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Archive for November, 2014

Some Latino Votes

In two H-Town Second Ward precincts, AG Abbott won 30% and 21% of the vote versus Sen. Wendy Davis 67% and 77%.

In a Denver Harbor box Davis won 72% to 26%.

In two Magnolia Park boxes it was Davis 76% and 68% to 22% and 29%.

The Denver Harbor box had a 21% turnout and the Magnolia boxes 19% turnout in each.

My precinct had a 49% turnout and went 64% to 34% Davis.

Obviously turnout is a big problem in the Latino neighborhoods. As far as I am concerned Dems should do better in those Latino neighborhoods.

B’More skipper Buck Showalter won the AL Manager of the Year Award. Showalter has also won the award with two other teams. Name the teams?

Lone Star State GOP operatives are continuing to have their laughs at the expense of Dems. First it was Battleground Texas and now yesterday. The losing Dem nominee for U.S. Senate lashed out at the folks running the Dem Party for allegedly dissing his Senate campaign. Here are some tweets from yesterday:

Dr. David Alameel ‏@DrDavidAlameel 13h13 hours ago
Alameel Calls for an Uprising in the Democratic Party

And then this tweet:

Elizabeth Pancotti ‏@ENPancotti 8h8 hours ago
Inbox: Dr. David Alameel, former Democrat candidate for US Senate/Republican donor, rips apart Texas Democratic Party

And finally this tweet from someone at the State Dem Party:

Will Hailer ‏@willhailer 23m23 minutes ago
.@DrDavidAlameel underperformed all Democrats, even Jim Hogan who didn’t campaign. When a finger points, four go back to you.

If this Alameel fella underperformed, I’d like to know which Dems performed.

And was it really necessary for the State Dem Party to respond to Alameel. Come on! They are just making themselves look more dysfunctional on the twitterverse and handing the GOP more laughs.

Buck Showalter of course was the AL Manager of the Year for the Yankees (1994) and the Rangers (2004).

In today’s Chron:

Root Sports Houston will debut Monday as the new television home of the Astros and Rockets with the Rockets’ road game at Memphis.

Good for the H-Town area!

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Who wants to be the next Harris County Constable for Precinct 6? Here is from today’s Chron:

Harris County commissioners are preparing to accept the resignation of convicted Constable Victor Trevino and to start looking for his replacement.

And:

One local Hispanic leader expressed optimism that Trevino’s replacement will be a person who reflects the constable’s Precinct 6, which is overwhelmingly Hispanic and Democratic.

“It’s important to find someone who is qualified, and has a history of living and working in the precinct and is community-minded,” said state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, adding she has told commissioners she favors a Hispanic who is a Democrat.

Drawing a replacement from among Trevino’s staff could prove difficult because of a state law requiring the constable to reside in the precinct. Several of Trevino’s top deputies do not meet the residency requirement, Alvarado said.

And:

Most of Trevino’s precinct is located within the boundaries of Commissioner Jack Mormon’s district; about one-quarter is in Lee’s. Mormon’s staff confirmed the screening process is underway with 12 to 15 applicants under review.

David Walden, Mormon’s chief of staff, said all candidates are under consideration regardless of race or ethnicity, but added, “It’s obviously a Hispanic district, with an overwhelming majority, so you want someone there who has community support.”

A replacement is expected to be announced on Nov. 18, when commissioners officially canvass the results of last week’s election.

Commentary is hearing that former candidates, former elected officials, current elected officials, and current and former law enforcement types are interested in getting the appointment. Some live in the precinct, some used to, some say they do, and some say they will. Stay tuned!

Name the first African-American to win a MLB Rookie of the Year Award?

Check this out from the Chron:

David Dewhurst is not ready to leave Texas politics.

The outgoing lieutenant governor said Monday he is planning to start a “large public policy venture” and may consider a run for political office in the future.

He offered few details on either front, deferring questions about the policy venture until a formal announcement planned for next month and declining to answer specific questions about his future, but he seemed eager to keep as many options on the table as possible.

Among those he would not rule out: a run for Houston mayor next year.

“I ain’t riding off into the sunset, ever,” said Dewhurst, who keeps a home in Houston, adding, “I’m a real believer in the Lord’s will, and He’s got something else He wants me to do, and so I’m pursuing what I think is good for me and good for the state.”

And:

Dewhurst said he has been focused of late on border security – a problem he said he spotlighted when he first took office in 2003 and is finally getting the attention it deserves. In particular, Dewhurst said he supports indefinitely continuing the surge of Texas National Guard troopers and Department of Public Safety officers on the southern border.

“I want to make sure we don’t do in Texas what Barack Obama did in Iraq and Afghanistan – telling al-Qaeda when you were going to wind down,” he said.

