New poll results by Zogby for the Houston Chronicle show an interesting dynamic in the City of Houston mayoral race. The largest percentage - 36% - answered not sure/undecided when asked to name for whom they would vote.
Yesterday afternoon I read an interesting blog post at http://mayoralmusings.com written by Nancy Sims and that post really brought more questions for me, as a Republican, than answers.
The City of Houston is certainly a predominantly Democratic city. Harris County, however, leans more in favor of Republicans. Or, that was the traditional wisdom until recent elections. The last presidential election brought about the defeat of most of the Republicans running for judgeships, for instance, due to being down ballot to straight ticket voters casting votes for Obama. Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris Co Republican Party, touts this fact when questioned about the diminishing numbers of Republican officeholders.
So, what is happening in this race? Peter Brown is running slightly ahead of Annise Parker, according to the Zogby poll. Brown, at 23.8%, Parker at 19%, are in the fight for first place. The interesting part of this is that Gene Locke is the presumed front runner by many Houstonians and he comes in at 13.1% - third place. Roy Morales, the only conservative in the race, is polling at 6.7%. As Sims reports, the poll was taken October 12-15 and 601 likely voters were polled.
The Houston Chronicle decided to co-endorse Annise Parker and Gene Locke.
The candidacy of Gene Locke has become somewhat controversial within the local Republican party. Some elected Republicans and other Republican leaders have crossed over and thrown their support publicly to Gene Locke. They site good business reasons for doing so. Beverly Kaufman, Harris Co Clerk, sent out robocalls voicing her support of Locke. It seems I had the same reaction when I received that robocall as others in my party did - What is she doing? Now she has announced her retirement. Is there something behind all this?
As Sims points out, Locke is having difficulty within the African-American community as Brown boasts endorsements of some prominent local leaders. Brown can match Locke on money available to spend on advertising. It seems to be having an effect. Parker has less in contributions and Morales farthest behind.
Like many Republicans in Houston, I ponder, what is happening to the Republican party on our local level? I think the current leadership has fallen into complacency and only now is stepping up efforts to expand outreach. I also think it is only because Jared Woodfill finds himself with two opponents in his re-election bid for Harris Co Republican Party (HCRP) chairman. Having attended some post-election town hall style meetings hosted by the HCRP, I am not alone in voicing displeasure with the lack of ideas and consistency in outreach to all parts of the city. It appears little effort has been made on the part of the HCRP to support Morales in his bid for mayor.
Maybe assumptions in this race are unfounded. Locke is reported to have brought in Team Obama and places third in the Zogby poll. Parker is running a strong, consistent campaign and doesn't fail to show for debates for which she has committed to participate - that is not the case with Brown and Locke. They arrogantly do not keep pledges to participate in forums. If they are breaking their pledges before taking office, how are they to be trusted to keep pledges once in office? Character matters in leadership.
Early voting begins this week.