Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Targeted campaign ads in the run-off

People tell me that they see as many Lehmberg ads as Montford ads on television. Those I don’t see much of. Montford has been making a lot of use of non-TV low-cost and demographic-specific material. I wrote earlier about the extremely personalized campaign cards for delivery to specific front doors. On the Tejano and Proud show Sunday evening, there was a Montford commercial about once every half hour, so far as I could tell. Each one that I heard was narrated by Gonzalo Barrientos and each contained a different list of endorsers, mostly from among the original group of modern-day Travis County politicos, both elected and neighborhood activists (think of the Moya era). Today there was an e-mail blast via SoulCiti that contained a different list of Montford endorsers, this one more multi-generational, from Delco to people who served in the Ann Richards administration to current office-holders Spears and Hamilton (the Danny Thomas campaign also sent out a SoulCiti mailing today). Word from the precincts is that turnout is low today thus far, but nearly everyone I know with intentions to vote has already done so during the early-voting period. The polls close today at 7 and the results should be available very soon thereafter, for district attorney, precinct commissioner, and railroad commissioner.

DA candidate distributes novel campaign literature

I’ve never seen anything quite like this piece. It was not intended to be mailed; there is no place to put the information required for delivery to a mailbox; every bit of space is used to convey the campaign message. I saw this color card hand-delivered. It’s personalized and refers to the individual household where it was left in several ways. It bears a message that begins in this way: “Dear [So-and-so] Family.” The candidate says, “My pledge to the [So-and-so] family is to bring a new energy to this office.” The dates for early voting, are furnished and so is the nearest early-voting location, and there’s a reminder about election day itself that includes the individual precinct number and that precinct’s polling place on election day. For the benefit of the person delivering this color piece printed on coated paper and bearing a union bug, the household’s address is printed in small type at the very bottom. I’m truly impressed. Were there not enough volunteers to deliver these pieces, they would be wasted, since they are so individualized and could not be used in another way without putting stickers over or blotting out about five places on each card. I’ve seen no campaign effort this personalized since every single local candidate campaigning used to come to the door and knock on it, no matter what the office, including mayor, sheriff, county judge, and down from there. This literature is from Mindy Montford, whose campaign Web page begins with an annoying automatic feature. The video at the Rosemary Lehmberg site waits for the viewer to play it. This is an important campaign. The candidates seem to have different ideas about how best to use the limited and expensive resource that is a trial. The League of Women Voters guide contains information about these run-offs, including the one for Railroad Commissioner. Those of us who live in precinct one must vote for county commissioner as well. Only those who voted in the primary may vote in the run-off election. I like to vote early. The most frequent location is the Travis County courthouse, but this time it was the Ruiz branch library, handy following the lunch hour (and with plenty of parking, for those who care).

Thirty questions answered

Candidates for city council running in the local election set for May 10 (remember; the primary run-off election is on April 8, with early voting ending April 4) have stepped up and answered an additional set of thoughtful questions. This time, the questionnaire is from the BAT-PAC people. Whatever anyone thinks of the BAT endorsements, these questions and the replies that they elicited are the sort to assist the undecided in making up their minds. They’re just as useful as the earlier responses to the ANC battery of questions and the yet-to-be released responses to the League of Women Voters issue queries. This is the preamble to a question about an issue that I believe to be extremely important, especially in view of the rush to unload City-owned land downtown and transfer it into private hands on favorable terms: “We are told by the City Administration that the City can no longer afford to purchase land for community facilities downtown, yet land the city already owns downtown is being proposed for sale for private development. Moreover, we are told that we must relocate essential city services away from the populations they serve without adequate transportation services.” “BAT” stands for “Better Austin Today.” The complete elections calendar and additional information about registration and voting may be found at the site of the Travis County clerk.

Three dozen questions answered

Thank the Austin Neighborhoods Council for asking them. Elections to fill three places on the city council are not all that far away. The topics include management of growth, neighborhood planning, community values, enforcement of building permits and codes, geographic representation on the council, open governance and public information, the school district, the environment, and transportation. Answers are placed side by side for purposes of comparison. ANC will sponsor a candidate forum on this coming Wednesday, March 26, at 6 pm, 721 Barton Springs (the electric utility building). There are certainly differences in candidate responses and some of the replies are not brief, so these questionnaires will be of great assistance for those thus far undecided.

Lloyd Doggett Today Arguing for Override of Bush’s Veto of Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008

Would that the rest of the House Democrats were like my man Lloyd Doggett. He consistently makes me feel like I still have some representation in the Federal government, unlike my two rubber stamping senators. Go Lloyd!

Via Burnt Orange Report 

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Convention versus caucus

Precinct conventions have been with us for a long time, but suddenly there’s talk everywhere of precinct caucuses. The conventions have traditionally been quite sedate, but this year it’s obviously going to be different! Anyone who voted early and who wishes to attend (or caucus at) his or her precinct convention must do so at the official precinct polling place. The polls will close at 7 pm officially but will remain open so long as people are waiting to vote. The conventions will begin 15 minutes after the polls close (officially at 7:15 pm).

Travis County voters very often vote in the Democratic primary even if they’re Republicans, because that’s where all the action is and they hope to influence who will oppose the G.O.P. candidate in the real election. The Texas Democratic party has a great compendium of links to information about everything, including polling places and rules of the Democratic precinct conventions. Bring proof that you voted in the primary (the voter card is customarily stamped with the name of the party, but sometimes other methods of proof are used). The process of selecting G.O.P. delegates is much simpler.

