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Initial thoughts on the runoffs

I’ll go through them one race at a time, with the unofficial vote totals minus Montgomery County for each. Once I have precinct results, I’ll go through those and do a more detailed analysis.

Mayor

Annise Parker – 81,971, 52.78%
Gene Locke – 73,331, 47.22%

This was perhaps a bit closer than one might have thought given the most recent poll. At a guess, given the Fort Bend County results, I’d say that African American voters broke more strongly to Locke than had been previously indicated, but that there just weren’t that many of them in the end. Certainly, all the predictions that turnout for the runoff would exceed that of the general were way off. There were about 87,000 votes cast Saturday in Harris County, far less than the 112,000 predicted by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman. In the end, 67,653 early votes were cast in the Mayoral race, or 43.8% of the final Harris County tally of 154,618. In other words, this runoff was just like the last three runoffs in terms of early vote share compared to that of the general. I called it right, and I’m going to gloat a little about that.

Parker’s election has made the national news, and she’s a trending topic on Twitter. Lots of people are going to be talking about this for a long time. I don’t think we fully realize yet the impact her election will have. I think this will make an awful lot of people take a second and third look at Houston, and may finally make some of my progressive colleagues outside of Texas realize that there’s more to the state than just Austin.

Oh, and Parker made history in more ways than one, too. Go Rice Owls!

Controller

Ronald Green – 74,262, 51.48%
MJ Khan – 69,991, 48.52%

Green won early in-person voting by a fairly wide margin, but trailed in absentee ballots and also in Harris on Election Day. This suggests to me that as was the case in November, the early electorate was much more Democratic than the Election Day electorate. That was the case in Harris County last November as well. I sure hope the local Democratic strategists are paying attention to that. Green carried Fort Bend by 2,016 votes but would have won anyway. Oddly, I was more nervous about his chances going into today than I was about Parker’s, but less so about them once the early results were in. I figured if there was an African American surge that could carry Locke to a win, it would bring Green in its wake as well.

City Council At Large #1

Stephen Costello – 67,842, 52.15%
Karen Derr – 62,249, 47.85%

I had no feel at all for this race. The only thing that would have surprised me was a not-close result. Derr led coming into Election Day, but Costello pulled it out. If I had to guess, I’d say his late TV blitz – after not seeing any of his ads in months, I saw it four times this week – was a factor. Surely having such a large financial advantage should mean something. Costello had a fair amount of crossover support, and while I’m sad to see Derr lose I think he’ll make a fine Council member.

City Council At Large #2

Sue Lovell – 68,676, 54.08%
Andrew Burks – 58,317, 45.92%

Lovell has the easiest win of the night in the race with the highest undervote. Make of that what you will.

City Council At Large #5

Jolanda Jones – 69,763, 50.61%
Jack Christie – 68,080, 49.39%

Let this be Exhibit A for how hard it is to unelect a sitting Council member in Houston. It’s hard for me to imagine conditions more favorable for Jack Christie going into Election Day. Ultimately, he could not overcome the Democratic tilt of the early vote. Jones won early in person voting by a 58-42 margin, easily the widest of any candidate, but Christie ran strongly on Saturday, capturing Harris by 53.5-46.5, which combined with the absentee vote put him over the top in this county. Unfortunately for him, Fort Bend was to Jones what it was to Lee Brown in 2001, and that was enough for her to hang on. I voted for Jones, I’m very glad she won, but I have nothing bad to say about Christie, who ran a clean and honorable race. I sincerely hope that Council Member Jones uses this experience to help her channel her considerable talent and smarts more productively.

Houston City Council, District A

Brenda Stardig – 9,258, 56.59%
Lane Lewis – 7,103, 43.41%

Houston City Council, District F

Al Hoang – 4,681, 52.72%
Mike Laster – 4,180, 47.28%

The City of Houston proved its Democratic bona fides, but Districts A and F remained Republican. I’ll be interested to see how the citywide candidates did in each of these districts. Beyond that, my congratulations to the winners and my condolences to the losers. Oh, and in my favorite bit of trivia for the evening, Laster and Hoang split the Fort Bend vote evenly, with 19 ballots apiece.

