Texpatriate: Why Ben Hall lost

Note: The following Editorial was written wholly by Noah M. Horwitz.

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I was no fan of Annise Parker’s first term. The Mayor tried to continue in her predecessor’s style of moderation and consensus-building. However, for whatever reason, Parker was not very successful down this path. Whether one attributes this to her leadership style or outside variables such as the economy, Parker was only able to cobble together a bare coalition of the middle that garnered her a mere 50.8% in her 2011 re-election.

Accordingly, Parker was very vulnerable as the clock ticked towards the 2013 election. While her shift to the left in her second term carried favor with individuals such as myself, it decimated her support amongst Republicans/Conservatives. Continued policies of limited austerity, as well as an asinine ordinance criminalizing giving food to the homeless, caused many Democrats/Liberals to lend only unenthusiastic support.

City Councilmember C.O. Bradford, an unabashed critic of the Mayor in recent years, was seen as an ideal opponent who would have brought a real chance of defeat to Parker. Instead of Bradford, Parker’s main opponent ended up being Ben Hall, a former City Attorney in the 90s. Hall briefly flirted with the idea of running for Mayor in 2009, but ultimately dropped out and supported Gene Locke (Locke, like Hall, was a City Attorney under Mayor Bob Lanier).

On paper, Hall was the perfect candidate; the kind that would cause Mayor Parker to shake in her shoes. Experienced both at City Hall and in the private sector, Hall had unique perspective as neither a career politician nor a political novice. A moderate, African-American Democrat, Hall was in a unique position to attract the constituencies needed to defeat Parker. Also, Hall is excessively wealthy and articulate. So how did Hall barely win under 30% of the vote? The answer, simply put, is that he ran one of the worse campaigns I have ever seen.

Click here to read more!

2013 results and analysis

We’re working on trying to abridge the hours and hours of livestreamed Texpatriate election return coverage into about 20 minutes of the top hits. Yesterday, our all-time view record was demolished as thousands of people appeared to come to our website to read up on candidates before they voted. Additionally, Richard Nguyen, the victor in District F, had little impact on the internet besides his interview with Texpatriate.

First and foremost, Mayor Annise Parker was decisively re-elected to a third and final term as Mayor of Houston. She cruised to over 57% of the vote, far outpacing the amount of the vote she received in 2011. Meanwhile, Controller Ronald Green also was re-elected, albeit by a much smaller margin. The only surprises amongst City Council races were in At-large 3 and District F, respectively. Otherwise, most incumbents cruised to re-election.

All nine Statewide propositions passed, as did Harris County Proposition 1 (the joint processing center/jail). The Astrodome referendum, however, did not pass, as the iconic 8th Wonder of the World now looks condemned to demolition.

Click here to see full results and read more!

President Obama endorses Parker

Texpatriate has learned that President Barack Obama has endorsed Annise Parker for a third term as Mayor of Houston. The last minute endorsement comes on the heels of another big-time Democrat, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, announcing his support for Parker. The support will be sure to attract increased support in the African-American community, though one must wonder how effective it will be after two full weeks of early voting wherein the majority of the electorate has most likely already cast ballots.

Obama’s last minute nod into the election reeked of similarity to low-effort selections he has made in other major city’s Mayoral races, most notably New York City. However, New York holds partisan Mayoral elections, wherein President Obama simply supported the Democratic candidate. However, in the non-partisan Houston election, the race consists of two frontrunners who are ostensibly both Democrats. However, challenger Ben Hall has recently taken some bizarre positions seemingly inconsistent with Democratic values, most notably a homophobic opposition to a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. President Obama has shown, for all intent and purposes, this is a typical election with one Democrat. And that Democrat is Annise Parker.

Click here to read the President’s words on Parker!

Parker selected for White House Task Force

USA Today reports that President Obama has issued an Executive Order to begin combating the dangers and effects of climate change. The order creates the “Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience,” which will “advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change.” The task force is made up of State, Local and Tribal leaders from around the country, 26 in all.

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Among those local officials is Mayor Annise Parker. I didn’t actually get the press release from the City of Houston, but quickly found it on the government’s website. The Mayor’s office discussed all the green initiatives the City has been doing recently, including becoming the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy.

Click here to read Parker’s statement as well as implications for the Mayoral election!

