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Day One Done

The first day of Early Voting in Person is history. The good news for local Dems is the mail ballot numbers. It looks like the local Dem effort might be paying off.

Here in Harris County 41,520 mail ballots are in the can as compared to 24,273 on Day 1 in 2010 and 40,566 in 2012.

Early Voting in Person is below the 2010 levels on Day 1 but when you look at individual locations, they are all down. I was thinking that with all the ads and hoopla out there, the numbers would be better than the 2010 numbers. Well, we still have eleven days.

Here is what the Chron’s Theodore “Teddy” Schleifer has to say:

Twenty percent more votes were cast on the initial day of early voting in Harris County on Monday than were cast on the first day in 2010, an increase fueled by a huge uptick in the number of mail ballots sent earlier this fall to voters.

And:

Election officials said Monday afternoon that 61,735 total votes had been cast, two-thirds of which had arrived by mail but had not been officially counted until early voting began.

While the number of votes at the county’s 41 early-vote locations decreased by 6,000 votes compared to 2010, the 66 percent increase in the vote-by-mail numbers resulted in a total increase of about 11,000 votes.

Democrats made a coordinated vote-by-mail program a priority this cycle for the first time, partially because the new, tough voter ID law does not impact absentee balloting. The law’s reinstatement over the weekend may disqualify potential Democratic voters, Democrats say, making their vote-by-mail push even more critical.

And:

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said the early voting period could be “fairly consequential for Democrats” as they claim enthusiasm is on their side heading toward Election Day.

“For a lot of Democrats and for a lot of watchers of Democrats, they’re going to want to know, ‘Are you going to get your people to the polls like you promised?’ ” Rottinghaus said. “From a political standpoint, they need to have those numbers pretty high.”

Let’s see what happens today!

KC and the Giants faced each other for three back in August at The K. Who won the series?

Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Mike Sullivan let me know yesterday that he stands by his tweet on Friday. Here is what I put out yesterday:

I put up the following Mike Sullivan tweet from last Friday and it turned out to be incorrect and wrong. Oh well!

Mike Sullivan ‏@CMMikeSullivan 39m39 minutes ago
Mayor Annise Parker just told this audience “I will bring a term limits change to city council agenda. I want to be mayor longer”.

Well, The Mayor said she didn’t so tie goes to the runner, I guess.

KC swept the Giants in three back in August of course and it is World Serious time.

Vote Early

In today’s Chron, the Harris County Clerk predicts about 400,000 early votes in the County in the next couple of weeks. In 2012, 700,983 Voted Early in Person. In 2010, 392,141 Voted Early in Person.

As of Friday (Oct. 17) here in Harris County, 86,446 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 38,430 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 36,731 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

Two years ago in 2012 in Harris County, 47,093 showed up to Vote Early in person on Day One. Are we ready for today?

This MLB Hall of Fame great would be 83 today if he were still around. He is also my favorite MLBer of all time. Who am I talking about?

A Team Davis door-hanger was dropped off at my place this past Saturday. It asked me to go Early Vote in Person at West Gray. No thanks! I prefer Moody because it is closer and more convenient. (Two miles and five minutes versus 3.7 miles and ten minutes.) The door-hanger also appeared to be geared toward the African American voter. No big deal!

I put up the following Mike Sullivan tweet from last Friday and it turned out to be incorrect and wrong. Oh well!

Mike Sullivan ‏@CMMikeSullivan 39m39 minutes ago
Mayor Annise Parker just told this audience “I will bring a term limits change to city council agenda. I want to be mayor longer”.

If you want to check out the Channel 11 poll, go here: http://www.khou.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/19/abbott-patrick-command-big-leads-in-khou–houston-public-media-poll/17586309/.

Oh well!

The Latino Dems’ favorite critic, Ruben Navarrette, Jr., pooh-poohs the Dems’ effort to get the Latino vote in his latest column. Here is how he ends his column:

The fog is lifting. Democrats haven’t been there when Latinos needed them. On Election Day, Latino voters are going to return the favor.

