Archive for December 22nd, 2015

Mostly CD 29

It is that time of year when I go looking for next year’s wall calendar for my office. Last year I got started late and the best I could do was a Disney “Frozen” calendar. Yesterday I saw a ‘Stros calendar that featured Chris Carter, Jed Lowrie, and Chad Qualls – nope. They also had a Beers of Texas calendar without a Saint Arnold mention – also nope.

This Hall of Fame great who was also born on Christmas Day holds the MLB record for career runs scored – name him? Hint: He still is with us.

Remember when “Hail Mary” was invoked last week in the CD 29 race? Well this doesn’t look like a prevent defense. Check Teddy’s tweet:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 2h2 hours ago Washington, DC

Most of Houston’s Latino powerplayers appear to be organizing AGAINST @AdrianGarciaHTX‘s run vs. @RepGeneGreen: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/12/21/houston-leaders-back-gene-green/ …

And here is from Kuffer today:

Not a big surprise

U.S. Rep. Gene Green, a Houston Democrat, will pick up support from several Houston political players Tuesday.

The 12-term congressman faces what could be a formidable primary challenge in the form of former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. According to a Green campaign press release, seven Houston Democrats are ready to back his re-election: state Sens. Sylvia R. Garcia and John Whitmire, state Reps. Ana Hernandez, Garnet F. Coleman, Armando Walle and Carol Alvarado, and Harris County Constable Chris Diaz.

The endorsements’ apparent aim is to give Green cover against Garcia’s argument that the mostly-Hispanic district would be better served with Hispanic congressional representation. With residual name identification from his unsuccessful run for Houston mayor, Garcia could pose a viable threat to Green’s re-election.

I received a copy of the press release as well as the pre-release on Friday that didn’t contain the officials’ names. The event will take place at 11 AM at the Vecino Health Center (Denver Harbor Family Clinic), 424 Hahlo St., in case anyone wants to attend. As I said before, I was looking to see who might be endorsing whom in this race. Whatever the effect is on the final result, this does affect the narrative of the race. Reps. Walle, Hernandez, and Alvarado all once worked for Green, so their solidarity with their former boss is to be expected, but Sylvia Garcia was one of the candidates for the seat back in 1992; she finished third, behind Green and Ben Reyes, whom Green then defeated in the runoff and again in the 1994 primary. She had previously been talked about as a potential opponent for Green in more recent years, before her election to the State Senate. Make of that what you will.

Going back through my archives, I came across this post from 2014 about Green representing a Latino district and when that might change. Here’s what Campos, who is now working on the Garcia campaign, said at the time:

Having a Dem Latino or Latina in Congress from the H-Town area would be empowering to the community. What is missing is an articulate voice for us in Congress like on a day when the immigration issue is front and center. Who is going to argue with that?

I don’t buy into the notion that just because the local Latino leaders aren’t for something, it won’t happen. I can still recall the spontaneous immigration marches a few years ago that local Latino leaders were scrambling to lead.

I can picture a scenario where an articulate bilingual Latino or Latina leader steps up, grabs an issue and captures the attention of the community. That is certainly not racist, that’s politics. This discussion isn’t going away.

And my comment on that:

Sure, that could happen, and I agree that if it were to happen it would likely be a talented newcomer who can inspire people to pose a serious threat to Rep. Green. The problem is that that’s not sufficient. Look at the recent history of Democratic primary challenges in Texas legislative races, and you’ll see that there are generally two paths to knocking off an incumbent that don’t rely on them getting hosed in redistricting. One is via the self-inflicted wounds of an incumbent with some kind of ethics problems – think Gabi Canales or Naomi Gonzales, for example – or an incumbent that has genuinely lost touch with the base. In the past decade in Texas that has mostly meant Craddick Democrats, though one could argue that Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s win over Silvestre Reyes had elements of that.

