Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A little tighter than everyone thought

I read some anti-incumbent anger into the closer-than-expected election results this evening.

Mayor Annise Parker leads her five rivals with 95 percent of Harris County precincts reporting (and all Fort Bend County precincts reporting; there is a tiny bit of Houston over the border) but her support has fallen from 52.76 percent in early-voting results to 50.94 percent now.

Though it appears unlikely, Parker would be faced into a runoff if her total ends below 50 percent; that would be a rare event for an incumbent mayor, particular one without any well-financed challengers.

Most close observers considered Parker a prohibitive favorite in the absence of a well-funded or well-known challenger among the five candidates who ran against her. [...]

A poll last month showed Parker with the lowest approval rating of any Houston mayor in decades, and only 37 percent of respondents said they would vote for her.

The Council races were a mixed bag of close and not-so-close. The tight ones:

With 838 of 885 Harris County precincts reporting, most incumbents are clear winners in Houston City Council elections.

+ District A (near northwest) is one exception. There, challenger Helena Brown leads incumbent Brenda Stardig 46.9 to 41.3 percent.

+ The crowded District B race (northeast and far north) is headed to a runoff, with Alvin Byrd leading at 25.1 percent, followed by Jerry Davis at 24.4 percent and Kathy Blueford-Daniels at 18 percent. Byrd is an aide to incumbent Jarvis Johnson, who is termed out.

+ Former state representative Ellen Cohen leads in District C (Montrose, Heights and other nearby neighborhoods) with 54.2 percent of the vote, having dominated fund-raising in the contest. She is trailed by Brian Cweren at 27.3 percent.

+ In At-Large 1, incumbent Stephen Costello was leading with 51.2 percent of the vote, followed by Scott Boates at 22.4 percent and Don Cook at 18.1 percent.

+ The 10-candidate race for At-Large 2 is still blurry. Perennial candidate Andrew Burks leads with 17.2 percent of the vote, followed by former state representative Kristi Thibaut at 15.8 percent, Elizabeth Perez at 14.2 percent and former planning commissioner David Robinson at 11.9 percent.

+ In At-Large 3, incumbent Melissa Noriega was leading with 55.8 percent of the vote, followed by Chris Carmona at 26.1 percent and J. Brad Batteau at 18.1 percent.

+ In At-Large 5, controversial incumbent Councilwoman Jolanda Jones looks set for her third straight runoff. She faces two strong contenders, chiropractor Jack Christie (who nearly defeated her two years ago) and regulatory compliance expert Laurie Robinson. Jones leads with 38.9 percent, followed by Christie at 32.7 percent and Robinson at 19.9 percent.

Stardig is going to be Teabagged next month. Cohen posts incumbent-like numbers in winning her election. Costello barely avoids a run-off. JoJo and Christie square off against each other in December, again, same as in '09.

The race for AL2 has the biggest surprise of the evening, with perennial candidate Burks leading the ten-person field, and Thibaut making the run-off against him.

“I just went and got me my favorite cigar,” Andrew Burks said when asked for his reaction to leading in early voting in the 10-candidate At-Large 2 race.

This is, by Burks’ count, his fifth race for a council seat. He took At-Large 2 incumbent Sue Lovell to a runoff two years ago. [...]

Burks also bought advertising in the Texas Conservative Review, whose endorsement he secured, and radio station KCOH.

The not-tight ones:

+ Incumbent Wanda Adams will hold her District D (south and southeast) seat, now leading challenger Larry McKinzie 81.7 to 18.3 percent.

+ Incumbent Mike Sullivan is unopposed in District E (Clear Lake and Kingwood).

+ In District F (southwest), incumbent Al Hoang also looks likely to avoid a runoff. He leads at 56 percent, trailed by Peter “Lyn” Rene at 26 percent and Hoc Thai Nguyen at 18 percent.

+ In District G (west), incumbent Oliver Pennington will top Clyde Bryan. Pennington leads 76.8 to 23.2 percent.

+ In District H (near north), incumbent Ed Gonzalez will beat Patricia Rodriguez. Gonzalez leads 68.2 to 31.8 percent.

+ In District I (East End and downtown), incumbent James Rodriguez will top Leticia Ablaza. He leads 64.5 to 35.5 percent.

+ In District J, (southwest) — newly formed based on the city’s growth according to 2010 Census data and crafted by Hispanic leaders as a “hard-earned” Latino opportunity district — non-Latino Mike Laster will win. Laster leads with 67.3 percent of the vote, with his closest challenger, Criselda Romero, at 21.7 percent.

+ In District K, (south-southwest) the second district added in response to 2010 Census data, Larry Green will win. He leads with 65.1 percent, trailed by Pat Frazier at 25.8 percent.

+ In At-Large 4, incumbent C.O. Bradford, a former police chief, will retain his seat. He leads with 67.9 percent, trailed by Amy Price at 21 percent.

While there is plenty to be happy about as it relates to Laster and Green, it's a disappointment that Hoang and Bradford will return to council. Bradford in particular seems to be demonstrating some Teflon ability with respect to the myriad of scandals with his fingerprints on them and the lack of any big hits that struck Parker, Costello, Stardig, and to a lesser extent Noriega.

Bradford will be first in line to challenge Parker in 2013 for mayor, and will attempt to reassemble the Gene Locke coalition of African-Americans and Republicans to take her out. I'm guessing the HGLBT Caucus won't be endorsing him then, but Dr. Hotze certainly will.

The odious Manuel Rodriguez survived his self-inflicted homophobia wounds, getting re-elected to the HISD board by 24 votes. The worst result by far.

More analysis tomorrow.

1 comment:

KatyDid said...

That's a really close call for a sitting Houston mayor!

I know I skipped that race when I voted.

She's not a progressive. She's not a particularly good mayor.

I know some folks want to believe she's progressive because she's gay, but that's not really what i go by...

It sort of makes me sad that she's turned out to be such a spoke in the Old Boys Club wheel...