Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Houston GOP Leaders Weren't Listening In Mayor's Race

The biggest losers in the recent Houston mayoral race were the well-known Republicans who lent their names and support to the losing candidate. Behind the mask of being the 'business community', they decided that a liberal lawyer/lobbyist who has reaped the benefits of city contracts through his law firm and as a former insider at City Hall would be a better mayor than the woman running against him. These Republicans didn't just allow their names to be placed on fliers and ads, they also made taped robo-calls for their candidate. They had the blind arrogance to bill themselves as 'conservatives'. There was no history of conservative action from their candidate.

So, instead of looking like wise leaders, encouraging their fellow conservatives to make a sound fiscal choice for Houston, they come away from this last election looking as the useful idiots they were. This is what happens when a political race is used for a social agenda.

Perhaps these Republicans were scared of the winning candidate. Perhaps a smart, savvy, motivated, organized mother of three was too much for them to handle. Perhaps these Republicans were simply playing to the lowest base - that of those willing to demonize a person simply for the person's choice of lifetime partner. How very sad.

The ironic part is that the losing campaign was the one making sexual agendas the issue, not the lesbian running for office. She made it clear each time she was asked that issues related to lifestyle were not her concern at this time. If, at a time in the future, issues came to the forefront she would put any decision to a vote of the taxpayers. Isn't that a perfectly acceptable mind set for conservatives? Let the taxpayer/voter decide.

It is apparent that much work is still needed to make clear to those seeking political leadership that growing a political party is the path to success, not shrinking it. Where is the common sense? The voters in Houston certainly didn't side with those using worn out social issues as a way to gin up support. It was very reminiscent of the 2004 presidential race when candidate John Kerry made a point of stating that Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian - something well known at the time but not publicly acknowledged by her family during political campaigns. It is a personal matter, after all. Kerry deliberately did that to turn the religious right against the Bush/Cheney ticket. He figured the religious right were small minded and not capable of voting for anything but a single social issue.

As we approach a new year, let us resolve to just grow up. If the Republicans who felt the need to so publicly support a liberal lawyer/lobbyist to lead the City of Houston had just taken the time to listen to the other candidate, they would have heard a candidate that sounds mostly just like them. She grew up in a Republican household, she said at one forum, and she learned a strong work ethic from her father and mother. She began working as a teenager and went on to graduate from Rice University. She had city leadership experience from two terms as a city council member and then as city controller. She ran a well-organized and enthusiastic campaign which captured the imagination of a segment of our population who weren't sure if their city was ready to cast the most logical vote.

The election for mayor of Houston is supposed to be 'non-partisan'. Candidates don't run as representing a certain political party, they run as the best candidate to lead the city.

Republicans have to focus on fiscal conservatism, especially as we continue to deal with a national recession. A candidate's sexual orientation, not used as the sole campaign issue, should be left as the person's private life. Live and let live - as long as the taxpayer is not expected to pay the bill.

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