What I’m saying is simply that there has to be a reason to dump the current officeholder. Look no further than the other Anglo Texas Democrat in Congress for that. The GOP has marked Rep. Lloyd Doggett for extinction twice, each time drawing him into a heavily Latino district in the hope of seeing him get knocked off in a primary. He survived the DeLay re-redistricting of 2003, then he faced the same kind of challenge again in 2012. His opponent, Sylvia Romo, was an experienced officeholder running in a district that was drawn to elect a Hispanic candidate from Bexar County. Having interviewed her, I can attest that she’d have made a perfectly fine member of Congress. But she never identified a policy item on which she disagreed with Doggett, and she never could give an answer to the question why the voters should replace their existing perfectly good member of Congress and his boatload of seniority with a rookie, however promising.

That’s the question any theoretical opponent to Gene Green will have to answer as well.

I think both my statement and Marc’s would stand up today. I’d say we’re likely to hear some form of these arguments over the next two months. In the meantime, I wonder if Garcia will roll out his own list of supporters soon. Better still if that list is accompanied by reasons why Garcia is the superior choice, and where he differs in matters of policy. I know that’s what I’d want to hear about if I lived in that district.

Here is the rest of the Trib piece that Kuffer put out:

But beyond these nods, Green also garnered implicit support from at least one delegation member, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela. The Brownsville Democrat recently gave his blessing to a staffer to join the Green campaign.

Green is raring for this fight, which will come to a head on the March 1 primary. In the immediate aftermath of learning Garcia — an old friend — would run against him, Green declared the challenge a “Hail Mary.” 

It looks like the race is getting interest from national political players of the Latino persuasion. Check out this National Journal piece today by Kimberly Railey @KimberlyRailey .

Lati­nos’ fight for great­er rep­res­ent­a­tion in Con­gress is com­ing to Hou­s­ton in a race pit­ting two close friends against each oth­er. 

Rep. Gene Green faces a Demo­crat­ic primary chal­lenge from former Har­ris County Sher­iff Ad­ri­an Gar­cia, a long­time ally who is test­ing wheth­er voters in the ma­jor­ity-His­pan­ic dis­trict will trade in a pop­u­lar in­cum­bent for one of their own.

Hou­s­ton re­mains the most His­pan­ic ma­jor city without a Latino rep­res­ent­at­ive in Con­gress, and this race will de­cide wheth­er that will change.

“If you are look­ing at con­gres­sion­al seats in terms of where His­pan­ics can be elec­ted to Con­gress, this is as good a seat as any,” said Oscar Ramirez, one of the Demo­crat­ic Party’s top Latino donors. “From that per­spect­ive, it is a missed op­por­tun­ity if Ad­ri­an doesn’t win.” 

A po­ten­tial chal­lenge from a His­pan­ic can­did­ate has long lingered for Green, a 12-term, white Demo­crat whose dis­trict is three-quar­ters His­pan­ic. The dis­trict was drawn in 1991 to elect a Latino, but Green has faced little sig­ni­fic­ant primary op­pos­i­tion since win­ning a hard-fought primary against a His­pan­ic can­did­ate in 1992.

Gar­cia’s bid, which comes on the heels of his third-place fin­ish in the Hou­s­ton may­or­al race, sig­nals a re­cog­ni­tion of the grow­ing elect­or­al power of the Latino vote. But it also high­lights the dif­fi­culty His­pan­ics have had con­vert­ing pop­u­la­tion gains in­to polit­ic­al power: Lati­nos ac­count for about 17 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion but hold just 7 per­cent of the seats in Con­gress. 

“It was de­signed to be a His­pan­ic-op­por­tun­ity dis­trict,” Gar­cia said in an in­ter­view. “And I am simply ex­er­cising my right to that op­por­tun­ity.”

For Gar­cia, se­cur­ing re­sources is crit­ic­al to coun­ter­ing Green, who already has nearly $1.2 mil­lion in the bank. But an­oth­er bar­ri­er is over­com­ing an op­pon­ent with a pos­it­ive re­cord on Latino is­sues. 

That has kept po­ten­tial op­pon­ents on the side­line for two dec­ades—un­til Gar­cia’s chal­lenge. 

“It’s a con­cern­ing obstacle,” Green said in an in­ter­view. “But if most people thought I could be beat, they prob­ably would have tried by now.”

Over the years, Green has shrewdly forged ties with the His­pan­ic com­munity, hir­ing many well-known Lati­nos and build­ing per­son­al re­la­tion­ships with them. On Tues­day, sev­en His­pan­ic elec­ted of­fi­cials in Hou­s­ton will pub­licly en­dorse Green, in­clud­ing two state sen­at­ors and four state House mem­bers. 