HISD Trustee, District I

Anna Eastman – 4,959, 50.99%
Alma Lara – 4,766, 49.01%

HISD Trustee, District IX

Larry Marshall – 6,295, 51.15%
Adrian Collins – 6,012, 48.85%

A bad night for the Houston Federation of Teachers, as both of their candidates lost. Conversely, a good night for the HISD Parent Visionaries, who ultimately went three for three in the Trustee races. Lara had a slight early lead, which Eastman overcame, while Marshall led all along for yet another close escape. Again, my congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to the losers.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll have more when the precinct results are in. Chron coverage is here, here, here, and here. Let me know what your thoughts are about this election.

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19 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Thank you. Though this blog as well as the Chronicle wanted so badly a liberal win in District F, we communicated our conservative message and connected with the conservative majority in southwest Houston. Al Hoang looks forward to giving SW Houston neighborhoods a strong voice that has been missing from City Hall for some time.

  2. Burt Levine says:

    Eric-Congratulations to you and your team for an incredible execution of your stated mission. Charles I’m sorry your preferences in the districts were not met but you voted with your feet when you chose to live in H and not A or F your preferences perhaps don’t match those of those that have chosen to live and vote in Sprinbranch and Sharpstown.

  3. CG says:

    You might want to ask Council Member Noreiga about the talents, smarts, and value of Jones on Council. Be sure to get the honest view, not the toe the line Democrat view.

  4. […] Off the Kuff gave a rundown of the Houston runoffs. […]

  5. […] Off the Kuff gave a rundown of the Houston runoffs. […]

  6. Patrick says:

    Maybe I’m living in a bubble, but does it seem that the Annise Parker, Lesbian Mayor, is a much bigger story in the national media than it is here in Houston? I think that has to do with the fact that Mayor-elect Parker has been a long-time fixture on local political scene competently serving on city council and as the city controller that most people, at least from the sense I got, based their decision largely on issues other than Ms. Parker’s sexual preference.

    Really I didn’t get the controversy (or the controversial mailers) but I think that it couldn’t have been that big a deal considering the turnout in the general election was small and the Parker-Locke showdown drew 16-17% of the eligible voters. (BTW, pretty cool that I essential got 6 votes)

    Generally speaking I think most voters looked at the 3 major candidates – Parker, Locke and Brown – and saw 3 people that each are likely to be better that Lee Brown, worse than Bill White but for the most part would likely do a reasonable adequate job. I’m happy Parker won, but wouldn’t have been distraught had Locke or Brown won.

  7. […] Off the Kuff gave a rundown of the Houston runoffs. […]

  8. asmith says:

    What other neighborhoods consist of district F besides Sharpstown and Alief?

  9. asmith says:

    Why can’t Mike Laster win a race?

  10. Mainstream says:

    Laster has run in challenging districts which tend to be more conservative and Republican than he is, and this time, he was up against a surge of pride by the Vietnamese-American community seeking to elect a member of that community to office.

  11. Eric says:

    And F tends to be conservative. At some junction, maybe Laster should ask himself that very question.

  12. Eric says:

    To address the Parker question: Parker did not win because she’s a lesbian, but because Houston voters thought she was the most qualified for the job with the best vision.

    I am saddened that the global, yes global, press is deciding she won because of her lifestyle choices. It isn’t so.

    Saying she won because of it is tantamount to the Democratic blogger not affiliated with this sit who made bigoted comments about Asians after Al won.

    Parker won because the voters feel she is the most fiscally conservative and has the right vision for growth.

  13. Martha Griffin says:

    CG, Just to clarify, Council Member Noriega has always had a cordial and productive relationship with Council Member Jones.

  14. […] Off the Kuff gave a rundown of the Houston runoffs. […]