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Runoff ’11: Mapping the At Large 5 Results

At Large 5 went about as expected after seeing the November results. And Jolanda’s showing in Anglo Dem areas was pretty much the deciding factor here. The tale of the tape is pretty evident in Pct. 222 (pretty much the poster child of Anglo Dem boxes). There, Jack Christie won 67.4 to 32.6 and absolutely no undervote. Montrose precincts were a mixed bag, going roughly 50-50.

The impact of the “rain tax” coalition support that backed Jolanda seems to have had very mixed results. Kingwood boxes never broke double digits while Clear Lake boxes routinely held in the low-20s. Hispanic precincts definitely don’t seem to have done Jolanda any favors, also. Although she had a few successes in particular precincts, there were numerous ones that had her in the low-30s. Whether Jack Christie ends up voting like someone with the support of Hispanic and Anglo Dem voters, as well as those of more conservative Republican types, remains to be seen. As in the case of AL2′s Andrew Burks, it may not prove possible to vote in a way that makes each of those constituencies happy over a 6 year run.

full pageGoogle Earth

dark blue – 65% or more for Jones
blue – 50-64% for Jones
light blue – 45-49% for Jones
light red – 35-44% for Jones
red – 0-34% for Jones


At Large Returns: ‘Hood by ‘Hood

Picking up where I left off with the hood-by-hood analysis, here's all of the At Large contests below the fold ...

At Large 1

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods
               Costello  P-Galvan   Boates   Cook
Heights         61.4%      5.3%     21.7%    11.6%
Meyerland       65.1%      4.2%     19.4%    11.3%
Montrose        74.3%      4.9%     10.9%     9.8%
Rice U          72.2%      3.3%     15.6%     8.9%
African-American Neighborhoods
               Costello  P-Galvan   Boates   Cook
Acres Homes     41.1%      7.3%     24.1%    27.5%
UH/TSU          44.4%      8.6%     20.4%    26.6%
Fifth Ward      39.4%      9.5%     18.0%    33.0%
Sunnyside       43.4%      7.2%     22.0%    27.4%
Hiram Clarke    49.1%      7.8%     18.9%    24.2%
Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
               Costello  P-Galvan   Boates   Cook
Clear Lake      50.0%      4.6%     31.8%    13.6%
Galleria        56.2%      2.6%     30.2%    11.0%
Kingwood        39.5%      3.5%     38.7%    18.2%
Garden Oaks     53.3%      6.1%     28.3%    12.3%
River Oaks      66.8%      2.6%     20.6%    10.1%
Spring Branch   45.0%      6.8%     34.4%    13.8%
Memorial        54.4%      2.4%     32.5%    10.6%
Sharpstown      50.9%      7.8%     22.6%    18.6%
Hispanic Neighborhoods
               Costello  P-Galvan   Boates   Cook
East End        51.8%     28.6%      8.8%    10.7%
Near Northside  47.3%     23.5%     12.2%    17.0%
Hobby           48.8%     14.6%     17.0%    19.6%
Multicultural Neighborhoods
               Costello  P-Galvan   Boates   Cook
Alief           45.6%     10.0%     21.6%    22.8%

At Large 2

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods
                  Thi    Per    Bur    Fra   Dick   Pool  Griff    Rob    Sho
Heights         18.5%   7.9%   5.7%  13.5%  11.7%  17.3%  12.5%  10.2%   1.6%
Meyerland       23.3%  13.6%  10.0%   8.9%   4.9%   7.4%  16.0%  11.2%   3.0%
Montrose        14.7%   6.3%   3.4%   9.4%   6.6%  28.1%  10.3%  18.9%   1.2%
Rice U          23.3%   8.5%   7.2%  12.0%   4.0%   9.4%   9.8%  23.0%   1.7%
African-American Neighborhoods
                  Thi    Per    Bur    Fra   Dick   Pool  Griff    Rob    Sho
Acres Homes     10.0%   3.4%  40.7%   3.8%   3.9%   4.6%   3.8%  16.5%  12.0%
UH/TSU           6.9%   3.1%  34.5%   4.8%   2.3%   5.5%   4.5%  14.1%  23.5%
Fifth Ward       9.3%   4.3%  27.3%   2.8%   5.3%   4.3%   4.4%  23.9%  16.2%
Sunnyside        3.4%   2.7%  54.3%   2.0%   1.2%   1.9%   3.2%  13.3%  17.3%
Hiram Clarke     8.2%   7.7%  27.0%   5.0%   2.3%   3.6%   4.8%  21.6%  18.2%

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
                  Thi    Per    Bur    Fra   Dick   Pool  Griff    Rob    Sho
Clear Lake      21.6%  20.7%  13.5%   5.5%   8.7%   5.4%  12.6%   8.0%   1.9%
Galleria        20.1%  16.7%  17.5%  10.1%   8.5%   4.1%  11.5%   8.8%   1.1%
Kingwood        14.6%  25.2%  19.1%   5.4%  11.7%   4.5%   7.3%   8.1%   1.6%
Garden Oaks     13.9%  15.4%   8.7%  12.6%  14.9%  13.7%  10.9%   7.0%   1.3%
River Oaks      18.0%  11.3%  12.1%  10.5%   9.1%   6.4%  12.3%  17.0%   1.7%
Spring Branch   17.8%  17.9%  15.1%   6.2%  10.1%   6.1%  10.9%  10.3%   2.1%
Memorial        24.6%  18.2%  16.5%   6.3%  11.4%   2.6%   9.2%   8.6%   1.2%
Sharpstown      18.9%  16.5%  11.3%  10.1%   8.8%   6.5%  11.0%  12.2%   1.9%

