are worthy of consideration, while the third candidate in the race is not. I will note again that while this district is pretty red, there was a significant crossover vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. As such, it is not at all unreasonable to think that “the Dan Patrick agenda” is not terribly popular as well.
HD134: Alison Lami Sawyer.
Political parties always have their internal disagreements, but Harris County Democrats should nevertheless operate by a single, cardinal rule: Never, under any circumstances, vote for Lloyd Wayne Oliver.
A perennial candidate who runs for office to drum up his law practice — and undermine serious Democrats along the way — Oliver routinely makes a mockery of our electoral system.
Luckily, Democrats in this race have a qualified and impressive alternative in Allison Lami Sawyer.
Sawyer, 33, is a Rice University MBA alumnus who has her own company which uses special optics to detect gas leaks in oil installations in the United States and abroad.
Assuming Davis defeats Republican primary opponent Susanna Dokupil, who is backed by Gov. Greg Abbott, well look forward to an interesting campaign between two compelling candidates.
And remember: Don’t vote for Oliver.
My interview with Sawyer is here. I endorsed her way back when. The Chron is right: Don’t vote for Lloyd Oliver. Friends don’t let friends vote for Lloyd Oliver, either.
HD138: Adam Milasincic.
Democratic voters in District 138 have the luxury of picking between two good candidates to face well-entrenched incumbent Dwayne Bohac in the March 6 primary.
They are attorney and first-time candidate Adam Milasincic, 33, and Jenifer Rene Pool, 69, owner of a construction consulting company who has run unsuccessfully for City Council and County Commissioner and now wants a shot at tea party stalwart Bohac.
We could see both candidates becoming effective legislators in different ways for the west side district and, frankly, a race between Pool and the socially conservative Bohac could be fun to watch.
But Milasincic is super smart, thoughtful and passionate, all of which is useful when you’re taking on an incumbent. He has also raised an impressive amount of money for a first-time candidate in unfriendly territory. He gets our endorsement in the Democratic primary.
My interview with Milasincic is here and with Pool is here. I cut out a lot of the good stuff in this piece because I’d have had to quote the whole thing otherwise. This is the most competitive of the Harris County legislative districts – it should be the first to flip, if any of them do. I like both of these candidates and am looking forward to supporting whoever wins the nomination.
Over to Fort Bend for HD28: Meghan Scoggins.
Two Democrats are running against each other for the right to face incumbent state Rep. John Zerwas, who has represented district in the Texas Legislature since 2007.
If either of the primary candidates is up to the task, it’s Meghan Scoggins.
Scoggins, 38, has a detailed command of the issues facing this district, an expertise she says she developed observing — and sometimes testifying in — four sessions of the Legislature. (She casually mentioned to the editorial board that she drove to Austin in an RV that became her home away from home.) Although she has a background in business management and she did support work for the International Space Station, Scoggins spent the past few years focused on non-profit and community work. She not only brags about knowing most of the fire chiefs and MUD directors in the district, she also has a grasp of the problems they face. When she talks about infrastructure issues, she cites specific voter concerns like noise abatement problems surrounding the expansion of State Highway 99. She also specifically called for a county-wide flood control district, which would be a smart policy for the next session no matter who wins in November.
I haven’t paid that much attention to the races outside of Harris County – an unfortunate side effect of the cornucopia of candidates is that time and my attention can only go so far. HD26 is the more competitive district, but by all accounts I’ve seen Scoggins is a quality, hard-working candidate. I wish her well.
Last but not least, two for Justice of the Peace.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 2: Don Coffey
Our endorsement goes to the only lawyer in this race, incumbent Justice Don Coffey.
Coffey, 65, who was first elected in 2010, has had a positive impact on this precinct which runs from Baytown through communities like Highlands, Channelview and Sheldon — by working to change our state’s onerous truancy laws.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 2: Audrie Lawton
Four people are running for this seat. Out of the pool, three candidates are lawyers, all of whom graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. All of the candidates in this race possess experience dealing with individuals in crisis and would be compassionate jurists.
The non-lawyer in this race, Ray Shackelford, has considerable political charisma, and we would encourage him to consider a run for another position, such as city council. But for this bench we’re endorsing the candidate with the most relevant legal experience, Audrie Lawton. Lawton has handled thousands of cases in justice of the peace courts, and she also has quasi-judicial experience having served for seven years as an examiner for the Texas Education Agency, hearing cases where teachers faced non-renewal or termination. The 40-year-old, who is licensed in all the federal courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, also articulated the clearest vision for updating this court through expanded use of technology.
Q&As for relevant candidates:
I don’t have anything to add here, but there are still more endorsements to get through. Kudos to the Chron to getting to them all, but man I would have appreciated it if they could have been spread out a bit more.