He surely has to be kidding. I don’t think a lot of H-Town voters take too kindly to his years of bashing of The President. Voter ID isn’t a priority of ours. We kind of would like to see an expansion of Medicaid. A lot of us don’t like that bill that passed in the 2013 Special Session just to name a few. Best he could do is win Council Member Oliver Pennington’s seat if Pennington chose to run for Mayor.

Pitcher Don Newcombe of course of the Dodgers won the 1949 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

In today’s Chron, GM Luhnow acknowledges that the team has to get better productivity from our first baseman, shortstop, and third baseman. I am glad the GM is going public with this analysis.

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Let’s Go Local

Best line of the past weekend was on a national radio talk show and some guy calls in and says “how can you expect minority voters to go to the polls when the most powerful man in the world is a minority and his party doesn’t want him to be out campaigning.”

In today’s Chron there is a story on the Lone Star State Dems and what is next.

There is also a story in today’s Chron on Sen. Wendy Davis and what is next.

There is also a story on Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and his battle with the tea party.

There is also a story on the race to replace State Sen. Glenn Hager.

I have to give the Chron props for their election coverage in 2014. In my opinion they did their part to inform their readers. They provided more election and political coverage than I have seen in quite a while.

MLB has a team in Japan this week playing a few exhibition games. Name the ‘Stros on the MLB team?

It looks like the Chron is getting ready to cover next year’s local races. This past weekend they had a story on some candidate who is challenging in court the City of H-Town campaign contributions ordinance. This candidate doesn’t like the blackout period and he probably has a point of sorts.

I am thinking too that some candidates are going to get into the race trying to ride an anti-equal rights ordinance wave. Good luck.

I really don’t think that is what city voters want to hear. They want a discussion on safe neighborhoods, good streets, less congestion, and a Mayor and City Hall who are taking care of business.

I am ready for that discussion.

I watched the season premiere of “The Newsroom” last night and I was entertained. Just like I was entertained by “The Good Wife” and “Madam Secretary.”

Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Veras of course are in Japan playing on the MLB squad.

No word yet on when the new network will start airing.

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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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Battle Weary Dems

Folks are criticizing Battleground Texas and others that were in charge of the Dem effort here in the Lone Star State. Hey, that goes with the territory if you are in charge. I am having a tough time trying to see if there are any bright spots to talk about.

Here is a bit from the front page of today’s Chron:

Cari Parker signed up back in early 2013 to make a difference, to help a grass-roots political group named Battleground Texas change the Lone Star State from red to purple, and make it a place where Democrats could compete in statewide elections once again.

“For all the work, it went the other way,” Parker, 28, said Wednesday, the day after the election, which saw Democrats post their worst statewide losses in years.

“I feel like roadkill,” said Parker, one of 34,000 Battleground volunteers across Texas. “Nothing worked.”

Of course she is just a volunteer so what does she know?

The Battleground principals are staunchly defending their effort. Heck, I guess if I raised and spent 9 million bucks I would be defending what I did. To admit it was all for nothing would be damaging to the cred if you know what I mean.

Still, there are a number of press articles out there today reviewing the effort and its effectiveness.

Name the last catcher to win the AL MVP Award?

I am really disappointed in what happened here in Harris County.

The following three Harris County Texas House legislative districts are GOP held. The number in parentheses is the voter turnout rate for this past Tuesday’s election. Dist. 126 (35.91%), Dist. 127 (39.11%), and Dist. 129 (38.19%) for 114,652 total votes.

The following three Texas House legislative districts are held by African Americans. Dist. 131 (31.21%), Dist. 139 (31.73%), and Dist. 141 (25.6%) for 71,988 total votes.

The following three Texas House legislative districts are held by Latinos. Dist. 140 (20.31%), Dist. 143 (23.64), and Dist. 144 (22.29%) for 38,419 total votes.

There are more registered voters in the GOP districts. The Latino districts have the lowest voter registration numbers. You factor in the GOP higher turnouts versus the Latino lower turnouts and you get Tuesday’s results.

Of course that is not news. Just how hard is it to get better Latino turnout numbers in a November mid-term election here in Harris County?

My pal Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia went off on the Lone Star Project yesterday on his blog. Here is what he said:

The statewide results show why Washington DC political hacks like Matt Angle and the Lone star project need to kicked out of Texas politics . They lined their pockets and once again failed to run a legit ground game. The result was they lost ALL races they were involved in.Democrats in Texas will win when we speak about what we are for and mobilize the millions of registered voters, many Latino , black, Asian , and young who do not vote!

Domingo

My pal Jay Root of the Trib has a good piece on the Team Davis effort here:
http://www.texastribune.org/2014/11/05/looking-back-drubbing-wendy-davis/.