Hispanic Neighborhoods
                  Thi    Per    Bur    Fra   Dick   Pool  Griff    Rob    Sho
East End         7.5%  28.0%   2.4%  45.0%   3.4%   3.7%   3.6%   3.5%   1.1%
Near Northside   7.8%  30.9%   8.4%  23.0%   5.1%   5.4%   6.7%   6.4%   4.0%
Hobby            8.7%  25.1%  13.5%  12.5%   5.6%   4.8%   9.0%  10.1%   8.6%
Multicultural Neighborhoods
                  Thi    Per    Bur    Fra   Dick   Pool  Griff    Rob    Sho
Alief           38.2%  15.4%  11.1%   3.4%   5.8%   4.4%   5.2%   9.5%   4.7%

At Large 3

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods
               Noriega   Carmona  Batteau
Heights         68.3%     23.2%     8.5%
Meyerland       64.2%     26.4%     9.4%
Montrose        78.8%     13.9%     7.3%
Rice U          73.5%     19.3%     7.2%
African-American Neighborhoods
               Noriega   Carmona  Batteau
Acres Homes     49.6%     12.6%    37.8%
UH/TSU          41.8%      7.0%    51.2%
Fifth Ward      50.1%     17.8%    32.1%
Sunnyside       55.2%     14.2%    30.6%
Hiram Clarke    49.9%     15.5%    34.6%

Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
               Noriega   Carmona  Batteau
Clear Lake      49.4%     39.1%    11.5%
Galleria        44.1%     44.0%    11.9%
Kingwood        35.2%     48.5%    16.2%
Garden Oaks     57.4%     31.7%    10.9%
River Oaks      55.4%     32.6%    12.0%
Spring Branch   44.6%     40.4%    14.9%
Memorial        43.3%     45.0%    11.8%
Sharpstown      53.6%     30.6%    15.8%

Hispanic Neighborhoods
               Noriega   Carmona  Batteau
East End        79.2%     16.5%     4.3%
Near Northside  60.9%     26.3%    12.8%
Hobby           59.2%     25.3%    15.5%

Multicultural Neighborhoods
               Noriega   Carmona  Batteau
Alief           50.3%     27.1%    22.6%

At Large 4

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods
                Molnar    Price   Bradford
Heights           9.8%    28.1%    62.2%
Meyerland         9.6%    22.8%    67.5%
Montrose         11.8%    24.1%    64.1%
Rice U            8.3%    21.7%    70.0%
African-American Neighborhoods
                Molnar    Price   Bradford
Acres Homes       2.2%     7.3%    90.5%
UH/TSU            2.6%     8.5%    88.8%
Fifth Ward        4.5%     7.6%    87.9%
Sunnyside         2.1%     8.4%    89.5%
Hiram Clarke      5.5%    11.5%    83.0%
Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
                Molnar    Price   Bradford
Clear Lake       12.9%    24.6%    62.5%
Galleria         10.2%    17.6%    72.2%
Kingwood         10.4%    27.5%    62.2%
Garden Oaks      10.6%    24.7%    64.6%
River Oaks        8.3%    17.9%    73.8%
Spring Branch    13.9%    26.8%    59.4%
Memorial         10.7%    20.3%    69.0%
Sharpstown       14.7%    30.4%    54.9%
Hispanic Neighborhoods
                Molnar    Price   Bradford
East End         28.8%    29.1%    42.1%
Near Northside   27.4%    31.6%    41.0%
Hobby            15.7%    25.3%    59.0%
Multicultural Neighborhoods
                Molnar    Price   Bradford
Alief            15.4%    28.2%    56.4%

At Large 5

Anglo Dem Neighborhoods
                Robinson  Jones  Christie   Ryan
Heights          26.4%    37.9%   27.8%     7.8%
Meyerland        26.3%    23.3%   41.7%     8.6%
Montrose         23.4%    45.6%   22.6%     8.4%
Rice U           24.0%    31.5%   37.2%     7.3%
African-American Neighborhoods
                Robinson  Jones  Christie   Ryan
Acres Homes      20.1%    76.8%    2.1%     1.0%
UH/TSU           15.0%    80.7%    2.8%     1.6%
Fifth Ward       17.5%    77.0%    2.7%     2.8%
Sunnyside        11.4%    83.7%    3.2%     1.7%
Hiram Clarke     16.9%    73.9%    5.2%     4.0%
Anglo GOP Neighborhoods
                Robinson  Jones  Christie   Ryan
Clear Lake       20.0%    15.2%   54.5%    10.3%
Galleria         15.4%    11.9%   64.8%     7.9%
Kingwood         18.0%     8.8%   61.9%    11.2%
Garden Oaks      23.3%    21.8%   44.5%    10.3%
River Oaks       16.7%    15.6%   58.4%     9.3%
Spring Branch    16.7%    15.9%   58.7%     8.8%
Memorial         12.1%    11.8%   69.6%     6.5%
Sharpstown       21.9%    21.9%   43.1%    13.0%
Hispanic Neighborhoods
                Robinson  Jones  Christie   Ryan
East End         30.2%    35.5%   20.7%    13.6%
Near Northside   27.7%    32.3%   26.1%    13.9%
Hobby            23.0%    37.3%   28.3%    11.4%
Multicultural Neighborhoods
                Robinson  Jones  Christie   Ryan
Alief            17.4%    38.4%   32.6%    11.6%


Election ’11: Mapping the At Large 5 Results

No doubt, this is the most bi-polar map we'll see for the 2011 election in Houston. There's a lot of ways to interpret this and I think it's very possible to look at the results for this contest and conclude that either JoJo or Christie has a leg up for the runoff.

