Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Poll: Harris DA's race in a 'dead heat'

A new poll from KHOU-TV in Houston shows the Harris County DA's race is a "dead heat" between incumbent and Rick Perry-appointee Devon Anderson and Democratic challenger Kim Ogg, with an enormous swath of the electorate undecided (46%).

That doesn't surprise me. The incumbent replaced her husband who'd already been diagnosed with terminal cancer before he took office, so the public barely knew him, nor her, despite her having been on the ballot before as a judge (a very different sort of election). That means both candidates remain relatively unknown to the voters, who will judge mainly based on party label. Indeed, many undecideds in that poll may never decide at all but will merely vote a straight ticket, R or D, perhaps not even knowing the DA candidates' names.

So the main tasks for both candidates are to drive turnout among the base and wooing the vanishing number of independents and ticket splitters out there who pay attention to candidates beyond their party labels. Those twin goals explain every one of the candidates' positions, which have been refreshingly populist and reform-minded on both sides. This is an example why I prefer it when candidates must run in competitive general elections. It enforces pragmatism and interest-based centrism that's notably absent in both parties' primaries and leaves the victors more prepared to govern.

MORE: See a decent backgrounder on the two candidates.


Anonymous said...

While neither candidate is an optimal choice for party hardliners, Anderson greatly benefits from historical voting patterns favoring the GOP. At this writing, the biggest concern by many regarding Ogg relates to a statement you (Grits) made recently about candidates making promises for things they don't control.

Ogg has stated numerous times in her press conferences that the DA is the top LEO in the county. If it were the job of the DA to only seek convictions, it would make more sense but that is simply not true. Ogg further details all her plans for the office tying most to directing the police agencies what crimes they will fight, how they will do things under her reign, and a host of other choice comments.

It sounds nice that she is going to order Harris County SO and Houston PD, among others, to stop spending so much time on low level drug dealers and go after the cartels instead. It also sounds great that she will make the police write tickets for low levels of pot in order to put cops back on the street. She further claims that she will institute a hard line on burglars so they can't get probation and prosecute every case of judicial or police misconduct.

The problem with those stances involves the reality of situations. If a case is flimsy, perhaps even political in nature, prosecuting indiscriminately is a waste of court time and resources, both against common sense. The small amount drug policies will still have cops taking someone in to live scan their hands for ID, still force someone to take a plea for drugs lest the alternative be to "punish" them for refusing such a good deal, and still require the police to put evidence in a secure facility and write a report; nullifying the alleged time savings of the policy (her primary goal). And it is unlikely that policing agencies are going to direct patrol officers, the source of most small drug busts, to start going after cartels ala a bad Lethal Weapon movie (is that an oxymoron?). And since the DA's office has had a no probation policy for burglars for over 30 years, I'm not sure why she is trying to take credit for it.

Anderson is also flawed, her attempt to help prostitutes likely to backfire, her own drug policy a compromise from Ogg's, and some of her own choices like recusing her office from prosecuting police because most of the staff were friends with the guy rather than have a political showboat trial, lose it, and then blame the jury. If she were to run with the promise of supporting Hill in two years, she'd be light years ahead of Ogg instead of just a slightly better version. As it stands, the "R" will give her the biggest edge courtesy of Abbott and company running in a non-presidential year.

Anonymous said...

The degenerate lowlife Anderson has received the support of the HPOU because she refuses to prosecute any of their badged thugs.


Anonymous said...

Anon 8:30, personal attacks on candidates detract from what might otherwise be reasonable points made. Anderson recused her office of charging a particular cop because his fiance worked in the division set up for prosecuting police, her co-workers also friendly with him. Had Anderson kept the case in office, Ogg would be howling over how inappropriate it was to do so.

Anderson's office has prosecuted numerous officers both under her and her late husband, including cases where the facts were really light. These include the 4 in the Holly case, a few drug runner cases, and various others that have made the news, not to mention several DWI cases and other violations of the public trust. That the Chronicle misleads in their premium content article is no surprise, they did endorse Ogg after all, but the stink raised about the juvenile rape victim came up years ago and I believe it was one of the reasons Crime Stoppers dismissed her.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:06, selective prosecution is a valid criticism of Anderson. What happened to the high profile DWI case against KHOU News anchor Ron Trevino? The case disappeared unded VERY MYSTERIOUS circumstances

Anonymous said...

