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Sean Hubbard

The UT/TT poll’s track record in past Democratic primaries

The one result in that UT/TT poll from Monday that has people freaking out is the one that shows nutball LaRouchie Kesha Rogers leading the Senate race with 35%, followed by David Alameel with 27%. I expressed my skepticism of that result at the time, because among other things I have my doubts that their sample is truly representative of the Democratic primary electorate, but I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Trib’s previous efforts at polling Democratic primaries and see how they’ve done in the past. There are two elections to study. First, let’s go back to 2010 when all of the statewide offices were up for grabs. Democrats had three contested primaries that the Trib polled: Governor, Lt. Governor, and Ag Commissioner. Here are the results.

In the Democratic primary race, former Houston Mayor Bill White has a huge lead over his next closest challenger, businessman Farouk Shami, pulling 50 percent to Shami’s 11 percent. Five other candidates are in the running for the Democratic nomination; the survey found that only 9 percent of those polled prefer someone other than the two frontrunners.

Undecided voters are still significant in both gubernatorial primaries. On the Republican side, 16 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds. Pressed for a preference, 51 percent chose Perry, 34 percent chose Hutchison, and 15 percent chose Medina — an indication that Perry could win without a runoff if he can attract those voters into his camp. Among Democratic voters, 30 percent were undecided, and of those, 48 percent, when pressed, said they lean toward White. With White already at 50 percent, that means Shami would have to strip votes away from him in order to force a runoff or to claim a win.


Democratic primary voters have a couple of other statewide races to decide. In the contest for lieutenant governor — the winner will face Republican incumbent David Dewhurst in November — labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson took 18 percent of those polled, former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle got 16 percent, and restaurateur Marc Katz had 3 percent. Five percent of voters said they wanted “somebody else,” and a whopping 58 percent remain undecided on the eve of early voting, which begins on Tuesday. Kinky Friedman and Hank Gilbert — two refugees from the governor’s race now running for agriculture commissioner — are locked in a tight race, 32 percent to 27 percent. While Friedman’s ahead, the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. And, as with the Lite Guv race, “undecided” is actually leading, at 41 percent. The winner will face incumbent Republican Todd Staples in November.

And here’s the reality:

Governor Alma Aguado 2.83% Felix Alvarado 4.95% Bill Dear 0.96% Clement Glenn 1.44% Star Locke 0.92% Farouk Shami 12.84% Bill White 76.03% Lieutenant Governor Linda C-T 53.13% Ronnie Earle 34.67% Marc Katz 12.18% Commissioner of Agriculture Kinky Friedman 47.69% Hank Gilbert 52.30%

So White did have a big lead on Shami, but it was much bigger than they indicated. Linda Chavez-Thompson was indeed leading Ronnie Earle, but by a significant amount, more than enough to avoid a runoff. And Hank Gilbert defeated Kinky Friedman, despite the UT/TT poll showing Friedman in the lead.

How about the 2012 Senate primary, which is a reasonably decent facsimile of this one, as it’s a large field of mostly unknown candidates? Here’s the poll:

The Democrats, too, could be building to a July finish, probably between former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, according to the poll.

Sadler led the Democrats with 29 percent, but was followed closely — and within the poll’s margin of error — by Hubbard. Two other candidates — Addie Dainell Allen and Grady Yarbrough — also registered double-digit support.

And the actual result:

U. S. Senator Addie Allen 22.90% Sean Hubbard 16.08% Paul Sadler 35.13% Grady Yarbrough 25.87%

Sadler did in fact lead the field, but Hubbard came in fourth, well behind eventual second-place finisher Grady Yarbrough, whom the Trib pegged for fourth.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Mostly that we don’t have enough data to be able to evaluate the Trib’s ability to poll Democratic primaries. To be fair to them, they were quite accurate in the corresponding GOP races. They had Rick Perry winning in 2010, though not quite over 50%, with Debra Medina’s level nailed exactly, and they had David Dewhurst with a lead over Ted Cruz with Tom Leppert in third, but with the Dew falling short of a majority. As such, I’d put some faith in their GOP polling, at least until we see how they actually did. But I would not put much faith in their Dem results. They clearly pushed people to pick someone – anyone! – in the Senate race, they polled before David Alameel dropped a bunch of mail, which they themselves said (but didn’t acknowledge in their writeup) is exactly the sort of thing that could enable someone to win that race, and as I said I just don’t believe they’ve got a representative sample of the Dem primary electorate. I’ll be more than a little shocked if it turns out they got this one right.

