This is turning out to be quite the interesting political season right here in Houston, Texas. The current race for Mayor, for example, just keeps getting more interesting.
Officially, the race for Mayor of Houston is billed as a "non-partisan" contest. Everyone knows, however, the political affiliation of the candidates. In the current race, the race is dominated by Democrats. That is not unusual. Our current mayor, Bill White, is a former deputy Secretary of Energy from the Clinton administration. He is now pursuing the soon to be vacant Senate seat of Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The three leading candidates from the Democrat side of the aisle are Gene Locke - a wealthy black lawyer; Annise Parker, the current City Controller and first openly gay former City Council member; and Peter Brown, a wealthy architect and current City Council member.
Enter Team Obama. A couple of weeks ago, the DNC held its national fall meeting in Austin. A prominent member of the Obama campaign has been dispatched to Houston to work on Gene Locke's campaign - the presumed front runner in the race. This person is Temo Figueroa.
Who is Temo Figueroa? He was the assistant political director at AFSCME and oversaw the union's independent expenditure program during the 2006 elections. He was Administrator of AFSCME Council 18, New Mexico, served on the DNC's Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, and he was National Latino Vote Director for Barack Obama before becoming national Field Director for his presidential campaign.
And, now the Locke staff is receiving notice for bringing in Opel Simmons, listed as Campaign Staff on Locke's Campaign Finance Report. Opel Simmons was involved in one of the largest "Voter Suppression" scandals in 2004 in the state of Wisconsin. Simmons was arrested but not charged because he cooperated with investigators. The suppression? You may remember during the 2004 election, 100 GOP vans were disabled by tire slashing so that they could not be used to transport voters to the polls who were unable to drive themselves. The name of the operation was termed "Operation Elephant Takeover", according to WisPolitics.com.
And, Gene Locke's campaign headquarters is the same as the Obama headquarters from the last election. The mural of Obama is still on the outside brick exterior.
As a rule, Texans don't care much for outside influence in our political races. Will the same hold true this time?