Archive for December 29th, 2014

The City of H-Town has a campaign season that begins next February 1. That is the day candidates – incumbents and challengers – can start raising campaign funds. In my book it is pretty simple – if you can’t raise the money, you really can’t run a real campaign. A candidate for City Council wants a federal judge to throw out the City of H-Town’s fundraising ordinance. Here is a bit from today’s Chron by Teddy Schleifer:

A federal judge is expected to rule this week whether to at least temporarily lift Houston’s fundraising blackout period and allow mayoral and City Council candidates to raise money immediately rather than waiting until Feb. 1.

The moratorium, enacted in 1992 as an anti-corruption measure, is being challenged in court on constitutional grounds by a Houston City Council candidate.

Trebor Gordon, a candidate for an at-large position on the council, sued the city of Houston in federal court last month for stifling his First Amendment right to raise money when he chooses. The current rules allow candidates for city office to raise money only from the February before an election to a few months after it concludes.

The ruling could have profound implications not only for the way Houston conducts elections for local leadership but also for San Antonio and Austin, which have similar ordinances.

“It’s a fundamental change,” said top city lobbyist Robert Miller.

In court filings, Gordon argues that the abridged timeline makes it impossible for a political challenger to amass the financial wherewithal to unseat an incumbent with a war chest. The city counters that the blackout period is essential to preventing corruption and that nothing stops Gordon from working the stump before asking for checks.

“Campaigning is a larger universe than simply soliciting and accepting donations. Gordon is not prohibited right now from spreading his ideas and seeking support,” the city attorneys argued in court filings. “He simply chooses not to.”

The city argues that Gordon has not aggressively used social media to woo voters, backed his campaign with any of his own money or transferred any unspent donations from his previous run for City Council to this race. Candidates are allowed to spend money prior to Feb. 1 – just not raise it.

“The only harm cited by Gordon is self-inflicted,” the city contended in another filing.

Gordon and his attorney, campaign finance lawyer Jerad Najvar, sharply disagree, charging that any campaign is feeble and futile until the candidate has the money to execute it.

Commentary supports the current ordinance only because I am used to it and we have had it for over 20 years. I am thinking though the City lawyers have a pretty weak argument though.

A lot of folks don’t have personal funds to put into their campaigns. I sure would hate to see a system where only the wealthy get to be the viable candidates.

The City saying that this Gordon fella hasn’t fully used social media really doesn’t understand using social media in political campaigns. You really have to hire folks to help with this and this cost money – websites, Facebook, twitter, constant contact – all have to be managed and you really can’t expect the candidates to do it all by themselves as well as go out and visit civic clubs and meet with voters. You get the picture – you have to have help and you can’t expect it to all come from volunteers.

So like it or not, right now we have in H-Town political campaign seasons, just like the NFL, MLB, and NBA all have seasons when they can play. We will see if the judge thinks having political campaign seasons is OK.

Here is Kuffer’s take: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64593.

Name the five players on the current MLB Hall of Fame ballot who have worn ‘Stros uniforms?

I saw this tweet yesterday:

Doug Sheridan ‏@dougsheridan 1h1 hour ago
Whoever is Houston’s next mayor, I hope they make improving the quality of inner-city streets a priority. It’s bad out there. #Houston

Don’t worry. This issue will get some major run once the political campaign season gets going.

This week is still a state holiday for some folks as the Aggies get going at the Liberty Bowl this afternoon, the Longhorns at the Texas Bowl over at NRG tonight, the Frogs at the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, the Bears at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, and the Coogs at the Armed Forces Bowl this Friday.

I always feel better about engaging the Latino voter when Latinos are in charge of the effort. I saw the following on Politico this past weekend so I am keeping hope alive. It would be nice if they brought the effort to H-Town for 2016. We will see so check this:

After a midterm election in which declining Hispanic turnout cost Democrats dearly in close races, causing some leaders to question whether President Barack Obama made a mistake in delaying his immigration order, the party is devising far-reaching plans to reverse the slide in 2016.

The efforts, according to party operatives, include a multimillion-dollar fundraising drive to boost Democrats in congressional districts with large Hispanic populations. With the incoming Republican-controlled Congress unlikely to support a comprehensive immigration package, Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill are forming a new “Immigration Strike Team” to go on a messaging offensive on the issue.

And last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a surprise choice to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a little-known third-term lawmaker who promises to make Hispanic voter engagement a top priority of the campaign arm.

The moves follow an election that saw Hispanics — the nation’s fastest growing voting bloc, and a group that helped power Obama’s reelection — stay home. According to exit polling, Hispanics made up just 8 percent of the 2014 electorate, down from 10 percent in 2012. And of those who did vote, fewer of them supported the president’s party. Hispanics broke for Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 28 percent, down from 44 percent in 2012.

“You had the perfect storm: a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of movement on immigration reform and a lack of capital investment to turn people out,” said Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist who specializes in Hispanic voter targeting. “I think everyone is reevaluating what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Much of the internal Democratic finger-pointing surrounded the question of whether Obama should have signed his executive action on immigration before the midterms rather than after with an eye toward activating Hispanics for the midterms. While House Democrats ensconced in safe blue districts supported a pre-election move, their Senate colleagues, many of whom were locked in tough contests in red states, pressed him not to. Obama’s popularity among Hispanics has been on the rise since the executive action: A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Telemundo survey released last week showed 57 percent of Hispanics approving of the president, up from 47 percent in September, just prior to the midterms.

“It was really bad timing for some senators who approached the president and asked him to put off taking executive action on immigration,” said California Rep. Tony Cárdenas, the incoming chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s political action committee. “Talking to Latinos, a lot of them were very bothered, a lot of them were very perplexed and confused.”

Now Cárdenas is gearing up to play a central role in the Democratic comeback with Hispanics. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker recently sent his Democratic colleagues a memo announcing his intention to raise $2 million, double the amount the caucus spent on behalf of candidates in 2014. Cárdenas also said he wants to elect two or three additional Hispanic Democrats to the House in 2016, and over the next decade to double their number to 50.

Here is the entire Politico article: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/democrats-immigration-elections-113818.html?hp=c1_3.

Like I said, this program should be implemented in H-Town with Latinos in charge so stay tuned!

Baggy, B-G-O, The Rocket, Jeff Kent, and Curt Schilling of course are on the Hall of Fame ballot and all have worn ‘Stros uniforms.

Nothing from The Yard this morning.

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