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Old campaign issues never die

They just get recycled in more dishonest forms.

For a politician to accuse an opponent of “voting against our troops” during a time of war is the campaign equivalent of dropping a bomb.

That’s what challenger Ann Witt does in a glossy full-color mailout attacking Democratic state Rep. Scott Hochberg.


In copy pasted over photos of soldiers in tanks and of a soldier saluting the American flag, Witt accuses Hochberg of voting “to make it more difficult for” troops stationed away from home to vote in state and local elections.

The brochure quotes Lt. Col. Jerry Patterson, the Republican Texas Land Commissioner, as saying, “A politician who votes to deny overseas military personnel the right to vote in local elections, is a politician who doesn’t deserve your vote in any election!”

But to characterize the vote in question as indicating Hochberg is anti-military is a huge leap.

In 1997, Hochberg joined 71 other members of the Texas House, mostly Democrats, in voting for an Election Code amendment sponsored by then-Rep. Hugo Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi.

The vote took place in the wake of an election controversy in Val Verde County, home of the city of Del Rio and of Laughlin Air Force Base, a 3,300-person training facility for undergraduate pilots.

In the 1996 elections, two Republican candidates, one for sheriff and one for county commissioner, won by margins so close that they appeared to be affected by the votes of military personnel stationed elsewhere.

Democrats filed a lawsuit under the belief that a significant number of the 800 military voters had questionable connections to Val Verde County. The suit claimed allowing their vote violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the vote of Hispanic residents of the county.

Affidavits from some of the voters did raise interesting issues.

More than 200 of the voters had left blank a space for residency in the federal application to vote they filled out.

One said he did intend to return to Texas someday, but to Austin or San Antonio. Another owned and lived in a Florida home that he listed as his homestead for tax purposes.

Yet another hadn’t even been stationed at Laughlin. He had visited Del Rio 26 years earlier to visit his grandmother on his honeymoon.

The suit eventually failed, but it was in the context of this controversy that Berlanga offered his amendment.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it came up in last year’s Mayoral race. (Nice to know that Jerry Patterson is keeping busy, by the way. He must not have all that much to do as Land Commissioner, beyond making these charges and challenging New Mexico to a duel.) At least that attack had some basis in reality, given Bill White’s role in the Val Verde aftermath as State Democratic Party Chair. Ann Witt’s smear is straight out of the my-opponent-supports-terrorism handbook. Props to Hotshot Casey for filling in the details. If you agree, drop by Scott Hochberg‘s place and show him some love.

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  1. kevin whited says:

    That’s somewhat of an unfair shot at Patterson.

    He’s been a pretty effective land commissioner (unlike the last guy in the office), and has done some really good work enforcing the Open Beaches Act and working with interested parties on coastal erosion issues. Furthermore, he’s stood down quite a number of affluent coastal property owners who supported him last time (particularly in West Galveston).

    I know that last doesn’t fit the favored narrative of monied interests deciding all in Texas politics, but it’s reality. Not everyone with an R by his name is a bad guy who lives to help corporations screw Texans. Honest!

    Of course, I’m just waiting for MY corporate sponsor to come along and then YOU ARE ALL SCREWED! bwahahahaha

  2. blogHOUSTON says:

    Some alternative thoughts on Rick Casey’s facts

    Chronicle metro/state columnist Rick Casey penned a column on Friday that’s effectively a press release for the Scott Hochberg campaign. Indeed, it took no time at all for the Hochberg campaign to …