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Six questions for the runoffs

Six questions that I can think of, anyway.

1. What will Peter do?

Will Peter Brown endorse someone in the runoff? If so, how vigorously does he support that person? He’s in a position to have an effect on the outcome if he chooses to do so. What will he do?

His won’t be the only endorsement that will be sought out and may make a difference. As you know, I don’t think Roy’s voters will be inclined to come back out in December, but I could be wrong about that. It is worth wondering what, if anything, Roy will do at this point. Beyond that, will Pam Holm pick a side in the Controller’s runoff? So far she hasn’t, but that could certainly change. Will the Democrats who sided with Herman Litt or Rick Rodriguez reposition themselves in At Large #1? Will Linda Toyota back a candidate in HISD I? Not all endorsements matter, and of those that do, some count for more than others. I believe these count for something, and I expect there’s a lot of inter-campaign conversation going on right now.

2. Where’s the money?

Gene Locke reported $391,969.75 on hand in his eight days out report. Parker had $83,229.73. I strongly suspect both of them are running lower than that now, and needless to say neither can write their own check. How much fundraising can they do over the next (say) three weeks, and which one can get back on the air first? What’s their plan to get their voters out if they can’t afford airtime?

3. What about the Republicans?

I estimate Roy won something like 55-60% of the Republican vote in this election, based on the fact that folks with a Republican primary history made up about 31% of early voters, and that Roy did better on Election Day (22.86%) than he did in early voting (15.37%). That’s a significant bloc if they decide they have a preference for one or the other remaining candidates. It doesn’t come without risk, however – there are still way more Democratic voters in this city, and a high-profile embrace of Roy might turn some of them off. There have been rumors for a couple of weeks that the likes of Steven Hotze and Dan Patrick will stump for Locke. I have no idea if there’s any truth to that, but it would very much be a double-edged sword for him. I can’t think of a better way to fire up Parker’s supporters than that.

Republicans may aim a little lower and try to win the Controller’s office, while knocking off incumbent Council member Jolanda Jones. Both are doable, though I don’t think either will be easy. They may also work to hold MJ Khan’s District F seat by supporting Al Hoang against Mike Laster. I consider Brenda Stardig the favorite to win against Lane Lewis in District A, but if there’s little Republican interest at the top of the ticket, Lewis may get some coattails from the dual Democratic Mayoral campaigns.

4. How negative are things going to get?

Hard to say. While all of the Mayoral candidates attacked each other, the main image I have of negativity is Brown’s ad campaign against Locke. You figure Parker and Locke have to attack each other, it’s just a question of how and how much. I will say this, since several people have asked me about it: I don’t expect Parker’s sexuality to be any more of an issue in the runoff than it was in the general. For one, that’s not who Gene Locke is, and for two, I don’t think it would be a successful strategy.

Similarly in the Controller’s race, the main source of attack ads is now out. Does Khan pick up the theme from Holm, or does he decide she didn’t gain anything from it and stick to his “I’m the most qualified” theme? For that matter, does Green bring up the residency issue against Khan? I think if the one happens then the other does, but it’s not clear if the one happens, or which campaign shoots first.

I definitely expect some negativity in the Council races, where a last minute attack on Sue Lovell may have helped keep her below 50%. If Jack Christie, or someone on his behalf, doesn’t send out at least one mailer attacking Jolanda Jones, I’ll be shocked.

Finally, remember that negativity doesn’t mean lower turnout. If this election doesn’t drive a stake in the heart of the notion that voters are turned off by negative campaigns and prefer nice, quiet, issues-oriented ones, I don’t know what would.

5. Who will the Chron endorse?

Time to get off the fence, fellas. Who’s it gonna be, Parker or Locke, and how long will you make us wait? Will any other endorsing entity that declined to pick a side in the first go-round commit to one candidate or the other in overtime? My guess on the latter question is No, but surely the Chron won’t weasel out again. Or maybe they will, if their editorial board is sufficiently divided. I can’t wait to see what they do.

6. What will early voting look like?

As noted, 31% of all votes in Houston were cast early, which is a significant uptick from previous city elections. My guess is that an increasing number of the more habitual voters, who needless to say were the bulk of this electorate, have shifted their habits towards early voting. I would guess that a similar share of the runoff vote, perhaps more, will vote early.

Those are my questions. Prof. Murray has a few as well. What are yours?

UPDATE: I get some answers to one of my questions via press release from Karen Derr:

Candidate Karen Derr for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1 has received mounting support from a broad base of organizations and elected officials. Karen Derr has gained the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Democracy for Houston, and the Houston AFL-CIO. In addition, Karen Derr has also received the endorsements from State Representatives Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez.

The HGLBT Political Caucus endorsed Herman Litt in the first go-round; I’m not sure about the other groups offhand. But this is a pretty clear sign to me that much of Litt’s support will transfer to Derr.

