Mark Twain once said that, while history does not necessarily repeat itself, it does, in fact, rhyme. This starts with the candidates for the Municipal elections. Upon analysis of the candidates for basically any of the offices (Mayor, Controller, City Council), one may see just how similar they are to the other candidates.
POINT #1: The Mayor’s election is like a ‘lite 2009’
In 2009, the Houston Press took its most political stand of the year in publishing this cover article. Humorously and simplistically, the Press reduced the candidates into “BLACK GUY” (Locke), “RICH WHITE GUY” (Brown), “LESBIAN” (Parker) and [in small print] “Hispanic Republican” (Morales).
More than just being funny, this article gave great insight into the separate, distinct groups that make up a Mayoral election. Parker’s key constituency consists, more than just LGBT groups, of the progressive, yuppie residents of locations such as Montrose, Midtown and the Heights. Young people also love Parker.
Locke’s key constituency was pretty much limited to African-Americans. While he certainly received extensive support from communities throughout the city, none constituted his power base except the Black Democratic establishment.
Brown, meanwhile, got a great deal of support from what I call the “bourgeois intelligentsia.” While Brown was certainly further leftward than a candidate like Bob Lanier, Brown sought to emulate his power base. These voters are the liberal residents of River Oaks, Tanglewood, the Museum District, et al.
Last, but…well…actually least too, was Morales. It was somewhat of a useless point on the part of the Press for Morales’ ethnicity to be brought into it. His candidacy never included meaningful support from the Latino community. Instead, he was the token candidate for the Republicans, those unable to bring themselves to vote for the “lesser of the evils” among the major candidates.
This translates into 2013 somewhat well. Parker, obviously, retains control of the “LESBIAN” category, consisting of the aforementioned yuppies that were not all necessarily members of the LGBT community. Hall, not surprisingly, becomes the equivalent of Locke. Brown’s group has almost exclusively flocked to Parker. This much has been abundantly obvious since Brown endorsed Parker in the runoff all those years later.
Eric Dick represents the “Republican” in microfont, of course. Although last night’s poll put him in the territory of “negligible candidates,” I still think he will get a decent* share of the vote (*-Decent in the same way the Democrats do decently Statewide compared to Libertarians).
Hall, very much like Locke, is betting on a runoff, and will put his cards into attracting Republican voters if it comes to that. However, the bad news for Hall is that, if Locke’s performance is any indication, it will not be enough. The math was pretty simple from 2009. Parker got 31% and Brown got 22%, put them together, and one gets 53% (one point below how much Parker got in the runoff). Locke 26% + Morales 20% = 46% (exactly how well Locke did).
POINT #2: The Controller’s election is an early runoff
Novices in Houston politics often find it overwhelming (okay, that’s a joke), especially after learning of all the complicated nuances of what really constitutes left vs right or good vs bad in local politics. The Controller’s election in 2009 was especially confusing, considering the blatant disregard for the 11th Commandment among the two Republican candidates. However, one of these conservative candidates was eliminated, and the runoff election in 2009 resembled a typical partisan election. Then-councilmember Ronald Green, a Democrat, faced off against then-Councilmember MJ Khan, a Republican. Green was ultimately victorious with about 53% of the vote.
Green, a citywide official who arguably holds the second most power of any City official, was completely unopposed in 2011. This year, he was not. Bill Frazer, a Republican, is challenging him in what is proving to be a competitive campaign. Frazer, however, is the only candidate. With only two candidates, the race is assured to be over following the November election. Thus, it resembles a runoff.
Specifically, it resembles the 2009 runoff. An almost identical copy, as far as the similarities between MJ Khan and Bill Frazer go.
POINT #3: The election in At-large 1 is 2011 again
This one is somewhat self-explanatory. Costello, more or less, flew under the radar as a Republican to get elected to the City Council in 2009. However, he largely redeemed himself to the liberal majority by being a moderate and pragmatist during his tenure upon the Council. While in 2011, Costello drew three opponents, he only has one challenger this year. However, the basic theme still remains the same. In 2011, Costello’s main opponent was Scott Boates, a Tea Party favorite, who siphoned votes away to the right of Costello. His victory came as a result of progressive support, which I suppose explains why he has become more amicable to such issues now.
This year, Costello’s only opponent is Michael Griffin, the perennial candidate. Griffin is, however, somewhat conservative. Accordingly, the same fate will surely come to Costello as it did to him two years ago. Griffin with siphon off anywhere between 20%-30% of the vote, with Costello receiving the majority remainder.
POINT #4: The election in At-large 2 is a ‘bizarro 2009′
Andrew Burks shocked the movers and shakers of Houston politics last election when he squeaked out a tiny victory over Kristi Thibaut in the open election for AL2. Burks had run for the City Council an embarrassingly high amount of times, most recently in 2009 against Sue Lovell. That election also featured two other candidates: (the aforementioned) Michael Griffin and Rozzy Shorter.
Lovell represented the incumbency, as well as Parker’s broadbased Yuppie/LGBT group. Burks represented Locke’s African-American faction, albeit with more Republican support. Shorter was pretty much in the election for her ego, and the mere 9% of the vote she garnered showed some proof of this. Griffin, meanwhile, represented the interest of the futile, token Republican.
