Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kronberg on Ron Reynolds vs. Dora Olivo in Texas HD 27

The other day Harvey Kronberg made some observations with regard to the upcoming HD 27 primary showdown between Ron Reynolds and the incumbent state representative, Dora Olivo. It was on the January 8th issue of the Quorum Report. I thought they were interesting and refreshingly unadorned by the recent mudslinging that has marred the campaign of Olivo, who I had thought up to now ran a clean campaign.

Kronberg compares the current race by young African-American attorney Ron Reynolds with the 2006 primary challenge by another African-American challenger, Steve Brown. Demographically, the district is roughly split into three populations of African-American, Hispanic, and Anglo. African-Americans, outside of the local East Fort Bend communities, have been mostly ignored by Olivo, some who live in the community say. In fact, when Olivo had learned of Reynolds’ interest in running for her seat, her office had just received a phone call from a constituent who informed them that Olivo would have a challenger “because she hadn’t delivered for the blacks in the district”. Looking back at 2006, while the district contains about a one third African-American voting group, it was not enough for Steve Brown to be successful in his primary challenge. According to Kronberg:

“In 2006, though, Steve Brown could not break 40 percent against Olivo. That was despite a fairly impressive resume, which included stints on the staffs of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and of state Rep. Sylvester Turner. He also interned in the Clinton White House.”
The main problem was that while he was on the staff of these influential legislators, his former bosses could not endorse their protégé in a primary challenge.

This is not the case with Ron Reynolds. Reynolds, once on the internship program of State Senator Rodney Ellis, has benefited from the endorsement of his former mentor, and as well has benefited from the endorsements of State Rep. Jessica Farrar and US Congressman Al Green as well as the endorsement of Fort Bend County Precinct 2 Constable Reuben Davis. Having been to a Reynolds event, I have also observed Fort Bend County Commissioner Grady Prestage and Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen as present in the crowd, and are also apparently supporting Reynolds. Kronberg initially reported that State Rep Senfronia Thompson was also among Reynolds’ supporters, but was told today that because she is running for Speaker of the House, she must refrain from any endorsements.

These endorsements, Kronberg says, will be trouble for the Olivo campaign.

Finally, there is the note of frustration among those who have been waiting for State Rep Olivo to step aside for emergent candidates from the next generation.

“Reynolds said the reason for the erosion of support for Olivo stems from her decision to run for re-election. He claims that Olivo had let it be known that she would not run again after her 2006 election and that some of her backers expected her to step aside for another representative. Ellis said that was his understanding, too.”
Olivo agrees that she had considered the idea of stepping aside, and does admit to reports that her supporters, upon hearing that she was thinking of not running, “and asked her to reconsider”.

Kronberg did not mention any of this, but I thought this was also germane to the discussion. Among the wedge issues that separate the two candidates ideologically are Olivo’s anti-abortion stance as well as her votes to bar embryonic stem cell research from state-funded research projects. While Ron Reynolds is both pro-choice and in favor of embryonic stem cell research, Olivo, a Catholic, has been given a pass by some for taking positions against these as they run against her religious creed. I would wonder, however, if the same people who give State Rep Olivo a pass for her anti-choice/anti-stem cell research votes would do the same for evangelical Christians who who vote their beliefs in this case if they believed with all their hearts and souls that Intelligent Design was a valid subject worthy of discussion in our public schools.

Would they?

Would you?

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