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Jamaal Smith – The People’s Choice for Representative, House District 137

After nearly two decades in Harris County politics, I have learned how to tell the difference between a candidate who, by virtue of family connections or personal wealth, believes they deserve to be elected to office and a candidate who has genuine grass roots support from the people.

This is very clear in the Democratic primary runoff race between Gene Wu and Jamaal Smith for House District 137, which was previously held by legislative giant Scott Hochberg.

Truth be told, I had initially endorsed Gene, and went to one of his fundraisers.  I did this, primarily, because of his fiance, Miya Shay (take it or leave it).  I was initially impressed by his credentials, but, alas, I was blinded by the setting of his fundraiser.

Having had the chance to review their respective biographies, I, like the Houston Chronicle, now believe tht Jamaal Smith is the superior choice for the voters of HD 137.   Jamaal was a policy advisor and community liason for State Senator Rodney Ellis, helping to craft legislation.  As the Houston Chronicle righlty notes, “[t]his background gives him experience with the local issues that face Houston” as well as “the ability to navigate the often byzantine processes of the state legislature.”  Further, Jamaal can better represent the Latino voters of the district than Gene.  First, he has held senior positions in the Harris County Democratic Party, actively seeking the advice of Houston’s Latino leadership.  Additionally, Jamaal began his political career as the late Rep. Joe E. Moreno’s legislative director (Moreno represented the East End of Houston in HD 143, which is currently held by Ana Hernandez-Luna).

Again quoting the Houston Chronicle, “[w]ith the passion of a freshman representative, but the experience of a senior politico, he has an attitude that often seems lacking in the heated partisan fights of contemporary politics, and one that Democratic voters should want to send to Austin.”

Could not have said it better myself.  Jamaal needs your help and your vote to be the Democratic nominee for HD 137, and then be elected to the Texas House of Representatives this November.  Please remember early voting occurs today and tomorrow from 7AM until 7PM.   Election day is this coming Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

DON LARGE

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Cindy Vara-Leija Takes Contribution from Noted Homophobe Chuck Rosenthal

This piece of news is absolutely stunning.

In reviewing Cindy (VL) Abercia’s eight day campaign finance report, on page eight, I came upon the following contribution:

CHUCK ROSENTHAL, $1,000.00.  July 12, 2012.

Chuck Rosenthal was the former District Attorney of Harris County, Texas who resigned his position due to substance abuse, per Mr. Rosenthal’s resignation letter of February 15, 2008.

In March, 2003, Rosenthal HIMSELF argued before the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas that our state sodomy laws were constitutional.  He lost that decision 6-3.

It is simply stunning that the Houston Area Stonewall Democrats could endorse a candidate for office who was willing to take funds from this bigot, homophobe, and disgraced former district attorney.  I call on HASD to renounce their endorsement of Ms. Vara-Leija immediately.  Otherwise, HASD frankly ought never be listened to in the Houston area LGBT community again regarding political endorsements.

It is also clear to me that Cindy has no regrets, remorse, or shame for her actions here.  In this campaign, she has been willing to go deep into the mud with baseless and groundless atttacks against ALAN ROSEN.  She is willing to take funds from homophobes.   She is willing to do anything in what appears to be a losing race for office.

She does not deserve your vote in the runoff race for Harris County Constable, Precinct One.

DON LARGE


Two Conservatives Battle – One Scores Points, the Other Will Win on July 31

I had the privilege of being in the audience on Monday evening for the Ted Cruz – David Dewhurst debate in their epic runoff battle to be the Republican nominee for the US Senate seat being vacated by a true giant, the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Some prelminaries: I was most surprised by the fact that there were few elected officials and/or other candidates present in the room.  There was Mike Wolfe, Mike Sullivan, and Toni Lawrence.  As expected, the crowd was predominantly Anglo, with a small smattering of Latinos and African-Americans.   I was very impressed with the fact that there were a lot of young people present.  As to where the hearts of the voters in that room belonged to, I would say it was majority Ted Cruz.  After all, we were in a Tea Party hall, not Downtown Houston.

