sorry we're late again
Texas Municipal Elections
For Arlington Mayor, Republican ex-cop Jim Ross took 48% of the vote, just shy of a majority, forcing him into a runoff with centrist Michael Glaspie. For Plano Mayor, moderate Republican John Muns beat back extreme right-winger Lily Bao 53-43, but the Dem slate mostly failed in Plano City Council races, failing to unseat either one of its targeted GOP incumbents (falling short by about 5% in both races.) The one Democrat on the council slate to advance to a runoff, Julie Holmer, did so with just 34% of the vote. In Fort Worth, Democrat Deborah Peoples at least managed to make it to the runoff, but she only got 34% to establishment Republican Mattie Parker’s 31%; every other candidate was a conservative, except a centrist Democrat who took just 9%. DSA-backed Fort Worth City Council candidate Jen Sarduy also lost pretty badly to incumbent Carlos Flores.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a Democrat, won reelection big, with 62% of the vote to Republican Greg Brockhouse’s 32%, after close calls against Brockhouse in 2019 and conservative Democrat Ivy Taylor in 2017. Council races went well for the left. Progressive Council District 1 incumbent Roberto Treviño is headed to a runoff, but he got 45% of the vote to opponent Mario Bravo’s 34%, which is a good sign. In Council District 2, San Antonio DSA-backed teacher Jalen McKee-Rodriguez finished first with 26%, while moderate incumbent Jada Andrews-Sullivan limped into second with 17% of the vote. In Council District 5, fellow DSA endorsee Teri Castillo (also backed by Bernie, Sunrise, several unions, and a host of local organizations) finished first with 30%, with the other runoff spot going to actual cop Rudy Lopez, who got just 15%.
In Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson’s pro-cop city council slate went down in flames, coming in third in every race. The only incumbent who looks like they’ll be in serious trouble in their runoff is Council District 14’s David Blewett, who trailed 31% to the 46% obtained by Paul Ridley, running to his left. One open race, Council District 2, is looking very good for progressive candidate Jesse Moreno, who finished with 39% to more moderate Sana Syed’s 24%, while the progressive in another, Hosanna Yemiru of Council District 11, failed to make the runoff.
In the race for McAllen Mayor, ex-Hidalgo County GOP Chair Javier Villalobos finished first with 26%, and will be in a runoff with the most liberal Democrat, Veronica Vela-Whitacre, who got 24%. Democrats combined for 57% of the vote, and Republicans got 43%.
Ballot measures went poorly for the left. In Austin, anti-homeless ballot measure Austin Prop B passed 57.7-42.3, thanks to high support among the wealthy white neighborhoods away from the urban core and low turnout in the city’s poorer areas. Meanwhile, San Antonio Prop B (the good Prop B), which would have stripped police unions of collective bargaining powers, failed by a narrow 2% margin. On the bright side, Austin did approve Austin Prop E, which amends the city charter to use ranked-choice voting for municipal elections, though it’s unclear if Texas law actually allows the use of ranked-choice voting; the city also approved Austin Prop D, which shifts mayoral elections from midterm years to presidential election years, a common-sense measure to increase turnout. Austin will have one last midterm mayoral election in 2022; the winner will serve an abbreviated two-year term before the city’s first presidential-year mayoral election in 2024 for a full four-year term.
Overall, Texas was very much a mixed bag. It sucks that Austin Prop B passed, and that San Antonio Prop B failed; it also sucks that Republicans are at least arguably favored in runoffs in McAllen, Fort Worth, and Arlington. On the other hand, Fort Worth and Arlington are cities where Republicans had total, essentially unchallenged control until very recently; now, Republicans will have to fight hard to keep both. And city council races in Dallas and San Antonio turned out about as good as was possible. In Dallas, the sitting mayor’s slate ran as backlash to the very idea of defunding the police (the Dallas city council increased police funding, but by less than the mayor wanted because the council insisted on reallocating some of the police overtime budget to social services); the backlash slate fell short in every race. San Antonio, meanwhile, looks like it might be poised to put two socialists on its city council and reelect the council’s most outspoken progressive member. Plano, too, wasn’t all bad; Muns might be a Republican, but there was no Democrat in that race, and local Democrats backed Muns because he was pro-transit, pro-housing, and not running an insane MAGA campaign. Bao’s loss is a loss for suburban NIMBY backlash, and, given the extreme climate cost of suburban sprawl, a win for the climate.
On a quiet Tuesday in May, a relatively small number of Cincinnati residents went to the polls, and we now have our runoff set. Hamilton County Clerk of Court Aftab Pureval finished first with 39% of the vote, to City Councilor David Mann’s second-place showing of 29%. State Sen. Cecil Thomas got 16% of the vote, and Gavi Begtrup’s oddball campaign ended with just under 10%. Thomas did well in the Black neighborhoods that fall in his Senate district, Mann cleaned up in the whiter, more conservative fringes of the city, and Pureval performed solidly everywhere, another sign that he’s a clear favorite in the runoff. As we said out in our initial overview, there were no good options here, but Pureval is the least objectionable.
State Rep. Omari Hardy has launched a campaign for the special election. Hardy is quite young, just 31, and in the 4 years he’s been in politics, he’s had a clear leftward trajectory. In 2017, he won his first election, to the Lake Worth Beach City Commission, on a platform of increasing the police presence to deal with drugs and prostitution. In 2018, he was part of an effort to harass low-income property owners into selling to developers to bring up town property values. In 2019, he was supporting Biden for president. But 2020 saw him primary out a state house incumbent from the left, embrace the Green New Deal and defunding the police, and go viral for unleashing on the town manager who wasn’t taking his concerns about utility shutoffs during COVID seriously. Now, he’s running as a “bold progressive”, who supports housing, healthcare, and basic income as a right (per his launch video). He also says he’s “not imitating AOC” with this platform.
Should he be trusted as a deeply committed progressive? No, of course not, his turn is laughably recent. But this is South Florida, where absolutely no politician should be trusted on anything, and Hardy is leagues better than anyone else currently in the race is. Additionally, a sudden turn to the left might be easily explained as a coldhearted move for career gain elsewhere, but in Florida, the obvious benefits of aligning oneself with the left are next to nonexistent. It’s a gutsy move.
This week, Governor Ron DeSantis set the special election dates: Nov. 2 for the primary and Jan. 11 for the general election, leaving the seat open for nearly a year. That’s...bad. It’s a delay in House representation that frankly should be illegal.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Times endorsed Isaac Bryan for the May 18 special election for AD-54. Since we’ve last checked in on this election, what originally appeared to be Heather Hutt’s race to lose has now evolved into a two-way race between her and Bryan. He’s picked up a ton of labor support, as well as big local political names such as Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, whose election to Senate is what triggered this election in the first place, and LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, whose election to Supervisor triggered the special election for Senate that Kamlager won.
State Sen. Sandra Williams launched her campaign for mayor of Cleveland today. This was something she’d be publicly mulling for about a year now, so it’s not a huge surprise, although it is on the late side. Williams represents the city’s poorer eastern half, where Black residents make up most of the voting pool, and her time in the state legislature dates back to the mid 2000s. Williams’s career has been quiet rather than flashy, except for that one time she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor use of campaign funds, and she would seem to be largely a product of the Cleveland establishment—she endorsed Armond Budish for Cuyahoga County Executive, for instance. But she did back Nina Turner for Congress, so at least there’s that. She announced with endorsements from both of Cleveland’s other senators, as well as Budish. Williams enters as a major candidate, perhaps the frontrunner if incumbent Frank Jackson finally decides not to run for reelection.
This week, Larry Krasner unveiled the fruits of his labors behind the scenes to shore up establishment Democratic politicians and civic leaders: three state representatives, and a majority of the City Council. A couple days later, on Friday, he held a major rally with even more supporters, including state Rep. and US Senate candidate Malcolm Kenyatta, in attendance. To protest his event, and to promote their candidate, Carlos Vega, the Fraternal Order of Police... gave out ice cream? It was soft serve, because Krasner is “soft on crime”. Get it? Do you get it? The joke? About how the ice cream has “soft” in the name? Are you laughing? (hey, no one ever accused cops of having a sense of humor).
