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I Early Voted In Harris County—Some Democrats I Enjoyed Voting For And Two That Failed To Impress

Yestrerday I early voted at the Harris County Administration building (above) located at 1001 Preston Avenue in Downtown Houston, Texas. 

The electronic voting gizmo, which I feel is programmed to flip all my votes to the Republican Party, allowed me to vote in Vietnamese—

(Sunset in a Vietnamese fishing village called Mui Ne

   

…And in Spanish as well.

( Below is Valparaiso, Chile.)

If English is the official language of the United States, how come I can vote in Vietnamese and Spanish in a right wing place like Texas? We’ve even been at war with Vietnam and Spain in the past.

I’m glad we have the ability to make peace with former enemies. We are all brothers and sisters.

I’m very glad I got the chance to vote for a black man named Barack H. Obama for President of the United States. That is what I call progress.

( Below–Blacks voting in 1867. Here is a history of Reconstruction)

I voted for each Democrat on the ballot. Though I did not use the straight party ticket button. I enjoy voting and I went down and selected the name of each candidate.   

I’ve written before, and still assert, that the straight ticket voter is possibly the most rational voter of all. Party identification serves as a kind of shorthand for voters to be able to navigate the large number of issues we confront in our complex society.

However, we do retain the right not to support all the candidates of our favored political party. Inevitably, some will be hard to take.

I paused over the names of Michael Skelly for the 7th U.S. House district from Texas and David Mincberg for the office of Harris County Judge Executive.

Mr. Skelly has campaigned in large part on the false issues of earmark reform and a balanced budget. These are irresponsible postions at a time when swift and decisive action from government is needed to bring our economy back to health.

Here is what Nobel Prize winning New York Times columnist recently said about government’s role in our economic recovery—

….there’s a lot the federal government can do for the economy. It can provide extended benefits to the unemployed, which will both help distressed families cope…It can provide emergency aid to state and local governments, so that they aren’t forced into steep spending cuts that both degrade public services and destroy jobs. It can buy up mortgages (but not at face value, as John McCain has proposed) and restructure the terms to help families stay in their homes. And this is also a good time to engage in some serious infrastructure spending, which the country badly needs in any case. The usual argument against public works as economic stimulus is that they take too long: by the time you get around to repairing that bridge and upgrading that rail line, the slump is over and the stimulus isn’t needed. Well, that argument has no force now, since the chances that this slump will be over anytime soon are virtually nil. Will the next administration do what’s needed to deal with the economic slump? Not if Mr. McCain pulls off an upset. What we need right now is more government spending — but when Mr. McCain was asked in one of the debates how he would deal with the economic crisis, he answered: “Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control.”

If Mr. Skelly’s opponent has been bringing earmarks to this district, that is one way we would be better served by keeping the incumbent. Regretfully, the incumbent is quite far to the right.   

David Mincberg has been running a tone deaf negative campaign against the Republican incumbent. After so many years of Republican rule in Harris County, there are so many unmet needs and things to to be done. Why don’t we hear about some of that? Instead, what we are getting are attacks against incumbent that are simply not going to resonate with the public after his very visible role during Hurricane Ike.

Also, Mr. Mincberg has a campaign sign—one so big that it needs to be propped up from behind with rods—located on the right of way on a 610 feeder road near the Galleria. I’d like to take that sign and nail it to the side of Mr. Mincberg’s house. (I won’t though. And don’t you either.) 

I did in the end vote for Mr. Skelly and Mr. Mincberg. Though I’m not sure that was the right course. There is little doubt these men would be better than the incumbents. But from my view, as a liberal who has lived in a city all his life and had my vote taken for granted by Democrats who deliver little, both Mr.Skelly and Mr. Mincberg send up warning flags.

It’s not about ideological differences. There are only two main political parties for 300 million people and a big tent is required. It’s about the issues you choose to focus on and how you campaign. There is plenty of room for political creativity and correct behavior in even the most Republican of constituencies. 

In contrast to Mr. Skelly and Mr. Mincberg, there were votes I was glad to cast—

Rick Noriega for the United States SenateMr. Noriega will be quite a contrast to the far right incumbent. He has served his country in war and is now ready to serve in Washington.  Also, his wife has been known to visit this blog.

Ellen Cohen for the Texas House District 134—It is good that Ms. Cohen appears to have an easy race after banishing the lousy Martha Wong in 2006.