The President said yesterday that he is moving forward on executive action on immigration and some GOPers are not happy. Too bad! Go for it Mr. President! Si se puede!

In 2009, Twins catcher Joe Mauer of course won the AL MVP Award.

The ‘Stros traded for a back-up catcher yesterday.

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Very, Very, Very Red

Burkablog has a take on yesterday’s result in the Lone Star State. He puts a lot of blame on the President. Ok, the President probably deserves his share but not all.

The President is not responsible for the pi__-poor turnout in Latino neighborhoods here in Harris County. That outfit that the local Dem Party has assigned to get out the Latino vote didn’t do so hot yesterday. They came up short in HD 144 and gave one away to the GOP. The HD 144 GOP candidate wasn’t even that well-funded.

Of course here in Harris County, in the last few election cycles, the only time Dems have won countywide judgeships is when the President was on the top of the ballot.

My friend Robert Miller correctly picked the over on the gubernatorial spread last night. The 20 point plus spread means former H-Town Mayor Bill White is no longer the standard.

It is pretty obvious that Texas is the most red of all states. No argument there. Don’t expect things to change if the same fellas running things for the Dems in the Lone Star State stay in charge. They are not fresh. They are stale. When are we going to learn?

Here is Burkablog:

There were a few moments when it seemed that the governor’s race might produce some excitement, but reality quickly settled in. Greg Abbott buried Wendy Davis beneath piles and piles of money and videos, and there was nothing Davis could do to counter him. Texas is a Republican state and nothing is likely to change that in the foreseeable future.

Davis didn’t run a bad race. She raised a lot of money and she chipped away at Abbott’s weaknesses with some effectiveness. But the Democrats’ much-ballyhooed ace in the hole — Battleground Texas — was, as I have written earlier, a mirage. Battleground accomplished nothing except to add to the Democrats’ long history of futility in statewide races. I see nothing that can change the current balance of power in the near future. Battleground can assemble a fair number of folks for a rally, but it hasn’t shown that it can field large numbers of voters who could alter the state of affairs in Texas elections, and I don’t think that it will ever make a difference in Texas.

Davis will have to shoulder some of the blame for the Democrats’ latest catastrophe, but in all fairness, the number one problem for the Ds was not Davis. It was Barack Obama. He is poison for Democrats in this state. The worst possible election outcome for Democrats is an unpopular Democratic president in the White House. All Republicans have to do to stir up the opposition is to mention Obama’s name ten or twenty times–which is exactly what they did.

Teddy Schleifer retweeted :

Michael Berry ‏@MichaelBerrySho 14m14 minutes ago
Take the high road and call Houston’s mayor’s office today and pass the message of THANKS for helpin us win Harris County. Seriously.

Hey, they are entitled to crow.

Again, there is no MLB question today.

Well at least Dallas Keuchel won a Gold Glove Award for the ‘Stros yesterday.

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Fumbles

Tonight Commentary will be at the Channel 13 studios from 8 pm to 10 pm talking about the election results. I will be there with a bunch of other folks. You can watch online so go to their website for the latest with a local flavor.

Burkablog put it on Battleground Texas yesterday. Check it out here:

Battleground Texas, the organization chosen by the Obama White House to “turn Texas blue,” proved to have been nothing more than a mirage. In fact, Battleground did more to sabotage the Democratic effort — unintentionally — than to support it, thanks to Jeremy Bird, Battleground’s leader. Bird produced a memo claiming major gains by Democrats, which he published. Unfortunately for Bird, his numbers were erroneous, allowing Republicans to enjoy a big laugh at Battleground’s expense.

I’m not surprised, because the major activity of Battleground was to issue press releases taking credit for X direct contacts with voters and Y phone calls. In the end, Battleground has little to show for its efforts. Democratic sources now acknowledge that Battleground provided nothing useful to the Davis campaign. The result is that the state Democratic party suffered another blow to its credibility.

Here is another Robert Miller tweet:

Robert D. Miller ‏@Robert_Miller 2h2 hours ago
In my opinion, over/under on @GregAbbott_TX margin of victory against @WendyDavisTexas is 19 points. I will take the over. #txlege #tx2014

Teddy Schleifer of the Chron asked the following about the local campaigns:

Have social conservatives been energized?

Some Republicans have expressed worry that voters may stay home given Greg Abbott’s lead in recent polls, which have put him ahead of Wendy Davis in the governor’s race by more than 15 points. Republicans locally may have found the antidote to complacency: Mayor Annise Parker’s subpoenas of area pastors opposed to Houston’s new Equal Rights Ordinance.

Local Republicans have launched a late campaign to mobilize their social conservative base by making the election as much about Parker, who is not on the ballot, as about the local Democratic candidates.