A good DA or ADA should be selective in prosecution, that is a primary function of the job. Blaming her for recusing the office is nonsensical just as her being pragmatic when she worked out a deal to dump that judge after a grand jury had no billed said judge shows some sense. And Trevino swore up and down he was not drunk, acting with much more class than many of his peers when faced with similar circumstances but worse specific facts.

Do we want a DA who is going to prosecute everything, regardless of the facts? I just don't think most would agree to that. As I pointed out last night, the office has not shied away from prosecuting public servants when the facts supported it.

Both have issues but Ogg just strikes me as being more politically driven in a bad way than Anderson, we'll find out what the general public thinks soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Anon @9:50 with all due respect if Ron Trevino wasnt drunk why was he arrested and charged? If I am not mistaken that was during a holiday weekend where breathalyzer was mandatory. You seem to suggest that he refused the breathalyzer which in itself should have been more reason to have him tried given his high position in society. As to your reason that "he swore up and down he was not drunk" I wish you told all other Harris county DWI offenders thats all they need to get their cases terminated.

Anonymous said...

Anon @1:14, and with all due respect, just because some novice misdemeanor intake ADA accepts charges for a particular case does not automatically mean that when all the evidence is in, the case looks as good to a seasoned prosecutor in court. According to reports, it was his first arrest and while you may believe being a news reporter gives him a "high position in society", you have yet to present any evidence that he was intoxicated other than the fact that he was arrested. Without the specific facts of a case to merit discussion, anything else is pure speculation.

But whether or not someone has a "high position in society", they should be accorded the same fair treatment we all want in court. Implying he received a better deal without a shred of proof seems unreasonable, just as implying the decision was made by the DA herself and not the ADA in the court assigned the case.

Anonymous said...

Anon @1:58 I referred to the circumstances of the Ron Trevino case as "mysterious" because the Chron actually did a story on this case and when the reporter inquired about the dismissal of the case, neither the prosecutors nor Trevino's attorney were forthcoming with the details. If it was as simple as you are trying to suggest there would be no reason for the prosecutors or defense to be tight-lipped about it. Right?

Anonymous said...

Anon @2:24, "mysterious" is used to imply something amiss. A large number of DWI cases are dismissed every working day at the courthouse, typically for generic reasons. An "I" wasn't dotted, a "T" wasn't crossed, a case had some minor flaw and there are just too many better cases to be made than focus on trying every single one. I'm not surprised Trevino's lawyer had nothing to say, he caught a break like thousands of "low profile" defendants do each year so it's really none of anyone's business. Do you think the DA's office owes the public an explanation? If so, do they owe it on every case dismissed or just the ones a few people speculate about?

Ultimately, this being an election cycle, some will speculate based on almost nothing at all to fulfill their agenda. Had Trevino plowed into someone and killed them, had scores of witnesses extolling his drunken nature, or anything else worthy of bringing it up, I would understand your position better. As it is, if you are that convince something afoul took place, file a public record information request to find out; both of the original arrest report and the court file. I'm sure someone in the media did to bag one of their own but since there was nothing worth reporting, it died the death it should have back then.

Anonymous said...

Anon@10:56 finally me and you agree on Ron Trevino--"he caught a break"--an "Anderson break"!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon@4:08, we probably agree on a great many things. On this particular issue, I am merely putting it in context that a prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not rack up a higher conviction rate "score". In the DWI case of Ron Trevino, just like thousands of other similar cases, the ADA in his court declined to prosecute based on the totality of circumstances. That in no way implies special favors or "mysterious circumstances", only that the state did not want to proceed based on the facts.

You can love or hate the local police but their burden of arrest is based on probably cause, not having an airtight case to prosecute, Trevino himself praising their efforts during this entire event. Are you of those who believe an arrest is proof of guilt or was this just an opportunity to smear a good man's name while attacking a political figure yet to be implicated in having a single thing to do with the case?


Someone in Houston REALLY needs to expose Ms. Ogg for the way she has used crime victims as a political stepping stone; and then betrayed them when it suited her purposes. It also needs to be shown her very close association with the infamous Andy Kahan.