One more thing: What if they are right about Rogers leading? Well, as long as she doesn’t crack 50%, I’d suggest we all remain calm. For all its constraints and limitations, the state Democratic Party has managed to get the nominees it has wanted in the last three Senate primaries. Rick Noriega cleared 50% in round one in 2008, and Sadler in 2012 and Barbara Radnofsky in 2006 both won their runoffs – Radnofsky has said that her overtime race against the now apparently dormant Gene Kelly was the best thing that happened to her, as it boosted her fundraising and made people actually pay attention to that race. I feel reasonably confident that if Rogers is in a runoff with anyone, everyone else in the party will fall as loudly and visibly as they can behind her opponent, whoever that winds up being. It’s already happening to a large degree – the TDP, the HCDP, and the Fort Bend Democratic Party have put out messages condemning Rogers and urging Democrats not to vote for her. I’d have preferred to see that happen earlier than this, and I’d much rather it not come to banding together to beat her in a runoff, but I’m not going to fall into a spiral of self-loathing over this one poll result. Do your part to help people make a good decision in this race, and be prepared to support someone other than Kesha in a runoff if it comes to that.

Precinct analysis: Democratic Senate primary

After the May 29 primary, runnerup Senate candidate Grady Yarbrough said he did as well as he had because he “went directly” to counties where there is “a heavy Hispanic and African American population”. I don’t remember him ever being in Harris County, but let’s see how he did here anyway.

Dist Sadler Hubbard Yarb Allen Yarb % ============================================== 126 407 230 334 260 27.13% 127 390 350 330 324 23.67% 128 575 262 449 253 29.17% 129 846 390 499 387 23.52% 130 383 185 208 197 21.38% 131 981 1073 1611 2000 28.44% 132 327 233 263 231 24.95% 133 855 314 303 261 17.48% 134 2179 680 686 400 17.39% 135 401 243 301 258 25.02% 137 473 302 373 307 25.64% 138 432 238 297 239 24.63% 139 818 974 2027 922 42.75% 140 375 212 584 279 40.28% 141 573 504 1313 1098 37.64% 142 822 592 1745 1122 40.76% 143 1004 479 1090 669 33.62% 144 637 230 543 327 31.26% 145 661 302 547 338 29.60% 146 1358 1287 1854 1930 28.84% 147 1473 1282 1981 1787 30.37% 148 960 433 657 366 27.19% 149 392 297 364 360 25.76% 150 387 243 261 225 23.39%

Yarbrough did do well in the six African-American districts, but not by much over Addie Allen. He won two districts handily (139 and 142), won two by smaller margins (141 and 147), and lost one by a small margin (146) and one by a larger margin (131, where I presume being named “Addie Allen” was advantageous). In the Latino districts, he won 140 by a decent margin, 143 by a small margin, and lost in 144, 145, and 148. I don’t know that that says anything about Yarbrough’s claimed outreach. He surely benefited from the contested primaries in 131, 146, and 147, but there are no runoffs in any of them. Sadler ought to do better in Harris in the runoff; he will need to if he wants to win.

