The Houston Chronicle reports that County Judge Ed Emmett, who is running for re-election as a Republican this fall, will be unopposed by serious competition after his Democratic opponent dropped out of the race. Ahmad Hassan, a small business owner, is a political gadfly who ascended to the nomination after being unchallenged in the Democratic primary. He has run for a couple of different offices, including both this one previously and Congress, both as a Democrat and a Republican. In short, Hassan is not anyone’s idea of the Democratic establishment. He was not recruited by the local party and, thus far into the campaign, has been a pretty lackluster candidate. No website, no online presence and no good faith effort to campaign within the community. I understand the idea of a cash-strung campaign running a low budget production, or someone with their own business limiting the time they take off from work, but a Facebook page costs exactly $0.
Hassan said that he extensively met with Emmett recently, and was persuaded out of the race to allow Emmett to focus on his office and its duties more.
“I do have things I’m trying to accomplish – the mental health pilot program at the jail, regional governance, the Astrodome,” Emmett said. “I thanked [Hassan]. I thought it was an honorable thing to do. He is a successful person and he truly wants to give back. I can appreciate that.”
Let me stipulate first that I too am a fan of Emmett, and I was planning on supporting him in November over his Democratic opponent. I think, like Hassan noted and Emmett delineated in his comments, that the County Judge has been an awesome representative of the people and continues to fight the good fight on many issues. He is the type of moderate Republican that I would literally love to see run for high office, but I could only imagine he would get clobbered in a competitive Republican primary, considering his support for things such as Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, as well as compassionate approaches to immigration problems.
With that out of the way, I think Hassan totally made the wrong move in dropping out of the race. And I still hold it against the Democrats that a legitimate candidate did not run against Emmett. I don’t know why someone else didn’t run against him, and I am not being rude; I’m legitimately curious. Did the County Party make a decision not to contest the seat, or did they try and fail to recruit someone? I will freely admit that I do not know.
Candidates deserve opposition. President Barack Obama deserved it, Mayor Annise Parker deserved it, State Senator John Whitmire deserved it and County Judge Ed Emmett deserves it. Opposition keeps both candidates and officeholders and their toes and compels them to defend their positions. It is a healthy part of the political process, especially for a job that only comes up for election every fourth year. The citizens of Harris County were deprived of such a fight with Emmett cruising to re-election.
I’d vote Emmett for higher office, but I would like it even more if he switched parties. I don’t know if the Democrats would unanimously welcome him, but I certainly would!
Update: As my friend Perry Dorrell at Brains & Eggs rightly points out, there will still be a second candidate on the ballot this November. David Collins, of the Green Party, will run for the post as well. His Facebook page has been attached at this link.