Saturday, January 16, 2016

Drama Free at Westside D's

Okay, lest you think all Democratic Party auxiliary clubs are as dramatic as the Tea-janos I'd like to give you a quick summary of the Westside Democrats Forum the other night.

There was no drama.

Candidates behaved themselves and spoke about their platforms.

Other than Pee Wee being Pee Wee, which is really just cheering loudly and dropping the occasional F bomb even more than I do, it was pretty uneventful.

Here's a few things that stood out for me.


HD 77

In the state rep race for HD 77, which is the really important race on the westside featuring Adolfo Lopez and Lina Ortega, Ortega seemed much more impressive than in the past. The one and only other time I've ever seen her was at a campaign fundraiser and she was rude and seemed to be a reluctant candidate.

At westside demos she was very impressive, had a strong command of the issues - more so than her opponent I think, and seemed relaxed and confident. She looked like a state rep.

Lopez is normally pretty impressive but his presentation seemed to be all over the place. Don't know if he was tired from block walking all day or just had an off performance. It wasn't terrible, just not as good as I've seen him before. He's still much better at working the crowd that Ortega. He makes it a point to go and greet everyone and Ortega seems to be more comfortable in her bubble of familiar faces. Truth be told, I don't blame her after what happened at a Party event earlier in the week.

Lopez has a Joaquin Castro thing about him. Can't quite put my finger on it but he's got something.

But I thought Ortega took it that night. She also ended up with the endorsement.


State Board of Education only featured one candidate, Georgina Perez, because the other candidate that is running for the position didn't show up. I haven't seen him anywhere really. He's hard to track down.

Perez won the endorsement and was the first of two she won this week.

I think the only way we ever see the vato is if Sean Penn is sent to find him and do an interview.

So Sean Penn, if you're reading this HMU, I have questions.


8th Court of Appeals - yawn. I know its a super important office but even by the very low standard of excitement from judicial candidates, they are boring. Which means there are some good candidates because the Court of Appeals is the place you want your smartest legal minds, who usually aren't that exciting to listen to. Think of them as the Alpha Nerds of the black robe society.

Sorta like a Harry Potter convention.

Steven Hughes is the Justice right now and I found him to be the most impressive on that night.

Quick note, the Court of Appeals isn't where you get a second chance to prove your case. They don't "re-try" as case there. The justices basically read everything that happened at the previous trial and call balls and strikes.


District Attorney

This is the debate I was most surprised about. The incumbent was sandwiched between his opponents and so maybe that is why he looked so bad, but I found him flat and unimpressive. He gives the same speech he's been giving since he was first elected. His playbook is fairly simple, keep repeating awards he's won.

Yvonne Rosales really surprised me because the knock on her from people is that she doesn't come across as authoritative and is pretty quiet. She is apparently aware of that because she addressed it and explained that the quiet ones are the ones that are listening. Her presentation was very strong and almost prosecutorial of Esparza. I wasn't at the Northeast Demos endorsement but I'm told she vastly improved over that one.

Lenny Morales went last and gave sort of a closing argument. Morales is clearly the better presenter of the three candidates. Also, I learned he went to NMMI, which is something I didn't know. Its called the West Point of the West. He had the best lines of the night and one of them had to do with how long Esparza's been in office, prosecution of small amounts of marijuana, and alternative programs in Houston (or San Antonio, I kinda zoned out at first). He finished it by saying Esparza had a 1982 view on marijuana.

If you close your eyes while he's speaking you can't tell if you're listening to a speech in this campaign or any of the others Esparza had run over the years. He hasn't freshened his message up, other than to mention that he's involved with the Hispanic Cultural Center. You get the sense that there is a lack of urgency from him, and I can't tell if its because he thinks he has it in the bag or if its because he's just very reserved in his delivery.

At any rate the main critique from his two opponents was the backlog of cases.

Esparza and Morales actually tied for the endorsement.



Mark Chavez and Oscar Ugarte, two constable deputies, are vying for one of the westside constable races. The seat was previously held by the late Robert White.

They tie for having the ugliest campaign signs and they look exactly the same.


Ugarte won the endorsement. The most notable thing about their time on the mic is how few times they invoked the name of Robert White. Earlier in the campaign, which seems like they started in the first Obama administration, they were dropping his name all the time.


Tax Assessor Collector

Race is between the young Gonzalez who is an inventory clerk at the office, the older Gonzalez who is the appointee in charge of the office right now, and Siria Rocha who was the number two in that office a while back.

The most notable thing about their forum time is that Gonzalez's signs kept falling off the wall.

Rocha won the endorsement.

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