The CD 29 race gets coverage today on the front page of the Chron in an article by Rebecca Elliott. News coverage is good. Here it is:
House race pitting Garcia, Green tests power of Latino vote
Garcia challenging Green to become 29th District’s first Hispanic delegate
January 10, 2016
When Adrian Garcia called last month asking for support in his congressional bid, East End community activist Jessica Hulsey did not hesitate.
“I said, ‘Adrian, you’re my brother,’ ” Hulsey, 65, recalled. “ ’I identify with you, and I identify the need.’ ”
Fresh off an unsuccessful Houston mayoral run, the former Harris County sheriff is looking to fill that need by empowering a growing Latino community in the 29th Congressional District.
His bid to unseat longtime Democratic Congressman Gene Green promises to again test the burgeoning power of the Hispanic vote.
Drawn in 1991 to reflect the area’s Hispanic population, the 29th District never has had a Latino representative, despite the influx of Hispanic residents.
From 1992, when Green was first elected, to 2012, the Latino share of the district’s population climbed 16 percentage points to more than 76 percent, higher than all but four congressional districts nationwide, according to the Pew Research Center. Hispanics make up about 61 percent of the 29th District’s eligible voters.
“There’s been the opportunity to cultivate that Hispanic electorate for 23 years, and so that’s one of the things that I look to accomplish,” Garcia said last week before a town hall at a Northside civic club. “In every election I’ve ever been in, the question’s always been, ‘Where is the Hispanic community? When are they going to vote?'”
Green touted his record of providing constituent services in the district covering much of eastern Houston and part of Pasadena, as well as his support from Hispanic elected officials.
“Over the years we’ve identified problems in the district that people have brought up: access to health care, quality of the education, ‘how do I afford to send my kids to college,’ jobs … and of course immigration reform,” Green said. “No matter what the pigmentation of your skin, you can serve an area.”
Knocking on doors
Garcia has drawn an early distinction with Green on gun control, but otherwise the candidates largely agree on the top issues facing the district. Garcia said boosting educational opportunity – and particularly college access – is among his top priorities, as are jobs and the economy. Green said he will be campaigning on his record and highlighted past initiatives in the areas of health care, citizenship, employment and education.
With just five weeks to go before the start of early voting in Texas’ March 1 primary, both sides have scrambled to raise cash and assemble field operations in a race expected to be heavy on retail politics.
Garcia began knocking on doors in Houston’s East End last weekend, and his campaign has two full-time paid field staff leading its ground efforts.
“It’s about talking to people, knocking on doors, getting in the community, and it will be me more directly than having it come from a regular TV set,” said Garcia, who has the advantage of being able to campaign full time while Green is in Washington. The former sheriff and Houston city councilman also boasts high name identification and a record of formidable fundraising.
Juanita Rodriguez, 47, was among the attendees at Garcia’s recent town hall, where he voiced support for increased gun control.
“It might be good for a fresher perspective, out-of-the-box thinking,” said Rodriguez, who said she has voted for Green in the past, but now is undecided. “Obviously, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always more that can be done, particularly in lower income areas.”
Census data shows that roughly 24 percent of the district of 750,000 was below the poverty level in 2014, about six percentage points above the state average.
“Garcia has structural advantages in this race that make the race tilt in his favor,” Texas Southern University political scientist Michael Adams said, pointing to the fact that the area was designed as a Hispanic-opportunity district.
However, University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said that even with demographics on Garcia’s side, it may be difficult for him to overcome Green’s financial advantage, familiarity with the district and establishment backing.
The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus recently endorsed Green, who had $1.2 million in the bank as of last September, and many of the local elected officials whose districts overlap with Green’s quickly lined up behind the congressman. They included state Sens. Sylvia Garcia and John Whitmire, and state Reps. Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle.
“You can’t block up the Latino vote very easily if a bunch of the opinion leaders are saying, ‘No, no, yeah we want a Hispanic district, but not with this Hispanic,’ ” Murray said. “In terms of winning this district in a short fuse, one-on-one primary, that’s gonna be tough.”
Garcia’s candidacy also has created some enmity among local Democrats with long-standing ties to Green.
“Gene Green, everybody loves Gene Green,” said Freddy Blanco, a Democratic precinct chair in the East End. “No elected official responds the way he responds immediately.”
Blanco block-walked or made calls almost nightly for Garcia’s mayoral campaign, but when the former sheriff called Blanco about his congressional bid, Blanco said he did not pick up the phone.
“I don’t know why people think about races and colors when it’s about our city,” said Blanco, 64.
Steven Flores, president of the local Communications Workers of America union, agreed.
“Gene has been such a good advocate for the community, whether it be black, Hispanic or Anglo,” said Flores, 61, who added that he does not think Garcia is nearly as qualified. “I know he doesn’t have a Sanchez or a Rodriguez or Flores or Gonzalez last name, but man that guy has been great to our community.”
Green, who last faced a primary opponent in 1996, plans to continue flying home to his district on weekends, and his campaign was scheduled to launch a paid canvassing effort of more than 20 people Saturday.
“You identify your voters, you motivate them and get them to the polls,” Green said.
Without a contested Democratic primary in more than two decades, it is difficult to project March turnout. Yet Rice University political scientist Bob Stein estimated that 37,500 to 40,000 ballots would be cast in the district in the Democratic primary, about 53 to 57 percent of them by Hispanic voters.
About 42,000 voters cast a ballot in 29th district Democratic primary in 2008. That figure dropped to just 6,200 in 2014.
Coverage is good. It is good to have a conversation on this. Like it is good for the Dem Party to have a competitive presidential primary.
Only three ‘Stros pitchers got a base hit last season. Name the three?
The Mayor and the City Controller got a thumbs down from the Chron E-Board this past Saturday. Check this:
[Down] Our New Year’s resolution was to focus on the good stuff. Seriously, it was. OK, maybe not. We did plan on giving Sylvester Turner a few weeks before slinging darts toward City Hall. But then about two hours into his term comes an email inviting constituents to a Wednesday fundraiser. PACs had to pony up $10,000. For regular folks, it was a thousand bucks. Is this what “Turner Time” at City Hall means?
[Down) Not to be outdone, probable 2023 mayoral candidate and new city Controller Chris Brown also got into the act. His fundraiser at La Griglia on Jan. 21 is small potatoes: $250. But the optics are equally disappointing. Memo to Sylvester and Chris: Think about how employees at City Hall must feel – either I write a check or I lose my job. Shameful.
I need to ask the E-Board when is a good time for an H-Town city elected official to start soliciting campaign fund without getting the treatment from the E-Board.
I don’t have anything to say about the folks that think all of us Texans fans are a bunch of dumbarses. I am talking about the folks that run the Texans. They are probably the only ones in H-Town that don’t think they have a QB problem.
They get away with it because folks go to NRG regardless of how the team is doing. It is not that way with the ‘Stros. That is why the ‘Stros went out and got them a better closer this off season.
I will put my money on the Texans not getting serious about addressing the QB situation. They will just go get another retread and tell us to be proud of their selection.
I am not going to say anything about the kicker who missed a so called chip shot in zero degree weather yesterday.
Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, and Collin McHugh each got a single this past season of course.
Opening Day is 12 weeks from today – I think.