I can’t stress enough how much this race matters.
Running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg has spent the past four months shaking hands, staking out her positions on criminal justice issues and raising about $100,000.
Her opponent, perennial candidate Lloyd Oliver, has been watching television.
“It’s my race to lose,” Oliver said after reporting that he has neither raised nor spent a dime on his campaign. “My strategy is to watch a lot of TV, I think. That’s all I’ve been doing.”
That may be all he needs to do in a down-ballot race in a primary that is not expected to see high voter turnout.
In 2012, Oliver befuddled the political establishment when he bested much better-funded Democratic primary opponent Zack Fertitta. In that race, Oliver spent only $300, for laminated flyers.
“Ogg’s got to figure out a way to get a reasonable share of the African-American vote, which Mr. Fertitta did not get in 2012,” said Richard Murray, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. “We may have only 60,000-70,000 come out for the (Democratic) primary and with two million registered voters, it’s a real crapshoot.”
This year, Oliver said, he does not plan to campaign until the general election. Name recognition, he said, will determine who wins the primary.
And Oliver appears to have plenty of that. Since 1994, Oliver has run for judge five times, and district attorney once. Having his name in front of voters every few years – which Oliver uses as advertising for his legal practice – paid off in his race against Fertitta. He expects it will again.
“There’s really nothing you can do,” he said. “Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen in the primary.”
Nonetheless, Ogg, 54, is taking him seriously.
“I’ve believed Lloyd every time before when he’s said he runs as a publicity stunt,” she said. “I’m not about to take one thing for granted, even Lloyd’s ability to get votes despite when he does nothing.”
Taking a cue from his missteps in 2012, Oliver said he purposefully is doing little in order to minimize criticism.
It’s my hope that this time when people see Lloyd Oliver’s name on the ballot, they’ll remember all that well-deserved negativity from 2012. When people remember the reason why they recognize your name and realize that it’s not for good reasons, then name recognition isn’t much of an asset. Ideally, Ogg will spend some of that money she’s raised helping people remember why they remember Lloyd Oliver’s name. The thought of nominating Oliver again is just too gruesome to contemplate. If you’re voting in the Democratic primary in Harris County, please make sure you vote for Kim Ogg, and make sure your friends know that they need to vote for her as well. We can’t afford to screw this up again.