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Canvass Results Are In!

I'm still recuperating from a final week of more manual labor than I should be doing at my age. But I've also got the unofficial canvass of Harris County returns on my hand. Of immediate interest, I'm proud to see the efforts of Team Wu pay off to the tune of 57.9%. That's on par with the results Scott Hochberg got in the old HD137 (and the current one is drawn to perform very similarly to that one). Even better, we outperformed all other Dems on the ballot in our district - in terms of total votes and percentage. Last time around, I believe Garcia and Ryan did better in each of those columns than we did.

District 137       D     D%        R     R%       TV
Gov              6,899 (55.3%)   5,306 (42.5%)  12,472 
Lt. Gov          6,815 (54.9%)   5,161 (41.6%)  12,410 
Comptroller      6,626 (53.8%)   5,203 (42.3%)  12,311 
Attorney General 6,683 (54.0%)   5,251 (42.4%)  12,386
Land Commish     6,243 (50.6%)   5,565 (45.1%)  12,342 
Ag Commish       6,300 (51.4%)   5,362 (43.8%)  12,250 
RR Commish       6,340 (51.6%)   5,343 (43.5%)  12,278 
SCOTX-CJ         6,451 (52.5%)   5,466 (44.5%)  12,278 
14th COA - CJ    6,593 (54.5%)   5,505 (45.5%)  12,098 
1st COA - CJ     6,622 (54.7%)   5,480 (45.3%)  12,102 
State Rep        7,147 (57.9%)   5,203 (42.1%)  12,350 
Dist. Attorney   6,779 (55.6%)   5,420 (44.4%)  12,199 
Dist. Clerk      6,449 (53.5%)   5,597 (46.5%)  12,046 
County Clerk     6,576 (54.4%)   5,503 (45.6%)  12,079 
County Treasurer 6,502 (53.6%)   5,628 (46.4%)  12,130 
BOE - Kerner     6,707 (55.7%)   5,325 (44.3%)  12,032 
BOE - Noriega    6,721 (55.7%)   5,343 (44.3%)  12,064 

Eventually, I'll check a few other curiosities in other districts. And the neighborhood analysis and maps will follow at some point.


The Year Ahead

Up till now, I've generally subscribed to Jim Carville's maxim that "I wouldn't want to work for any government that would be willing to hire me." But this is Texas ... we seem to need a bit of help.

So, starting in January, I'll be working in the legislature for Gene Wu. He won the job title of State Representative fair and square, so I'll be settle for the role of "bill monkey", I guess. This'll be my first time to work the Lege and I'm looking forward to building on what Gene started the day he started campaigning. HD137 is my home and there's no other spec of dust on the globe that I care about more. Our hope is to have a blog for either Gene or the entire office staff once the session is in gear. As soon as there's anything to report on that, I'll pass it on.

What that means for this little blog is currently under review. To be honest, I'm more committed to find more time to build That project has been a stop-and-start effort for a number of years now yet I think it holds the most potential. Since building that site helps build the knowledgebase I'll need working with Gene, I'm eager to spend more time with that project on a day-to-day basis. Whether the 10+ year blogging project goes on hiatus, a change in focus, or gets put on ice permanently ... those are among the options under consideration.

One of the tangents on my mind is that I'm not sure that TXPA is the greatest repository for map-based information. Certainly, I can add a map to a page without any problem. But the type of map that goes on those pages tends to be of the more self-explanatory variety. A number of maps that I like to blog about, however, require a bit more explanation and tend to get more into weeds which I've not yet organized into TXPA.

A higher-order issue for the upcoming session is that the pace of work builds to a sprint toward the end of the session. So there's a challenge of starting off with the hope that I can maintain any kind of productive pace for writing, explaining, opinionating, pontificating and whatnot ... only to see the time for such endeavors dry up in the spring. We'll see what the future holds.

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2012 Election Mapping: HD137

Unofficial canvass out for the county. Here's HD137 in cartographic form ...

View HD137 - 2012 General Election in a larger map

The info boxes show the Obama-12 and Obama-08 results, as well as relevant performance for Scott Hochberg in 2010. I'm pretty sure Scott had some 2006 showings that were as good or better, for what it's worth.

I don't see any surprises in this map in terms of red vs blue. There were certainly some great showings in the red precincts, where Gene Wu definitely had some evidence of about 5-6 points worth of crossover support. Also worth pointing out some of the crossover support that MJ Khan got in Pct. 430 - home to two mosques and a few apartment complexes relatively well populated by Pakistanis and Muslims who prefer the walking distance to them. I'll take a 43% showing in Briarmeadow to that any day considering that that was better than Adrian Garcia's showing. Bigger news is that Pct. 256 seems to be pulling away from "swing" status.


