Fun with Highways: #TX07

Primary election season is in full swing.  In a couple weeks, we will be having one here in California (as well as an election for mayor here in SF).  But tomorrow, there is a runoff in Texas’ 7th Congressional District (TX07) in which we at CatSynth are taking a keen interest.  As illustrated in the map, TX07 cuts an odd shape through the western neighborhoods of Houston and the adjacent towns in Harris County.  It is a diverse area and intersects with all three of Houston’s loop highways, which is no small feat.  It includes several wealthy enclaves, but also middle-class neighborhoods, and areas that have been hit by serious flooding during Hurricane Harvey and preceding events.

US 59The southeast “bulge” part of the district includes sections of Houston that lie within the I-610 loop, or “Inner Loop”.  I-610 separates the downtown sections of Houston from outer neighborhoods and surrounding communities, including towns like Southside Place.  It is bisected west-to-east by the new I-69 (US 59).  The area where these two highways intersect would not look out of place in Los Angeles.


[By Socrate76 [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons]

Heading north and west, we come to the middle section of the district, which is largely a horizontal rectangle bounded by the mighty I-10 to the north, and which extends almost to Katy in the west.  Beltway 8, also known as the Sam Houston Parkway/Tollway, bisects this segment of the district.  Just to the west of the beltway are the Briarforest neighborhood and the ominously named Energy Corridor.  Not surprisingly, several major energy corporations have operations in this area, as do several other businesses.  The Buffalo Bayou – we at CatSynth are still not entirely sure what separates a bayou from a river – cuts through the district.  It was subject to major flooding during Hurricane Harvey.  In addition to the bayou itself cresting at record levels above flood stage. releases from the Barker Reservoir caused severe flooding in adjacent low-lying neighborhoods.  We have sources that have informed us that the floodwaters in the Energy Corridor area were most unpleasant.

The final section of the district cuts an inverted “L” between State Highway 6 and State Highway 99, the outermost loop around Houston, bounded on top by US 290.  In all, the district has an odd shape indeed, but not so odd when one considers the tradition of gerrymandering, an art which has been taken to new heights by Texas’ Republican-controlled state government.  Its shape has long preserved it as a safe Republican district – it has elected Republicans to Congress consistently since George H.W. Bush in 1966.  But the city and surrounding area have been changing, and it is seen as vulnerable to flip to 2018.

Several Democratic candidates have vied to take on incumbent Republican John Culbertson, including Laura Moser, a progressive candidate who also just happens to be the sister-in-law of CatSynth author and founder Amanda Chaudhary.  As such, we are watching her candidacy with great interest and excitement.  Leading up to the main primary in March, things got a bit nasty, with the DCCC (Demoncratic Congressional Campaign Committee) throwing its weight behind another candidate, more mainstream and connected to the Democratic establishment.  This was an unusual move for a suburban primary election, and some of the opposition was rather mean-spirited.  But that is a long-standing part of elections, and it only served to galvanize support for Moser, who placed second in the crowded field and made to the runoff which happens tomorrow, May 22.  Not having learned their lesson the first time, the DCCC has continued to attack her, including some rather nasty opposition-research-style drops (in some ways, they reminded me of some recent attacks on Jane Kim on our local mayor’s race in SF).  But in this case, it was against family, and therefore personal in addition to being against my political views.  So we at CatSynth are pulling strongly for Laura Moser in Texas’ 7th Congressional District tomorrow, and hope she wins both the runoff and the general election in November.  You can find out more about her history and positions on her website, and if you have any friends in TX07, please encourage them to get out and vote!

Beckett enters California politics

Few political articles reference Samuel Beckett's masterpiece Waiting for Godot, but that's exactly what we find at SayNoToPombo as they cover the recent wave of newspaper endorsements against Richard Pombo.

We at CatSynth dubbed Mr. Pombo California's Worst Representative in an earlier post.

It is nice to see literary references that add a bit of sophistication to what is otherwise an ugly campaign season.






The races

Here is the round-up of the various races I'm watching this month:

Click for electoral-vote dot com

Click for electoral-vote dot com

Series: Mets 1, St. Louis 1

Thu, 12 Oct: Mets 2, STL 0
Fri, 13-Oct: STL 9, Mets 6

I was hoping for another Subway series, but a Democratic majority in Congress is a nice consolation prize…

UPDATE: The Mets have pulled even at 2-2 with a rout on Sunday. Nothing so dramatic on the political scorecard over the weekend.





California's Worst Representative

Seems I have politics on the brain this week, and no wonder considering the high stakes:

Click for electoral-vote dot com

Click for electoral-vote dot com

Not much excitement in my own district (or any other district in which I have resided during my time in California), but one does not have to go too far east to find California's Worst Representative.


Richard Pombo represents the 11th District, and is the chair of the House Resources Committee. Pombo hails from Tracy, a town that is a poster child for ugly exurban sprawl (and the butt of a lot of jokes when I was living in the East Bay). He has long been obsessed with dismantling the 1973 Endangered Species Act. In addition to being as old as I am, the Endangered Species Act protects a wide variety of plants and animals, including the San Joaquin Kit Fox that inhabits Pombo's district (pictured to the right).

From interviews and statements I've heard, on NPR and elsewhere, he seems to take pride in his work to weaken or eliminate environmental protection and sell land and resources from our National Park System and elsewhere to developers and speculators. He supports not only the oft-mentioned drilling proposal for the Artic Wildlife National Refuge, but also end the long-time ban on drilling of the California coast. His name surfaced again in recent reports about protecting the coast of Northern California (Mendocino, etc.). And, like most of his fellow conservative Republicans, all his efforts seem to be done with a sense that he is on some sort of righteous crusade.

He has also been implicated in several of the trendy Republican scandals, but that's the least of his faults.

You can read more, a lot more, at PomboWatch and Say No To Pombo. Oh, and it might be worth visiting his opponent's website, too. This is turning out to be a competitive race, so any interest and support may help send Pombo back to Tracy, and help some of our endangered friends in the process:

UPDATE: The Stockton Record covers the CA-11 debate last night between Pombo and McNerney.