How about around the state? Here are the ten counties in which each candidate performed the best, limited to counties in which at least 1000 votes were cast. You can see the full results in this spreadsheet. First, Addie Allen:

County Allen Sadler Yarb Hubbard ============================================= Orange 37.87% 23.54% 29.93% 8.66% Jefferson 34.79% 23.82% 22.03% 19.35% Dallas 33.38% 29.41% 20.10% 17.11% Webb 30.43% 27.93% 21.82% 19.82% Bell 29.72% 23.38% 24.42% 22.47% El Paso 28.95% 29.84% 26.11% 15.10% Zapata 27.91% 28.92% 21.54% 21.64% Maverick 26.76% 40.27% 16.57% 16.40% Starr 26.16% 33.86% 23.59% 16.40% Cameron 25.64% 35.16% 22.34% 16.86%

Allen is from Beaumont, so her good showing in Orange and Jefferson Counties are not unexpected. Note that in half of these counties she still finished second to Paul Sadler. Speaking of which, here are Sadler’s best counties:

County Allen Sadler Yarb Hubbard ============================================= Gregg 13.37% 67.33% 11.91% 7.38% Cass 10.17% 59.84% 19.45% 10.54% Travis 17.74% 53.26% 19.24% 9.75% Bowie 11.84% 50.13% 17.01% 21.02% Angelina 16.13% 48.97% 24.36% 10.53% McLennan 14.52% 47.76% 24.69% 13.04% Williamson 16.55% 46.87% 20.48% 16.10% Montgomery 15.37% 42.12% 26.71% 15.37% Frio 16.03% 41.99% 30.24% 11.75% Jasper 17.02% 41.99% 25.90% 15.10%

Sadler won a majority in 24 counties, and did pretty well in his back yard of East Texas. I don’t know how many votes there will be in some of those counties in July, though. He’ll surely want to focus on the big urban counties. He’s got a good head start in Travis, and he did finish second in Dallas, well ahead of Yarbrough. Here’s Yarbrough:

County Allen Sadler Yarb Hubbard ============================================= Victoria 14.56% 21.90% 53.65% 9.89% Bee 17.07% 21.86% 50.40% 10.68% San Jacinto 13.33% 24.73% 49.62% 12.32% Jim Hogg 16.28% 19.03% 45.88% 18.81% Galveston 14.76% 22.06% 44.62% 18.56% Willacy 24.83% 23.98% 37.18% 14.00% Smith 10.71% 41.96% 36.32% 11.02% Brewster 18.31% 30.60% 35.83% 15.26% Calhoun 17.05% 34.63% 35.10% 13.21% Matagorda 21.89% 24.18% 34.52% 19.41%

Yarbrough is also from East Texas, though he lives in San Antonio now. He did all right there, though as you can see he still finished behind Sadler in Smith County and just held him off in Calhoun. If I thought he was actually running a campaign, I’d advise him to fight it out with Sadler in the big urban counties. I don’t really expect him to do anything, which is fine by me. Finally, here are Sean Hubbard’s best counties:

County Allen Sadler Yarb Hubbard ============================================= Guadalupe 18.83% 27.31% 24.81% 29.05% Denton 21.48% 38.70% 14.81% 25.01% Bastrop 14.91% 36.81% 24.14% 24.14% Jim Wells 15.98% 29.75% 30.59% 23.68% Brooks 21.59% 23.55% 31.48% 23.38% Bell 29.72% 23.38% 24.42% 22.47% Uvalde 13.66% 31.38% 32.92% 22.03% Zapata 27.91% 28.92% 21.54% 21.64% Collin 20.54% 40.64% 17.70% 21.12% Bowie 11.84% 50.13% 17.01% 21.02%

Hooray for Guadalupe County! Of interest is that Hubbard did well in Denton and Collin, his home area, and that Sadler did well along with him. With Hubbard endorsing Sadler, that may be a boost for him in the runoff. There were a bit more than 200,000 votes cast in the 2006 Democratic primary runoff, a bit less than that in the 2008 runoff, so my guess is there will be about that many votes cast in this July’s election. First candidate to 100,000 votes wins. See the Trib’s interactive map for more.

Sadler and the Senate runoff

One of the two candidates in the Democratic runoff for US Senate was at the TDP convention last week.

Paul Sadler

U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler, who still faces a runoff fight with a candidate who’s a complete unknown, told reporters on Saturday that he’s used his three days at the convention to meet with as many delegates as possible and that the expressions of financial support have been almost constant.