The local daily has been printing links to on-line lists of polling places and nothing more, so the Travis county clerk finally broke down and paid for a full-page ad printed today and containing the address of every precinct for the benefit of those surviving without access to the Internet. Some are voting at a “Presbytarian” church. People should look at voting locations very carefully, because several precincts have been “combined” and one precinct will vote at another precinct’s customary polling place. I like this little notice that appeared at the bottom of the page: “Travis County purchased space for this listing of Election Day polling places at a cost of $13,356.00 as a public service to all Travis County Residents.”

Local money for presidential candidates

There’s a wonderful graphic showing how much money in contributions over $200 has gone to each of four presidential candidates from ten ZIP codes in this part of the world. The graphic (for which I find no credit, although the source for the data is the Center for Responsive Politics) accompanies a feature with lots of quotations (byline Jason Embry) in today’s local daily. The graphic shows only donations to “the top two remaining presidential candidates.” Nevertheless, given the geographic distribution and amounts related to Huckabee, a comparison including Ron Paul would be fascinating. There’s also a tidy little table of amounts raised for each of seven candidates in Texas at large and in the Austin-San Marcos metropolitan area. Fred Thompson is included in the statewide table, along with Giuliani; Ron Paul appears in the Austin-San Marcos list. Especially mystifying are the differences in amounts and recipients between 78746 (West Lake Hills) and 78731 (northwest Austin). This little graphic and chart will provide great conversational fodder for days to come. The information is updated through the end of January; I hope there will be another illustration when the figures are available through the end of February.

Rival radio ads

While listening to Tejanoman Chris Tristan yesterday evening on Univision station Recuerdos 107.7-fm, I heard Clinton and Obama campaign ads almost back to back. I can’t even decide which one I thought was more effective and wonder what the experts think.

I don’t know who the narrator is for the Obama ad, but he speaks at an urgent pace. This ad contains English-language sound-snippets from Obama’s speeches. It is marred by annoying swelling Coplandesque background music. In its favor, on the other hand, is that Obama speaks in Spanish at the end to give the little blurb affirming that he approved the ad. The theme throughout, repeated more than once, is “Obama me esta hablando a mi,” and at the very end this phrase is capped with “y te habla a ti tambien,” immediately following which Obama gives his short statement in Spanish. The theme is education and health care and building a better future. I’m not sure how to convey the tone of the Spanish phrases quoted above (without the proper markings on the vowels), but it’s very emphatic, underlining that “Obama is speaking to me” and then “to you as well.”

In the Clinton ad heard, Henry Cisneros speaks in a conversational tone. Clinton makes the ending announcement in English. I can’t yet find a link for this on line but the main pitch is to vote early, because the Texas primary could be decisive in the battle for the White House. Cisneros introduces himself, says that it’s important to vote before Election Day, and announces a number to call in order to learn the location of a nearby early-voting location and arrange, if necessary, for a free ride to the polling place. The fact that I can’t remember everything in the ad speaks against it; on the other hand, the voice of Cisneros is very familiar and soothing. I used to see him often in the Capitol grounds and he was always at ease when he was about to speak with reporters, with no fumbling for notes or anything like that, just talking extemporaneously and comfortably. Here’s an English-language video version that I think is somewhat close to what I heard on the radio, but the radio ad is specific to our state. I know that the radio ad speaks of “nuestra amiga” and says that Clinton is working so that everyone in Texas may have a better life. Cisneros says that Clinton has a special affection for Texas. There are faint strains of an unaccompanied conjunto-style accordion to be heard in the background. I heard the Cisneros ad for Clinton in Spanish again this morning, but it just doesn’t seem to be as good at catching the ear immediately from the very first words in the way that the Obama ad does. But I may be alone in that opinion. I’ve seen no television ads for any presidential candidate, in English or in Spanish.

I voted

I voted sticker) This is the sticker that proves it. Everyone encountered afterward noticed the sticker and had something to say about the elections. This was after work yesterday. H-E-B on South Congress looked busy, so it was on to the Fiesta, formerly Albertsons, farther south. I forgot to ask the election judges how turnout has been thus far in numbers. I did ask whether there seemed to be people out to vote who appeared to be unfamiliar with the post-punchcard voting system that’s been in use since the November elections in 2001. The reply was that a great many people may be voting for the first time in a few years.

I’ve found that people seem to be confused about the precinct conventions. Some people have heard the word “caucus,” and I guess that people do caucus at the conventions. Some people seem to think that early voters can’t attend their precinct conventions. This is not true. Just appear with your stamped voter card at the voting location for your precinct on Election Day, March 4. For those who voted in the Democratic primary, the convention time is 7:15 pm; for those who voted in the Republican primary, the time is 8:00 pm. It never hurts to appear a bit early. Debate your platform and select delegates to the county convention.

This isn’t about the presidential candidates alone, at least not for those voting in the Demcratic primary: there are four candidates seeking to replace incumbent Ronnie Earle. The office of the Travis County district attorney houses a unit empowered to enforce laws pertaining to state government as well as carrying out the customary duties of any district attorney.

The party Web sites for Travis County follow in alphabetical order: Democratic, Green, Libertarian, and Republican. Here’s the Travis county clerk’s election page, with many links, including to the League of Women Voters site.

Facts in brief for voters

Early voting begins this coming Tuesday, February 19. The Texas primary has assumed unexpected national importance, despite its place in the calendar. To assist voters in learning which down-ballot candidates most closely reflect their own preferences, the wonderful League of Women Voters has published its non-partisan voter guide. LWV poses questions for the candidates to answer. The guide includes a truly neat-o diagram describing the Texas court system (on page 11), a difficult feat, and a great aid to understanding it for those not familiar with its oddities. This 28-page wonder contains much additional information, including a vita for each candidate who supplied one. Few are those who will there in person for the February 21 Clinton-Obama / Obama-Clinton live event here in Austin, but all of us properly registered to do so may vote. I’ve been watching for the appearance of this guide every day for a month now and am glad to see it available before the promosed date.

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