Friday, September 30, 2011

Commissioner Cactus Jack

A Harris County Commissioner is one of the most powerful public officials in Texas because of their absolute control over their precinct’s road, bridge and park budgets. A rare vacancy on the court occurred with the resignation of Commissioner Jerry Eversole, and County Judge Ed Emmett has the exclusive power of appointment.

Numerous elected officials and prominent individuals have applied or been considered for the position, and Judge Emmett has conducted an exhaustive search. The challenge that Judge Emmett faces is finding someone who would both meet the Judge’s criteria and objectives for appointment, and who can win a March 6 Republican Primary. The Judge has indicated that he will announce his appointment on Monday.

It appears that Harris County Civil Court-at-Law Judge Jack Cagle, a/k/a Cactus Jack Cagle, is the likely appointee. Judge Cagle was first elected countywide in 2000, and has been reelected three subsequent times. He and Judge Emmett are longstanding friends, and both graduated from Rice University.

Assuming that Judge Cagle is appointed, this will continue the trend of Rice University graduates assuming the reins of government in Houston and Harris County. How about them Owls!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sen. Chris Harris to Retire

Word is that Sen. Chris Harris will not seek reelection.  This will bring the number of Senate retirements to four:  Harris; Jackson; Ogden; and Shapiro.  Rep. Rodney Anderson  has already declared for SD 9.  I expect other candidates will now look at getting into the race.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Update on Texas Legislative Races

Filing for office in Texas begins November 12 and ends December 12.  So far, at least 24 State Representatives will not be seeking reelection to their current seat.  There were 35 new members in 2011.  I believe that we will have 35 - 40 new members in 2013.  There are 3 open Senate seats, and there will be at least 4 new Senators in 2013.
Texas House
Announced Retirements - 6
Fred Brown HD 14
Charlie Howard         HD 26
Rick Hardcastle         HD 68
Lanham Lyne         HD 69
Jim Jackson HD 115
Beverly Woolley HD 136
Announced for Congress - 4
Randy Weber         CD 14
Pete Gallego CD 23
Barbara Caraway CD 30
Joaquin Castro         CD 35
Announced for Senate - 5
Charles Schwertner  SD 5
Ken Paxton SD 8
Rodney Anderson SD 9
Larry Taylor SD 11
Kelly Hancock         SD 10
Announced for Other Office - 2
Warren Chisum         Railroad Commission
Jose Aliseda District Attorney
Open Seats - 7 (will discuss candidates in subsequent post)
HD 3 - Montgomery and Waller
HD 12 - Brazos et al.
HD 33 - Collin
HD 85 - Ft. Bend, Wharton and Jackson
HD 101- Tarrant
HD 106 - Denton
HD 149 - Williamson
Current Status of Pairings
Erwin Cain is paired with Dan Flynn in HD 2, but he is not going to run against Flynn.
James White and Tuffy Hamilton are paired in HD 19 and only one will return.
Raul Torres, paired with Connie Scott in HD 34, is expected to move into HD 35 and run.
Warren Chisum, paired with Jim Landtroop in HD 88, is running for the Railroad Commission.
Rodney Anderson, paired with Linda Harper Brown in HD 105, is running for the State Senate.
Joe Driver, paired with Cindy Burkett in HD 113, is expected to retire.
Scott Hochberg, paired with Hubert Vo in HD 137, has not announced his plans.
Other House Notes
Will Hartnett is contemplating retirement, and a decision could come as soon as this week.
Chente Quintanilla is contemplating a run for El Paso County Commissioner.
Texas Senate
SD 5   Sen. Steve Ogden announced this morning that he will not run again, and Rep. Charles Schwertner will announce for the seat this afternoon.
SD 8   Sen. Florence Shapiro announced her retirement yesterday.  She is unhappy that Rep. Ken Paxton is the favorite to replace her, and has recruited Scott O’Grady into the race.
SD 9   Sen. Chris Harris has announced for reelection, and he will be challenged by Rep. Rodney Anderson.
SD 10  The Justice Department pre-cleared the Senate map under the Voting Rights Act yesterday, and it now appears almost certain that the new Senate lines will be upheld.  If so, SD 10 becomes a Republican seat and Rep. Kelly Hancock will win it, replacing Sen. Wendy Davis.
SD 11  Rep. Larry Taylor has announced that he is running to replace Sen. Mike Jackson, who is running for Congress.  Rep. Taylor is the early favorite. John Nau is hosting a major Houston fundraiser for him October 18, with every Republican member of the Houston legislative delegation listed as a Host.
SD 25 Sen. Jeff Wentworth has announced for reelection.  Donna Campbell, who ran against Cong. Lloyd Doggett last cycle, will challenge him in the primary.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Predictions for 11/8/11 Houston Municipal Elections