Here is his column: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Navarrette-Signs-of-a-Great-Awakening-5830610.php.

I don’t agree with Navarrette.

Mickey Mantle of course was born 83 years ago today.

This evening H-Town will once again be focused on the Texans.

BREAKING NEWS!!! The following tweets just came in. Is this a joke?

Mike Sullivan ‏@CMMikeSullivan 39m39 minutes ago
Mayor Annise Parker just told this audience “I will bring a term limits change to city council agenda. I want to be mayor longer”.

Justin Concepcion ‏@JVConcep 31m31 minutes ago
Myr @anniseparker announces she’ll tackle term limits (abolish or change)- she’s wants to be mayor longer!! Woah?! What’s next, zoning????

It has to be a joke – right?

I have tried to stay away from the Ebola issue because that is not my field. Yesterday on CNN I caught parts of a congressional hearing on Ebola and watched a few members of congress bang on the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rep. Garnet Coleman is probably the state’s leading Dem on health care issues, so what he has to say about Ebola needs our attention. Here is from Chron.com:

It is the State of Texas, not the federal government, that deserves the blame for any problems with the handling of the country’s first Ebola patient, a longtime Houston lawmaker said Thursday.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Democrat who has served on the House Public Health Committee longer than any other legislator, said the infection of two Dallas health workers may signal serious problems with the state’s public health system that will have to be addressed in next year’s session. He added that focusing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many state politicians have done, misses the point.

“The immediate responsibility for containing emergency health situations is the state, not the CDC. That’s how the system works,” Coleman said. “The reality is, if there was a slow or poor response, it’s the state’s fault.”

“I appreciate the Obama administration’s apology,” he said later, “but have we heard anybody from the State of Texas say they’re sorry?”

Coleman said he believes state health commissioner David Lakey is working hard but has been hamstrung by budget cuts in recent years. Lawmakers have cut money and staff in state public health programs, as well as funding for county programs, he said earlier this week.

“At the end of the day, it’s the counties that have to lead the response to infectious disease outbreaks,” Coleman said, adding his concern was not specifically about Ebola but future viruses that prove more contagious.

Coleman said he has scheduled a discussion on preparedness for Monday in the House County Affairs Committee that he chairs.

Now that ought to get a response or two.

As of yesterday (Oct. 16) here in Harris County, 85,836 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 38,287 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 36,567 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

Are we ready for Monday?

Yesterday Alyson Footer from MLB.com put out a nice piece on the 2004 NLCS between the ‘Stros and San Luis. Who handled most of the catching duties for San Luis during that seven game series?

Chris Bell is the only potential H-Town mayoral candidate who has put out a take on the Amen Subpoenas. Here is what he tweeted:

Chris Bell @AlisonsHusband • 23h 23 hours ago
Good to see Mayor and City Atty back away from sermon subpoenas. Many of us who support HERO see the tactic doing much more harm than good.

The Chron E-Board today endorsed three GOPers for the Supreme Court here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/For-Supreme-Court-5828067.php.

The E-Board today endorsed a GOPer for the Court of Criminal Appeals here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/For-criminal-appeals-5828054.php.

In races for Congress, yesterday the E-Board endorsed five GOPers and two Dems here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/For-Congress-5825437.php.

Current San Luis Skipper Mike Matheny of course started six games out of seven at catcher for San Luis during the 2004 NLCS.

It’s the Giants versus KC in the 2014 World Serious that gets underway next Tuesday!

As of yesterday (Oct. 15) here in Harris County, 85,095 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 38,086 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 36,359 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

Here is the number to look for next Monday evening after the County releases the first day results of the Daily Record of Early Voting – 40,566. That’s how many mail ballots were in the books after the first day of Early Voting in Person in 2012. Stay tuned!

KC swept their way to the World Serious yesterday. KC played in their first Serious in 1980 and lost to Philly in six. Name the 1980 World Serious MVP?

