Lots and lots of commentary going on about the root cause for the increased turnout in early voting this year and what it means for November. I think there are some clues for the former and not much for the latter but we’ll talk about that later. Candidates and supporters in those few close races are going to be in mach drive Monday trying to convince one or two more people to get out to the polls. If it helps (or hurts) here is who I voted for and why and a few if I could have voted for and why.
I voted against Greg Abbott for the first time ever. Not because I support his opponents because they are clearly not qualified but because if they can garner a few more percentage points than they should, maybe he’ll stop attacking Republicans and start governing. I’m still waiting for him to implement or even propose the great ideas he told me about on education.
In the Lt. Governor’s race, I voted for Scott Milder for the same reason. Dan talks a lot about doing “what the people want”. Unfortunately, “the people” he is referring to are a small subset of the voting population. If Milder, as an under funded, no name recognition candidate, can get up to 40% or more, maybe Dan will realize that as a statewide elected official, he needs to listen to all of the people. And if Milder does get up to 40% or more, November is going to be very tough on Republicans in Texas.
I voted for Jerry Patterson because George P. Bush has been a failure as Land Commissioner. The sooner he gets his ass back to Florida, the better. Dr. Davey Edwards is certainly a good choice here as well. The key is to get P in a runoff and boot his ass out of Texas.
I voted for Trey Blocker because Sid Miller just ain’t right. When you choose Ted Nugent to be your Treasurer, your disdain for the voters is clear.
For Railroad Commissioner, I voted for Weston Martinez. Nothing negative about Ms. Craddick, other than the fact that she wasted more trees sending mail to my home than I thought was possible, I just think that it would be a good change.
In the Criminal Court of Appeals, Presiding Judge, I voted for David Bridges. Sharon Keller should have been bounced years ago for her egregious behavior. Bridges has years of experience on the appeals court and would be a welcome breath of fresh air.
In the CCA Place 8 I voted for Dib Waldrip after learning more about Michelle Slaughter’s record and seeing who was supporting her.
Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 7
As I wrote here, this is one of those races that the voters can’t lose. I ultimately voted for Katy Boatman because I think that her experience in appellate work and background translate better to this specific position. Besides, defendants would be worse off if they couldn’t count on Terry Yates to help them. See Daleiden, David for more.
For those of us voters that are not attorneys and do not work in the criminal justice system, we have to rely upon those that do for help. And we can also look at who is endorsing each candidate and discern who is being endorsed for political reasons and who is being endorsed for merit. One other factor is news reporting about the candidates. In the case of the 185th, Stacey Bond had the audacity as a judge to stand up to the Harris County DA’s office. The “Big 3” slates support her opponent. Attorneys that I respect and have asked all say that they are voting for Stacey Bond. So I did too.
As mentioned above, it’s hard for us non-attorneys to understand this stuff. But, using the criteria above and using the gold standard of passing Gov. Greg Abbott’s vetting process to be appointed, I voted for Erin Lunceford. Abbott’s team is known for thoroughly vetting candidates before appointing them and I surely can’t think of a reason to override that.
This one was hard because I didn’t see Charles Johnson running a particularly aggressive campaign and I did see Justin Keiter doing that. So in the end, since everything else seemed fairly equal, I went with the guy that I thought wanted it more. Who knows?
This one was easy because I know Richard Risinger and I know that he will be an excellent judge as far as temperament and fairness. The other two candidates seem to be fine people but they never really had a shot at my vote. Just being honest here.
This was another tough decision and the voters will win either way. I find that both candidates are quality people and quality attorneys. In the end, I chose to vote for Alyssa Lemkuil because of that Abbott gold standard – he appointed her to the 507th District Court and she lost in the wave of 2016. Her opponent, Melanie Flowers will do a fine job if she wins.
Another easy one and not even because Abbott appointed her. I’ve known Angelina Gooden for 10 years or so and she is definitely qualified and an extremely hard campaigner. I did not get an opportunity to meet with Geric Tipsword in person but a family court attorney that I respect told me that he was voting for him. But I hope that Angelina holds on to that bench because she will help families in crisis. I know that for certain.