Historically, African-American precincts are better at coming back out for the runoff than GOP voters who may look at city government as something void of opportunity for expressing their worldview. Turnout in this round was pretty close between westside GOP and southside Afr-Am precincts. I'd expect turnout to be good for the latter and drop off a bit for the former when December 10 rolls around. The runoff in District B on the northside certainly doesn't hurt JoJo one bit, either.

But one characteristic of this contest is that it had the lowest dropoff of all the At Large contests. People weren't lacking for an opinion on this contest and JoJo's starting point this time around is lower than it was going into the runoff in 2009. She didn't have much margin for error this time and the first glance looks like she's dipped below whatever that margin was.

All that said, it'll be the Anglo Dem areas that determine this outcome. JoJo got some high-40s in Montrose that will turn into 70-75% wins in December. But her performance in Meyerland/Westbury was in the low-to-mid 20s while Jack Christie rarely broke 40%. In the Heights, JoJo was in the mid-30s, typically leading Christie by a slight amount. In Hispanic areas, the pattern is similar, with JoJo ahead and likely to pull out a win in a head-to-head contest with Christie. It's basically the same exact pattern as 2009 for this election. Whoever wins those probably wins the election. Alterations in turnout may be a complicating factor, though. Christie's best bet seems to be that Anglo GOP voters are motivated for a December election - and probably moreso to vote against JoJo than for Christie.

So factoring all that in, my sense from looking at a few of the neighborhoods and specific precinct returns is a bit more optimistic for identifying a path for JoJo winning this contest and Kristi Thibaut winning the AL2 runoff. Both should be close, though.

full page - Google Earth

dark blue - 65% or more Jolanda Jones
blue - 55-65% Jolanda Jones
light blue - 50-55% Jolanda Jones
purple - 45-50% Jolanda Jones
pink - 35-45% Jolanda Jones
red - 0-35% Jolanda Jones


E-Day ’11: AM Refresher

Taking a brief break from some dayjob duties to hash out some thoughts from last night. Kuff and Robert Miller have their takes posted. The Chron has their take, as well. I think it's generally good practice to review where the prior predictions were and how they held up against reality. So here's some background reading on my early calls. With that, here's how I fared ...

The first thing I'll note is how wildly off my guess was about what the stay-at-home voters meant for Annise's margin of victory. I had my marker down on the fact that she'd do substantially better in minority communities compared to her 2009 showing. I'll wait until I have a draft canvass of the returns before offering a more substantive take, but a glance at Fort Bend shows that Annise got 48% of the vote there, with Kevin Simms a distant second at 23%. My hunch is that the gaggle of challengers just rotated out in terms of where each one got that 20-30% second-place showing, with the Mayor holding steady at around 45-55% of the vote. Obviously, the post-election dissection work that I thought was going to be fairly mundane this election may yet prove to be a bit more interesting.

Secondly, there's this prediction for District A that Brenda Stardig was fine. What do I know? I'm a SWHOU kinda guy.

Speaking of that. One of the things I did manage to get right was my own backyard. Mike Laster carried District J handily and without a runoff. Ellen Cohen won outright. I didn't want to predict that outright, but it was my very cautious hope. District F proved a little tricky. Whether that can be chalked up to the district's tricky demographics, the nature of the incumbent, or the demographics/partisan lean of the challengers ... I don't think we have a great read on that yet. Suffice it to say that District F could throw some surprises at us during the decade. And in District K, everyone and their dead dog had Larry Green picked to win with a strong showing.

The At Larges had a number of interesting results, too.

Stephen Costello - The guy should think about spending some time getting known. When he won in 2009, not a lot of people voted for him in the first round and not a lot of people voted - period - in the runoff. For elections like this, it's helpful to have a lot of people that are just accustomed to voting for you. He should have done better. The anti- spin will be that his showing results from his being a point person in the ReBuild/ReNew Houston setup. I don't quite buy that because I think he'd fare worse if that was all that was known about him. If he has any aspirations beyond six years on council, there's just no substitute for name ID.

The AL2 Mess - Elizabeth Perez finished in first place among Election Day voters. David Robinson (one of the white guys in the race) finished second with 24.5% in Fort Bend County. Eric Dick probably has more yard signs than votes cast for him. This contest may very well be the most interesting and complicated of all post-election maps that I'll likely ever do. Fortunately, at least one sane candidate made the runoff and it's the one I had hoped would make it: Kristi Thibaut. But man, what a contorted result in this contest.

Melissa Noriega - I think her 55.6% showing is open to interpretation as either a sign of the more challenging electoral times or a suggestion that raising some name ID wouldn't hurt. However it's spun, it's her final term. So it won't matter much. It's worth noting that each candidate's returns in this contest were pretty even for absentee, early, and E-Day. If there's anything I look for in the post-election mapping/crunching, it's seeing where Noriega doesn't break 50% or places second in voting.