Loren Jackson for Harris County District ClerkMr. Jackson is very honest, never puts a campaign sign in the public space, and once gave me a campaign tee-shirt. Below is a picture of Mr. Jackson. If you see him be certain to shake his hand and to tell him you share his commitment to freedom.  

Loren Jackson

Adrian Garcia for Harris County Sheriff—Mr. Garcia is going to bring some real justice to our county. Everybody is going to be treated the same and that treatment will be just and decent.   

It was fun to vote. I encourage all who share my views to go out and vote. As for those who do not share my views—I can’t offer as much encouragement. You might want to think about staying at home. I’m sure there is some dusting or laundry you could catch up on. 

( Below—The young women below wanted citizens to vote “no” on the showing of movies on Sunday in the town of La Grange, Illinois. This was in 1929. I don’t know how the vote turned out.)  

original negative 

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Early Voting Trends Offer Hope For Democrats In Texas

Kronberg’s Quorum Report , which reports on Texas politics, posted today about early voting and a possible Democratic trend in Texas. The post is full of numbers that might make you sleepy and might be out of date within hours, but the upshot is that maybe U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega and Texas Democrats have a chance in 2008.

From the Report—

“Although two weeks is multiple lifetimes in politics… polls released today suggest the McCain campaign is collapsing.  The Wall Street journal/NBC poll…this morning reported Obama with a ten point lead.  A Pew Research Center poll says Obama is up by 14. These two polls contrast with the Real Clear Politics rolling average of polls that indicates a spread of 6.8%.  However, if you factor in Libertarians and Greens, Obama’s lead is just shy of 10%. Combine that with this morning’s stunning Houston Chronicle endorsement of Rick Noriega over incumbent Republican John Cornyn, and the possibility of something serious looming in Texas becomes a more reasonable hypothesis. Unfortunately, since we are not considered a battleground state, there is a paucity of public statewide polling in Texas.  Extrapolating is the order of the day. But consider these numbers.  Both George W. Bush and Kay Bailey Hutchison won with 63% in 2004 and 2006 respectively.   According to Real Clear Politics average, McCain is down by 9% at 53.7% in an average from September 29 to October 15. Obama tracked a little better than the historical Democratic base vote of 39%. No resources are being spent in Texas but considering the national trend lines and daily drumbeat of 500 point market losses, lets round it up and say McCain trails Bush and Hutchison’s number by an even 10% in public polling.It is not unreasonable to hypothesize that the ten point drop is moderate Republicans and independents that are at least up for grabs. Meanwhile, Rasmussen’s polls have not shown John Cornyn above 50% since last June.  Throw the libertarian into the mix and anything can happen.”

You might think it is crazy to think that Texas is a prospect for Democrats in 2008, but consider the early Earth. It was a hellish place. It was a place inhospitable to any kind of intelligent life. 

But in time things got much better.

Things can indeed get better.

And sometimes things can get better in less than a few billion years. They might get better sooner than you imagine. 

Here is the Rick Noriega for Senate web page.

Here is a geological history of the Earth.

October 23, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Driver Honks, Rolls Down Window, Asks If I Want Obama Sticker

A few days ago I was stopped at a red light when the driver in the car next to me honked and signaled me to roll down my passenger side window.

I eyed him warily and rolled down the window with one hand, while reaching for the revolver in my glove compartment with the other hand.

Ha!–That’s a joke. I rolled down my window to see what he wanted.

He said he saw the Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate bumper sticker on my car, and asked if I would like an Obama sticker. He waved a few Obama stickers around. I told him I had one already and that I had just not put it on my car as of yet. ( I’ve still not put the sticker on. I will, I will.)   

This interaction warmed my heart. It’s good to know people are driving about looking to do the right thing. Decent folks know this gentleman was motivated by a desire for a better country and for a government that helps people.

It is excellent that we all have the capacity to do small things that make other people’s day a bit better, and that some are able to help us all move forward even when stuck at a red light.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

It Might Be Best If Travis & Alabama Democratic HQ. Had Noriega Bumper Stickers

I visited the midtown headquarters for our Harris County Democratic campaign this morning. This office is located at 3710 Travis at the corner of Alabama & Travis.

I got a couple of Obama bumper stickers.  I asked if they had a Rick Noriega for Senate bumper sticker. They did not. The only other bumper sticker was for State Senate candidate Chris Bell. They did have yard signs for many candidates on the county ticket. 

While at the HQ, I heard another man ask for a Noriega sticker.  

I feel it might be best if this busy campaign office had bumper stickers for all Democrats running in Harris County and Texas. And that it might be best if all candidates on the Democratic ticket in Harris County had bumper stickers in the first place so voters could show support in this easy and accessible way.  

