Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Update: Blood in the Water? Queen of Hearts D.A. is Upset

Update: According to a press release from the LaHood campaign, the ads that Reed tried to get yanked are now back on the air.

Word is that our own local Queen of Hearts, aka D.A. Susan Reed, is apoplectic that attorney Thomas J. Henry's donations to Democratic D.A. candidate Nico LaHood is up from nearly $700,000 to $1.2 million.

If anyone saw the the debate between LaHood and Her Majesty that was moderated by Rick Casey, one can't help but feel she was one step away from screaming, "Off With His Head!"

Now Reed has issued a royal proclamation that has resulted in a LaHood ad being pulled.

Henry pumping over a million dollars into the race. Reed getting an ad pulled. I think someone smells blood in the water.

For all of Reed's bellowing, one has to wonder: If someone or some thing, like a business, offered to pump a million dollars into the D.A.'s race on Reed's behalf, would she say no?  What donation is too large?  What if a donor gave her $50,000 each month for a year?  Would that $600,000 be acceptable because it wasn't all at one time?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What the Hell? Day 3 of Early Voting

I think it's safe to say the early vote numbers are just a little whacky this year.

With the data (in-person and mail) from 2 full days of voting, Bexar County turnout is up.  It's that in-person voting that is just confounding. Think about this:

1. Overall statewide turnout so far is up from 2010 (4.07% versus 3.79%; 365,347 versus 315,917)
2. In-person voting is down from 2010 (114,323 versus 121,395)
3. Mail ballots are up by a large amount from 2010 (137,402 versus 76,752)


For day 3 of in-person voting in Bexar, the Top 10 voting early voting sites in Bexar continue to be the usual suspects.

1. Brookhollow Library: 900
2. Cody Library: 623
3. Parman Library @ Stone Oak: 605
4. Great Northwest Library: 582
5. Semmes Library: 575
6. Wonderland of the Americas: 572
7. Shavano Park City Hall: 563
8. Tobin Library @ Oakwell: 561
9. Maury Maverick Library: 546
10. Lion's Field: 533

One site has surpassed the 2,000 mark, and will undoubtedly pass the 3,000 voter mark tomorrow:
Brookhollow Library: 2,749

17 sites have now surpassed 1,000 voters (in order of largest # of voters: Wonderland of the Americas, Semmes Library, Great Northwest Library, Maury Maverick Library, Parman Library @ Stone Oak, Cody Library, Lion's Field, Tobin Library @ Oakwell, Shavano Park City Hall, John Igo Library, Bexar County Justice Center, University City City Hall, McCreless Library, Encino Park Community Center, Windcrest Takas Park, Leon Valley Conference Center, and Northside Activity Center.

Checking in with our 4 higher education voting sites, another 514 votes were added today for a 3 day total of 1,423.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

After Day 2 of Early Voting

As previously suggested, the proof was in the mail ballots.

While in-person voting saw a drop off from 2010, the mail ballots saw a dramatic increase.  Think about these numbers...

For the top 15 counties:
2010 mail ballots after Day 1 of early voting: 61,104
2014 mail ballots after Day 1 of early voting: 127,035

Harris 2010: 24,273
Harris 2014: 41,520

Dallas 2010: 11,464
Dallas 2014: 16, 180

Tarrant 2010: 549
Tarrant 2014: 15,925

Bexar 2010: 4,899
Bexar 2014: 12,942

The unknown is who is driving this mail ballot turnout.  Wendy Davis is from Fort Worth/Tarrant, but is she driving this large number?

Getting back to Bexar, we can now say that we did see an increase in turnout from 2010.  Combined in-person and mail from 2010 was 19,571.  In 2014 that number is 26,378.  

For Day 2 in Bexar County it was steady as she goes.