Talk about stepping in it and national blowback. Here is what the Chron E-Board is saying this morning about the Amen Subpoenas:

Just when you thought your political leaders couldn’t be more tone deaf than gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis with her now infamous wheelchair ad, along comes Mayor Annise Parker and her city attorney, David Feldman. It surfaced Tuesday that Feldman, represented by one of Houston’s highest-priced law firms, Susman Godfrey L.L.P., had dropped an Orwellian subpoena on a group of local ministers. He was demanding they hand over sermons and any other communications with congregants regarding Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, the mayor, homosexuality and gender identity.

Wednesday, Feldman narrowed the subpoena to communications regarding the petition process. But the damage was already done.

The pastors are tied to a group that has sued the city to force a referendum to repeal the ordinance that was passed earlier this year by City Council.

The ordinance, in short, banned discrimination. Many considered it a solution in search of a problem. This page vociferously supported the equal rights ordinance, and that remains true today. We also believe that procedures for citizens who want to override the will of council should be followed scrupulously. That’s the rub here. Feldman says the plaintiffs in the case did not properly collect the requisite number of signatures. The pastors respond that they have a legitimate challenge to the city’s disqualification and insist there should be a vote.

Maybe so, maybe not.

Regardless, the legal questions can be sorted out without heavy-handed tactics that polarize the community. Feldman’s actions look like intimidation. They also raise questions about the city’s support for freedom of speech from the pulpit and for those with whom the mayor disagrees. We certainly understand that lobbying for a particular candidate can get a church or minister into trouble with the IRS, but even it recognizes that issue advocacy is another animal entirely.

This is a lawsuit about whether signatures are valid. We’re confident that a judge will quash this subpoena faster than you can say the Lord’s Prayer. But before it gets to that point, Parker ought to haul Feldman into her office and tell him to pull the subpoenas down.

Like I said yesterday, City Hall just gave the other side some ammo and some national press run. This was totally unnecessary. So was the following tweet sent out yesterday by the Mayor:

Annise Parker ‏@AnniseParker 5m5 minutes ago
One media outlet that got it right.-A. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/10/houston-not-going-after-conservative-pastors.html

So every other media outlet got it wrong? Give it a rest, please!

Hall of Fame great Mike Schmidt of Philly of course won the 1980 World Serious MVP.

KC is 8-0 in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

The Amen Subpoenas

I admit I am a little bit uncomfortable about the City of H-Town issuing subpoenas to try to get church sermons from some of the anti-HERO clergy.   Is this necessary?   I just kind of think that you give the other side some ammo in the fight for public opinion.  It is one thing for an individual or private entity to take this route, but a city?  Has this ever been done in our City’s history?

I just kind of think that we need to stay on the high road and not give up any ground.   I wonder if any members of City Council will mention the subpoenas this morning at City Hall.  I wonder if the Texas Freedom Network has a take on this.  Stay tuned!

Here is a bit from the Chron:

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city. 

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

 City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” 

The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance: Dave Welch, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization known for its role in defending same-sex marriage bans, filed a motion Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas, and in a press announcement called it a “witch hunt.” 

The city’s lawyers will face a high bar for proving the information in the sermons is essential to their case, said Charles Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor. The pastors are not named parties in the suit, and the “Church Autonomy Doctrine” offers fairly broad protections for internal church deliberations, he said. 

Calling it an “unusual but not unprecedented” subpoena request, Rhodes said the city would stand a better chance of getting the sermons if it were a criminal case in which the message or directive in the sermons prompted a specific criminal action. 

Still, he said, the city likely will get a boost because many of the sermons are broadcast or recorded and are intended to be shared with the public. 

“This is unusual to see it come up in a pure political controversy,” Rhodes said. “The city is going to have to prove there is something very particular in the sermons that does not come up anywhere else.” 