Press Clippings From Election Night

Here's all the glowing coverage a freshman State Rep gets upon winning his first November election:

» Chron: Republican Davis appears to win hard-fought state House race

Likewise, Democrat Gene Wu was well ahead in the race to succeed the retiring Scott Hochberg in District 137. Wu, a former Harris County assistant district attorney, was comfortably ahead of M.J. Khan, a former Houston city council member.

The early draft had Gene covered with one solitary sentence.

» TX Tribune: Get to Know the Newest Texas Lawmakers

Amid a clip of Gene's bio page online, there's this peculiarity ...

He was endorsed by various Democratic legislators involved in criminal justice policy, including Sens. Rodney Ellis and John Whitmire.

Also, he was endorsed by various Democratic legislators involved in ... Harris County.

Ah well. They've got two years to get to know him better.

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About Last Tuesday

So, this happened ...

Candidate      |   Absentee   |      Early    |   Election   |    Total
Gene Wu (D)    |   508 41.78% |  8,771 65.54% | 6,510 69.06% | 15,789 65.72%
M. J. Khan (R) |   708 58.22% |  4,611 34.46% | 2,916 30.94% |  8,235 34.28%
Cast Votes:    | 1,216 95.75% | 13,382 96.16% | 9,426 94.56% | 24,024 95.51%

Registered Voters: 48,003
Ballots Cast:      25,154
Turnout:           52.40%

I'll now be on an apology tour of my own since I've been far more pessimistic of how HD137 would perform. Check the 2008 math yourself, but the best showing from that year was Linda Yanez's 62.8%. My notes suggested that precincts that turned out abnormally for Obama in 2008 would not repeat at those levels and that the 2004 results were somewhat instructive as a bit of a floor-level performance. To me, that translated to a floor of 55%, with about eight years of demographic change tacked on for good measure. So for the last three weeks of the campaign, I basically told everyone that we could expect to finish somewhere between 57-59% and if we did 60-62, it would be due to Obama more than anything we did. I have no idea where the heck 65% comes from.

Obviously, getting a draft of the county's canvassed results will help. But I'm really curious how Gene did compared to the President in our district. Next door to us, Hubert Vo similarly beat expectations that I had, but I can chalk up some of that to a track record of swing voters - both from the Vietnamese community and the Alief business community that Hubert has cultivated. So maybe the results in these two Southwest Houston districts are coincidental of a "new normal" for the Obama years. Or maybe there's more to the story. The numbers will tell more of this story.

I'll save the remainder of my frenzied number-crunch festival for other posts. For this, I think there's one point to put on the story of Gene Wu's first run for political office. When I first met Gene, I was a bit player at a table full of more important people who talked to Gene about possibly running for office some day. I can't claim instant inspiration as I was busy making my points that there were a few skills needed for successful campaigning that I felt I hadn't seen in this brief encounter. I'd seen a number of candidates with great resumes hitting the right point in their life for a political run, who had flamed out in single digits because they lacked several of the basics for being a candidate.

The last time I saw Gene before he was a candidate for State Representative was a different story. A few days after Scott Hochberg announced his retirement, I was told that he'd be stopping by the office pretty late in the day. It turns out that our shop was the second stop on Gene's post-work schedule. The first involved a meeting where he was asked not to run. Ours involved a much more focused and driven Gene Wu than the first meeting we had with him. Whatever concerns I had then were out the window. This was something he wanted and he was committed to doing well.

With the decision set, all I knew was that there was just no way I could be involved in a State Rep race that included my neck of Southwest Houston without winning. Hard to sound like you know something if you can't even win your own back yard. Our competition included a candidate backed by a State Rep respected for his campaign savvy. Another candidate was backed by one of the two biggest fundraisers in the county and had a ton of connections due to being the former Executive Director of the Harris County Democratic Party. The last candidate was a woman from the Alief ISD Board of Trustees.

At first glance, one woman in a field of four seemed like a legitimate threat. I figured she was capable of getting 20% with little-to-no effort due to any combination of gender and/or her background on the school board. She finished with 11%. The guy backed by the State Rep won the Chronicle endorsement and had some killer fundraising at the end of the primary to spend on anything he wanted. I figured he'd be a given for the runoff. He finished third with 21.8%. The candidate backed by the big fundraiser, I believe, did an effective job of campaigning in the apartments in the district. He may have benefited some from being the only African-American in the district, but he exceeded the numbers that would have fallen his way due to that in both the Primary and the Runoff.

All we had was an unproven Asian kid in a district that's less than 12% Asian with a primary electorate that very well could have clocked in at under 6% Asian. As simple as it sounds, Gene was committed to blockwalking. I was happy to cut turf for him to talk to voters directly. I was happy to have a budget to send some mail to voters. I was happy that I got my choice of campaign managers for Gene in Beth Martin. But for all that happiness, there were still no guarantees that I wouldn't be doing non-political work after the May primary.

