Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Annise Parker takes off the gloves

And gives Ben Hall a beating.

Like everybody else, I thought that Hall's introductory video was weird and slightly obnoxious, but I have to say that I didn't expect the response from the mayor to be so harsh.

For the record let's note that we rarely see an incumbent with such a strong opening hand lash back at a fairly weak (yet coffer-filled) challenger like this. I don't think Parker is nervous about Hall after all of his missteps, but this response signals she's not going to take any chances. So does this, quoting from yesterday's presser and apparently before the above spot made its appearance...

"Mr. Hall hasn't been a Houstonian very long, and he has very little name ID. He has to (make a large advertising buy) to introduce himself to Houstonians, and pretty soon I'm going to help him."

Hall's rejoinder -- from the inbox yesterday afternoon -- makes it look as if he's girded for battle.

Well we knew this day would come. We knew Annise Parker would be terrified of a candidate in this race with real leadership and vision, and we knew she would go on the attack.

Today the incumbent’s campaign launched an attack ad questioning my dedication to the city of Houston and ignoring what I’ve done as city attorney and fighting for justice in my private practice.

Let me be clear: Annise Parker will fund this ad and more like it with the millions she’s raised from those benefiting from taxpayer-funded contracts and special interests from out of state. [...]

Annise Parker doesn’t just campaign like a typical professional politician -- she governs like one too. Houston is just learning about the huge raises worth tens of thousands of dollars she gave to her closest advisers after laying off nearly 750 city workers. She put the rest of the municipal workforce on furloughs (with an exception for her own staff).

And now the same politician who fired city workers while padding her close advisers’ pockets is questioning my love for this city? It’s absurd.

This is the first in what will likely be a campaign full of attacks against me. I don’t mind it -- I can take whatever she can dish out...

Blah blah give me money to fight back blah blah.

Campaigns usually reach this stage in late October, not in mid-August. It's nice to see the two front-runners are in championship form with regard to their rapid response. And I suppose we can expect the carpet-bombings on the airwaves to continue until the outside temperatures around here begin to cool off. Or morale improves.

As for those of us who track these developments, Neil's already disgusted.

84 days before the November 5 Election Day, incumbent Mayor Annise Parker and top challenger Ben Hall are polluting the public airwaves and public debate with negative advertising and attacks in the campaign for Mayor of Houston.

I know this is how it is done and how it has often been done in American history. But just because things are normally done in a certain way does not mean you can't move ahead in a different fashion.

I'm really enjoying my brother's direction with his new effort.

In any case, anybody who has had the misfortune of following Houston politics knows how this will all go---

Mayor Parker and Mr. Hall will spend a lot of money. Much of this money will come from big companies and the rich. Issues of poverty and social justice in Houston will be ignored. Turnout will be 15%-20% of eligible adults. There will be ceaseless negative ads and many of them will be stupid. Neither candidate will get 50% of the vote on Election Day and so we will be subjected to more weeks of campaigning with a runoff vote.

None of this reflects the values of hopeful people. Not much of it reflects anything of value to the people of Houston. Mayor Parker and Mr. Hall will go at it and people will tune it out or just think of both of them as equally bad. Only a small percentage of Houstonians will bother to vote.

Without forgetting the many volunteers each campaign will have of committed everyday people, none of this will inspire people to take action for themselves and with others to offer alternatives from the bottom and middle up to a failed and corporate-bought political system.

I'm on the e-mail list of both the Hall and Parker campaigns. Just today I've received three negative e-mails from these two campaigns. I've resolved today that I'm going to donate 25 cents to Amnesty International for every negative e-mail I get from Parker and Hall.

I won't say "this is going to be fun to watch", because it won't be. Houston deserves better than this. We just stand no chance of getting it.

Around the horn: Stace was first with the ad and the quote from the presser. Noah has a good take on this "attack-back" strategy, and Texas Leftist covered the press conference yesterday where Mayor Parker announced she was coming to the rescue of the Thanksgiving Day Parade (with a little help from her deep-pocketed friends).

More as it develops, and if it's not too nasty. Not interested in documenting every salvo fired from these two. Maybe some of the second-tier candidates can offer something more positive in the days to come.

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