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Archive for November 7th, 2014

Teddy’s Take

Before we get to Teddy I have to say that U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is disingenuous – period. He is saying the President will be “burning himself” if he moves alone on immigration. This is the same Speaker who was afraid to call for a vote on immigration reform even though the votes for passage are there. Go for it Mr. President and make the GOP ‘splain their anger to Latino voters in the 2016 elections. Si se puede!

How many ‘Stros have won a Silver Slugger Award?

The Chron’s Teddy Schleifer has a piece today in the Chron on the local Dem Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort of the past couple of months. The headline in the hard copy of the Chron says a lot: “It was all downhill from the start.” Battleground Texas and the Texas Organizing Project led the way. In reading Teddy’s piece you can only conclude that it was a very bad joke and ugly comedy at best. Even the political director of the Harris County Democratic Party was critical of their effort calling it the “kind of privatization of the political system.” Good for him for having the courage to call it like it is.

And good for The Dean for not buying into the post arse-kicking talking points coming out of Austin and saying “by anyone’s measurement, it fell short.” No sh_t, Jack!

It looks like no one wants to take responsibility for what happened and wants to blame other factors like the national mood and The President. Come on! Those are the reasons why the other side came out. You have to engage our voter with a conversation to get them to the polls and you didn’t.

I will tell you one thing. This doesn’t do anything to attract well qualified future countywide Democratic candidates if this is the GOTV effort they can expect. Here is Teddy’s Take:

Harris County Democrats had reason to worry. The constellation of Democratic groups seeking to turn Harris County – and then Texas – blue was staring at a week of early voting numbers showing turnout down, base voters complacent and their slate of candidates on the precipice of defeat.

The Texas Organizing Project, one of the Democrats’ leading local field organizations, read the tea leaves at its headquarters that Sunday night with half a dozen representatives from Battleground Texas, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, the county Democratic party and mega-donors Steve and Amber Mostyn. It was clear that Democrats would be in for a tough Election Day.

They were right. On Tuesday night, Democrats lost every down-ballot judicial election, the race for district attorney and, surprisingly, a state House seat in Pasadena that Republicans had written off months earlier as out of reach.

Democrats say a local wave struck, but some are pointing their finger squarely at the field organizations that they say overpromised and doomed the sprawling, splintered left-of-center coalition here in Harris County.

“They put so much stock into being right, and then they were wrong,” said Chris Young, the political director of the Harris County Democratic Party. “This is the kind of privatization of the political system.”

The Democratic local turnout operation this fall was run primarily by a series of allied groups rather than solely by the party, and that hodgepodge of Harris County Democratic groups began to unravel on Wednesday. Groups looked to explain how they failed to elect the Democratic ticket after unprecedented efforts by Battleground and Texas Organizing Project, both of which worked to bring new voters who would make Texas more politically competitive but only turned out a third of registered voters this midterm election. Some local Democrats were charging that Battleground ignored the base and did not begin hitting the phones to encourage Harris County voters to turn out until after that Sunday night meeting. The get-out-the-vote efforts of Battleground and Texas Organizing Project focused on door-knocks rather than phone calls, though Battleground says it did make calls ahead of early voting.

“It was a very competitive race up until three weeks ago,” said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, “Battleground and TOP certainly promote themselves as turn-out-the-vote operations, and I think by anyone’s measurement, it fell short.”

After former Houston mayor Bill White won the county in 2010, Democrats lost the straight-ticket vote on Tuesday by about 10 percentage points, a wide enough margin that led top candidates, from Wendy Davis to district attorney candidate Kim Ogg, to lose by at least four percentage points in a county where turnout fell by more than 100,000 voters. In House District 144, Democrat incumbent Mary Ann Perez, backed by a slew of progressive groups who had helped her raise more than $250,000, lost to a Republican who had raised about $15,000, espoused no clear campaign strategy and was dismissed by the power structure as an uncredible, perennial candidate: Gilbert Pena.

“We know how hard the road is really going to be,” said Ginny Goldman, the executive director of Texas Organizing Project, which organized for Perez. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get on that road.”

Goldman and other defenders of the local Democratic turnout operation say the national Republican mood – which took down Democratic statewide candidates in states like Massachussetts and Maryland – made even the most effective Harris County turnout operation only a marginal force in shaping Tuesday’s results.

Meanwhile, the county Democratic party lauded its vote-by-mail operation, which it said upped the number of Democratic absentee ballots by 7 percentage points, despite the fact that most of the party’s candidates lost.

Steve Mostyn, who helped fund Battleground and Texas Organizing Project until the bitter end of Davis’ campaign, said Democrats locally struggled to turn out its more Anglo, reliable voters the party typically assumes will turn out. After the panic that set in after that Sunday night meeting, Mostyn helped fund a phone-call campaign to turn them out.

“It’s high-propensity, high-partisan voters that we were expecting to show up. We caught on after about the first week that they were not,” Mostyn said of the local operation. “That doesn’t mean that the Battleground program didn’t work, that the TOP program didn’t work.”

Texas Organizing Project made Perez its top legislative protection target this fall even with a weak opponent, but TOP’s field program was unable to deliver the same results that lifted her to a victory in 2012. The district is one of Texas’ most competitive, and there are signs that Pena out-hustled Perez despite running a shoestring, old-fashioned campaign. Observers also say Pena, who talked about social issues as he led grueling daily, four-hour walks through his district, may have been helped by how the GOP mobililzed voters after Annise Parker subpoenaed local pastors in defense of a lawsuit regarding Houston’s controversial equal rights ordinance.

Perez strategist Robert Jara, however, attributed the incumbent’s ouster to national attitudes, not whatever local failings existed between Perez’ allied groups.

“The mechanics don’t draw turnout as much as the emotion,” Jara said, noting campaigns can only capitalize on national mood. “It just wasn’t there to capture this year.”

Wow! Nice job by the Chron for telling it like it is or was.

Sheldon to Amy Last night on “The Big Bang Theory” – “I love you too!” How about that!

Jose Altuve of course is the 10th ‘Stro to win the Silver Slugger Award!

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