These are my views on this subject.

August 23, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is Running For The United States Senate In Texas In 2008?

Is there a United States Senate race on the ballot In Texas in 2008 and, if so, who are the candidates?  

There is one United States Senate seat from Texas up for election this year.

Democratic State Representative Rick Noriega is the nominee of his party for this office.

Mr. Noriega is a native Texan and an experienced legislator. He was elected to the Texas House in 1998. 

Representative Noriega is also an officer in the Texas Army National Guard and has served extensively in Afghanistan. Please click here to learn more about Mr. Noriega.

The incumbent is the deeply conservative John Cornyn. Mr. Cornyn was first elected in 2002 with, for a Texas Republican in recent years, a relatively low 55% of the vote.

I would argue Senator Cornyn is out of step with the needs of Texans today, and, also, with the state Texas is becoming.

With a firmly established pattern of supporting the failed War in Iraq, crippling Medicare and being stingy on veteran’s benefits, Senator Cornyn represents a past many Texans are now questioning and a future that offers little response to the changing economic and demographic facts of our state and our nation.   

As I write this in late June, a recent poll asserts Mr. Noriega is running just two points behind Mr. Cornyn. This is a strong showing against an incumbent.

As you begin to focus on your options for the November ballot, I ask you to please consider Rick Noriega for the United States Senate from Texas.

This is cross-posted at the Houston Chronicle where I am one of eight featured political reader bloggers. 

Below is a photo of Rick Noriega.

South Texas Tour

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Texas | , , , , | 6 Comments

Noriega & More—Texas Political Notes And Thoughts

Some political notes and thoughts from Texas and Harris County—

(Above is the harbor at Palacios in Matagorda County. George Bush won 65% of the nearly 12,500 votes cast in Matagorda in 2004. But I’m certain that four years of calm seaside reflection has given the good folks of Matagorda a new view of things for 2008.) 

Noriega Senate Race

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega of Houston is polled by Rasmussen as running only 4 points behind far-right incumbent John Cornyn. In this polling snapshot, the race is seen as 47% for Mr. Cornyn and 43% for Mr. Noriega.  

Mr. Noriega is a Texas State representative.

I recall early numbers from 2002 that had former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk running ahead of then Texas Attorney General Cornyn. At the time, Mr. Kirk’s favorable name recognition in the Dallas metroplex was a source of his strength.  

Mr. Cornyn won that race 55% -43% in a Republican year. 

This time around, it may be that some Texans are reconsidering allegiance to Republican party ( As well they should.) and that demographic changes in this majority-minority state are finally catching up to the ballot box.

Mr. Noriega’s 51% showing in the Texas Democratic primary was not impressive. Yet, Mr. Noriega will no doubt establish himself among Texas Democrats as November approaches. If the broader climate in Texas is moving towards Democrats, than Mr. Noriega may have a shot.  

Here is Mr. Noriega’s campaign web home.   

Harris County Races

Recent reports on racial disparities in application of the death penalty in Harris County, and reports from Dallas county about long-term inmates being set free after being proved innocent show the importance of a new justice team in Harris County.   

The new Democratic District Attorney in Dallas County has made such a positive difference in that part of Texas.   

Electing C.O. Bradford as District Attorney and Adrian Garcia as County Sheriff would be a good start towards the more fair practice of justice in Harris County.   

The Harris County Democratic coordinated campaign will be led by Bill Kelly.

I’ve seen Democratic coordinated campaigns in other parts of the country that involved walking around money for local pastors and others, and mailings into minority communities featuring white politicians linked up with black politicians.

These mailings were meant to aid white politicians by associating them with black candidates in areas where many black voters live. Yet it never seemed to work the other way of mailings into mostly white areas as a way to boost black candidates.    

One of the many reasons I’m glad to hear about the appointment of Mr. Kelly is that I know it portends real change in Harris County.    

Change for the Harris County Democratic Party as it moves to full inclusion of the voters who are the backbone of its local support, and, after success at the ballot box, changes in public policy such as the immediate need for a better justice system.  

In addition to the $500 breakfast listed on the web page of the Harris County Democratic Party, I look forward to a more broad based campaign kick-off event to generate excitement about the November ticket. 

This post is also at my Houston Chronicle blog where I’m one of eight featured political bloggers.