Since Gene did manage to earn the nomination, the next step was to go up against a former City Council Member who could write whatever check he wanted to fund his campaign after passing the hat to his just-as-wealthy friends. We knew we'd be out-raised and out-mailed. We were. We knew that MJ Khan was familiar with parts of the district that he represented on City Council. That turned out to be a questionable thesis. We knew we'd be attacked. We were. And we knew that we also had to struggle to get money in the bank just to do some fundamental level of campaigning. All while Gene went off and got married. No problem.

What worked for us despite this time crunch was that Gene got better as a candidate with each passing day. The Gene Wu I first met would be prepping for a new District Attorney as his boss if he hadn't. By August, Gene had been in fifth gear for quite a while. Still, I figured there would be a few points worth of swing votes that might go MJ's way. I still pegged the district fundamentals at about 57% Dem. True to form, the attack mail goes out on Gene and is followed by $25,000 worth of cable ads attacking him. We limited our contrast mailer strictly to issue-based items on education and public safety. Gene blockwalked some more. And it was through that that we found out that MJ wasn't being entirely honest with voters at the door. Gene never shied away from telling anyone he was a Democrat. MJ and his staff were leaving voters with the impression that HE was the Democrat. The more Gene walked, the most MJ Khan signs came out of yards as voters got the facts.

For staffing our three Early Vote locations we needed to worry about, we sent only Gene to one of them. The campaign manager, Beth Martin, did yeoman's work by begging and pleading for as many E-Day poll workers as possible, knowing there just weren't enough unemployed friends of Gene to staff all of 22 locations. In short, the final days offered plenty to be paranoid and nervous about.

And in the end, it didn't matter. We'll see soon enough how the district performed in other contests. But what makes me happiest is that my little 'hood is represented well for the next two years. Scott Hochberg is a tough act to follow and there's no point filling his shoes. Gene's shoes (and boots) are a little road-worn from the walk lists I handed him this year. But they'll do just fine.

One coda on worth sharing from the little amount of work that I did on this project ....

A fair amount of the work I did during the Primary and Runoff was air-conditioned campaign work. That's a luxurious life that I knew wouldn't cut it in the General. Some of you may be happy to know that I wore out my left knee climbing apartment stairwells. If you see any knee tendons or ligaments somewhere in a Westchase apartment complex ... they're mine. Please return them. I was too busy failing miserably at trying to keep up with a campaign manager who was just a few years past being a college athlete. Physically, I'm sure that I'll heal from that.


No Shotguns Needed

Weekend happenings, courtesy of my next State Rep ... and his boss.

» NY Times: Weddings - Miya Shay, Gene Wu

Miya Shay and Gene Wu were married Monday at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston, where Judge David Hittner of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas officiated in his courtroom.

On Saturday, at Villa Verano, a vacation rental in Puerto Vallarta, Mex., they had a nondenominational ceremony at which Lyanna Johnson Smith, a United Methodist seminarian and friend of the groom, led the couple in vows they had written.

Makes my vacation look like crap, by comparison.


HD137 Mapped Out: Runoff Style

State Rep contest mapped out below. Dark blue is Gene Wu, light blue is Jamaal Smith. Click on a precinct for the results therein.

View HD137 Runoff Results in a larger map

This basically broke down to an asymmetrical contest with Gene chasing voters in single-family homes and Jamaal chasing voters in apartments. Once we saw our level of success in the Primary round, the Runoff was probably one of the smoother and stress-free elections I've worked on. Given how the first round played out, there aren't really any surprises in the second round.

I'm obviously proud to see Sharpstown and a lot of the other neighborhoods I'm familiar with supporting Gene to the extent they did. And I'm even more giddy to see that my precinct full of apartment-dwelling voters did the same (Sorry Stace, but so did yours). I'm pleasantly surprised to see how resilient Gene's strength was in Alief (the two most southwestern boxes - 503, 508). He did incredibly well there in the Primary, winning a majority in both boxes despite them being a base for Sarah Winkler and having enough diversity there for everyone to get a decent slice of the vote.

With a little luck now, maybe I'll get around to picking up a shapefile of the county precincts and doing some mapping of the countywide races.


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.


HD137 Mapped Out: Primary-Style

The home district, mapped out in gawdy, politically meaningless colors to designate what kind of showing each candidate had. I don't hide the fact that I work for one of those candidates (Gene Wu), so it should come as no surprise that a few points on the map are a bit Wu-centric in their interpretation. Basically, the colors go Blue for Wu; Green for Smith; and Orange for Madden. Winkler didn't carry any precincts. Darker shades represent majorities. Medium shades denote 40% and above. Lighter shades denote smaller pluralities.

You can click it to big it. OR, for a non-static version, here's the link.