You could tell which candidate the audience preferred by how loud and demonstrative they were as the candidates came upon the stage.  Lt. Governor Dewhurst had some applause, but it was fairly quiet and reserved.  Ted Cruz got the crowd up on their feet, for a sustained period of time.

There were opening statements, closing statements, and, in between, twelve questions, with no scheduled rebuttal.  This was somewhat disappointing as I would have preferred to see these battle-scarred candidates fight out their differences directly between each other.  This would have allowed the audience both at home and out in TV land to get a clearer picture of the candidates and where they stand as opposed to the truly negative advertising run by both campaigns.

OPENING STATEMENTS.

Ted stated that “elections are not about politicians, or the candidates, but the people.”  That “there are too many politicians in washington who think we work for them, not the other way around.”  Very populist message.  It reminded me of Ross Perot from 1992 and 1996 and was effective.  David gave a stronger opening.  He said that, “the freedoms we have been grated in our constiution have been slipping from our other fingers.”  He was worried that his children and others would not have the same opportunities to excel and succeeed as he did.

THE QUESTIONS.

The first question concerned, not surprisingly, Obamacare.  David called for its repeal, not replacement, because it does not improve health outcomes.  Ted said the court’s decision was a “tragic day for liberty” without specifying.  I thought Ted overreached by saying that David supported European socialism.

On the next question – regarding President Obama’s arguable expansion of presidential power with respect to health care, marriage equality, and immigration, the debate points became clearer.  Ted said he had spent his lifetime “fighting to defend the constitution,” which the President held in contempt.  He got in a funny line that there were “more czars in the White House than in Russia.”  Great line, but didn’t really explain what he could do to stop it, if it could or, in fact, ought to be stopped.  David hit a home run by emphasizing, as he would time and time again, the difference between a talker and a doer.  This clear contrast was repeated throughout the night, and it was effective.

On how to revive the space program, domestic energy production, and make Texas more business friendly, they were generally not responsive.  David did not have a chance to adress space, whereas Ted said that space was vital for the defense of our national security.  An interesting proposition, seeing that America’s space program is generally civilian and not military.

On promises to represent Texas (alleged) conservative values, the candidates stayed focused on generalities here, with David reminding voters of his years as Lieutenant Governor and Land Commissioner, to “take a look at his footprints in the sand.”  Ted would say that was wet sand that was not firm.

On illegal immigration, both candidates damaged the Republican brand in Texas with Latino voters for years to come.  Dewhurst recognized the serious of the immigration issue, seeking to triple the size of border patrol.  Absolutely against any form of amnesty, which, to me, makes no sense because you still have people toiling here in Texas for no respect and limited incomes.  He seems to prefer them to remain in the shadows then come out into the sunjlight.   Ted wanted fences, walls, helicopters, technology – a police state essentially.  Not much liberty there.  Wanted an end to magnets for immigration, end sanctuary citieis, no in state tutition for immigrant children, no amnesty, and guest workers.  When saying that Dewhurst was more liberal than Obama on this issue, somebody cried out from the audience, “Liar!”

Best question of the night – why are Ted and david fighting so much?  Ted said he was only focused on his record.  Ted asked rhetorically whether David stood by maligning his patriotism.  Dewhurst responded by saying that superpacs for Cruz had been attacking Dewhurst since day one.  Further, he said that Ted ought to be known by the people he chose to represent – the Chiense, felons, etc.  This drew a very strong negative response from the Pro-Cruz audience.

On both men having young daughters, they were asked what in their backgrounds would let them be able to deal with wht normal Texans have to deal with.  Both responded well by talking about their biography.  David emphasized that he had grown up poor, that his father had been killed when he was three, and that his mother worked two jobs.  Ted reminded voters that his mother was an Irish/Italina computer programmer for Shell in the fifties and that his Dad was Cuban.  That his parents loved him and sacrificed for him.  He said parents should live their lives so that kids could have respect. Again, Ted emphasized (wrongly in my opinion) that David had maligned his character and patriotism and that the campaign was in the gutter.  This type of response told me that Ted was rattled by the Lt. Governor’s successful ads attacking Ted.