C.O. Bradford - has to be sitting pretty right about now. He finished with the best margin of incumbent At Larges despite some lingering negative name ID and a built-in base of opposition to African-American candidates among some voters. And just for good measure, I'm sure his name will be thrown back into the rumor mill for random names of people that might possibly think about considering a challenge of Annise Parker in 2013.

The Jack & JoJo Show - 38.3% JoJo .... 33.4% Jack. Compare that to 2009: 42.2% JoJo ... 36.4% Jack. It's a very marginal step back for JoJo, but as Kuff has repeatedly pointed out, her margin for error goes down without a Gene Locke campaign spending big bucks on citywide field. The runoffs in District A and B are a mix of not-so-good and great in terms of an energetic campaign bringing out anti- and pro-JoJo voters. Note that District B saw 9,017 votes cast to District A's 7,901. That patterns also held up in terms of total ballots cast: 8,667 in A; 10,007 in B. By way of counterpoint to this ounce of good news for Team JoJo, the undervote in AL5 was lowest among the At Larges. That suggests that voters aren't lacking an opinion in this contest. That's not great for JoJo. And what happens to Anglo Dem voters in District C? Do they come out to vote? If so, where do they go? And will Bill White send out another pro-Jack letter? All this and more on the next episode of As The Runoff Turns.

As an aside in looking at the At Large runoffs together, I have a hard time seeing the needle threading such that both JoJo and Kristi win, though that's obviously the outcome I'd most love to see. The more JoJo voters there are, then theoretically, the better the odds are for Andrew Burks. And the better things look for Kristi, the harder they look for JoJo. I really hope I'm wrong on this. The runoff will be hideously low, possibly repeating the 36k turnout we had in 2005. But it's important to realize that the 2005 runoff had the benefit of the Clutterbuck v Hittner runoff in C. No dice this time around. So I'll pick the under until I see an indication that the Jack & JoJo contest gets heated.

The two school-related contests were about as expected, though I'd rather see Manuel Rodriguez not rewarded. At least it was close and there's something to be said about the difficulty of knocking off an incumbent. Even in a tough year for incumbents. In HCCC, Carroll Robinson carried the day 56-43. Oddly enough, I'm actually impressed that Jew Don Boney had it in him to be as competitive as he ended up being.

Runoffs are December 10. We do this all over again, albeit on a more limited scale. Maps galore once I get a draft canvass.

ADD-ON: Stace has his day-after post. Here's his take on 2013:

Believe it or not, I think there is one person who is in the best position to challenge her in 2013, and it’s not perennial wannabe-a-candidate with free space in the Chron, and it’s not some other former activist-turned-wealthy lawyer. It’s that one At-Large member of Council who was handily re-elected and will have the ability to create a bully pulpit where he will be seen on a weekly basis. Some may argue money-raising ability, but we’ve learned that money may not be everything. Still, I’ll root for the Mayor.

Campos, meanwhile, take a different focus:

Commentary is not happy with the fact that H-Town CM Ed Gonzalez and a few other Latino and Latina leaders endorsed Criselda Romero in District J and not check with others before doing so. H-Town CM James Rodriguez who led the Latino redistricting effort on City Council was hoping for a vetting process to get a strong Latino candidate. CM Gonzalez and others decided to handpick a candidate who ended up being a weak candidate and we saw what happened last night. CM Gonzalez and others didn’t do much in terms of raising money or providing resources to help their candidate. Never again!

Cheap shot. Dude, your candidate finished last and actually raised less money than Criselda. So if you're going to play the "weak candidate" card, there's a little exposure on your side. And I say that as one who ended the campaign impressed with both Criselda and Rodrigo. The district wasn't carried by Mike Laster because the internal machinations of Latino politics were given a monkey wrench instead of more WD-40. The bigger failing here is people from outside the district thinking they know how to win elections in SW Houston.

On that note, I'll extend my own kudos to both Criselda Romero and Rodrigo Canedo. I voted for the other guy, but I hope that the lesson they leave with is that active civic involvement in SW Houston is a valuable asset. Both Romero and Canedo proved to be great examples of the type of home-grown talent that's been hidden from political view in the district for too long. There's more where that came from. Rodrigo was a great messenger for his involvement at Bo's Place and I appreciate him mentioning that prominently at campaign events. That he also comes from a less-political world is certainly something that I view as a plus. Criselda Romero was a great reminder of the younger talent that comes out of SW Houston. I can easily see how her work in Ed Gonzalez's district might pay a lot of dividends down the road as District J residents ask their council member to represent their interests. If the stars happen to align just right, I think it would be a plus for the district to see Mike Laster hire her out of Ed's office. I would hope that this isn't the last time I see either individual on the ballot and I've got better things to do than to tear either of them down. To each their own, I suppose. But if Marc's not too busy tearing down people I think he owes Criselda an apology. That shot was just uncalled for.


E-Day ’11: Second Batch

136 new boxes just came in for Harris County. 21% of the boxes are from District C. 15% from A, 15% from E.

- Annise Parker holding up. She gets 50.5% from the new boxes. 52.1% overall.

- Stardig falling in A. She loses the new boxes 41.6-49.2. Overall race is at 42.8-47.5. Let's call this one a runoff.

- Districts B, C, F, J & K seems to be keeping the same shape with new boxes.

- Ed Gonzales and James Rodriguez get some good boxes. They're not both north of 62% on E-Day numbers. Should be interesting to see where they had the weakest results. But they're both fine for re-election.