He said it didn’t matter to him which Republican he faced, assuming he prevails in the runoff, although he noted that the most passionate voters participate in runoffs. That would seem to favor Ted Cruz, the fervent tea party favorite.


Sadler, a former state representative from East Texas known for his school finance expertise, said he was concerned about his runoff with retired San Antonio educator Grady Yarbrough, who reportedly was as surprised as any Democrat that he finished second in primary voting. Sadler, a Henderson attorney, vowed to travel the state and meet with as many Democrats as possible to make sure that Yarbrough, something of a hobby candidate, didn’t spring any more surprises.

I don’t claim to know what Republicans are thinking about for their Senate runoff, but I figure getting booed by attendees at the GOP convention doesn’t bode well for David Dewhurst. As far as our runoff goes, I look at it this way. It’s highly unlikely that too many people will show up to vote on July 31 who don’t have a good idea of who all the candidates are and why they support this one over that one. I figure that gives Sadler, who has been by far the more active campaigner and who has the endorsement of Sean Hubbard, the advantage in the race. I sure hope it does, anyway.

Democratic results, statewide

Let me get this off my chest first:

In tonight’s Texas primary, President Obama faces another set of red-state voters — and with it the possibility that some little known challenger could wrack up some significant portion of the Democratic vote.

Challenging Obama for the Democratic primary nod will be John Wolfe, the Tennessee attorney who took over 40 percent of the primary vote in Arkansas, Florida author Darcy G. Richardson and Chicago investor Bob Ely.

“I think the President might have some protest votes against him in the Texas Democratic primary today,” said Harold Cook, a veteran Democratic strategist in the state. “Many conservatives here vote in the Democratic primary, driven mostly by local contested races.” But he added, the vote has “absolutely no significance for November.”

Matt Angle, another expert on Texas Democratic politics, concurred. ”In Texas, the people who don’t like Obama vote in the Republican primary,” he said.

A look at the numbers suggests that Obama will perform better in Texas than in Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia — all states where he lost upwards of 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Even so, the Lone Star state could still cause the Obama campaign a bit of heartburn.

Politico had a similar thumbsucker on its site as well:

President Barack Obama’s humbling Appalachian primary tour is over. But there’s still one more chance for him to be embarrassed by white, rural working class voters.

While he’ll win the state easily, Texas borders three of the president’s worst performing primary states this year – Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. And the resistance to Obama in those states is concentrated by the Texas border and is likely to bleed across state lines into the counties in the Texas Panhandle, the Red River Valley and East Texas.

The good news for Obama is that the bulk of the Democratic vote will come from elsewhere in Texas. And the Democratic ballot will feature three little-known candidates, which will disperse the protest vote. But one of those candidates will be John Wolfe, who won 42 percent in Arkansas and 12 percent in Louisiana. While that’s enough to capture some Democratic delegates, state party officials in both states refused to award them to him.

For the record, President Obama was at over 88% with 91% of precincts reporting. Has no one noticed that you could fit all of the rural, white, working class, Democratic primary voters in this state in a Yugo? Sheesh. The vote in Texas, at least on the D side, comes from the cities and South Texas. This was not a state that was going to embarrass him.

Anyway. On to the other races. Statewide results are here, and the live chat transcript is here.

– Paul Sadler will face Grady Yarbrough in a runoff for the Senate nomination. No, I knew nothing about him before last night, either. I quote from the Trib’s liveblog:

Educator Grady Yarbrough of San Antonio is currently running second in the four-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, with 21 percent of precincts reporting.

Reached by phone, Yarbrough said he had not been following the results but is not surprised he is running ahead of Addie Allen and Sean Hubbard and only behind former state Rep. Paul Sadler.

“I felt that it would be a runoff and yes, I have a plan for the runoff,” Yarbrough said. “It’s turning out the way I thought it would.”

Unlike his three competitors in the primary, Yarbrough has not reported raising or spending any money with the Federal Elections Commission. Yarbrough said he just hasn’t filed any reports yet but did spend money around the state promoting his campaign. Yarbrough said he advertised in African-American newspapers and had yard signs up in several parts of the state.