The Top 10 voting sites were mostly the same:

1. Brookhollow Library: 944
2. Wonderland of the Americas: 656
3. Maury Maverick: 633
4. Semmes Library: 618
5. Great Northwest Library: 512
6. Tobin Library @ Oakwell: 578
7. Cody Library: 577
    Shavano Park City Hall: 577
9. Parman Library @ Stone Oak: 569
10. Lion's Field: 554

For the 4 college sites, there was an increase: 482

In total, we now have 12 early voting sites that have passed the 1,000 voters mark:

Brookhollow Library: 1,849
Wonderland of the Americas: 1,336
Semmes Library: 1,229
Maury Maverick Library: 1,200
Great Northwest Library: 1,200
Lion's Field: 1,165
Parman Library @ Stone Oak: 1,136
Tobin Library @ Oakwell: 1,131
Cody Library: 1,097
Shavano Park City Hall: 1,085
John Igo Library: 1,050
Bexar County Justice Center: 1,011

Overall the number of in-person voters was up from yesterday: 13,899.  What'll be interesting to see is the mail ballot numbers from today.  As of right now though, in-person voting is still down from 2010.

Monday, October 20, 2014

After 1 Day of Early Voting...

The first day of Early Voting has come and gone...

Unless the numbers are adjusted, in-person turnout in Bexar County is down from 2010.

On the first day of Early Voting in 2010 (Oct. 18), Bexar County saw 14,672 people vote.  This year 13,436 people went and voted on the first day.  We're down by 1,236 voters or 8.4% if I did the percentage correctly.  We don't yet have the mail ballot numbers, so maybe they saw an increase.  In terms of totals votes on the first day of Early Voting remember 19,571.  That's the total of in-person and mail ballots on the first day in Bexar County.  Unless the in-person numbers get adjusted, we'll need 6,136 mail in ballots to surpass 2010.

The top 10 Early Voting sites follow their usual pattern:

1. Brookhollow Library: 905
2. Wonderland of the Americas: 680
3. Semmes Library: 611
    Lion's Field: 611
5. Great Northwest Library: 588
6. Maury Maverick Library: 567
    Parman Library @ Stone Oak: 567
8. Tobin Library @ Oakwell: 553
9. Bexar County Justice Center: 549
10: Cody Library: 520

The Early Voting sites at the colleges (UTSA, Northwest Vista, Palo Alto, SAC) saw a total of 427 voters.

I would have been shocked if Brookhollow and Semmes weren't in the Top 5, let alone the Top 10.

Wendy Davis is going to UTSA tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see if there is an uptick in their numbers. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our 2014 Ballot Choices for Bexar County

Voting starts tomorrow, so who will we be voting for?

U.S. Senate: David Alameel (D)
U.S. Rep, District 20: Joaquin Castro (D) (essentially unopposed)
U.S. Rep, District 21: Anyone But Lamar
U.S. Rep, District 23: Pete Gallego (D)
U.S. Rep, District 28: Henry Cuellar (D) (essentially unopposed)

Governor: Wendy Davis (D)
Lt. Gov: Leticia Van de Putte (D)
Attorney General: Sam Houston (D)
Comptroller: Mike Collier (D)
Land Commissioner: John Cook (D)
Agriculture Commissioner: Jim Hogan (D)
Railroad Commissioner: Steve Brown (D)
Chief Justice, Supreme Court: William Moody (D)
Supreme Court, Place 6: Lawrence Meyers (D)
Supreme Court, Place 7: Gina Benavides (D)
Supreme Court, Place 8: RS Roberto Koelsch (LIB)
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3: John Granberg (D)
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4: Quanah Parker (LIB)
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9: William Strange (LIB)
SBOE, District 3: Marisa Perez (D)
Senate District 25: Daniel Boone (D)
State Rep, District 116: Trey Martinez Fischer (D) (unopposed)
State Rep, District 117: Philip Cortez (D)
State Rep, District 118: Joe Farias (D) (unopposed)
State Rep, District 119: Roland Gutierrez (D) (unopposed)
State Rep, District 120: Ruth Jones McClendon (D) (essentially unopposed)
State Rep, District 121: Jeff Carruthers (LIB)
State Rep, District 122: James Holland (LIB)
State Rep, District 123: Mike Villarreal (D) (essentially unopposed)
State Rep, District 124: Jose Menendez (D) (unopposed)
State Rep, District 125: Justin Rodriguez (D) (essentially unopposed)