- Stephen Costello's new numbers are still north of 50%. I'm guessing he hangs on with the slimmest of wins. Lessons should be learned about how well-known incumbent CMs are.

- New boxes in AL2 show a clump of Burks, Perez,and Kristi, with Burks at 17% and the others at 15% or so. Burks and Kristi are still in the lead for the overall.

- JoJo gets under 40% with the new boxes. Overall it's 41.0-31.3 in Harris County overalls.


E-Day ’11: First E-Day Numbers

87 boxes in for Harris County. And the Mayor is running at 49% for those boxes. Here's the rundown ...

- 52.3% total for MAP so far. 49.1% on E-day ballots. District B seems to have turned in a bundle of them as 31% of the precincts and 22% of the vote turned in are from that district. So far, this indicates a bit of the Peter Brown effect. Could make the night interesting if it holds up.

- District A has 11 of 157 boxes in, but a lot of those are partial precincts. The worse news is that challenger Helena Brown is running at 51.1% on E-Day and stands with a 47.4-42.8 lead so far.

- District B is still Byrd v Davis. 26 of 124 boxes in.

- Ellen Cohen is under 50% for E-Day. 47.0% to be precise. The second and third batch should be worth watching here. She's at 54.3% overall, so far. Only 6 of 65 boxes in so far.

- District F only gets one box in. It's a good one for Al. 57.3% on the whole for him.

- District H gets 9 of 68 boxes and the E-Day numbers are 50.3-49-7 for Ed. Much closer. Could be interesting to see what the rest of E-Day holds here. Ed has a solid lead from the earlies and is at 69.8% overall.

- Similar findings in District I. James Rodriguez leads the E-Day counts 53.8-46.2 and has 66.9% overall. Weird results.

- Mike Laster is pulling 65% on E-Day with the first two boxes (of 30) in. That's about the ratio I think he'll get throughout the night.

- Larry Green is pulling only slightly lower than his 70% on E-Day. He's fine.

- Stephen Costello is barely over 50% for E-Day. Compare that to the Mayor if you want. This one could get tight since Costello didn't break 52% on either of the early counts.

- AL2 is still the Kristi & Burks show. Oddly, Perez leads in the first early boxes 17.8% to Burks' 16%. Kristi's close at 14%. Should be intreresting to see what impact E-Day has on this one. Robinson holds third place for now, with a 207 vote lead over Perez in fourth.

- Melissa Noriega is getting an even line for both earlies and E-Day results. 56-57 percent across the board.

- Jones is at 37.8% in the first E-Day boxes. She leads 41.6-31.6 on the whole.


Election 2011 Markers

So KHOU has a poll suggesting a fairly broad range of outcomes for the Mayor's re-election contest. If there's any polling to come out on city council candidates, I think they're likely to be far more meaningless. So we're left with history as a guide and guesstimates for the rest.

First off, here's what we know from cold, hard math: the average for contested city council district re-election contests in the last three November elections, excluding CM Jones and Lovell, stands at 76.6%. You can see the math at the end of this post. If there's a contest I'm forgetting, feel free to yell at me. The average for 2009 was a bit higher than the previous two cycles (78.5% in 2009 compared to 73.3% for 2007 and 74.7% for 2005). For all intents and purposes, I'm calling 75% as the over-under for council incumbents not named Jolanda Jones. And Mayoral elections are generally better-informed choices, which makes this irrelevant for that election.

With that, here are my markers for how I see each contest ending up:

District A: Stardig wins, somewhere around the generic over/under.

District B: Not my best area for speculating. But if forced, I'd probably roll with Alvin Byrd and Kathy Daniels. But if I'm totally off-base in that guess, I'm not likely to lose any sleep over it.

District C: I'll go with the conventional wisdom that Ellen Cohen wins, but without guessing whether it's in November or December. She's killing it on money and organization. But her base, such as it exists, offers some conflicting cues about how they'll vote. On the one hand, she's been elected out of an area that's close to 50-50 in partisan years. In a non-partisan year, you'd expect the electorate to get slightly more conservative, hence anti-Cohen. But on the other hand, many of the folks likely to come out in a non-open/contested Mayoral year are those who are likelier to be familiar with Ellen. I think picking between either of those two hands is a crapshoot. If Ellen wins in November, I see it as being a win with less than 52%. If it goes to a runoff, I think she can break 60%. Brian Cweren isn't without a possibility in the district. But I've been a bit surprised at how non-partisan he's kept his appeal despite the backing of a lot of the GOP heirarchy around town. There are certainly enough GOP voters to go around in the district. If there's some strike of lightening that ends up with Cweren ahead of Cohen in November, that could feed into a very different psychology for December. If the race is close in November with a lower-than-expected showing for Cohen (say 40% Cohen, 35% Cweren), things might get interesting, but I still don't see an upset in December as likely. The two big drivers of this are simple: candidates for local races (even if they're former State Reps), aren't as well known as most people think; and the districts are new and the behavior of each electorate isn't known as well as they will be after a couple of elections.

District D: Wanda Adams has a bit of a new district to contend with after losing Montrose and gaining an Anglo-Hispanic leg along Myakawa. I think she's still the favorite and I'd be shocked if she doesn't beat the over/under line.

District F: This is probably the only race where we're waiting to see what the 8-day reports say about late fundraising since nobody seems to want to raise money for this district. All things being what they are at present, I'd say that Al Hoang wins re-election. But there's certainly room for him to under-perform the over/under line. This is one district where I don't think many people realized what the electorate looked like. If they did, I think there'd be at least another candidate or two that might have gotten in. Peter Rene's percentage should be worth watching, if nothing else. It'll be interesting to see what African-American voters can do in this district over the decade.

District G: Oliver Pennington pulls the average up for incumbents being challenged. I'll wildly speculate that he gets somewhere around 80%.

District H: Ed Gonzalez wins, somewhere around the generic over/under.

District I: JRod wins and I'll pick the over. He and Pennington should place a wager on who gets a higher percentage of vote in their district.

District J: Mike Laster wins in November. My guess is he gets something like 55%. The points of comparison come from his performance in District F in 2009. In a wide-open field in November, he won 34% of the vote in Sharpstown. The 48% of the vote in the area that went to Hoang, KA Khan and Joe Chow don't have a natural place to go and it's not immediately obvious where the vote among the district's not-entirely-insignificant Asian vote will fall. But I Think they'll lean more toward Laster, even if only as a plurality. Mathematically speaking, if he kept his 34% in the new District J and got 40% of the 48% that went for the three Asian candidates, that would put him at 53%. However it falls out, though, there will be no runoff in the district. That's not an indictment of the quality of competitors, nor does it have anything to do with there being two different Hispanic candidates. It's simple demographics and the fact that you have a surprisingly small field of candidates in an open contest in a new district. This would have been all kinds of unpredictable if you had an Asian candidate, a far-right GOP candidate, and Lord knows what else get into the mix. But with a single Anglo candidate in a district where Anglos are the voting majority, this district is very easy to call.

District K: I realize you have to go through the formality of an election and all that jazz. But I'm still not sure why Larry Green isn't sworn in already. He'll win. He should win handily. And he'll win it in November. Possibly even enough to compare with re-election candidates. Longer-term, watch during the remaining decade for the district to get considerably less African-American. There could be a surprise in the district ... just not in November.

At Large #1: I think Costello wins easily in November, but he might fall below the over/under. If there's room for a real surprise, I think this is one race where it could happen. Recall that Costello wildly outraised a lot of contenders last time in an open race and only led Karen Derr by 23.6% to 19.3% in November. This election should demonstrate whether he's the new Peter Brown in his ability to under-perform on Election Day ... or not. As far as putting precise marker on this one, though, I'd guess he wins with somewhere around 60%. Maybe slightly less than 60%.

At Large #2: Complete crapshoot. Guessing is futile. A runoff is obvious. I'm just hoping that the four sane candidates finish one through four and you already know who I'm hoping to see finish on top.

At Large #3: Noriega wins with something north of 65%.

At Large #4: Bradford wins. He and Noriega should place a wager on their final percentage comparison.

At Large #5: There are two or three different bets here. The easiest call is whether or not there'll be a runoff. I think there will be. But JoJo and Christie have a slight shot of winning without one. The second call is who makes the runoff. My starting assumption is that Laurie Robinson hits the Greanias Line since her appeal is to Anglo Dems and moderates who JoJo rubs the wrong way. Given a high turnout in C, I think Robinson's likely range of performance is around 20% after taking a little bit from voters outside that niche. If she can get more than that, it would qualify as a surprise. She's probably just as capable of surprising as she is under-performing. But there's also likely to be decent turnout in District B, higher than normal turnout in District K, and between Wanda shoring up some votes in District D and JoJo normally outperforming others there ... she could be salvaged if the stars line up. I think her range of performance is pretty broad, though. Like somewhere between 25-50.1% broad. Christie has an easy path to 35-40% and can possibly do better with Bill White's endorsement.

That leads to the third bet: who makes the runoff. We'll see soon enough how it all pans out. But I think my starting point is going to be as follows for November: Christie - 40%; JoJo - 35%; Robinson - 25%. What it means for the runoff will come down to whether District C has a decision in December and where Anglo Dems rank JoJo in November. No point in predicting that until we see what November really looks like.

Mayor: Parker barely goes over 60% in the lowest turnout election Houston's seen. The spinning and interpretation of the outcome occupy the 10pm newscasts for the next two days. Paul Bettencourt uses the opportunity to get quoted in the Chronicle for another two years as if he's thinking about running in 2013. He won't.

Footnote: Contested re-election contests for council candidates, with the exception of Jones and Lovell.

Yr Avg   Yr      Contest     Win%
78.52   2009   District B - 81.99
        2009   District C - 81.78
        2009   District D - 76.16
        2009   District E - 74.14

73.33   2007   District B - 76.95
        2007   District C - 76.95
        2007   At Large 3 - 66.09

74.71   2005   District A - 73.00
        2005   District F - 69.22
        2005   District H - 77.93
        2005   District I - 79.53
        2005   At Large 3 - 72.88
        2005   At Large 5 - 75.70


The Chron Belatedly Goes JoJo

» Chron: Jolanda Jones for At-Large Position 5

A little out of order, but pretty well-stated:

The defense attorney and former track star campaigned for office on the promise to serve as "the voice of the voiceless" at City Hall. Over the past four years she has more than fulfilled that commitment, winning a devoted following in the low-income communities of Houston while irritating and sometimes enraging critics and colleagues. She has rough edges, and certainly does not represent business as usual.

The Chronicle believes that on balance, Jones has served a valuable function on a City Council that has historically played a subservient role in Houston's strong-mayor form of government. She speaks out frequently, questioning administration proposals and demanding more information. That lengthens council meeting times and often delays action, but it also provides additional scrutiny and the impetus to improve legislation.

There are also some nice words for Laurie Robinson tacked on at the end.


G-Slate 2011

It's time to set the markers down. Here's what my ballot will look like when I vote, plus a couple of other recommendations outside of my city council district. Soon to follow: my prediction line for how the races end up.

Mayor - Annise Parker
Controller - Ronald Green

At Large #1 - Stephen Costello
At Large #2 - Kristi Thibaut
At Large #3 - Melissa Noriega
At Large #4 - Amy Price
At Large #5 - Jolanda Jones
District F - Mike Laster

Elsewhere: Ellen Cohen (District C); Ed Gonzalez (District H)

Open seats first: I supported Mike Laster in 2009 because I didn't want to see another parachute candidate "move" into the district and Mike's experience with various Sharpstown civic organizations would represent a swift change to having representation more attuned to local needs. I think that's even more the case with the redistricted District J that centers on Sharpstown. I've known him for seven years now and I'd be hard-pressed to locate another individual who's better prepared to serve the district. As it turns out, the other two candidates are definitely good people. And if the voters don't see fit to agree with me this time around, I don't see a bad alternative on the ballot. And in the likely scenario that voters do agree with me, I hope that Rodrigo Canedo and Criselda Romero remain active in the district and think about running again in six years.

At Large 2 is obviously the wide-open field. But my decision there is a bit easier. I've known Kristi Thibaut for six years and actually got signed onto my first campaign in a professional capacity through her. She's far smarter than she usually lets on and in every instance I've observed, she does her homework on the issues. It's not simply for the bias of personal friendship that I maintain that she could be one of the better members of council if given a full six years. There are plenty of other quality candidates, a few perennials, and even some jokers to choose from. While a more ordinary wide-open field can lead to some interesting results on election day, I think it goes without saying that there will be a good candidate who won't make the runoff in this contest. My hope, however, is that none of the folks who shouldn't even be considered don't make the cut. Whether you're considering Kristi for this race, or possibly Jenifer Pool, David Robinson, or Bo Fraga for this race, I'm optimistic that there's no loss for the city if either of those four end up in office.

In two At Large contests with incumbents, I opt for the incumbent in one and a challenger in the other. Jolanda Jones, the AL#5 incumbent, has been under fire from police and fire unions, it seems, since taking office. But since the infamous firehouse visit, I think the cat is out of the bag. They'll go so far as to make stuff up to take Jolanda out. The more recent ethics investigation that got tossed out by the Republican District Attorney is another case in point that suggests that the efforts taken by her opponents are over-reaching. If she were truly guilty of something that I saw as disqualifying for office, I'd have no problem drawing the line. But a steady stream of negative attacks in the news isn't the same thing. If anything, it's an admission that she's having an impact.

If you care to watch City Council in session, you'll need a case of NoDoze handy. At least until Jolanda speaks. The sad fact of the matter is that not enough of the public's business is conducted in public. Jolanda has been effective in countering that. While I don't always agree with her ... while her politics may not be my politics ... and while I don't make many endorsements that suggest that I see perfectly eye-to-eye with anyone ... City Council would be a boring insider's-only club without Jolanda. Kingwood makes it a habit to send their right-leaning noisemaker to council and that's their right. But I maintain that there's room for one voice on the other end of the spectrum that deserves a role in making the process more candid, and that's the main reason I'm voting for her again.

In the case of AL#4, my case is a bit more conflicted. The incumbent, C.O. Bradford, has demonstrated two variations of his public worldview. On the one hand, I share some of the same appreciation as I do for Jones due to Bradford's rarer council standoffs. I'm always glad to see some independent thought on council. But the other hand is more disconcerting. Bradford has been increasingly talking like a standard-issue Republican on the topic of private property, the needs of businesses, and a handful of other areas. He'll probably win regardless of anything I do or say because he's an incumbent and he's got enough positive name ID for his stint as HPD chief. At his best, I'd be an enthusiastic supporter of Bradford's. Regardless of what anyone thinks of (or overstates of) his record with the HPD Crime Lab, his views on crime and police management are actually a great resource for city council. But to the extent that I've witnessed, that's a negligible part of the discussion at council and even less in his public remarks.

The other side of this is that he's actually got an interesting challenger in Amy Price. She's not raising a ton of money and she's a Green Party type. Typically, that's the sort of candidate I'd not waste too much time thinking about. But Amy's proven to be someone who puts a great deal of thought into finding new and creative solutions. She's probably put more homework into her council run than most other candidates, and if she happened to be elected, she'd be a great addition to city council.

Beyond my own District J, I'll simply add a shout-out to two other district candidates in competitive races that I think are deserving. Ellen Cohen, from District C, should prove capable of maintaining the district's record of quality representation. Seeing a lineup on council with Cohen, Thibaut, and Noriega has a lot of potential to strengthen city council. Likewise, District H's Ed Gonzalez is another candidate worth keeping an eye on from outside his own district boundaries. He's not a noise-maker, but he's proof that you can get a lot accomplished in a cooperative manner. I think there's just as much need for that as there is for the approach by CM Jones.


COH Election 2011: The 30-Days

Kuff gets the first take out of the gate on the 30-day reports. My impressions of the reports are as follows. And many thanks to Erik Vidor (the best non-blogging blogger out there) for compiling the reports.

