Sunday, December 13, 2009

Madam Mayor: reactions

“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history,” she said. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office. I know what it means. I understand, because I feel it, too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community. We are united in one goal in making this city the city that it can be, should be, might be, will be.”

-- Annise Parker, in her victory speech

Here's the bottom line, or maybe the punch line:

In Houston, it is now harder for a lawyer to be elected mayor than a lesbian.


He was anointed as the business establishment's candidate by old-time leaders such as Ned Holmes (Locke's finance chairman) and former Mayor Bob Lanier, who effectively discouraged conservatives such as Metro critic Bill King from making the race.

Their analysis of Locke's route to victory, however, turned out to be fundamentally flawed.


His backers had nothing against Parker but did not believe she could overcome the lesbian label.

They believed Locke could win by combining the black vote with a substantial portion of Republicans who would vote against Parker because of her sexual orientation.

That turned out to be wrong. For one thing, as the low turnout indicates, neither candidate had the star power to boost voter participation.

More important for Locke, his appeals to Republicans, particularly as a law-and-order candidate, didn't stick, and the anti-lesbian vote turned out to be smaller than expected.

Greg Wythe, a bright political analyst and blogger ( who has joined Mayor Bill White's gubernatorial campaign, did a precinct-by-precinct analysis of the first-round of votes.

It showed Parker coming in first or second in such Republican areas as the West Side, Kingwood and Friendswood.

Locke came in a poor fourth in those areas.

I believe it was Locke's performance in those areas that led his finance team members to take the desperate step of aligning the campaign with gay-bashing Steve Hotze — thereby pushing undecided white liberals and moderates into Parker's well-run campaign without turning out enough anti-gay votes to win.

-- Rick Casey, "Advisers gave Locke wrong key"

Throughout the campaign, Ms. Parker tried to avoid making an issue of her sexual orientation and emphasized her experience in overseeing the city’s finances. But she began her career as an advocate for gay rights in the 1980s, and it was lost on no one in Houston, a city of 2.2 million people, that her election marked a milestone for gay men and lesbians around the country.

Several smaller cities in other regions have chosen openly gay mayors, among them Providence, R.I., Portland, Ore., and Cambridge, Mass. But Ms. Parker’s success came in a conservative state where voters have outlawed gay marriage and a city where a referendum on granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees was soundly defeated.

-- New York Times

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