(The Houston Ship Channel is a big deal in Harris County. Harris County voted 54% -46 % for George Bush in 2004. There were just over 1.05 million votes cast. 2008 may be a more successful year for Harris County Democrats. ) 

   

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Brought A Plant And Some Pens To Rick Noriega For U.S. Senate HQ

A source inside the Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate campaign told me the campaign headquarters, located at 3200 Kirby Drive in Houston, did not have a plant and that it was often hard to find a pen.

This afternoon I brought the Noriega campaign a plant and 52 pens.

My source was wrong about the absence of a plant.

Now they have two plants.

Below is what the Noriega headquarters looks like after the addition of my plant today–

However, the young woman who took the pens agreed it is often difficult to find a pen at the Noriega shop.    

Here is the link to the Rick Noriega campaign for the U.S. Senate.    

Here is a post I wrote about receiving a gift of a nice pen from a friend. If we can’t communicate with ourselves, how can we communicate with others? 

April 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Praise Of Gene Kelly & Outlaw Josey Wales

Two perennial candidates for office in Texas are Gene Kelly and Outlaw Josey Wales.

Mr. Kelly runs statewide and Mr. Wales runs for Mayor of Houston.

In the recently contested Texas primary, Mr. Kelly won 27% in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary against Rick Noriega. Mr. Noriega won the primary and avoided a runoff with 51% of the vote. 

Here is some information about Mr. Kelly from today’s Houston Chronicle.

Kelly is a reclusive retired military judge and lawyer from Universal City, a San Antonio suburb. He traditionally does little more than pay his filing fee, but apparently he wins votes because he has the same name as the late movie star and dancer.

Since 1990, Kelly has run for the Texas Supreme Court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, attorney general and U.S. Senate.

In 2006, he forced Barbara Ann Radnofsky into a runoff in the Democratic U.S. Senate race. She overcame with “the dancer is dead” campaign, but the fact that she was in a runoff is believed to have cost her financial support from national Democratic donors.

Many candidates have an aspect of personal identity that wins them votes.

Did Mr. Noriega win votes because he is Hispanic? ( This no doubt cost him some votes as well.)

Some people voted for Barack Obama because he is black. Hillary Clinton gets some votes for being a woman and she has a famous last name. 

So what? That’s democracy for you. It’s a big spin of the wheel.  

It’s not Gene Kelly’s fault that by simply putting his name on the ballot he wins a quarter of the vote. I say more power to Mr. Kelly.  

If the party that likes to think of itself as the more “enlightened” party has to convince people that the actual “Singing in the Rain” Gene Kelly is not on the ballot–Well, then we have bigger problems than Mr. Kelly’s presence on the ballot. 

Here in Houston, I am a big fan of Outlaw Josey Wales.   

That’s his legal name.

Mr. Wales ran for Mayor of Houston last year. 

In 1999, I voted for Mr. Wales against incumbent Houston Mayor Lee Brown.

Mr. Brown was certain to win the election. I did not think so much of Mr. Brown. 

Once I convinced myself that Mr. Wales was not a right-wing kook, I figured what the hell? 

Two years later when Mr. Brown had a serious Republican challenger, I voted for Mr. Brown.

Here is what I said about Mr. Wales last October

As for Mr. Wales, self-creation and starting fresh are acts fully consistent with Houston and with politics.

He changed his name because he wanted to make some money. Good for him. I hope he made some money. If I thought I could make a lot of money by changing my name to Wyatt Earp, I would likely do so..   

Mr. Wales has had fewer names than former Texas Comptroller and candidate for Governor One Tough Grandma Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn…. 

Bloggers give themselves new names and made-up names all the time…

I don’t care what people choose to call themselves.    

Is Mr. Wales anymore or less stable than our civic Founding Father Sam Houston? Mr. Houston used to walk around Houston dressed as a cross between a frontiersman and an Indian. Sam Houston was, in his way, a serious and talented man.

Is Mr. Wales any more or less serious than the process of how we elect our city officials in Houston with silly six year term limits and terrible turnout? I think Mr. Wales might in fact be somewhat dignified for such a screwed-up process.  

Absurdity is a refuge from the day-to-day pain of life. As long as absurdity does not become detachment, what harm does it do?   

I look forward to seeing Mr. Kelly and Mr. Wales on the ballot many more times.    

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics, Texas, Texas Political History, Texas Primary '08 | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rick Noriega Has Work To Do To Win U.S. Senate Race In Texas

Good news from the Texas primary last night for State Representative Rick Noriega of Houston  was that he avoided a runoff.

Mr. Noriega was 51% of votes cast against three weak opponents.