Chief Justice, 4th Court of Appeals: Irene Rios (D)
45th District Court: John Bustamante (D)
144th District Court: Paul Vasquez (D)
150th District Court: Edna Elizondo (D)
186th District Court: Mary Green (D)
187th District Court: Stephanie Boyd (D)
224th District Court: NO VOTE
225th District Court: Peter Sakai (D)
226th District Court: NO VOTE
227th District Court: Tony Jimenez (D)
285th District Court: Raymond Villareal (D)
288th District Court: NO VOTE
289th District Court: Carmen Kelsey (D)
290th District Court: Jennifer Pena (D)
436th District Court: Eddie Bravenec (D)
437th District Court: NO VOTE

District Attorney: Nico LaHood (D)
County Judge: Nelson Wolff (D)

County Court 1: Al Alonso (D)
County Court 2: Jeanette Burney Sullivan (D)
County Court 3: David Rodriguez (D)
County Court 4: Alfredo Ximenez (D)
County Court 5: Brenda Levenstein (D)
County Court 6: Rochelle Acevedo (D)
County Court 7: Michael De Leon (D)
County Court 8: Liza Rodriguez (D)
County Court 9: Carlos Quezada (D)
County Court 10: Tina Torres (D)
County Court 11: Carlo Key (D)
County Court 12: NO VOTE
County Court 13: Rosie Gonzalez (D)
County Court 14: Ernest Acevedo (D)
County Court 15: Michael LaHood (D)

Probate Court 1: Barbie Scharf-Zeldes (D)
Probate Court 2: NO VOTE
District Clerk: NO VOTE
County Clerk: Suzanne de Leon (D)

County Commissioner, Pct. 2: Paul Elizondo (D) (essentially unopposed)
County Commissioner, Pct. 4: Tommy Calvert (D)

JP, Pct. 1, Place 1: Bobby Tejeda (D) (unopposed)
JP, Pct. 1, Place 2: Ciro Rodriguez (D) (unopposed)
JP, Pct. 3, Place 1: NO VOTE
JP, Pct. 3, Place 2: Jason Pipoly (LIB)
JP, Pct. 4, Place 1: Roger Lopez (D) (unopposed)
JP, Pct. 4, Place 2: Yolanda Uresti (D) (unopposed)

For those NO VOTE races...

224th District Court: The Democratic nominee Lauro Bustamante is an embarrassment of a candidate and the poster child for bringing back smoke-filled rooms to nominate candidates. He was replaced as a candidate in 2008 and should be barred from ever running and winning elective office.  We will not vote for the Republican, so we're skipping this race.

226th District Court: By all accounts Sid Harle is a good Republican judge that a lot of Democrats like.  He was rumored to have been contemplating a primary challenge to D.A. Susan Reed.  Once again though, we're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

288th District Court: While we were inclined to vote for the Democrat, new information about his student loan debt has caused us to withhold our vote.  Like Sid Harle, Sol Casseb seems to be a Republican that a lot of Democrats like. But once again though, we're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

437th District Court: We're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

County Court 12: We have been inclined to vote for the Democrat given his previous service to Bexar County, but after hearing from friends, we don't believe he has the judicial temperament needed.  We're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

Probate Court 2: We didn't vote for Rickhoff when he was opposed by a Democrat.  He's unopposed, but we're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

District Clerk: Once again we a Democratic candidate who is a poster child for bringing back smoke-filled rooms.  There was a far and away better choice in the primary.  We're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

JP, Pct. 3, Place 1: We're not voting for a Republican, so we're skipping this race.

For those (LIB) races...

Supreme Court Place 8, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4 & 9: We've already said we're not voting for a Republican.  If the Libertarians can achieve 5% of the vote in a statewide race, they automatically get to be on the ballot at the next election.  Libertarians seem to take more votes from Republicans, so we feel it's good to keep their place on the ballot.

District 121 & 122: Straus and Larson are going to win, but at least we register a protest vote.

JP, Pct 3, Place 2: Wentworth is going to win and unfortunately for Texas he's no longer in the Legislature.  Again he's a Republican who you can do business with when an election is over. But we'll go ahead and register a protest vote.

Other notes...

Agriculture Commissioner: Again, we have a poster child for smoke-filled rooms.  Hogan is an embarrassment of a candidate, but at the very least he's a protest vote and he helps Democrats get a good idea of their baseline vote with even terrible candidates.

Early Vote Tomorrow Update: Endorsements, Endorsements, Who Got an Endorsement

Update:  How conservative a paper are you when you endorse Dan Patrick? Really Lubbock? From reading that paper's endorsement of Sam Houston, all Ken Paxton would have had to do was show up and he would have been endorsed.  Hell he probably could have driven by, waved, and still gotten the endorsement.

Most people who work on campaigns would probably agree that the larger the race (i.e., president), the less likely an endorsement from a newspaper matters.  It probably has a larger impact on those down ballot races that 1) nobody pays attention to and 2) the candidates don't have enough money to get their name before the voters.  Having seen candidates win a newspaper endorsement and lose, versus those who don't get the endorsement and win, it's easy to dismiss newspaper endorsements as a meaningless folly.  Having said that, campaigns being the competitive things they are, every candidate wants all the support they can get.

So how have these meaningless endorsements gone so far?  We'll update this list as more endorsements come in.

Wendy Davis (D): Austin American-Statesman, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Cosmopolitan, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Greg Abbott (R): Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Lt. Gov.
Leticia Van de Putte (D): Austin American-Statesman, Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, El Paso Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Dan Patrick (R): Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Attorney General
Sam Houston (D): Austin American-Statesman, Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Ken Paxton (R):

Mike Collier (D): Austin American-Statesman, Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Glenn Hegar (R): Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Land Commissioner
John Cook (D):
George Bush (R): Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News

Ag Commissioner
Jim Hogan (D):
Sid Miller (R): Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
No Endorsement: San Antonio Express-News

Railroad Commissioner
Steve Brown (D): Corpus Christi Caller-Times, San Antonio Express-News
Ryan Sitton (R): Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

U.S. Senate
David Alameel (D):
John Cornyn (R): Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News

Judicial Races Statewide:

Chief Justice, Supreme Court
William Moody (D):
Nathan Hecht (R): Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News

Supreme Court, Place 6
Lawrence Meyers (D):
Jeff Brown (R): Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News

Supreme Court, Place 7
Gina Benavides (D): Beaumont Enterprise, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Jeffrey Boyd (R): Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3
John Granberg (D):
Bert Richardson (R): Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News

Locally, who has the San Antonio Express-News chosen?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If a Candidate Doesn't Show Up, is it still a Debate?

About a month ago the first debate in the Texas Governor's race was cancelled, but was eventually rescheduled.  This was after the debate was agreed to by both campaigns.

It seems to me that this particular election season has seen more than it's fair share of candidate scared to debate their opponents.  I see it coming more from the Republican side.  Maybe they're afraid to get fact checked on the air like Mitt Romney.  Hard to get away with a lie or two when you can't control the moderator.

In 2004, incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) failed to show up for a debate with his Democratic opponent, and the debate went on.

In Louisiana, the main Republican canidate, Bill Cassidy, skipped the first televised debate with incumbent Mary Landrieu (D-LA).  The debate went on.

This Friday in West Virginia there will be a U.S. Senate debate that the front runner, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, will be skipping.  The debate is scheduled to go on with the Democratic nominee, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and several minor party candidates.

Kudos to the Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia media.  I think more candidates would stop this last minute cancelling if they knew that the debate was going to happen whether they show up or not.

The station in Dallas should have just gone ahead with the debate even if Wendy Davis was the only participant.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Express-News Headline: Guilty for Life

Today the Express-News endorsed Susan Reed for District Attorney (surprise, surprise).

While the endorsement of Reed was a foregone conclusion, I take issue with this portion of the Express-News' endorsement:
LaHood’s arrest in 1994 for selling 200 Ecstasy pills to an undercover officer at a gentleman’s club is cause for major concern. The case resulted in deferred adjudication so there is no permanent conviction on his record, but it is not the type of incident that fits comfortably on the résumé of anyone seeking the top prosecutor’s job.

The involvement of Thomas J. Henry in the LaHood campaign is deeply disturbing. The plaintiff lawyer’s gargantuan contribution of nearly $700,000 to LaHood’s campaign effort is unheard of in a local race and raises serious questions about LaHood’s judgment.
The message is loud and clear.  On the first point, a person's mistakes are never forgiven and they are forever emblazoned with a scarlet letter.  Message to young people: don't screw up, you'll never get over it.  As we've said before, it would be a nice change at the D.A.'s office if there was someone in charge who saw the justice system from the perspective of not just a prosecutor, but also a defendant. 

To the second point, some how I bet if we delved into the Express-News' archives we'd find plenty of candidates they endorsed who received "gargantuan" contributions from a few contributors.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Susan Reed: I'm Good at Not Prosecuting Child Abuse Cases

In her interview with the Express-News Editorial Board, Bexar County DA Susan Reed stated, "Because I'm good at what I do."

If that's the case, then Susan Reed is good at not doing her job.

39% conviction rate on cases of indecency with a child and we're #2 in the state of Texas when it comes to incidents of child abuse and neglect.

Currently 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused for their 18, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18.

If this is Susan Reed being good at what she does, I'd hate to think what this county would be if she were bad at it.

Susan Reed, Out of Ideas & Out of Time

Currently the Express-News has about 5 minutes of footage from each of the candidates running for Bexar County District Attorney when they appeared before the editorial board.

A big caveat of course is that the conversations were more than 5 minutes, so it's difficult to gleam too much from just 5 minutes...BUT, if these 5 minutes are any example of the larger conversations we can easily sum them up this way:

Susan Reed: Vote for me because I'm Susan Reed

Nico LaHood: Vote for me because I have a plan for a better justice system in Bexar County

In the two interviews:

Reed is initially asked to make the case for why she should be re-elected. She says, "Because I'm good at what I do."  Then she sorta rambles for a minute about improving mental health and some summit on gun violence.  Never really making a case.

Reed is then asked about her office's use of pre-trial diversions.  She states it only covers 17 - 21 year olds.  When asked why not adults, like those who slip up later in life, Reed says, "I think by 21 your character is pretty well built."  Again she seems to kinda ramble on bringing up deferred adjudication as a solution for the adults.

Reed is next asked about the Uresti case or cases.  For anyone not familiar, check out Brian Chasnoff's column from 2013 where it looks like Reed did some favors for Sen. Carlos Uresti (D) in not arresting or prosecuting some potential cases against his son.  She prefaces her statement with one of these classic politician lines of "What I remember..."  So now if something is wrong, she just didn't remember correctly.  For someone who seems to infer that she may not recall every detail of the case, she seems to remember it pretty well.

Reed is next asked about a backlog in the felony courts.  She deflects the question by saying she cleaned up the backlog in the misdemeanor courts.

Finally, Reed is asked if has anything to say about her opponent Nico LaHood.  I bet if she were hooked up to a blood pressure monitor, we would have seen it spike at this moment.  She talks about we a big city and she sits on all these important national boards.  She then questions putting someone in charge who dealt drugs.

LaHood starts out with a very good argument of Reed may be tough on crime, but is she effective on crime.  He brings up the statistics about the low conviction rate in regards to crimes committed against children.

LaHood is then asked about the criticism against him that he lacks the experience or proper background to be D.A.  LaHood then talks about his experience with various types of cases such as white collar crimes and felony cases.

LaHood is asked about pre-trial diversions.  LaHood agrees with pre-trial diversions, but believes Reed is ineffective at it.  The reason he cites in the interview is the age limitation.

LaHood is next asked about his personal views on the death penalty.  He believes in the responsible use of the death penalty and cites how the last 5 times Reed has tried and failed to get the death penalty in a case. 

LaHood is asked to address juvenile justice.  He talks about how he'd like to do in the adult system, what we do in the juvenile system in terms of getting involved on the front end.

LaHood is asked about Reed's single minded focus on LaHood's drug past.  LaHood points out that she doesn't want to talk about her record and speaks to an arrogance that Reed has.