Easiest one of all. Judge Jay Karahan has the respect of every single attorney that I asked with one exception – his opponent, who has a nice life story but has a tendency to blame others for any problems he encounters. The fact that Judge Karahan follows the law and performs wedding ceremonies for people of the same sex is the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard of for removing such a qualified judge from the bench. I still can’t believe the religious crowd in the party would sacrifice the public good for such a stupid reason. Ask around and you too will find that he is well respected and goes above and beyond in his efforts to seek justice in his court for ALL participants. Look at his work in the SOBER court, his involvement in community events and yes, his refusal to bow down to the Pharisaical wing of the Republican Party and I think you’ll agree with me. You can read Judge Karahan’s thoughts on the slates by clicking here.
An interesting race. Aaron Burdette certainly checks all of the boxes for a Republican voter. As such, he was able to garner all of the endorsements on the endorsement tracker. But, there is something unique about Lori Botello that resonated with me and for whom I ultimately voted. Her community work and advocacy for the less fortunate is commendable. Her desire to seek justice is unwavering. If you haven’t voted yet, I hope you will have an open mind on this race. Read her Q&A in the Houston Chronicle. Think out of the box! If she doesn’t win the primary, I hope that some of the stalwart women in the HCRP will reach out to her and help her continue in the party. We need so many more quality candidates like Lori Botello.
Another easy one. I voted to re-elect Judge Theresa Chang. Her opponent was put up by some of the same folks that want to get rid of Judge Jay Karahan. Whether it was because she performs gay weddings or whether it was because she ruled against them I don’t know. But I do know that whatever reason it is, they should have found a qualified candidate to run against Judge Chang. Erin Swanson is a nice enough young woman but she simply doesn’t have the legal experience to sit in judgement of anyone, much less a complicated civil case. She has never been in a civil court and her experience in the criminal justice system lasted about a year at the DA’s office. Why do supposed “leaders” of the HCRP care so little about the integrity of our courts?
Another easy one. I hung my chad for Sophia Mafrige. Sophia has a ton of experience and will be a great judge. She has been subjected to the vilest negative campaign I’ve seen in Harris County in a while. I think it has to be personal but I have no idea who is behind it. They sent out fake emails claiming to be from her campaign complete with a “Donate” button to steal people’s identity. They’ve accused her of all sorts of other stuff that I’ll not mention. Now they have a video playing on Facebook claiming that she is a foreigner that supports Sharia law. Just absurd. Mama Mia, vote for Sophia!
When I was talking with Dr. Steve Hotze the other day about the primary, he made the observation that the County Chair race was insignificant and that if you asked anyone on the street, they couldn’t name the chair of either party. And that of course is true. But it isn’t the whole story because if it was, Steve and friends wouldn’t have colluded (to use the word of the day) to spend roughly $1.25 million in total to get rid of the current chair, Paul Simpson.
The whole story would have to include the fact that when Paul Simpson was first elected in 2014, he took over a party that was literally broke and had outstanding bills to pay. In the course of rebuilding the party and increasing its reach into the outer suburbs, several of the long time party leaders saw their influence reduced as others stepped in and provided financial support and structure. You can imagine how these leaders felt about that, given their devotion to the party over the past two or three decades. Even with the party’s success in 2014 and 2015, they tried to defeat Simpson in 2016. That didn’t work but with the anti-Trump blowback in Harris County delivering a Democratic sweep, they saw an opportunity to try again and settled on a challenger and truly think that they are going to take the chair’s seat back. Perhaps they will, I’m not very good at predicting outcomes.
When I finally decided whom I was going to vote for, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be going into the primary season. I voted for Paul Simpson. For me, Simpson’s opponent, Chris Carmona, never made a compelling case to replace Simpson. It is easy to go around repeating “It’s time to win again” as Carmona and his supporters have. It is more difficult to articulate a way to win again, especially when you ignore the diversity of Harris County and the anti-Trump phenomenon that we saw in 2016. In fact, not recognizing that there was an anti-Trump factor in the results is reason enough to question the legitimacy of a campaign.
In one of his online videos, Carmona uses a partial quote from me saying that we have to stop blaming Trump for the 2016 losses. And that is true. But what he missed was that in going forward, we have to understand why people were so anti-Trump and how to get around that. Simpson did recognize this, commissioned a group to study the problem and implemented or is implementing the recommendations. The new office in Baytown is a direct result of that analysis and it will hopefully increase the GOTV effort on the East Side and convince Republicans to get to the polls.
In Carmona’s latest campaign email, he calls for getting rid of those offices and instead opening community centers year round so that voters can connect with Republicans and see that we are not evil. I recall that Jared Woodfill tried that approach in the East End by opening a community center on Broadway St. We had English as a second language courses. How to apply for government benefits classes. Citizenship classes. Bicycle giveaways. Frozen turkey giveaways (I still remember looking for the WKRP helicopter). And do you know what happened? Nothing. I’d bet we didn’t pick up a single vote from that effort.