Houston voters adopted terms limits in 1991, and since then only one council incumbent has lost while seeking reelection to the same office. I see that precedent remaining unbroken this cycle.   Labor Day is still considered the traditional start of fall campaigns, and tomorrow is the deadline to file for a spot on the November 8 ballot. Even though there is one more day to file, I believe we can safely predict the following races:
Mayor -- Annise Parker will be easily reelected to her second term.
Controller -- Ronald Green is unopposed for his second term.
District Council Members -- Brenda Stardig; Wanda Adams; Mike Sullivan; Al Hoang; Oliver Pennington; Ed Gonzalez and James Rodriguez; will all be reelected.
At Large Council Members -- Steve Costello; Melissa Noriega; and Brad Bradford; will all be reelected.  Council Member Jolanda Jones is the one competitive race (see below).
Open and New Seats -- There are three open seats and two new seats on the ballot.  Here is how I see them today:
District B -- There will be a runoff between Alvin Byrd and someone.
District C -- There may or may not be a runoff, but it is irrelevant:  Ellen Cohen wins this seat.
District J -- There will be a runoff and Mike Laster will be in it.
District K -- Larry Green wins this seat.  Today, he is unopposed.
At-Large 2 -- The top three candidates are Bo Fraga; David Robinson; and Kristi Thibaut.  Two of these three will be in a runoff.
At-Large 5 -- Widely disliked by her Council colleagues, brash, outspoken and flamboyantly attired, Council Member Jo Jones is the The Most Interesting Member of Council.  In 2009, she barely survived a runoff with Jack Christie. With an ongoing Harris County District Attorney investigation, many had written off Jones’ reelection chances earlier this year.  
Jones then reported raising $113,586 on her July 15 report. She deftly handled and capitalized on the Red Light Camera court ruling and City Council vote.  She has proven to be a tireless campaigner, and is showing the competitive drive of the world-class athlete that she was.  Love her or hate her, she is likely coming back to City Council in 2012.

Correction:  I originally stated that no incumbent had lost since the advent of term limits.  That is incorrect:  Sylvia Garcia defeated Lloyd Kelley for Controller in 1997 when he was the incumbent.  It is true that no incumbent Council Member has lost since term limits were adopted in 1991.

Second Correction:  Robert -- I think the one exception is when Burt Keller defeated (recently-deceased) Jean Kelley, wife of former Councilman John Kelley. She was running for a second term when Keller beat her in 1999. Great blog!  Andy Teas

Friday, September 2, 2011

Surf's Up!

Brazoria and Galveston County are active this weekend, and not just at the beach!

Yesterday, Rep. Larry Taylor announced that he is running for State Senate District 11 to replace Sen. Mike Jackson, who is seeking election to Congress. At this point, Taylor is unopposed and appears to be a heavy favorite to win the seat. When Mike Jackson was first elected to the Senate in 1998, winning a promotion from the State House, he was unopposed. History may very well repeat itself.

Rep. Randy Weber appears to be a nearing a final decision to run for Congress to replace Cong. Ron Paul, who is retiring. If Weber does run for Congress, Pearland Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Thompson appears to be the overwhelming favorite to replace him in HD 29. Expect Mayor Thompson’s announcement for the State House to come shortly after Rep. Weber declares for Congress.

In Friendswood, Dr. Greg Bonnen is nearing a final decision to run for Rep. Taylor’s HD 24. Dr. Bonnen is a board-certified neurosurgeon who lives in Friendswood and has offices in Southeast Houston and Lake Jackson. If he runs, Dr. Bonnen will commit an initial $200,000 to the race and begin raising money from there. A graduate of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Dr. Bonnen is also the older brother of Rep. Dennis Bonnen who represent the adjoining HD 25.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!