On the one piece of legislation other than Obamacare repeal that they would author/pass in their first term, both candidates were suprisingly specific and more effective than they had been all evening long.  Ted wanted to dramatically reduce the power and scope of the federal government by passing a strong balanced budget amendment, require every tax increase to be by a supermajority and limit federal spending as a percentage of GDP.  David argued that there were $40 trillion in unfuded obligtions for social security, medicare, and medicaid. He would seek a comprehensive budget reform bill as opposed to a tax bill.  He also specified a cap of spending at 18% of GDP.

Regarding public health care, you could see the candidates straining to get elderly voters, and this was not effective.  Their pandering did not hold up to their ideological convictions.  David wanted medicare and medicaid reformed to make healthcare outcomes better while saving billions of dollars.  David noted, quite rightly, that people do, in fact, depend on public health care, emphasizing that “a promise is a promise.”

Here is where Ted lost the boat in this debate.  This teavangelical conservative stated that medicaid, medicare, and social security were “fundamental bulwarks of society.”  Seems strange as he want to dramatically reduce the power, size, and scope of the federal government.  His small-sized reforms were sensible (allow patients to buy insurance across state lines, expand health savings accounts, delink health insurance from employment) but strange in context.  He said that you should not lose health insurance if you lose your job.  I agree.  But the real matter should be you should have quality health care, not merely insurance.  There is a difference, and here, Ted could not see the forest for the trees.

Not a surprise that both were strong second amendment supporters and did nothing to distinguish themselves on this issue.

On how to save medicare, medicaid, and social security, David stumbled while Ted put forth idea (even if IMHO poor ones).  David emphasized that you have to keep the promises we have made for people at or near sixty-five, but that these programs need to be reformed.  He emphasized that he worked on budgets as Lt. governor, cutting $14 billion out of the Texas budget last session (which I would not be proud of, but, horses for courses).  Ted said there should be no changes for these programs for those at or near reitreement.  He would seek to gradually increase the retirement age, change the rate of growth of benefits to merely mtch inflation, and let younger workers hold on to their own individual retirements.  The problem with these answers chiefly was that it called for pandering, not seriously solving the healthcare and retirement crises looming for many American families later this century.

The final question concerned the castle doctrine (a response to George Zimmerman), and there were no differences here.

CLOSING STATEMENTS.

Ted’s closing started off strong but sputtered in the end.  He declared that the nation was “in danger and in crisis.”  That no one was is “big enough to bail out America” and that “career politicians in both parties have gotten us into this mess,” an obvious swipe at the Lt. Governor.  Having made the setup, he then weirdly focused on sovreignty, the world court, and the UN.  Not a strong close at all.

David’s closing reemphasize the central thrust of his campaign, stating that the key issue was “who do you think has the character, values, and judgment to be the next Senator” for Texas regarding questions of war, issues of the budget, and Obamacare.  He stated that he had a record that ‘everyone can see,” and that he was proud of that record, stating tht Texas was the most conservative, pro-jobs, pro-business, pro-life state in the nation.  David emphasized the need for judgment, for being able to lead, for bringing people together in these tough times.  You may not agree with everything David advocated for in this debate (and I did not), but he focused on being a conservative while understanding the need for consensus  in solving our problems.  That’s what business people do.  Ted, as a lifetime lawyer, does not quite fit that mold.  He will argue for his cause to the death, even if may be to the ultimate detriment of his nation, his state, and his causes.

Overall, I felt David one this debate hands down, despite stuttering here and there.  I expect David will be the Republican nominee as of July 31, 2012.

DON LARGE.


