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2Aug/120

A Note of Thanks

So, Tuesday night ...

Candidate       Votes    %
-----------------------------
Gene Wu          695    61.6%
Jamaal Smith     433    38.4%
-----------------------------
Total Votes    1,128

Obviously a biggie for me, personally. I've known Gene for maybe a little more than a year and it was a no-brainer to go to work for him once Scott Hochberg announced that he wouldn't seek re-election. Of course, back in those days, we had no assurance that we'd have anything beyond some seed money from his savings, and a lot of spent shoe leather. He could have very easily been an afterthought in the first round. That was before he started knocking on doors. Once he started getting in front of voters and they started planting yard signs, it was clear we'd at least make the runoff. As far as who else would make it, I can safely say that each candidate had a period of time where we were certain it was them.

For what it's worth, Jamaal was the only other candidate to call me personally and ask to talk before announcing. If Gene had little-to-no interest in the race, the alternate scenarios are there for your own imagination. But all of that was before our shop had heard from Gene and saw that this race was where his passion was. I've known Jamaal somewhat from the Bill White for Gov days and there are a number of friends in common. Good guy, and I'm sure he'll land on his feet and continue to be involved in Democratic politics for a long time coming. As with Joe Madden and Sarah Winkler, I wish them all the best.

So, before all of the little details of the past eight months slip too far into the historical abyss, there's a fairly sizable list of people to thank for helping me get to the point where my experience and knowledge of Southwest Houston got to the point where I could help run a campaign as successfully as we did.

» Scott Hochberg
In true Scott Hochberg fashion, Scott did not endorse in this race. While I'm sure a lot of voters might have appreciated his insight into who might make for the best successor, I tend to think it reflects positively on him that he left that for the voters to decide. All that to highlight that my thanks here should not be construed as some clandestine endorsement on Scott's part. Instead, my thanks are for the decades of lessons learned in the art of campaigning that have come from Scott. I first met him in 1990, managing Eleanor Tinsley's campaign for County Commissioner. Since then, I've had small moments in time, sporadically spread out over the years, to add to those early lessons. I was delighted when the 2001 round of redistricting led to him moving into the open district drawn around my relatively new home in SW Houston. Much of my campaign experience that went into the Gene Wu campaign derived from what I learned from Scott Hochberg. And I'm grateful for both the general campaign experiences as well as the insight that he's shared on the unique nature of his District 137. Beyond the outcome of one election, the latter has helped me grow in the appreciation I have for the area and the people who call it home.

» The Sharpstown Democrats Club
This little project began in 2004 with a lot of every well-intentioned people. And for some reason, I got shoved to the front as a President of the group. I haven't been quite as involved since that first year. But the growth of the club certainly spurred a lot of great interaction with candidates, learning more about the Sharpstown neighborhood, and the unique politics of Southwest Houston.

» Kristi Thibaut, Borris Miles, Keith Wade
A note of irony here. Two of these people endorsed Gene's runoff opponent and one was paid for some work on behalf of another candidate in the primary round. So this may seem to be the oddest thanks to include. But there is one critical reason that I see fit to include them. And that is the fact that they are collectively responsible for me seeing that a professional stint in political work might be feasible. Without that, I would not have been in a position to work on Gene's campaign. There's also the fact that they all saw fit to let me roam the mean streets of Meyerland in 2006 to work off some shoe leather and a few extra pounds to get a first-hand, grueling lesson in door-to-door politics. I'm grateful for all of the lessons learned at all of those doorsteps.

» My Sounding Boards: Kuff, Hector DeLeon, Mainstream, and a lot of others I'm forgetting
One of the benefits of airing out all of your wild theories on a blog is that you eventually run into people who want to talk to you about them. The lessons I've learned on the growth of and impact of multicultural growth is one that has led to a number of great conversations - be they online, in person, or whatever. At any point of study, I think it's critical to let the rubber meet the road. And part of that point of contact means letting others pick apart at your own line of study and grow your own understanding from those conversations. I'm a lot richer for all of the follow-up I've had from my maps, numbers, and random explanations of what I think it all means.

» Jay Aiyer
Jay has served as a particularly unique sounding board and a voice of experience regarding Southwest Houston politics. As one I've had the experience of discussing such things with, he's had the distinction of representing the area on the HCC board of trustees and running citywide with a base in Southwest Houston.

» Beth Martin
This campaign team consisted, primarily, of two people not named Gene. There were certainly others who did a lot more "sweat & shoe leather" work. And there are certainly a few that deserve a lot more recognition for their efforts than they'll ever get. Beth & I took care of the logistics, gameplan, data management and everything else that came up in the course of campaign work. Beth was the person I wanted as campaign manager from the first day of the campaign. My belief is that if you go through a campaign without wanting to throw your coworkers (and candidate) out of a window from a tall building at some point in the campaign, then you just aren't doing your job right. I knew Beth would bring a somewhat similar driven passion for seeing this race be a success and hoped (correctly, it would turn out) that she'd stop right before it came time to actually do the throwing.

» Mom & Dad
For the seemingly obligatory parental unit "thanks", I'll simply note that they were the ones who instilled a love of Houston from a very early age. My affection for Southwest Houston is an outgrowth of that. And I'm not sure it would be if I grew up viewing a hometown or neighborhood in a more utilitarian way.

There are plenty of others that I could go on to list. And the crew at Outreach Strategists - Mustafa Tameez and Rogene Gee Calvert - deserve a much lengthier treatment. I've generally played much smaller roles in campaigns in the past. But in this one, the contest had the distinction of being my home district. There just wasn't any way that I was going to not see Gene's campaign succeed. And for that, I'm grateful to the candidate who shared a similar determination. The next three months are going to be fun. As long as nobody throws anyone out of a window.

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