The bad news for Mr. Noriega was that he won just 51% against three weak opponents.

2.86 million people voted in the Democratic presidential race yesterday in Texas

2.16 million voted in the Senate contest.

Nearly a quarter of Democratic primary voters did not get very far down the ticket.

Maybe they they were in a hurry and had someplace else to go. 

In the Senate race there was no real reason for a Democrat not to vote for Mr. Noriega.

By any conventional standard, Mr. Noriega was the likely nominee, the strongest candidate for the general election and pretty much the only “serious” candidate on the Democratic ballot to face incumbent John Cornyn.

There was no reason that would serve the party in November, or any type of ideological split, that merited forcing Mr. Noriega into a runoff.

Just under 39% of all Democrats who voted yesterday voted for Mr. Noriega.     

It simply seems that many Democrats did not know who Mr. Noriega was.

From the Republican side it was more good news/bad news for Mr. Noriega.

The good news was the superior Democratic turnout.

1.38 million Republicans voted in the Presidential race. 

1.21 million Republicans voted in the senate primary between Mr. Cornyn and a man named Larry Kilgore.     

Hopefully Democrats have been energized to show up in November. Almost twice as many voted people in the Democratic Senate primary as did in the Republican primary.

On the other hand, Mr. Cornyn won 81% of the vote in his race and 72% of all Republicans voting cast a ballot for Mr. Cornyn.  

Republicans know who Mr. Cornyn is and are basically willing to vote for him.

Mr. Noriega has overcome one challenge by winning the Democratic primary without a runoff.

Yet in addition to making the case against Senator Cornyn, it appears he still has work to do in introducing himself to Texas Democrats.  

Get to know Rick Noriega a little better by clicking here to visit his homepage.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas, Texas Primary '08 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Obama & Noriega Seem More Organic Than Sanchez & Kirk In 2002

On Texas Primary Day, March 4, I’ll be voting for Barack Obama for President and Rick Noriega for the U.S. Senate.

( Please click here for a Texas Liberal History of the Texas Primary.)

Mr. Obama is black and Mr. Noriega is Hispanic.

Six years ago, Texas Democrats tried what was essentially a stunt by running Tony Sanchez for Governor and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a black man, for the U.S. Senate.

It was a “dream team” or a “dream ticket.” It was going to bring a surge in minority turnout.

Sure.

(Below is a print from the Civil War era called “The Soldier’s Dream of Home.”)

Now I have no problem with stunts. Look at the guy of the motorcycle in the picture—Good for him. He has drawn a crowd and I presume he is getting a check for that act. That sure makes him smarter than many bloggers.

Everybody needs an act to get by in this world.   

But Mr. Sanchez was a terrible candidate and Mr. Kirk was a total insider.  The idea that these men were going to bring out a larger minority turnout was pretty much a non-starter.

Six years later we again have the prospect of an all-minority top of the ticket in Texas. (Though of course here in Texas, land of John Wayne and all that, it is white folks who are in the minority.)  

This time around, the possible multi-racial combination at the top of the ticket has a more genuine feel.

For one thing, it’s a chance meeting. It is not a ticket cooked up in the backrooms. ( You’re telling me Mr. Obama still must win the nomination? Oh! Keep your fussy Felix Unger detail-orientated thinking away from the abstractions I hawk in this blog!)

For another thing, Mr. Obama seems to have tapped into a real feeling that we can have something more in this country than Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton.

Mr. Noriega also seems like real progress for Texas. He is as progressive a candidates we are going to see running for the Senate from Texas, and he combines his strong positions on issues with military service abroad.  

As for counting on Anglo urban “liberals” to value positive change more than they value order, and counting on minority turnout to bring home an election victory…..Yep–We are indeed thinking big in Texas for 2008.

(From a web profile of Martin Luther KingIt was not clear how SCLC and King could move from their civil rights work in the South to addressing the economic problems of poverty in the North and elsewhere. In 1966, King undertook a Campaign to End Slums in Chicago. After nine months the campaign ended in failure. King discovered the liberal consensus on race relations stopped short of fundamental economic change.)

(Please click here for the Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.)

Below is a picture of an organic farm. That’s nice. I’d like some crops from that field in my salad. This is how I see Obama and Noriega. 

Now look at this remote factory farm. It’s an alien landscape sucking up all our water. This reminds me of the soulless Sanchez and Kirk team from 2002. 

A simplification you say? Hey—That’s politics.  

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Martin & Malcolm, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments