Archive for January 23rd, 2015

When was the first time the ‘Stros threw a shutout on Opening Day?

Commentary has said it before and I will say it again. I am not ready to give any of the candidates for H-Town Mayor the lead dog status, frontrunner position, or the candidate to beat designation. I won’t hand it to Rep. Sylvester Turner even though he has a million in the bank because he can’t raise anymore dough until mid-June and he will be spending some serious change in the meantime. I can’t give it to the Sheriff because he is not in the race yet and even if he got in tomorrow, he only has $57,000 in the bank.

Teddy Schleifer has a Chron front page lead story piece out today on the Sheriff thinking about getting in the race and if you haven’t seen it, I have it here for your perusal.

Some observers are saying that as soon as the Sheriff gets in, he jumps to the head of the line and is an instant upper tier contender. That’s where the expectation game comes into play. With upper tier status comes upper tier expectations.

If he gets in he will almost immediately have to demonstrate that his fundraising capability is top of the line. That means he will have to roll out H-Town money folks on his team with proven political fundraising and bundling experience that can get the campaign to that $2.5 million threshold.

He will have to release a list of endorsements and supporters that include elected officials, activists, and business and civic leaders. He will also pretty much have to have the enthusiastic support from the city’s Latino leadership and community.

He will also have to quickly develop an articulate message and vision for the city that addresses the issues and our concerns, stands out, and resonates with the voters.

In short, if he announces for Mayor, his campaign has to show the most movement. Some may ask if is fair to set the expectation game for his candidacy. Hey, the Chron gave him front page lead story status today. On page two of today’s City/State section you can find a much smaller story on Chris Bell’s announcement. That ought to tell you and me something.

Rep. Sylvester Turner has already set his marker down. We know what he has in the bank. We know he can’t raise any money right now. So we pretty much know the status of his campaign effort.

The other candidates like Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington and Bill King are pretty much staying off of the radar and have really yet to show any of their cards.

For the Sheriff it is obviously a different game. One that comes with a different set of risks. If he decides to get out there and run he won’t have a choice and will have to play the expectation game. If he falls short of his goals and stumbles, you have to wonder what those that gave him upper tier status will have to say then. They set the bar – I didn’t.

Here is today’s Chron story:

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some of his closest advisers and fiercest backers that a campaign may be imminent.

Garcia, under the Texas constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to rocket to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s premier Democratic officeholder to make a bid that will make him Houston’s first Latino mayor or politically unemployed?

“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.

It is a bet Garcia allies said this week he has grappled with and seems willing to make.

“I’d be really surprised if he didn’t,” Compean said.

Garcia, who said last week he still is listening to others and has not yet officially committed to the race, has met with many of the city’s political leaders in advance of an announcement and privately is telling some close allies that he will run. And other evidence is mounting.

The sheriff spent $350,000 in the last six months of 2014, according to his campaign finance report released last week. That sum, spent in a year when he was not on the ballot and 10 times what he spent during the last six months of 2010, nearly depleted the coffers of his political action committee, which, under city ordinance, may not be allowed to transfer more than $10,000 to a mayoral bid.

The report also revealed that Garcia had hired new fundraising and digital advertising shops along with spending $100,000 on tele-town halls, some of it after last November’s election, that gave him a chance to reach and gather data on up to 500,000 voters. Garcia’s political operation also hired an analyst to parse through that data.

This month, he commissioned a poll to gauge his viability, people with knowledge of the poll said.

Garcia also slowly has been building his profile locally and nationally: He was invited to the White House in November to discuss immigration policy. He has continued his high-octane social media presence and leveraged it to build an email list. And he spent a fair amount of money this cycle giving to the Democratic interest groups that can help decide future elections, noted Marc Campos, a Houston Democratic strategist not committed to Garcia.

“The only way to explain spending all that money is to let everybody know that he’s a good Democrat,” Campos said. Garcia likely did so to remind them that “‘of all the candidates that have a Democratic base, I was the one who was working the hardest this past November,'” Campos said.

Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the sheriff’s office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.

“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”

Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner-circle, but several other Garcia allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.

Former Houston mayor Bill White, who long has mentored Garcia but said he has not committed to any candidate, said the sheriff told him he was “seriously considering” the race in a visit at the end of the year.

“I did sense a gleam in his eye that was like a racehorse that wanted to go on the track,” White said.

To a certain extent, that race already has begun. Ever since a federal judge declared Houston’s fundraising blackout period unconstitutional two weeks ago, all but one of the eight candidates running for mayor have scrambled to contact donors and set up the political infrastructure to accept those contributions.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sylvester Turner, who political observers consider the current front-runner, is sidelined from fundraising until June, when the legislature’s still-on-the-books blackout period expires.

Every day that Garcia sits the race out is another day less that he has to raise the $2 million most experts say that any candidate would need to run a serious campaign and catch Turner, who will try to transfer much of the $1 million he already has in his state representative campaign account.

Backers of Garcia have high hopes he could raise the money to compete and that he could win voters beyond Houston’s Latinos, who comprise more than 40 percent of the city but at the most only 15 percent of the electorate. The county’s highest vote-getter in 2012, Garcia is expected to make appeals to some Republican voters in the nonpartisan election.

Garcia also would open himself up to personal attacks over a yearlong political brawl. Some in political circles for months quietly have questioned whether Garcia, who has no college education, can handle the rigors of the city’s top job. And if Garcia resigns as sheriff, some Democratic judges and Latino leaders worry whether the party and the Hispanic community would be hurt without him leading the local ticket.

Harris County Commissioners Court is almost certain to replace Garcia as sheriff with a Republican, though one Democrat, Constable Alan Rosen, is said to be interested. Constable Ron Hickman and Rep. Allen Fletcher are considered the most viable replacements.

Even if his seat flipping would upset the Democratic hands who labored to elect and reelect him, his donors and backers in the Latino community seem to be carrying more weight.

“You got to put our best foot forward,” said Massey Villarreal, a Hispanic Republican who has been pushing Garcia to run. “I think I’ve got him on the five-yard line.”

Kuffer has more on this: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=65100.

Here is the Chron story on Chris Bell – equal time – sort of:

Former Democratic congressman Chris Bell will announce his mayoral bid Sunday afternoon in Sam Houston Park, becoming the first candidate in a crowded field to officially kick off a run to lead City Hall.

“Houston has challenges but it also has a great future,” Bell said in his invitation to supporters. “We’re going to talk about how we move to the next level, taking advantage of talent and technology so we can reach our full potential.”

A former city councilman, Bell has spoken openly about an impending bid for at least six months. Bell began his career as a radio reporter and then turned to law and politics. He lost races for mayor in 2001 and for governor in 2006.

As many as a dozen candidates could run for mayor this year, each of whom would likely need to raise $2 million to be competitive.

In recent weeks, Bell has hired finance and policy staff, and he has been working with Bill Hyers, who mostly recently advised Bill de Blasio’s come-from-behind campaign for mayor in New York, to plot his campaign moves.

Bell’s most aggressive step toward a mayoral run has been his lawsuit against the city charging that Rep. Sylvester Turner should not be allowed to transfer much of his $1 million in his officeholder account to Turner’s mayoral run. That suit, heard in state district court earlier this month, will likely move to federal court.

Bell will host his first fundraiser on Feb. 12.

Roy O and Brad Lidge shutout the Fish on Opening Day of 2006 of course for the first and only time the ‘Stros have ever shutout an Opening Day opponent.

The game times for the ‘Stros 2015 season were released yesterday. There will be five weekday day (1:10 pm starts) games at The Yard this season.

Giveaways include three bobbles, a gnome, and a Craig Biggio replica Hall of Fame plaque. They won’t be giving away umbrellas this season – darn!

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