The Big Money
Among the strongest raisers in the past cycle: obviously the Mayor leads the pack with $469k raised. Here's the top 5 non-Annise Parker raisers:

Ellen Cohen       $92,773.00
Laurie Robinson   $80,845.00
Stephen Costello  $68,975.00
David Robinson    $56,291.58
Bolivar Fraga     $55,298.53

Laurie Robinson comes into the race with a slightly different professional network and has some skilled campaign pros working for her. I'm sticking with JoJo for this election, but Laurie's certainly an impressive candidate doing a lot of things well. The only other thing to stand out from this list is Bo Fraga. That's because a big part of his $55k raised is a $35k loan that doesn't seem to look legal according to state and city law:

Loans are counted the same way as contributions: with a $5k limit. You can loan yourself a gazillion dollars, although there are rules about how much you can reimburse yourself for. I'm guessing there's a gray area for spouses, though I'm no lawyer. But I don't see anything allowing a $35k loan like this. No idea what it takes for the issue to get legally aired, but it doesn't look kosher at first glance.

As far as the big Cash on Hand leaders, Mayor Parker again leads all with $2.3M. The top 5 non-Parker bank accounts are:

Oliver Pennington  $185,704.27
Ellen Cohen         $92,934.13
Stephen Costello    $90,717.60
Jolanda Jones       $83,333.39
Wanda Adams         $80,370.57

About the only interesting thing I see about this list is that three of them are district officials, compared to two at-large officials. And the next two folks beneath this list are also district folk (Stardig & Sullivan).

The Bob & Doylene Report
For those who care about such things, here's the full list of 2011 donations by Bob & Doylene Perry ...

Perry, Doylene   5000.00   08/05/2011   Sullivan, Mike
Perry, Bob       5000.00   07/13/2011   Romero, Criselda
Perry, Doylene   5000.00   07/13/2011   Romero, Criselda
Perry, Bob       5000.00   06/13/2011   Bradford, Clarence
Perry, Doylene   5000.00   06/13/2011   Bradford, Clarence
Perry, Bob       5000.00   06/03/2011   Noriega, Melissa
Perry, Doylene   5000.00   06/03/2011   Noriega, Melissa
Perry, Bob       5000.00   02/11/2011   Green, Ronald C.

As usual, no obvious ideological statement made from the contributions. What stands out from this, though, is the lone open-seat donation to Criselda Romero in District J. What's particularly curious about it is that Romero raised all of $12,000 - all but $100 of that on her campaign kickoff event on July 13. That represents over 80% of her contributions come from one source. That's not quite as bad as Peter Rene getting $4600 of his $5000 raised from his employer, but neither of those examples is a very strong show of support.

At Large #2
I haven't done a good apples-to-apples comparison here, but it appears from the dollar figures in this race that there's not a dry patch of money in this election, as much as it's just being distributed a lot of different ways. There's obviously a lot of loans worked into these dollar amounts, but it certainly look like we'll get a bare minimum of mail dropped in this race before E-day. And hopefully, there's as much ability to raise money to communicate the fact that there's an election in December for this race, also.

Names are linked to the finance reports ...

Candidate             Raised       Spent     Cash on Hand
Bolivar Fraga       $55,298.53   $35,762.53   $52,733.13   
David Robinson      $56,291.58   $57,005.48   $50,258.19   
Kristi Thibaut      $37,738.50   $17,495.54   $46,852.49   
Jennifer Rene Pool  $31,350.00   $29,246.37                
Eric Dick           $14,535.43   $19,900.75   $15,197.72   
Andrew Burks         $1,150.00    $5,366.98   $15,861.39   
Rozzy Shorter           $44.00   $15,000.00                
Elizabeth Perez      $4,510.00    $1,522.93    $2,987.07   

Of course, $30k out of Fraga's $52k on hand may not be legal.

District J
First off, congrats to Mike Laster for getting the Chronicle endorsement. I think they nailed the reasoning for it. As for the money reports, I can't say there's anything terribly surprising, but it is a very unusual feeling to see Laster this far ahead of the rest of the field. At this point in the season, the only remaining question is what candidates can do to finish the campaign with mass communication. The electorate in this district is insanely small. Laster can actually drop a significant amount of mail with the funds he's got left. The others look like they'll be lucky to get one piece of mail dropped.t

Again, names are linked to the finance reports ...

Candidate          Raised       Spent     Cash on Hand
Mike Laster      $39,675.00   $10,537.18   $40,017.22   
Criselda Romero  $12,010.02   $11,416.86    $4,645.66   
Rodrigo Canedo    $9,679.00    $4,007.76    $4,223.98   

ADD-ON: Oh, and since I referenced District F with the Chron's writeup of Al Hoang recently, that district looks to the be the low-budget affair. Al Hoang raised just short of $11k and has under $14k on hand for his 30-day report. He knows he's an incumbent, right? Peter Rene, the challenger, raised $5k ($4600 from one source) and has $3328 on hand. That's about the equivalent of being one fundraiser away from outraising the incumbent and making a strong showing to bigger donors that you've got a real campaign.

One day, a candidate is going to actually raise money in this district. I just never thought that anyone out of District J would outraise the entire field in District F. It's going to surprise folks to see what the electorate in District F really looks like.

ADD-ON 2.0 Coby catches another problem for Bo Fraga ... a corporate donation.

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