The Harris County Republican Party is running a radio spot criticizing the mayor and encouraging a straight-ticket Republican ballot, and recent direct mail has featured Parker’s face and a tweet of hers calling the subpoenas “fair game.” That energy reached its political crescendo Sunday night at Grace Community Church, where thousands of the pastors’ allies heard speakers urge them to make their voices heard on Election Day.

Which way is Harris County headed?

The big question is whether Harris County, which voted for Barack Obama – barely – in 2012, will join Travis, Dallas and Bexar as reliably Democratic counties that constitute the Democratic base over the next decade. Harris has remained solidly purple – partly because the unincorporated parts of the county continue to serve as Republican strongholds – and this midterm election will see if the county is headed in a leftward direction.

If Republicans, with a new party chairman, can win big in Harris County and sweep in down-ballot races, Democrats may face a long slog in making the state as a whole more politically competitive.

Here is from the Chron about my friend former Constable Victor Trevino:

“It’s just sad,” said Marc Campos, a political consultant who ran Trevino’s first campaign in 1988. “He’s been a very popular guy since he took office in 1989.”

He noted that Trevino was re-elected in 2012 after the allegations had surfaced.

“He had overwhelming support,” Campos said. “People liked him, liked what he was doing.”

He said it was disappointing to see someone with a distinguished career in law enforcement end his tenure by admitting he took money from his charity.

But Trevino, the longest continually serving constable in Harris County, was one of the first to turn his office into a crime prevention entity, Campos said.

His campaign in 1988 was certainly one of the most exciting that our community ever experienced. It literally came down to the last precinct reporting.

Here is also from today’s Chron:

After four failed attempts, City Council finally came up with a definition of the city’s core services Monday, selecting “public safety, water and wastewater, streets and drainage and solid waste management” as the primary responsibilities to taxpayers.

I guess libraries, parks, and golf courses are not.

I am skipping the MLB question today and the roof at The Yard is getting a tune-up.

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I was watching some of the talking heads over the past couple of days and hoping for a nugget or two of good news for Dems. There wasn’t any.

This morning my friend Robert Miller tweeted this

Robert D. Miller ‏@Robert_Miller 21m21 minutes ago
Gov. race tracking polls showing @WendyDavisTexas may not break 40%. #txlege #tx2014

Everyone is predicting that Dems will lose the U.S. Senate and lose more U.S. House seats.

Yesterday, Chron columnist Lisa Falkenberg put on her political operative hat and called out statewide and local Dems for some bonehead moves heading into Election Day.

The Battleground Texas fellas made an announcement Friday morning on voter turnout then had to say never mind that afternoon and got laughed at by GOP politicos.

My friend Robert Miller then tweeted this:

Robert D. Miller @Robert_Miller • 4h 4 hours ago
Looks like BGTX may be a bust. MT Ds boasted of turnout in TX. They got the math wrong. via @washingtonpost #txlege http://wapo.st/1yNFumh

And then there is this from yesterday’s Chron:

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, acknowledged that while party faithful continue to work for a Davis-Van de Putte win, some hoped-for early turnout numbers have fallen short, especially among Hispanics in the Houston area. While Hispanic turnout in Democratic strongholds like San Antonio, El Paso and the Valley appear strong, he said, “we’re not seeing the base turnout we’d like to see in Houston, to the numbers we’d projected.

“But there’s still time, and we’re working hard,” Hinojosa said last week, with the early voting period about half over. “Our challenge has been to get Hispanic families motivated to vote, which is difficult with all the obstacles the Republicans have thrown up to prevent that – like voter ID.”

How do Dems win Harris County if Latino voters stay home? I am certainly open to some good news.

Former Rays skipper Joe Maddon is fixing to be named skipper of the Cubbies. Maddon never played in the bigs – advancing only to A ball. What position did he play?

The Chron has a story to today on low voter turnout in the state. Here is a bit:

One of the main forces shaping Texas’ low turnout rate, experts say, has been the state’s historically low level of competition. Research has shown Texas has the second-least politically competitive federal elections in the entire country, which could depress turnout by a few percentage points.

If the leading political players do not see a race as competitive, then the parties are unlikely to invest the money and energy into mobilizing voters on Election Day. That means voters do not have organizers calling their phones or knocking on their doors asking for them to vote – so they stay home.

“There are precarious little mobilization activities in the state,” says Curtis Gans, an expert on voter turnout at the Center for the American Electorate. Gans generally is skeptical about the relationship between competition and turnout: “You can have a lot of mobilization activities, but if you feel bad about both candidates, you’re not going to get people to vote.”

Experts also say the lack of competition feeds another reason Texans do not vote: the belief that it won’t make a difference.

Maybe the stay home voters are right.

Joe Maddon of course was a catcher.

Next season’s spring exhibition season ends with two games with the AL Champs KC at The Yard.

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