You Know You’re in the Big Leagues when the Chron Doesn’t Quote You — and Cindy, Cindy, Cindy, you’ve still got some ‘splainin’ to do

Ah, you know you’re in the big leagues when the Houston Chronicle does not quote you, but refers to your blog —

“Online, Rosen supporters have questioned whether Vara-Leija knew of Abercia’s alleged crimes while at the precinct.”

To make it perfectly clear that they failed to make the attribution, here is what I posted regarding Cindy (VL) Abercia’s linkage to the past cronyism in the Office of Harris County Constable, Precinct One, requoting myself:

“On her original website, Cindy indicated that she had over thirty years experience in the Constable One office of Jack Abercia.  The voters of Harris County in general, and Precinct One in particular, recall that Mr. Abercia is the indicted former Constable of Precinct One.

“To the extent that Cindy has been at the center of the operation of the precinct, it is fair to question her ethics and her ability to clean up the shennanigans of the prior incumbent.  She can’t run away from her biography.  Not now.  Not never.”

It is hardly surprising that CVL did not directly respond to this posting.  She doesn’t have the guts.  Her lame response to this in the Chron was, “‘My responsibilities and my duties were to supervise and to make sure those under my command were taking care of the community’s needs,” Vara-Leija said. “Whatever was going on in the constable’s office, I was not privy to.'”

Bollocks again, Cindy.  Multi pinocchio time.  You were in the office for thirty plus years and were NEVER privy to anything that occurred.  This stretches incredulity and belief.  In the legal arena, this would simply be called — wait for it — setting yourself up for political perjury.

Cindy, this appears to be your modus operandi.  You cannot have it both ways.  You cannot say you were deeply involved in the affairs of the Precinct One constable’s office, and then, in the next breath, say you knew nothing.  Sound to me like you’ve been practicing good old fashioned Soviet-era politics.  Or you’ve been paying close attention to The Godfather.

Simply put, this statement reinforces the point: you are not qualified to hold this leadership position.  You do not deserve to be chosen by the voters of Precinct One.  There is a far superior alternative in this race, and that alternative is ALAN ROSEN.

DON LARGE


It’s Never Courageous to Do the Right Thing – Remarks Made by Me at the Harris County LULAC Breakfast, July 21, 2012

These were my prepared remarks to the LULAC chorizo and menudo breakfast held at the Gulfgate Doneraki’s this past Saturday.  I composed this speech twenty-five minutes before I gave it.  I hope y’all like it.  DON LARGE.

“IT’S NEVER COURAGEOUS TO DO THE RIGHT THING”

Gracias a Uds. para tener la oportunidad para hablar aqui.

My name is Don Large.  I am proudly seeking the Democratic nomination for Harris County Judge in 2014.

As Speaker Tip O’Neil famously said, “All politics is local.”  For me, all politics is personal.  So, let me tell you who I am because that will tell you what I stand for.

Although my parents were both born in Brooklyn, New York, I was born in St. Luke’s right here in the Medical Center here in Houston, Texas in 1975.  I have lived in Harris County all my life, growing up in the Aldine area.

Nineteen years ago, I was the valedictorian of Aldine MacArthur High School.  I am a proud double degree holder from the University of Houston, earning a BA in Sociology, minors Spanish/Political Science in 1997, and a JD in 2000.  I was a criminal defense lawyer practicing in southeast Texas for six years.  My Dad was a proud city worker for 31 years, retiring in 2005.  He is now an Aldine school bus driver, as I was for four years.

My beloved mother, Lynn, was a secretary in the toy business in NY in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  She was going to write a memoir – TOYS AND OTHER NOVELTIES – I want my Mad Men residuals.  My mom’s side was Romanian, Dad’s was Russian.  All Jewish.  And, in November 2003, in the hospital where I was born, I watched my Mom slip away to heaven.

I have been active politically for twenty years, most of those as a Republican.  I ran for County Attorney in 2002, HD 140 in 2004, and against Jared Woodfill for Harris County GOP Chair in 2010.  I fought the good fight.