Now, Peter Brown’s basic constituency supported Lovell in the 2009 runoff against Burks, propelling Lovell to –you guessed it– 54% of the vote. In 2011, the two constituencies merged, and then split between Kristi Thibaut and Jenifer Pool. Neither of which were very competent candidates in that election, which combined with depressingly low turnout, caused Burks to inch out a victory by a hair.
Now, Burks is largely put in the same place that he put Lovell therein just four years ago. David Robinson, his main opponent, looks like he is running with the combined support of the Parker and Brown constituencies. Two other candidates, Trebor Gordon and Moe Rivera, represent the obvious Republican token candidates.
The fundamentals in this election are definitely in Robinson’s favor. However, given that Burks is the incumbent, Robinson must do a lot more work to bring up his name recognition. Further, the token Republicans may very well force Burks & Robinson into a runoff. At this point, Robinson should pray that the Mayoral election goes into a runoff. That will probably give Robinson the requisite 53%-54% that Lovell received in 2009. Otherwise, given how inflated African-American turnout is with the District D inevitable runoff, Burks will cruise to victory in a runoff is Annise Parker is not concurrently on the ballot.
POINT #5: At-large 3 is Michael Kubosh’s to lose, and he’ll probably win
Open seats typically only resemble one another in that there are a plethora of candidates. While the broadly defined aforementioned “constituencies” are pretty good at not having overlapping candidacies in elections featuring incumbents or challengers, or elections of high profile (such as the Mayoralty), all bets are off in open City Council elections. At-large 3 is one of those races.
J. Brad Batteau easily cancels out, as he is a perennial candidate with no natural base. Jenifer Pool is a natural choice of the Parker group, but Rogene Calvert is also a possible candidate therefor. Calvert also has the added bonus of being endorsed by the Houston Black American Democrats.
Then there is Roland Chavez. Politicos in the hispanic community typically run for District Seats, and not citywide positions. Since there has never been a major Hispanic Democrat to run for Mayor, there is little data on what type of support they would receive. One hopes, for Chavez’s sake, that he is not limited to the pitiful performance of the last Hispanic Democrat to run a citywide campaign: Rick Rodriguez in 2009.
Roy Morales has only a fraction of the “token Republican” vote, considering Kubosh’s presence. To Morales’ benefit, his fellow Republican, has some pragmatic positions that probably make the GOP establishment somewhat uneasy. Additionally, Kubosh’s spell as a Democratic candidate probably turns him off to many hardline Republicans. This will probably be a 7%-10% performance, rather than a 20% one.
Then, there is Michael Kubosh. He looks to be saving his money for a runoff, which is not surprising in the least. Kubosh’s strategy thus far has been to compile a coalition of Republicans, African-Americans and civil libertarians. The strategy is a good one for garnering a plurality of the vote, but a majority in the inevitable runoff will be dependent upon a couple of factors.
First, any lack of a Mayoral runoff would tremendously help Kubosh, especially if his support from the Black community continues holding (ideally if Rogene Calvert is not the other runoff candidate). Second, the identity of the competitor candidate will have a huge impact upon the final results. Chavez, because of his perceived more moderate stances, will most likely be the toughest opponent for Kubosh. Alternately, as I just mentioned, a Rogene Calvert candidacy supported strongly by African-Americans would provide troubles for him. Calvert would otherwise be a moderately challenging candidate. For better or for worse, Jenifer Pool would be the easiest candidate for Kubosh to defeat. While I do not necessarily think she is all that much more liberal than her fellow Democrats, she definitely gives of the impression of such. Additionally, her campaign is being supported by lots of high-profile liberals, and one of the rules of politics is that you are judged by the company you keep.
All in all, Kubosh has a slightly better chance than not of winning. It is not a coincidence that those are the same odds I gave to the probability of a Mayoral runoff. If there is a runoff, Kubosh’s chances fall below 50%, whereas if they is not a Mayoral runoff, the chance go up an equal amount over 50%.
POINT #5: The election in At-large 4 has two explanations
C.O. Bradford, a Democrat, was first elected in a 2009 election that saw no other competitive campaigns. He won without a runoff, something largely unheard of at a Citywide level. His biggest opponent in that election was Noel Freeman, another Democrat. In 2011, Bradford’s biggest opposition similarly came from Amy Price, who ran significantly to the left of him.
This year, Bradford must deal with a Republican challenger for the first time in a Municipal election. His opponent, Issa Dadoush, is a Republican. At first glance, there is an easy explanation to this election: left vs right, specifically with a popular, pragmatic incumbent. The prevailing wisdom would state that Bradford wins with 55% of the vote or so, though that probably won’t actually be very far off.
The complications arise as some on the right allege that Dadoush is somewhat close to the Mayor. I am inclined to not actually believe that the Mayor “recruited” Dadoush, but it makes sense that the two may have a somewhat amicable relationship, given that it was Parker who first hired Dadoush.
The Mayor and Bradford have historically not gotten along very well. Parker, at one point, flirted with the possibility of prosecuting Bradford for illegal sign violations. Bradford, in turn, endorsed Ben Hall this year in the Mayor’s race. However, despite having low support from Parker’s constituency, I cannot imagine her supporters choosing a Republican.
Given that there are no people more liberal than Bradford in the race, all the Democrats should rally around Bradford, propelling him to a somewhat comfortable victory margin.
Given my conflict-of-interest, I will not be making an analysis of AL5, but highly encourage my fellow bloggers to do so.
Analysis of the District races to come later.