Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The At Large 5 contest

For those who wish to catch up, here are my posts on the state of play in the mayor's race from last week, along with AL1, AL2, AL3, and AL4.  Somebody is going to release a poll very soon in the mayoral; I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen one yet.  As a reminder, we don't talk about advertisements, or fundraising, or viability scores 'round these parts.  My humble O is that those things are by degrees undemocratic and have no place in estimating the value of potential political officeholders.  Issues, policy, clearly-staked positions, and how hard a person is actually trying to encourage people to vote for them, by their presence online and offline at various functions is how I evaluate worth.  YMMV, of course.

For you deadliners, the last day to register to vote in this election is October 5th; and early voting begins on October 19.  On to the participants in this race, listed in ballot order:

Perennial candidate Batteau was instrumental in helping CM Michael Kubosh get elected in AL 3 two years ago.  He, Rogene Calvert, Roland Chavez (running again this year in District H), and Jenefer Rene Pool (running again in AL1) all split the vote neatly enough between themselves to allow Kubosh to go into a runoff against Roy Morales (who is also running again, in AL4).  That could happen once more here in AL5.

Batteau, sixth in a field of six with 8.6% of the vote in 2013, doesn't really seem to be getting the message voters are sending him.  Perhaps he's still holding on for an Andrew-Burks-in-2011-ish miracle.  He's running the same campaign he's run in the past, which is to say nonexistent.  This KTRK piece from four years ago is evidence that some things never really change.

And then there's J. Brad Batteau. He has run for an at-large position before. He says he's the man to represent the whole city. He hasn't raised any money or posted many signs but did address his robbery conviction 30 years ago.

"It shouldn't matter because what I'm going to do for the people doesn't have anything to do with my past back in 1987. I was a teenager ... I'm now 42," he said.

It's important to note that Batteau didn't know Rebuild Houston is when we asked him.

I would be surprised if he knows anything about it today.  Name recognition and first-on-the-ballot can't be completely discounted in municipal races, unfortunately.

Conservative Republican Christie defeated two half-hearted Democrats challenging him in 2011 with 55% of the vote, and four years ago finally prevailed in a third try over incumbent Jolanda Jones in the runoff by a similar 54.2% margin... with a helping hand from former mayor Bill White.  It is never-say-die candidates like Christie and Burks who give hope to the likes of people such as Batteau.  Greg Wythe's Texas Political Almanac has a good summary of that race in 2011...

The "Jack & JoJo Show" earned its third season as candidate Christie once more filed to run against CM Jolanda Jones. While many of the ethical charges brought against CM Jones during the past two years failed to merit serious attention, the spotlight brought attention on Jones' often combative approach to representing the city. While Jones remained popular in African-American communities -- particularly on the south side -- not enough voters elsewhere saw her as an independent voice at Council. Jones was the most frequent member on council to tag items on the city agenda, delaying action for a week on numerous items. The result was not dissimilar to the previous campaign and runoff. But the one thing missing from this election was that of a well-funded African-American candidate for mayor in a runoff that would help boost turnout to benefit Jolanda.

Wythe left out the Bill White part, probably because he was a White acolyte from the get-go in the former mayor's bid for the Governor's Mansion in 2010.  But the history he did write reminds us to watch for this African American dynamic in play in this cycle's runoff.  You can rest assured that either Sylvester Turner or Ben Hall -- or both -- running off for mayor in December changes the calculus of downballot council runoffs.  Christie wanted to run for mayor this time, but was crowded out by CM Oliver Pennington, himself an early dropout.  Both men are probably kicking themselves as they watch Hall ascend to the conservative throne.

Nassif is the Democrats' standard-bearer.  For whatever his reasons, Durrel Douglas wound up not filing to run here, and that clears the field a little for the liberal activist of Mexican and Lebanese descent.  He's got all the endorsements and support flowing his way.

Sharon Moses seems to have good qualifications for a potential council member if in fact this is her LinkedIn profile, but no other web presence and no past experience in running for office works against her.  Tahir Charles' website has a good bio of him but his Facebook page was last updated in May.  Both candidates -- and Batteau, for that matter -- might bite into Nassif's tally among African American voters.

Prediction for the general: If the four Democrats -- one establishment (Nassif) and three unorthodox (Batteau, Moses, Charles) succeed in canceling each other out, then the odious Christie goes back to council for a third term.  If the best hope for Democratic liberals, Nassif, can force the incumbent -- whose ceiling in past elections has been around 55% -- into a runoff, they should raise their expectations for knocking off the Republican on council.

No comments: