Jill Biden spent Sunday morning campaigning in Black churches in Houston, Texas and eating at a soul food restaurant in an effort to save Democrat Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo who is in a tight race with Republican challenger Alexandra del Moral Mealer.
Daily Mail reporter Emily Goodin reported on Jill Biden’s stop at local favorite This Is It Soul Food. (Note the floor to ceiling wrap around bars protecting the restaurant windows), “Jill Biden, Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee and Judge Lina Hidalgo make a stop at This Is it Soul Food restaurant. FLOTUS order included: fried chicken, ox tail, collard greens, and sweet tea”
Jill Biden, Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee and Judge Lina Hidalgo make a stop at This Is it Soul Food restaurant. FLOTUS order included: fried chicken, ox tail, collard greens, and sweet tea pic.twitter.com/Z5dpLclshC
— Emily Goodin (@Emilylgoodin) November 6, 2022
Hidalgo and her press secretary posted photos of the stop at This Is It with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), “Pumped for Tuesday after speaking with community members of the Greater Third Ward area at This Is It Soul Food. The presence of @FLOTUS & @JacksonLeeTX18 really helped in making sure we’re all planning to get to the polls on Tuesday.”
Pumped for Tuesday after speaking with community members of the Greater Third Ward area at This Is It Soul Food.
— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) November 6, 2022
Earlier Sunday Biden campaigned in Black churches.
Goodin posted photos to Twitter with a blurb on her massage, “My husband ran for President to heal this country and that’s what we are doing,” Jill Biden speaks about losing and regaining her faith after Beau Biden died and urges people to vote on Tuesday during a stop at Good Hope church“
KHOU-TV reporter Maria Aguilera posted video from another church campaign stop, “First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church speaking about her faith, family, and the importance of voting just ahead of Election Day. She’s joined by several local candidates in the upcoming election.”
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church speaking about her faith, family, and the importance of voting just ahead of Election Day. She’s joined by several local candidates in the upcoming election. @KHOU pic.twitter.com/J42xmVOFMz
— Maria E. Aguilera (@maria_aguilera) November 6, 2022
Hidalgo posted about Biden’s campaigning in church for her, “In the words of our First Lady Jill Biden @FLOTUS now is the time to make our voices heard. We need to speak up for justice and democracy and fight for families who are struggling. It’s time to vote.”
Biden later attended a get out the vote event.
Biden is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Hidalgo later Sunday.
Hidalgo is on trouble over a corrupt COVID vaccine outreach contract awarded to a political ally that resulted in the indictment of three close staffers last April (Houston Chronicle excerpt via Daily Beast):
Three staffers in a prominent Harris County judge’s inner circle have been handed felony indictments over their alleged involvement in a botched $11 million COVID-19 vaccine outreach contract deal, according to court records. The trio indicted are Judge Lina Hidalgo’s current chief of staff, Alex Triantaphyllis, and policy director, Wallis Nader, as well as former senior adviser Aaron Dunn. All three are charged with misuse of official information and tampering with a government record. Hidalgo, a progressive Democrat, had previously championed the communication deal. Her three aides, part of a selection committee tasked with finding an appropriate vendor for the contract, awarded it to a small political consulting firm called Elevate Strategies. The deal was later hamstrung and finally terminated over the firm’s perceived inexperience with public health outreach and its founder’s reported ties to Democratic campaigns…
A subsequent news report by Fox26 indicate the contract was to be used as a surreptitious Democrat get out the vote effort (excerpt):
While Hidalgo maintains neither she nor her staff did anything wrong, financial documents recently obtained from the Harris County Auditor by FOX 26 contributor Bill King shed new light on the real intent of the “outreach” contract.
Something of particular interest is the invoices from three highly focused software companies.
“All of them were Democratic campaign operations. They were all companies that specialize, that provide data services to Democratic campaigns that obviously has nothing to do with COVID. All of them brag about what a great job they did identifying Democratic voters and getting them to the polls,” said King.
Rice University political analyst and pollster Mark Jones is absolutely convinced Hidalgo’s COVID outreach campaign was camouflage for a largely political operation using public dollars to maximize Democratic turnout.
“They were spending a million dollars buying voter lists and likely voter lists from Democratic consulting firms which you don’t use for COVID outreach, you use for mobilizing get-out-the-vote efforts for campaigns,” said Jones.
The records provided by the auditor indicate Harris County has recovered only $200,000 of the $1.4 million paid out before and after Hidalgo canceled the contract under heavy public pressure.
In fact, it was crime that ultimately led the Houston Chronicle to endorse Mealer over Hidalgo, which the editorial board admitted was not an easy decision. A West Point and Harvard Business as well as Law graduate, Mealer certainly has an impressive resume but still has a few things to learn.
“Subsequent conversations with Mealer leave us confident that, while her understanding of the system may be incomplete and in some cases even flawed, her main goals are ones we share: better funding of pretrial services and interventions, accountability for the accused, protect judicial discretion and rely on individualized risk assessments, which factor in such things as violent criminal history and gang affiliations in determining someone’s likeliness to reoffend while on bail,” the Editorial Board writes. “We don’t like that Mealer’s campaign, like Hidalgo’s, has pandered and stretched the truth in campaign ads. But frankly, we can see Mealer governing more like a technocrat, head down in a spreadsheet planning for impending economic turbulence or stocking flood control with qualified drainage engineers.”
A recent University of Houston Hobby School poll shows Mealer with a two point lead (excerpt):
A poll from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, released Monday on the first day of early voting, found 47% of likely Harris County voters say they will support Mealer, a political newcomer running for Harris County judge. Hidalgo drew support from 45%.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke is leading Gov. Greg Abbott by eight points (50% to 42%) among likely Harris County voters, while Republican Jack Cagle, the incumbent Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner, leads Democratic challenger Lesley Briones, 40% to 35%.
“Crime and public safety are the top concerns cited by voters in the county races, and that is more pronounced among voters who support Mealer and Cagle,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director and researcher at the Hobby School. Eight out of 10 likely voters listed crime, public safety and government corruption as very important to their decision about which candidate to support for county judge.
“Hidalgo remains popular with voters concerned about voting rights, abortion rights and racial equity, but overall, her support has softened,” Cross said.
Hidalgo promoted the Biden visit on Friday, saying, “Thrilled to share that @FLOTUS Dr. Biden will be joining me on the campaign trail this Sunday to support our fight for democracy, truth, and decency in Harris County. Election Day is this Tuesday 11/8. Let’s win!!”