To that end, Feldman said the pastors made their sermons relevant to the case by using the pulpit to do political organizing. That included encouraging congregation members to sign petitions and help gather signatures for equal rights ordinance foes, who largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents.

Like I said, I don’t like the smell of this.  Oh well!

KC is one win away from returning to the World Serious.  They last played in the Serious in 1985 when they beat San Luis in seven.  Name the 1985 World Serious MVP.

The Chron E-Board today endorsed three GOPers for the Court of Appeals.  Check out the endorsements here:  http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Courts-of-Appeals-5822853.php.

The E-Board also endorsed the GOP candidate for Railroad Commissioner.  Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/For-Railroad-commission-5822854.php.

KC pitcher Bret Saberhagen of course won the 1985 World Serious MVP Award.

KC could wrap up the AL Pennant early this evening and we may have to wait until Sunday night to get an NLCS Champ.

Harris County’s Mail Ballot Director sent this message out yesterday along with the latest mail ballot numbers:

I have attached the campaign application source totals as of Monday, October 13, 2014.

We are very close to passing the Presidential totals and should pass them in the next few days.

As of yesterday (Oct. 13) here in Harris County, 84,480 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 37,869 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 36,241 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

It is obvious that Dems have ramped up their efforts. It also helps that both candidates for governor are on the air. It also helps that there has been a considerable amount of press and media coverage this election cycle – a heckuva lot more than usual. And then there is the latest Team Davis ad that just got covered on the “Today” show, it sure is generating a whole lot of interest.

The Chron has a story on the ad today and the Chron E-Board also has a take. Here is from the story:

Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, said it is always a “good thing that candidates are reaching out to a community that is too often overlooked.” However, he said he wishes the both Abbott and Davis would use the spotlight on disabled people to discuss the problems they regularly face, including higher-than-average unemployment rates and underpaid caretakers.

“We’re not offended, we don’t feel pandered to, we don’t feel insulted,” Borel said. “But, hey, now that you’re talking about wheelchairs, let’s talk about the real issues facing three million Texans.”

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said an apology may not be warranted, adding he thinks the ad’s reception already has evolved well beyond where it stood on Friday.

“I think opinion has shifted on the ad over the last couple days to a position that what made it shocking also makes it effective,” said Jillson, explaining that people are getting over their initial reactions.

“We’re in the middle of the match, and both people are back at the baseline hitting the ball as hard as they can,” he added. “Really, this is a stalemate in the sense that they are fighting for advantage over the imagery and the content of that ad. … This is a jump ball. It could go either way. But right now, it’s tending toward with Davis.”

Go to the E-Board take here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Bad-ad-5820089.php.

I think all the ad run helps Team Davis. I also think it helps Dem turnout here locally.

When the Giants swept the Tigers in four to take the 2012 World Serious, who was named the Serious MVP?

A mayoral skirmish?

This is interesting. Chris Bell thinks Rep. Sylvester Turner has an unfair advantage in fundraising heading into next year’s H-Town mayoral contest. Check this from the Chron:

Likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its interpretation of an ordinance that would give Sylvester Turner a major fundraising advantage when he runs for mayor next year.

Bell’s law partner, Geoff Berg, sent City Attorney David Feldman a letter last week arguing that Turner and potential candidate Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia should not be able to raise money for their officeholder accounts and then transfer most of the funds to their mayoral accounts at the start of the race. As detailed in the Chronicle last month, Turner has raised money for his unopposed state legislative race this fall and has plans to eventually transfer the first $5,000 of each donation this winter. That is the limit for individual donations in a city election.

Feldman has signed off on Turner’s plan, but many campaign finance experts do not share his interpretation, instead arguing that candidates should merely be able to make a single $10,000 donation to the mayoral bid from their officeholder account. That is how much an entity like a PAC is allowed to donate under the city’s ordinance.

Bell, like other potential candidates who do not hold non-city offices, is prohibited from raising any money for a mayor’s race until Feb. 1. Berg argues in his letter that this unequal footing is ultimately unfair.