Republicans have community centers – churches. We have more churches than we do Christians. What we need to do is get out of our churches and into the community. Chamber meetings, food banks, Head Start centers, etc. Stop focusing on the do not do’s and start focusing on helping people. I think that any Republican headquarters should be about the business of electing Republicans.
I also see people saying that the party was a failure in 2015 and 2017. Talk about short memories. In 2015, the HCRP, utilizing Paul Simpson’s revamped party infrastructure and resources, helped defeat Annise Parker’s men in women’s restroom ordinance. Probably the biggest win for social conservatives in Houston’s history. But a few of the leaders out in front in that campaign thought that Simpson should be out with a bullhorn and since he wasn’t, that means he did nothing. It completely eludes them that they used the infrastructure that Simpson built to win that election. That structure also helped Republican Bill King come closer to winning a mayor’s race than any Republican in years. And in 2017, there were no city elections, only a few localized ISD elections.
Anyone, and I do mean anyone, that says that the HCRP isn’t more organized and has better and more resources for candidates and precinct chairs today than when Paul Simpson took over in 2014 is either completely uninformed or trying to deceive you. Would I like to see Simpson do even more? Of course. But he can only do that if he is given the opportunity.
The same opportunity that Dr. Hotze gave Jared Woodfill after the Democratic sweep of Harris County in 2008. I reminded Steve that he didn’t call Jared a RINO after that. He didn’t cheer lead against Jared so much that others were enabled to call Jared a pro-abortion supporter. I reminded Steve that bearing false witness is a sin just like the sins he wants to address by kicking certain people out of the party for not holding his religious beliefs.
I hope voters give Paul Simpson that opportunity.
Races in which I couldn’t vote but wish I could
I’d run (as best as I can these days) to the polls and vote for Dan Crenshaw. My head tells me that the runoff will be Wall and Roberts, my heart is hoping for Wall and Crenshaw.
Another can’t lose for the voters. Sam Harless is a good candidate that has the advantage of his wife’s experience in this district to step in immediately. Gail Stanart is the ultimate grassroots candidate and will fight for grassroot concerns.
But Kevin Fulton stands out, even among this very good field. I first learned about Kevin from an old high school friend, Blair McClure, who happened to sit next to him at a King Street Patriots event when Kevin ran for JP in 2012. Blair called me after that and said, dude, this guy is the real deal. If you know Blair, you know that is high praise indeed. If you don’t, then you’ll have to trust me.
So I did learn more about him and have followed his career over the years. He is the real deal. He not only has a great story, he has a deep set of core beliefs that will benefit his district and the rest of us if he is elected. If you haven’t yet voted, I hope that you will research Kevin Fulton. If you do, I think you’ll agree with me.
Ah yes, the Sarah Davis vs Greg Abbott matchup. Greg Abbott is very persuasive. So persuasive that he convinced me that if I lived in that district, I’d vote for Sarah Davis. Sarah is closer to the center than I am, to be sure. But she is not the liberal Democrat that Abbott has been claiming. I saw that Mark Jones, the guy everyone likes to use to define politicians, said that she is more conservative than any Democrat and more liberal than any Republican. In other words, a perfect fit for her district.
And folks, let’s get this out of the way. Sarah Davis is not pro-abortion. There are very few people in this world that are pro-abortion. She is pro-choice because she, as many of us, have seen times when a heartbreaking choice must be made. She does not support late-term elective abortions, as has been claimed. The fact that she is an effective advocate for other parts of women’s health care and reducing the need for abortions in the first place by reducing teen pregnancy irks some in the Pharisaical wing of the party that prefer chastity belts to condoms.
Greg Abbott’s attacks on Sarah Davis do nothing to build up the Republican Party. I hope she wins in a blowout.
Valoree Swanson had a good first session according to the other legislators that I’ve talked to. The charge is that she didn’t pass bills but there is more to being a rep than passing bills, especially in your first session. The biggest priority of any legislator should be to kill bills that are bad for the state and she did help in that effort. She has a solid conservative record and will continue to represent her district. Her opponent, James Wilson, is a nice guy but has too many recent financial problems to be considered. I’d vote for Valoree Swanson.
And that’s a wrap on this one. Good luck to everyone.