“I spent money, you bet I have,” Yarbrough said.

Better file that report before someone files a complaint, dude. Sean Hubbard finished fourth. There will come a day when a good social media strategy will mean more than a familiar-sounding name in a race like this, but that day is not today. Sean, please run for something in Dallas in 2014. We do need more people like you on the ballot.

– The Campaign for Primary Accountability may have its scalp here. As of last report, Beto O’Rourke was leading Rep. Silvestre Reyes with 51.34% of the vote to Reyes’ 43.31%. (I’m going by Trib results here.) Rep. Eddie Berniece Johnson cruised in CD30 with over 70% of the vote, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa finished with 71% in CD15, and Rep. Lloyd Doggett won easily in CD35, with 73%. Reyes was the only Congressional casualty, but not necessarily the only interesting result. Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez led the field in CD23 and will face former State Rep. Pete Gallego in the runoff. Rodriguez was above 50% for much of the night but Gallego caught up late to force overtime. Also going into overtime:

CD33 – Former State Rep. Marc Veasey (38%) versus former State Rep. Domingo Garcia (24%). I’m grimly pleased to note that the guy who spent over a million bucks of his own money, David Alameel, came in fourth.

CD34 – Filemon Vela, with 41%, most likely against Denise Saenz Blanchard, who led Ramiro Garza by about 140 votes with several precincts still out. Former Cameron County DA Armando Villalobos, who looked like the frontrunner at one point, came in fifth. I’m guessing those federal charges didn’t help his cause much.

CD27 – Jerry Trevino (40%) versus Rose Meza Harrison (32%). Ronnie McDonald was third with 26%. I hope he runs for something else in 2014, too.

Former Rep. Nick Lampson took over 80% of the vote in CD14. I’m pretty sure he’s happy that both of his potential opponents are from Pearland.

– Another “what the hell just happened?” SBOE result as Michael Soto, the incumbent in SBOE 3, got crushed by Marisa Perez, 66-34. I have no idea where that came from. The open SBOE2 race will have Celeste Zepeda Sanchez versus Ruben Cortez, Jr. in the runoff, while Martha Dominguez won the right to face Charlie Garza in the best pickup opportunity in SBOE1.

– No Democratic incumbents in the Lege lost – Rene Oliveira, Mando Martinez, Marisa Marquez, Tracy King (who trailed early), and Lon Burnam all survived.

– Oscar Longoria is the new State Rep. in HD35; former Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles will face the GOP runoff winner in HD43; Poncho Nevarez took the three-way race in HD74; Chris Turner will return to the House in HD101; Toni Rose won HD110, and Justin Rodriguez in HD125. I’m very pleased to note that Mary Gonzalez made history in HD75 as the first female candidate to win in that part of El Paso, and also as the first openly gay candidate to make it to Austin. (I am hoping for one other in the fall.) There will be runoffs in these HDs:

HD40 – Terry Canales versus Auggie Hernandez
HD95 – Nicole Collier versus Jesse Gaines
HD117 – Phillip Cortez versus Tina Torres

– Rosemary Lehmburg easily won re-election as Travis County DA, as did Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton.

– Turnout was around 600,000, which is down from 2004. The only things driving turnout were local races, and that’s not a recipe for big numbers.

On to Harris County Democratic results from here.

Hubbard profile


Sean Hubbard

Of the six top-tier candidates running for the U.S. Senate, only Sean Hubbard may have to worry about being challenged by eagle-eyed poll watchers, suspicious that he is too young to vote. Fresh-faced and slight, the Dallas resident is 31, but looks half that.

The young Democrat likes to remind audiences that Joe Biden was 29 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware, and like the current vice president, Hubbard is articulate, engaging and well-versed on the issues. During a Houston debate a couple of weeks ago, he did not hesitate to engage the presumptive GOP front-runner, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is more than three decades older and who has nearly 15 years more experience in office. Hubbard won the KUHF News live blog poll immediately following the debate.