This May, I switched parties, early voting on May 14th.  Why?  Three reasons.  First, I had a stroke November 24th of last year.  I was in a coma for 27 days.  My dad was getting ready to put me in a hospice.  Then, on December 20, I shocked everybody by waking up.  My first question was: what were the runoff results?  150K in medical expenses later, I looked at the Affordable Care Act differently. Second, there were Teavangelicals who attacked House Speaker Straus for being insufficiently Christian – well, like me, we’re Jewish.  That really offended me.

I was going to switch on my 37th birthday on May 30.  But, the President made his stand on marriage equality on May 9th.  I switched parties five days later.  As I’ve told people around the county, “I voted Democrat…and all my sins washed away.”

There will be time in the next 30 months to discuss my agenda for County Judge.  Today is not that day.  I thank you all, the hard working activists of LULAC, for allowing me to speak today.  G-d bless Harris County, G-d bless Texas, and G-d bless the United States.


Early Voting Starts Today – My Endorsemets for the Democratic and Republican Runoff Races

Early voting for the Harris County Democratic Primary runoff starts today and runs through Thursday.  The polling locations will be open from 7 AM until 7 PM.  Please check Harrisvotes.org for early voting polling locations.

These are my endorsements for the Democratic Runoff races:

UNITED STATES SENATOR – Paul Sadler

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT SEVEN – James Cargas

TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 137 – Jamaal Smith

HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLE, PRECINCT ONE – Alan Rosen

HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLE, PRECINCT TWO – Zerrick Guinn

HARRIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, POSITION 6, PLACE 1 – Erica S. Lee.

These are my endorsements for the Republican runoff races:

UNITED STATES SENATOR – David Dewhurst

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT THIRTY-SIX – Stephen Takach

RAILROAD COMMISSIONER – Christi Craddack

RAILROAD COMMISSIONER, UNEXPIRED TERM – Barry Smitherman

JUSTICE, TEXAS SUPREME COURT, PLACE FOUR – David Medina

DISTRICT JUDGE, 129TH DISTRICT – Chris Gillett

DISTRICT JUDGE, 152nd DISTRICT – Don Self

HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF – Louis Guthrie.

Thanks for voting and thanks for caring about democracy, large and small.  DON LARGE.


Alan Rosen – An Uncommonly Good Choice for Harris County Constable in these Uncommon Times

I am an Alan Rosen supporter.  I have been so since I first got him the GLBT caucus endorsement in their March, 2012 general meeting.

Alan is, what we call in the Jewish community, a mensch’s mensch – a good, kind-hearted man, committed to social justice.  He has been involved for decades in Democratic politics at every level, from local to national.  He has been involved in his synagogue, Congregation Beth Yeshurun.  He has a good wife in Jennifer and a strong family.  He is committed to the Jewish concept of tikkun olam – of commitment to public service in the interest of social, economic, political, and moral justice.  A true son of Abraham and Moses, indeed.

Alan has the budgetary and administrative experience necessary to turn around the post-Abercia doldrums at the Office of Harris County Constable, Precinct One.  He will put in place a fresh team with few, if any, ties to the prior administration.  He will make certain that the office serves the people, not the other way around.

I’ve commented in other forums that Alan Rosen is the living embodiment of the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, if he had access to both a laptop and a cellphone.  I stand by that.  I highly recommend Alan to be the choice of Harris County Democrats (and, if they did not vote in the primary, independent minded individuals and Republicans) to be their eminently well-qualified nominee for the office of Harris County Constable, Precinct One.

Remember, early voting runs from July 23rd through July 27th.  You can go to alanrosen.org or hcdp.org to check for your early voting precinct locations.  Likewise, the runoff election date is Tuesday, July 31, 2012.  Please note that you will not be voting in your normal precinct locations.  In addition to the previously mentioned websites, check either the Houston Chronicle in print form or at chron.com.

Have a great evening,

DON LARGE