In particular regard to some of the quirks here:

- Pct 256 (SW of Bellaire/Hillcroft): Madden won it by four votes. But both Madden and Wu got over 40% there. With all due apologies to Team Madden, I choose to highlight it as I do all the other 40+ precincts for Gene (medium blue).

- Pct 835 (the white box along Bellaire): it was a four-way tie with 1 vote each. I treated it the same way I treated Pct 546 to the north, which had no votes.

- Pct 432 (green box on the NE corner): Both Madden and Smith were above 30%. I treated it like a Smith plurality. Again, apologies to Team Madden. Similar to the above, it was a low-turnout box. So nailing a particular color treatment (or dual-color shading) wasn't a priority for me. Looking at what things mean for the runoff ... a bit more.

- Pct 421 (the light blue box that hooks into Sharpstown from the Westpark toll road): it was a low-turnout box that went 3 votes for Wu and 3 votes for Smith. I opted to treat it like a Wu plurality.

If you spot other oddities in the map's treatment, pat yourself on the back. I'm busy trying to win an election here. This'll likely be the last of the contest you hear out of me until August. The results are public. But how we get to the results are proprietary 😉


Another View of County Races in the Dem Primary

For whatever educational purpose its worth, I thought I'd look at the other primaries around the county as they played out within two of the contested primaries in my neck of the wood. First, however, the county has some updated math on the outcome in HD137 ...

HD137 - Final
Joe Madden ..... 391 (21.8%)
Gene Wu ........ 773 (43.1%)
Jamaal Smith ... 431 (24.1%)
Sarah Winkler .. 197 (11.0%)
Undervote ...... 100 ( 5.3%)

As for the rest, there certainly seem to be some interesting nuggets in here. Palmer's countywide margin was suggestive that Kirkland underperformed across a far greater spectrum. Looking outside of these two districts, Kirkland performed a healthier 65% in HD134, 54.8% in HD148 and 52.5% in HD133. But he got only 40.5% in HD144, which has another contested primary, and 37.7% in HD143, which is another Hispanic area which did not have a contested primary. The message to me seems to be that relying on inside-the-loop votes only seems to go so far.

Any other number-crunching that strikes anyone's interest, feel free to ponder ...

President - HD137
John Wolfe ........   48 ( 2.8%)
Bob Ely ...........   16 ( 0.9%)
Barack Obama ...... 1623 (94.5%)
Darcy Richardson ..   30 ( 1.7%)
Undervote .........  175 ( 9.2%)
President - HD146	
John Wolfe ........   58 ( 0.7%)
Bob Ely ...........   26 ( 0.3%)
Barack Obama ...... 7761 (98.3%)
Darcy Richardson ..   47 ( 0.6%)
Undervote .........  203 ( 2.5%)

US Senate - HD137
Paul Sadler ...... 478 (32.7%)
Sean Hubbard ..... 304 (20.8%)
Grady Yarbrough .. 374 (25.6%)
Addie Allen ...... 307 (21.0%)
Undervote ........ 429 (22.7%)
US Senate - HD146
Paul Sadler ...... 1360 (17.2%)
Sean Hubbard ..... 1290 (16.3%)
Grady Yarbrough .. 1859 (23.6%)
Addie Allen ...... 1932 (24.5%)
Undervote ........ 1656 (20.5%)

215th Judicial - HD137
Elaine Palmer .... 819 (59.1%)
Steve Kirkland ... 566 (40.9%)
Undervote ....... 504 (26.6%)
215th Judicial - HD146
Elaine Palmer .... 4556 (66.7%)
Steve Kirkland ... 2279 (33.3%)
Undervote ....... 1229 (15.2%)

District Attorney - HD137
Lloyd Oliver .... 685 (50.2%)
Zach Fertitta ... 679 (49.8%)
Undervote ....... 528 (27.9%)
District Attorney - HD146
Lloyd Oliver .... 3667 (57.8%)
Zach Fertitta ... 2672 (42.2%)
Undervote ....... 1743 (21.5%)

HCDP Chair - HD137
Lane Lewis ...... 814 (59.9%)
Keryl Douglas ... 544 (40.1%)
Undervote ....... 534 (28.2%)
HCDP Chair - HD146
Lane Lewis ...... 3024 (46.7%)
Keryl Douglas ... 3451 (53.3%)
Undervote ....... 1622 (20.0%)

UPDATE: I neglected one other countywide contest: Harris County Dep't. of Education.

HCDE - HD137
David Rosen ...... 606 (44.4%)
Diane Trautman ... 759 (55.5%)
Undervote ........ 527 (27.9%)
HCDE - HD146
David Rosen ..... 2496 (40.2%)
Diane Trautman .. 3710 (59.8%)
Undervote ....... 1888 (23.3%)

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