It’s runoff and a rivalry, all in one.
Saturday’s runoff in City Council District I, which covers downtown and the East End, pits the protégés of two pillars of Hispanic politics against each other in the sort of showdown political observers love.
Surviving the November ballot’s tightest race, in which just 341 votes separated first from last among the four candidates, were Graci Garces and Robert Gallegos.
Gallegos, 54, a civic activist and Harris County jailer, served eight years as an aide to former eastside Harris County Commissioner and now-state Sen. Sylvia Garcia. Garces, 33, is chief of staff for term-limited District I Councilman James Rodriguez; both Garces and Rodriguez worked for former council member and now-State Rep. Carol Alvarado.
Alvarado and Garcia waged a bitterly contested campaign earlier this year for the post Garcia now holds, a history that frames Saturday’s runoff.
“It’s going to be machine politics at its purest: Which machine can mobilize more people to turn out to vote?” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, who added that turnout is expected to be dismal. “Probably 2,500 votes gets you the seat, perhaps even less. That’s a small number of people to be electing a City Council member in a city the size of Houston.”
Gallegos acknowledges Garcia is promoting him, just as Garces acknowledges Alvarado has block-walked and Rodriguez has made fundraising calls. Yet, both candidates say they have waged their own campaigns, just as both suggest their opponent’s support has come mostly thanks to their mentor’s influence.
I suspect most observers who aren’t directly connected to either camp, especially those who like both Sen. Garcia and Rep. Alvarado, are more weary of this ongoing rivalry than looking forward to another round of it, but maybe that’s just me. I don’t even know what to make of stuff like this. I’m just glad that today is the last day of it. Be that as it may, as with District D there’s not much separation between these two on the issues, for the most part anyway. I’ve noticed that posts on the District I race generate a lot of heated comments. People pick a side, and that’s just how it is. We’ll see whose side is bigger, at least in this case. Texpatriate has more.