He quit his job last December, assured his wife he would share the child-rearing chores equally and declared his candidacy – not for city council or the U.S. House, but for the U.S. Senate. Given the gerrymandered nature of congressional districts, his chance of winning a Senate seat, he calculated, was about as good as winning a House seat. He also had notions of changing the makeup of the Senate.

“It’s the oldest and richest it’s ever been in this country,” Hubbard said one afternoon last week as he sipped iced tea at Sissy’s Cafe in Brownsboro. “Which is great that people can be successful and then run for office, but that’s not very representative of our country. … I thought, ‘What about having a guy that had to work for his paycheck every week run for the U.S. Senate?’ ”

He also hoped to jolt his fellow Democrats into action. “I just got tired of watching the Democratic Party being afraid all the time,” he said. “It’s just a theory at this point, but I think part of the reason Republicans do so well here is that they take a stand on an issue. I thought, ‘Hey, let’s try that.’ ”

My interview with Hubbard is here. The story references Harold Cook’s endorsement of Hubbard, which resulted from Hubbard’s performance in that debate. I think the enthusiasm argument that Cook and other bloggers cite is a strong argument for Hubbard. We’ll see if that translates to something in the primary. Whatever does happen this year, Hubbard definitely has a future, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from him.

Endorsement watch: Sadler

The Chron endorses Paul Sadler for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Paul Sadler

Sadler, 57, a father of five who served in the Texas House from 1991 to 2003, is an East Texas Democrat from the classic mold – a populist with common sense and a keen understanding of budgets, as well as a knack for honest deal-making, looking out for the interests of working Texans and understanding the importance of keeping government spending in line with revenues.

In four of his six terms in Austin, Sadler was named to Texas Monthly’s list of Top 10 lawmakers. His legislative career was cut short when he left the state capital to help a critically injured son rehabilitate after an automobile accident. Following his recovery, Sadler and son were treated to a very personal White House visit with President George W. Bush, with whom Sadler had worked closely in Austin while Bush was governor.

Refreshingly, Sadler vows to “spend less time name calling” if sent to Washington and more time being open to ideas – whether they come from those labeled liberal or conservative.

We also like it that Sadler’s history in public life reveals him to be pragmatic rather than doctrinaire. His Republican opponents vow to kill “Obamacare,” but Sadler eschews sloganeering and understands the need to work toward a solution on the politically volatile health care issue, now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. He rightly recognizes that all Americans share an interest in health care reform and that Congress will need to work in a bipartisan fashion to achieve that.

Sadler’s “Where I Stand” section on his campaign website is pure old-time Texas Democrat: for an independent voice in the Senate that puts Texas ahead of party affiliation; for job creation through support for public education and the energy industry; for energy independence; for a strong national defense; and for protecting access to affordable health care.

I voted for Sadler. If you look at the endorsements I’ve tracked on my 2012 Primary page, you’ll see that a number of my blogging colleagues are backing Sean Hubbard. I thought they made a compelling case, but I’m happy with my choice. And assuming he’s not in Washington DC next year, I hope Hubbard considers running for one of the many Dallas County legislative swing seats in 2014. We need more people like him running for office. You can listen to my interview with Sadler here. If you like what you hear, consider chipping in a few bucks to his effort. If we want to keep more political money in Texas for our candidates, we need to lead by example.

UPDATE: This morning Sadler also received the Statesman endorsement.

Interview with Sean Hubbard

Sean Hubbard

Sean Hubbard has been in the race for Senator longer than any other candidate, having started his campaign in January, 2011, right when Sen. Hutchison made her retirement official. Hubbard is easily the youngest candidate running for Senate at 30 years old, but he has been involved in politics for a decade, starting as a volunteer for Congressional campaign. In 2008, he worked with Obama Dallas to coordinate outreach efforts, and develop the Obama Dallas Field Plan. He lives in the Dallas area, where he grew up. Here’s the interview:

Download the MP3 file

See also this BOR profile of Hubbard.

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.