“The Ordinance simply cannot reasonably be read to mean anything other than what it says: the maximum amount which may be transferred from non-city campaign accounts is $10,000,” Berg wrote. “The blackout period was not intended to be a fundraising bonanza for officeholders at the expense of citizens who may wish to get involved in public service.”

Turner’s campaign raised more than $400,000 at a fundraiser last month, according to his campaign, and more fundraisers are planned.

The City Attorney is not going to change his mind. Maybe Bell ought to go get some of the former members of City Council who passed the current ordinance to explain their intent. If anything Bell can probably score some points on Turner by making noise on the issue and saying that the system is rigged, flawed and in need of reform. Stay tuned.

Pablo Sandoval of course was named the MVP of the 2012 World Serious.

The ALCS and NLCS get going again today.

Manufactured Outrage

Commentary has made it pretty clear in the past that I don’t do talking points or tow the party line.

That being said I think AG Abbott and supporters are in manufacture outrage mode over the Team Davis ad that started to air this past Friday. What team Davis is airing is an attack ad. It is not ridiculing, mean-spirited, or poking fun of AG Abbott being in a wheelchair. It also rehashes the subject matter of two previous Team Davis attack ads. I don’t find the ad offensive.

Team Davis said they ran the ad past a focus group and it worked. So they wouldn’t get careless and throw something out there that had not gotten tested.

Here is from today’s Chron:

“We’re confident that this ad is effective and is going to continue to be effective because it’s executing basically the same strategy we’ve had since Day 1,” said Joel Benenson, who has also served as the pollster for President Barack Obama. “We’ve always planned to use it in laying out a set of ads that showed him siding with insiders against average Texans, and that’s where we are today.”

Team Davis has aired nothing but attack ads. AG Abbott has run two ads where his wheelchair had a kind of prominent role. AG Abbott now is saying “it’s her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair. I don’t think it’s going to sell too well.” Duh! This isn’t new.

I am thinking that AG Abbott is using this to fire up their base. I get it. But to voters out there who are not as invested, I really find it hard to picture that they are going to come across this ad in the coming days and develop a sense of outrage so don’t try to dumb them down. Tell me, what is there to be outraged about?

Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly has a different take on the ad. Here is a bit:

My initial reaction was that the ad was “mean-spirited and misleading”. I think most people agree with the first point, at least. The ad is, at best, weird, crass, and glib about the 1984 accident that left Abbott partially paralyzed at age 27; even Davis’s defenders were put off by the tone and framing.

Wow! Imagine campaigns putting out “mean-spirited and misleading” ads. How dare they!

Here is all of Grieder: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/victims.

KC leads B’More 2 zip in the ALCS heading into tonight’s Game 3 at The K. When was the last time a team swept the ALCS?

Early Voting in Person starts in one week and I am betting that Voter IDs will be required.

There is a front page story in today’s Chron about the AG race. The GOP candidate is not campaigning. I wonder if voters are paying attention and I wonder if it matters. We will find out.

This week I got the GLBT endorsement card and a Vote Yes on Proposition 1 mailer.

From the Chron E-Board’s “Ups and downs” this past Saturday:

(Thumbs down) Memo to the dozen concerned citizens lining up to run for mayor of Houston: The central issue is not pension plans. The central issue is not crime and HPD’s inability to solve it. The central issue is not economic development. The central issue is traffic and streets and the inability to get from Point A to Point B in Houston without massive delays on our Third-World roads. The amount of construction has cascaded out of control inside the loop and in downtown. We now have gridlock, and it’s time for our highest-elected officials to coordinate a remedy.

Think about this when you are sitting in traffic.

In 2012, the Tigers swept the Yankees in four in the ALCS of course.

San Luis second baseman Kolten Wong had a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 9th to grab a 5-4 win over the Giants last night. Wong was taken by the San Luis with the 22nd pick in the 2011 Amateur Player Draft. We took George Springer with the 11th pick that year.

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