Ben Hall’s fifth TV ad

The Houston Chronicle reports that Ben Hall is releasing his fifth –and likely final– television commercial before next Tuesday’s general election. The ad, unlike his some of his previous spots, are about neither issues nor the campaign per se. Rather, the 30 second video features Hall and his wife, Saundra, discussing how they met one another.

“BEN HALL: I met Saundra in church, I was seventeen.

SAUNDRA HALL: He’s wearing orange bell bottoms, white platform shoes, and I nudged my cousin and said, what is that?

BEN HALL: I was the first boy she ever kissed.

SAUNDRA HALL: I was attracted to his intelligence, but I was thinking more like pastor and pastor’s wife.

BEN HALL: April eighteenth, nineteen eighty-one, seven PM. Married thirty-two years.

SAUNDRA HALL: And he’s still never given me a proper honeymoon.”

Click here to read analysis on the new commercial!

Liar Liar

Back in August, when CNN covered the Mayoral election, Ben Hall brushed off a question about LGBT issues, saying “Anyone who tries to bring that issue into the campaign, I think, mis-serves the city.” Hall was correct in that position, as he was shortly thereafter when he told the Harris County Democratic Party that he supported a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for LGBT people.

Now all that’s changed.

To read why, please click here!

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Continue reading

Ben Hall strikes back

Throughout this campaign season, I have been asking for Ben Hall to bring up some concise issues, and explain how he is specifically different form the Mayor on those issues. Over the past two days, for the first time, I have seen Dr Hall’s campaign do this.

First, Hall’s campaign sent me a press release on the topic of animal control in the City. Writing for the campaign, Hall’s press secretary noted three important facts. First, Annise Parker was an unapologetic supporter of making BARC (the pound) a no-kill shelter when she first ran for Mayor. Second, “save-rates” (that is, how many animals are not euthanized by the pound) have actually declined during Parker’s tenure in office. Instead of moving towards being a no-kill city, the Parker administration has actually moved away from that goal. Third, Ben Hall announced his support for making Houston a no-kill city.

In fact, at Wednesday’s press conference, Hall announced the support of “No Kill Texas Advocates,” an organization dedicated to pursuing this goal. Hall’s proposed solution to the problem, however, is somewhat divergent from other traditional no-kill advocates. Hall wished to implement increased privatization of the animal shelters. While it is a novel idea, I fail to understand why or how this would really solve the problem.

To read more about how this issue affects the election, click here!

Two new commercials

Recently, both the Houston Chronicle and KRIV (Fox) alleged that Ben Hall would not air any more television commercials before the November election. Today, just as Annise Parker’s campaign unveiled yet another attack ad, Hall proved everyone wrong. Though, to be fair, I don’t live in the Houston media market, so I have not actually seen the commercial on a television screen yet.

Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle notes the two ads, which were both released earlier today. represent the different paths that the candidates are taking. Just this morning, Morris published a front-page article in the Chronicle noting the nearly-universally negative campaign Parker has been waging on the airwaves. The article alleges that, throughout the past few months, Parker’s de facto campaign motto has become “my opponent is awful, don’t vote for him.”

Most political analysts agree that this strategy will be minimally detrimental to Parker, as she has been able to blanket the airways in comparison to her opponents. With Hall being conspicuously absent from television recently, Parker has been able to define him. Further, the attacks Parker has been pounding Hall (the tax issue) are, by and large, very true. This allows the campaign to be very direct and concise in their attacks. Hall’s team, meanwhile, has been forced to adopt a much more convoluted strategy, as the bad press against Parker is much more coated in hearsay and innuendo.

Click here to read individual analysis of the two new ads!

Recyling Program expands

The Houston Chronicle reports that the recycling program is expanding, and will be rolled out to 70,000 new residences by Thanksgiving. This is not especially new news. In fact, the City Council set this new program in motion last June, when I had some choice words for the program. Of course, I still do today.

Yesterday’s Chronicle article states “The expansion will bring service to a total 210,000 households – more than half of the residences in the department’s service area.” This isn’t exactly true, it is not how many people are serviced by any type of recycling but rather the single-stream recycling bin. As my June analysis indicated, this recent expansion put large emphasis on upgrading the recycling methods of communities already serviced by bins. The $2.5 Million, at bottom line, only increases the percentage of homes serviced by some type of recycling by 9% (from 54% to 63%). Thousands upon thousands of residences and offices, such as Texpatriate’s in Midtown, would still be without any type of curbside recycling.

Click here to read more!