There is only one county wide race on the Republican primary ballot in Harris County. That is for the 295th Civil District Court between primary front-runner Richard Risinger and Michelle Fraga. I doubt the majority of Republican voters are going to be rushing to the polls for either one, even though it is an important position. Such is the state of electing judges in a partisan manner.
So what’s going to drive turnout? Glad you asked. That would be the turnout in the runoff in CD2 between primary front-runner Kevin Roberts and Dan Crenshaw. On primary day, March 6th, a total of 47,428 ballots were cast in CD2, with 46,245 choosing to vote in this race. Given its high profile, a fair number of those voters will return to vote in the runoff. But it probably won’t be as high as your gut tells you. Let’s take a look at a few historical instances in Harris County.
Given the high profile and amount of money being thrown around in the CD2 runoff, let’s say that the turnout will be 70%, close enough to the last three high profile races. The problem is that drop off in the 2008 Harris County DA’s race, a very high profile race that was county wide. If only 23.7% of voters returned for that race, the drop off for a single judicial race is going to be huge.
Of course, there is one more race on to consider, that being the JP 5, Place 2 runoff between incumbent Jeff Williams and Mike Wolfe. There is a good bit of overlap between CD2 and JP5, so I don’t think that it is going to affect turnout one way or the other.
As you know, all three of the major slates in Harris County Republican Party politics “endorsed” Kevin Roberts. They split on the judicial race, with Hotze and Polland choosing Risinger, Lowry choosing Fraga. And then they were unanimous again in “endorsing” Wolfe.
Looked at in this way, you begin to see the mountain that Dan Crenshaw and Jeff Williams have to climb. Richard Risinger is a little better off because of Hotze’s mail ballot expertise with older voters but he is going to have to overcome the money behind Roberts, which is spewing dishonest trash against Crenshaw and Williams. Of course, Risinger was in a runoff in 2008 and Lowry attacked his family – Risinger lost. Lowry is not an honorable man.
Take a look at Terry Lowry’s Link Letter. Little fella has never been particularly honest but this year, he stoops to a whole new level of disgusting.
I don’t know how many of Lowry’s acolytes are going to believe this trash and vote because of it but there will be some. Crenshaw is a newbie to politics and the consultants he is now using are new to Harris County politics, so the chances of offsetting this trash are not high. And if Lowry’s “good Christian” voters follow his lead, this trash might rule the day.
How then can Crenshaw, Williams and Risinger overcome this type of blatant dishonesty? With your help and only with your help. There is a guy I know that has a little line that he uses before meetings and it goes something like this: “When you say someone needs to do something, remember this: you are someone! So do something!”
That guy’s name is Tom Zakes, a long time Harris County Republican activist and Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club board member. Tom sent this out using the DHPC maillist:
It pains me to write this, because a good number of the people involved have been friends of mine for decades.
I have never been one to refer to the mail out slates in Harris County as “pay-to-play.” It could be that a candidate who buys advertising then gets an endorsement that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. But I have never seen that definitively in the Texas Conservative Review (Gary Polland & Marc Cowart), Link Letter (Terry Lowry) or Conservative Republicans of Harris County (Steve Hotze & Jared Woodfill). I have been approached by other groups that put out slates, asking me if I could “help them get the word out” about their endorsements if they backed me when I was running for city council in 1989 and for JP in 2016.
I grew up with bare knuckle politics, and I have never shied away from a political fight. I learned at an early age to read between the lines in political advertising. And I have seen how candidates and their operatives will often stretch the truth.
Though I expect negative campaigning, what I refuse to participate in is false advertising. And the runoff edition of the Link Letter has crossed that line. In addition to attacking former Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw, Lowry also draws a bead on Justice of the Peace Jeff Williams.
The basis of his ire is that Williams performs same sex marriages. But that is misplaced. After the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell, same sex weddings came to Texas, whether we liked it or not. After that, the Democrat County Attorney, Vince Ryan, issued an opinion letter to all the judges in Harris County: If you are going to perform any weddings, you MUST perform same sex weddings. Refusal to do so could result in action being brought to remove them from office. And we’ve seen how willing Vince Ryan is to waste county resources to remove public officials like Dave Wilson who he doesn’t like.
Williams and his counterpart judge in Precinct 5, Hon. Russ Ridgway, both stopped performing weddings in response to that directive. However, their constituents kept coming, wanting a simple wedding in front of a JP instead of a big expensive wedding at a church or rented hall. Ridgway and Williams had to decide: do we inconvenience more than 90% of our constituents because of a ruling we disagree with, or do we follow the directive from the County Attorney? They decided to go back to performing weddings. And remember, weddings performed by a Justice of the Peace are a civil ceremony, not a religious one. And as a side note, all 16 of the JPs in Harris County, including the 6 Republicans, perform weddings. Will Lowry go after the others, next?
Even more disturbing than what Lowry wrote is the “Guest Editorial” by my friend Eric Dick. Even the headline is a lie. It says “I’m voting for Mike Wolfe and You Should Too.” The problem with that sentence is that Eric and his wife (and two lovely daughters) live in Precinct 1, where they are registered to vote. So unless he commits vote fraud, Eric is NOT voting for Wolfe for JP.
He follows up with descriptions about how Williams allegedly acts in his court. The problem is, in the decade that Eric has been an attorney, he has appeared as attorney of record in a grand total of three cases in that court. And all three of those were filed when Bill Yeoman was the judge. Dick complains about an unnamed woman who was forced to stay in Court from 7 am to 7 pm three days in a row. But Williams’ Court has its earliest docket at 8 am, and the staff opens the doors at 7:30.
Wolfe has been invited to speak at our Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club about his race for JP. Both times, he accepted, and was scheduled to speak. Both times, he cancelled, the second time when he was the only scheduled speaker, leaving us to scramble to find a replacement in order to have a program.
I would have no problem with Eric Dick saying “I am on the Board of HCDE with Michael Wolfe, and encourage you to vote for him.” I would have no problem with Terry Lowry saying “I know Kevin Roberts from church, and think he’s a great guy. Please vote for him.” But to violate the Ninth Commandment by bearing false witness against one’s neighbor (Exodus 20:16), or committing an abomination by lying (Proverbs 12:22) are serious reasons not to vote for a candidate.
The runoff edition of the Link Letter is a lie. There can be no question about that and I’m glad that Tom has finally recognized that and said something about it. After all, he is someone. And so are you. See something, say something. Find a friend who lives in CD2 and make sure they know about the lies. You too are someone.
One of the more interesting things about this version of the Link Letter is that there are no “paid political advertising” disclaimers to be found. That is indeed interesting. Why do you think that is? My guess is that Lowry is trying to hide the amount of money that Kevin Roberts’ brother in law Mark Lanier is pouring into this race. After all, Lanier has been financing Lowry for years, allowing Lowry to spew his particular brand of hate. Why stop now? But that is only a guess. We already know that Fraga and Wolfe paid Lowry $15,000 for the primary. Will their new campaign finance reports list this trash as an in-kind contribution?
Kevin Roberts could have stopped this. But winning is apparently far more important to him than living a life for Christ. Hey, it happens. None of us are immune to the power of Satan.
But you can stop this. Vote for Crenshaw, Williams and Risinger. Tell your friends to vote for Crenshaw, Williams and Risinger. After all, you are someone.