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20 Comments

  1. Baby Snooks says:

    Some are expecting a short-circuit somewhere in the AT&T system soon from all the phone calls back and forth from here to there seeking the money from the Brown camp and the votes from the Morales camp.

    There are some heavy-hitters who gave to Brown and now can give to Locke or Parker. And some may find themselves in a “sticky wicket” depending on who they give to. So some may not give anything.

    And of course the Harris County Republican Party is not going to endorse Locke or Parker but Morales might. Which is the same thing. But of course you have the base of the Harris County Republican Party which isn’t real thrilled with an African-American or a lesbian.

    To paraphrase Bette Davis in “All About Eve” it might be wise to fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride to the polls in December.

  2. Don Large says:

    I am working hard the next thirty-seven days to elect, en bloc, our Republicans who have advanced into the runoff: Costello, Christie, Khan, Stardig, and Hoang. This is a great slate of reasonable, responsive, and responsible Repubilcan candidates who will engage our residents in an adult manner regarding the public policy challenges we face as a community in the years ahead.

    I am working to get a meeting called of the Harris County Repubican Party as soon as possible to officially endorse Costello, Christie, Khan, Stardig, and Hoang. This will also include a coordinated campaign and fundraising effort. I expect all five of these well-qualified candidates to win their runoffs in December.

    Furthermore, I am going to do everything I can do to elect Annise Parker as Mayor and re-elect Sue Lovell to her third term at At Large, Position Three. These are extremely well-qualified and serious and sober public officials who take their jobs, if not necessarily themselves, seriously. I think these two women deserve the support of Republican voters across Houston. I have proudly cross-party endorsed both Annise and Sue since August 5, 2009, and I will enthusiastically campaign on their behalf.

    Warmly yours,

    DON LARGE
    Candidate
    Chairman, Harris County Republican Party
    832.341.3733
    donlarge2010@gmail.com

    “A County Chairman for All of Harris County”

  3. Baby Snooks says:

    Some Republicans who know Annise Parker loves the money no doubt will support her. The ones who remember the public hearing on the Memorial City TIRZ. The ones who love a politician who can be bought.

  4. Voting Public says:

    Minor correction, Don. Sue Lovell is AtLarge Position 2.

  5. Baby Snooks says:

    http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=1999_3153191

    “Councilwoman Annise Parker said she, too, was turned off by the behavior of some of the Tuesday night meeting participants, so much so that she momentarily considered “cramming the TIRZ down their throats.””

    She voted against it. But had supported it. The behavior she referred to was with regard to questions raised about campaign contributions she and others took from MetroNational just weeks before. Some wonder if someone else wrote a bigger check. Or several just wrote several checks. Her loyalties seem to lie in the checks. As several took note of in her recent campaign finance report. No doubt her first order of business as mayor will be to declare that 1717 Bissonnet will not be built and then she will huff and puff and cost the taxpayers a pretty penny in the lawsuit the developers will file against the city.

    Truly a fiscal conservative if ever there was one. One Republicans can be proud of though. Corrupt and proud of it.

  6. Don Large says:

    Apologize about the error. She will get 75% or higher on December the 12th in At Large Two, not Three (apologies, of course, to Councilmember Noriega),

  7. Ken says:

    has the precinct data been released yet?

  8. Temple Houston says:

    The folks who make a living out of quoting God started attacking Parker on election night. Channel 11 ran a spot last night that featured some “former” minister leading a group prayer at the Morales campaign party that warned of the collapse of Western Civilization if Houston elects someone who practices “that lifestyle.” SOS. What we now have is a “holy” alliance of African American ministers and the Republican Party to save the city from the dreaded homosexual lifestyle. These loving people may not go so far as running full page ads in the Chronicle (as was done in the 70s and 80s), but you can be sure that churchgoers will get the message — either directly from the pulpit or from a flyer on the windshield of their car in the church parking lot. Yes, this will be an extraordinarily nasty runoff filled with whispers, e-mails, and holy hypocrisy. I suspect most of this will be below the radar for most of Houston’s media, but just enough should surface to give the city’s reputation another black eye. Locke certainly won’t be responsible for this meanness. He can condemn the smear, gain approval thereby, but still benefit at the ballot box. I don’t see how Parker can win.

  9. Baby Snooks says:

    Well obviously I have no intention of voting for Annise Parker but my money is on her winning in a landslide and the rest of my money is on the indictments rolling in somewhere between 12 and 18 months.

  10. Sergio Davila says:

    He must be related to the JP from Louisiana that refused interracial marriages:

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=7101540

  11. Eric says:

    I invite those inner-loopers who projected a 50+ win for Laster on e-day to come and visit Southwest Houston – we do exist out here. Of course, real voters don’t want Laster’s extreme left politics or values, especially in SW Houston. I invite the inner-loop journalists to pay us a visit and understand why the conservative four candidates in F netted 59% on E-Day. Also, Lewis Cook has proudly endorsed Al Hoang. Al is the only candidate who provide real representation for ALL of Southwest Houston in many years.

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