As promised from last week.
When Ben Hall left the city attorney’s office in December 1994 after three years as a confidante to and attack dog for Mayor Bob Lanier, observers assumed the ambitious 38-year-old’s path would lead back to City Hall someday.
Some thought the self-described “reliably controversial” barrister’s confrontational style was a liability, that he should keep a low profile for a while. Others said Hall could succeed Lanier in just a few years if he kept his name in front of voters.
Hall, the top challenger to Mayor Annise Parker, who is seeking a final two-year term on Nov. 5, acknowledged that he had mapped out the road back to 901 Bagby himself.
“One thing I think any political person should have is financial independence so that they are not tempted to be swayed by idle temptation,” Hall said then, “and so this will help me in my financial independence.”
“This” was a job with renowned trial attorney John O’Quinn’s firm. Nearly 19 years and plenty of big-ticket victories later, the “South Carolina country boy” has certainly achieved the financial independence he sought.
Hall’s name identification with voters had faded by the time he launched his candidacy in January, but he has used his checkbook to make up the deficit. About $2.2 million of the $2.7 million he had raised as of late last month came from his own pocket.
The Chron’s profile of Mayor Parker was the previous Sunday; I blogged about it here. Hall does have a good story to tell – in many candidates, it would be a very compelling story. In Hall, however, I’ve never felt like that story has ever connected to a clear idea of what kind of Mayor he would be. I’ve read his press releases, I’ve critiqued his crimefighting plan, I’ve done an interview with him, but I still don’t have a clear picture of what he would do on big issues like budget, pensions, and quality of life. He’s clearly a smart guy, and I believe he’s genuinely motivated to make Houston a better place. But after all this time, I still don’t know how he would go about it.