“Gene has been ex­tremely loy­al to the Latino com­munity,” said one of those en­dors­ers, state Rep. Car­ol Al­varado, who is a former staffer in Green’s Cap­it­ol Hill of­fice. “He spends prob­ably every mo­ment when he’s in Hou­s­ton in the dis­trict with his con­stitu­ents.” 

Green’s last close primary came after his first term, when he de­feated Ben Reyes in a re­match of the 1992 open-seat primary. Last week, The Texas Tribune re­por­ted that José Bor­jon, a top ad­viser to Demo­crat­ic Rep. Filem­on Vela, is work­ing for Green, a sign that Green’s camp views the Gar­cia bid ser­i­ously. 

Green is also close to many mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Caucus and reg­u­larly at­tends the group’s events. The CHC’s fun­drais­ing arm, BOLD PAC, could play in the race. Spokes­man Paul Kin­caid said the group looks at all dis­tricts with large His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tions or where a mem­ber has ad­voc­ated for Latino is­sues—a po­s­i­tion that leaves the door open to a Green en­dorse­ment.

Some Demo­crats say a pres­id­en­tial-elec­tion year with high­er turnout could hold more prom­ise for a His­pan­ic can­did­ate. And some Latino groups are already talk­ing up Gar­cia’s bid, eager to elect a rep­res­ent­at­ive who matches the dis­trict demo­graph­ics. In the may­or­al race, Gar­cia proved his fun­drais­ing mettle, rais­ing more than $2.5 mil­lion in six months. 

“We have a lead­er in Ad­ri­an, with a proven track re­cord, who is ad­mired in the com­munity and re­flects the com­munity’s val­ues,” said Cristóbal Alex, pres­id­ent of the Latino Vic­tory Pro­ject, whose en­dorse­ment could lead to ground sup­port for Gar­cia. “We are ex­tremely ex­cited about that race.” 

Green sup­por­ted Gar­cia when he ran for city coun­cil, sher­iff, and then for may­or—a race in which Gar­cia earned 17 per­cent of the Novem­ber vote in a 13-can­did­ate field, miss­ing the run­off. Gar­cia, a one-time pre­sumptive front-run­ner in that race, came un­der at­tacks for his al­leged mis­hand­ling of cases of in­mate ab­use at the Har­ris County Jail, which he led as sher­iff.

“The dis­trict still has chal­lenges with in­di­vidu­als who have a lack of ac­cess to men­tal-health care,” Gar­cia said, em­phas­iz­ing that crim­in­al-justice is­sues are part of his bid. Gar­cia also said real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on His­pan­ics are a chief reas­on for his cam­paign. 

In San Ant­o­nio, an­oth­er His­pan­ic-heavy city in Texas, His­pan­ic can­did­ates haven’t fared well re­cently. In the San Ant­o­nio may­or’s race this year, for ex­ample, voters elec­ted their first black may­or, Ivy Taylor, over Leti­cia Van de Putte. Last year, Rep. Will Hurd, a black Re­pub­lic­an, de­feated former Rep. Pete Gal­lego, a His­pan­ic Demo­crat, in a dis­trict that stretches from San Ant­o­nio to El Paso. 

In Green’s 29th Dis­trict, where the in­cum­bent’s name re­cog­ni­tion and Gar­cia’s Latino back­ground will be as­sets, ob­serv­ers said neither should bank on those ad­vant­ages.

“I wouldn’t want Gene Green to take his reelec­tion for gran­ted be­cause he’s an in­cum­bent,” said Ar­turo Var­gas, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Latino Elec­ted and Ap­poin­ted Of­fi­cials, which is stay­ing neut­ral in the race. “And I wouldn’t want Ad­ri­an Gar­cia think­ing Lati­nos are auto­mat­ic­ally go­ing to vote for him be­cause he’s Latino.”

Hall of Fame great Rickey Henderson who was born on Christmas Day, 1958 holds the MLB record with 2,295 career runs scored of course.

I’ll try to do some Christmas shopping at The Yard today.


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