Vega has been cagey about his supporters—for instance, he accepts the FOP’s support but claims he didn’t solicit it, which we are almost certain is a lie, but whatever—and doesn’t list any endorsements on his website. But a local magazine did get both candidates to provide them with a list of endorsements, and Vega’s, at least, are quite funny. He lists 10 local ward organizations, of which 6 (23, 57, 63, 64, 66A, 66B) are in the city’s famously white and conservative (relatively) Northeast. A 7th, Ward 26, is in a Trump-voting white enclave in the south. He also lists 4 politicians as endorsers, of which 3 (Sen. Tina Tartaglione, Rep. Mike Driscoll, and Rep. Kevin Boyle) hail from the Northeast. Awkwardly, Kevin Boyle is the brother of US Rep. Brendan Boyle. To his credit, Vega did manage to snag much of the city’s Hispanic establishment: Wards 7, 19, and 46, along with state Rep. Angel Cruz, but Krasner got Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who reps the same area as Cruz.
This race now has yet another candidate: Casey Sixkiller, a lobbyist and civil employee who is entering late with few distinguishing features as a candidate. He’s laid out the start of a platform, but aside from the suggestion of a “basic income” idea, nothing much distinguishes it from bland moderation. It’s unclear who he expects his base to be.
NYC Endorsement Highlights
The action on the endorsement front this week was in the mayoral race, as Scott Stringer’s emerging scandal sucked up most of the oxygen. The following endorsements are all for mayor.
Hoo boy. A lot happened.
Jean Kim, a former volunteer, intern, or friend to Scott Stringer depending on who you ask, accused the comptroller and mayoral candidate of sexual harassment and abuse in his 2001 campaign for NYC Public Advocate. Stringer denies the allegations, and the Intercept found a series of plainly false details of Kim’s story; on the other hand, Kim’s story prompted a number of people in NYC politics to come forward with stories of non-sexual intimidation and retaliation from Stringer, establishing a clear pattern of highly inappropriate conduct, albeit nothing of a sexual nature beyond Kim’s allegations. Stringer quickly lost a number of key endorsements: Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Adriano Espaillat; state Sens. Julia Salazar, Alessandra Biaggi, Jessica Ramos, Gustavo Rivera, and José Serrano; Assembs. Catalina Cruz, Yuh-Line Niou, Nily Rozic, and Carmen De La Rosa; Council Members Diana Ayala and Mark Levine (the latter also a Manhattan Borough President candidate); and the Working Families Party, Sunrise Movement NYC, and UFCW Local 1500 all rescinded their endorsements. So, whether or not Scott Stringer actually committed sexual misconduct—which he may have; nobody unearthed anything to actually disprove Kim’s central allegation, just the supporting details she provided—he sure seems to be prone to vindictiveness, fits of rage, threats, and other stuff you don’t want in a public official, enough that a number of politicians and organizations who had been supporting him jumped ship.
Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley, Stringer’s competitors in the progressive lane, were joined by more moderate rivals Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, and Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2013, in calling for Stringer to drop out.
Morales and Wiley both rolled out an endorsement from New York progressive mainstay and 2018 Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout, who ranked Morales #1 and Wiley #2. (With the WFP withdrawing its Stringer endorsement, this is also, implicitly, their new ranking of mayoral candidates; they had initially ranked Stringer #1, Morales #2, and Wiley #3; Citizen Action of NY made a similar switch explicit in withdrawing their own endorsement of Stringer, endorsing Morales instead.) Wiley announced the endorsements of former Public Advocate Mark Green, the 2001 Democratic nominee for mayor against Mike Bloomberg; 1960s/1970s feminist icon Gloria Steinem; famed LGBT and women’s rights lawyer Robbie Kaplan; and Assemb. Jeffrion Aubry, a relative moderate from north-central Queens who helped launch “Black Men for Maya” along with earlier Wiley endorsers Mike Blake, a former Bronx assemblyman and 2020 NY-15 candidate, and Assemb. Khaleel Anderson, a progressive from southeast Queens.
For progressives desperate to defeat Andrew Yang and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Stringer’s apparent collapse is concerning (though, as we noted above, not at all undeserved.) But the apparent momentum for Morales and Wiley, whether it’s backdraft from Stringer’s self-immolation or preexisting strength that just surfaced at the right time, is reassuring; progressives are not without viable options in Stringer’s absence.
The New York Times revealed last week, shortly after we published our last issue, that the Cuomo administration’s coverup of COVID deaths in New York nursing homes was much more extensive than previously reported. Based on new interviews and documents obtained by reporters, the Times reported last Wednesday that the Cuomo administration hadn’t just edited the state health department’s reports, as previously reported; they also killed a scientific paper using state nursing home data, buried an audit of the nursing home numbers, and quashed at least two attempts by the state health department to notify state legislators. Impeach him, please.