Campaign Mail Trying to Sway Democrat Harris County Voters May Not Be Who You Think – Houston Public Media
Some Democrats in Harris County received an official voter guide endorsing key opponents of Democratic incumbents in the county.
An independent political action committee with roots in neighboring Fort Bend County is responsible for the guide.
The mail, with the titles “Harris County Election Guide” and “Democratic Voter Guide” on the cover, is the product of a PAC called “Fort Bend United.” Peace George Risner on outgoing Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, both Democrats.
Weird that a PAC called Fort Bend United sends this mailer?
Good thing @harrisdemocrats have a very distinct logo otherwise the wording would have tripped me up.
Inside, he endorses Erica Davis, George Risner and John Whitmire, among others… pic.twitter.com/7OrMq5tkdh
— Houston Climate Houser (@zoyamiddleton) February 22, 2022
Shapnik Khan, the founder of Fort Bend United, says the group is unhappy with Hidalgo and Garcia’s efforts to fight crime and what they see as a lack of funding for law enforcement .
Khan said his PAC also seeks to reduce property taxes and tackle corruption in county government.
He denied that the guide is intended to mislead voters.
“It’s not a misleading guide,” Khan said. “There are candidates that people may not be happy with (with), but we have, if you look at the booklet, (gubernatorial candidate) Beto (O’Rourke) is our number one hero.”
Despite the PAC’s name, records filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show he has an address in Houston. But the group’s website focuses exclusively on Fort Bend County politics, and its endorsement page makes no mention of Harris County candidates or its involvement in distributing Harris County shippers. Fort Bend United’s “About” page says the group endorses “candidates in many local Fort Bend (county) races and some statewide elections.”
Its latest campaign finance report shows Fort Bend United spent just over $35,000 and has less than $29,000 on hand. This suggests a relatively limited ability to influence Harris County contests.
But in a primary marked by low turnout, even a small number of votes for Davis or Risner could increase the chances that Hidalgo or Garcia will be forced into a runoff.
Khan himself was Vice Chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats, although he is currently a resident of Harris County 4, represented by Commissioner Jack Cagle. Fort Bend United is backing former Justice Lesley Briones in the Precinct 4 Democratic primary, the same nominee endorsed by Commissioner Garcia.
The Harris County Democratic Party has no affiliation with Fort Bend United. Elisa Rochford, a party spokeswoman, said it, “does not endorse or take any official position in the primaries.”
“We trust our voters to do their research and choose the best candidates to represent the Democratic Party in the November general election,” Rochford said.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George, a Democratic re-election candidate himself who was endorsed by the group, declined to comment for this story.
The Fort Bend County Democratic Party has yet to respond to a request for comment.
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