I thought that I could get a sense of where things stood in the race for Texas Senate District 6 at last night’s forum held at Ripley House. Didn’t happen, mostly because Rep. Carol Alvarado was a no-show. Six of the declared candidates did show up (from left to right):
- Dorothy Olmos (R)
- Sylvia Garcia (D)
- Rodolfo Reyes (D)
- Joaquin Martinez (D)
- Maria Selva (G)
- RW Bray (R)
There was a decent crowd on hand:
But I got the feeling that most in attendance were already committed to a candidate or were actually working for a candidate. Garcia had a huge contingent of campaign workers and she also had the most people there wearing her campaign stickers. Alvarado had a couple of campaign workers, including Marc Campos and another guy sitting on the front row videoing Garcia’s answers. Chris Carmona was there for RW Bray. Martinez had a table setup with voting machines and his place on the ballot, plus a young woman handing out flyers to a support rally this Thursday.
As for the forum itself, I guess the best thing to say is that you did get a chance to hear all of the candidates. And that was also the worst thing. Let’s be honest – this race is going to be between Garcia and Alvarado, with a slight chance that Bray can make a runoff IF he can avoid splitting the Republican vote with Olmos. If Republicans actually show up at these forums and hear Bray vs Olmos, I wouldn’t count on that.
Besides Alvarado, one other candidate was a no-show: former Gallegos mistress Susan Delgado. So that left six people to answer questions and the forum organizers went for quantity of questions over quality of answers. What that means is that they limited the candidates to one minute answers to questions so that they could get more questions in. If you’ve ever attended one of these things, you know that that format is terrible if your goal is to get an idea of what a candidate really means. But, you do get more questions, and some people like that.
In total, there were 11 questions asked. Including “What is your favorite color and why?”. See what I mean?
The second question was probably the most relevant and I’ll let you listen to each candidate’s answers if you wish. The question is, “What are your top 3 priorities?”. Heh, you try answering that in one minute.
First up was RW Bray, who decided to stick with 1 priority, education:[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/rw-bray-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Next was Maria Selva: healthcare, security, Keystone pipeline[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/maria-selva-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Then Joaquin Martinez tried it: education, healthcare, safety[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/joaquin-martinez-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Dorothy Olmos took a stab: education, school choice, defend Rick Perry[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/dorothy-olmos-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Then it was Sylvia Garcia’s turn (forget 3, she can do 5): healthcare, healthy workers (?), incentives that work, Hire Texas first, education[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Last up was Rodolfo Reyes: healthcare, education[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/rodolfo-reyes-priorities_DS300089.mp3]
Okay, so if you made it through all of those, you might get a sense of each person.
Going back to the Bray/Olmos bid for Republican votes for a moment, I was quite surprised that Bray strongly supported METRO’s boondoggle train, arguably the biggest waste of taxpayer money in Harris County history. Not only would he have voted for it, he will expand it because it makes life easier and anything that increases happiness is good for the people. Say what? This from the guy that helped us stop the Harris County Department of Education from raising taxes about a buck a year on homeowners? Doesn’t make sense. Olmos also supported a new METRO train, she just wanted it on a different street and she wanted the businesses destroyed by the Harrisburg line to be better compensated. That was her only non-conservative moment of the night and her defense of Perry, the Keystone pipeline, and the education cuts stood out. I think that most of us were thinking that Bray would be the default for Republicans because Olmos has run so many times for various positions, can’t raise money, and hasn’t updated her website but if Republicans actually listen at these forums, I’d bet that Olmos gets her share. But hey, listen for yourself about METRO:
First, RW Bray:[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/rwbray-metro-underpass_DS300089.mp3]
Now, just for fun, compare their answers to Sylvia Garcia:[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-metro-underpass_DS300089.mp3]
Mmm, hmm, betcha didn’t expect that did you? Make no mistake, Garcia supports METRO and the boondoggle rail, but in this specific case, she says no, the two R’s say yes. That is just one of the reasons that I’m sticking with my original assessment that this race is Garcia’s to lose – many R’s remember her fondly from her days as Precinct 2 Commissioner. No scandals and no corruption goes a long way and she will pull in some Republican votes even as she attacks Rick Perry. Notice that she doesn’t attack Republicans and keeps it specific to Rick Perry – there is a reason for that. Speaking of scandals and corruptions, Garcia did manage to take a couple of shots at Alvarado, mentioning that she’s never taken consulting fees and that her staff has never received bonuses she knew nothing about. But those were mild – perhaps if Alvarado had been there, the shots would have been harder.
Surprisingly, when I left the Ripley House last night, I was thinking that this was a very weak field and that no one stood out. I decided that Alvarado would probably be able to handle Garcia in these formats and was the more dynamic person. She still may be the more dynamic speaker, we’ll see about that if she attends future events, but after reviewing each of Garcia’s answers, I think that Garcia held up very well and offered a lot of detail that I missed in trying to listen to each candidate. But again, I’ll let you decide if you choose to. I’ve extracted each of Garcia’s answers and you can listen if you want. I know that I’ll get some flak from R’s for not doing the same for Bray and Olmos but in fairness, I’ve contacted each campaign, asking for a sit down interview, and neither has responded. So there.
As for the other three candidates, Reyes, Martines, and Selva, let’s just say – no chance. I like Martinez a lot and think that he has a future in politics. He was well versed on the issues and was able to articulate his positions well. Selva is hung up on environmental issues and that might be a good thing if this district were in the Austin area but it is not. Reyes seemed to have deep knowledge of the district and the issues but was plagued with too many “Rick Perry oops” moments – several times, he lost his train of thought and had to pass the question.
All in all, the forum did give the attendees a chance to hear from the candidates and thus played a part in selecting the next Texas Senator from District 6.
Garcia’s answers to the remaining 8 questions (I skipped the “color” question):
What qualifies you to run for Senate?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-what-qualifies-you_DS300089.mp3]
What bills will you propose?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-bills-proposed_DS300089.mp3]
How will you support yourself given that this is a part-time job?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-support-yourself_DS300089.mp3]
What is your experience with budgets?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-experience-budget_DS300089.mp3]
What about access to healthcare?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-access-healthcare_DS300089.mp3]
What will you do to help the vulnerable?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-vulnerables_DS300089.mp3]
Why are you running?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-why-run_DS300089.mp3]
What will your first 90 days look like?[audio:http://www.bigjollypolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sylvia-garcia-first-90-days_DS300089.mp3]