Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kaufman's apprentice gets boost for Clerk

I speculated previously about two people working for Beverly Kaufman who might be line up to run for her position in 2010 but Miya Shay found the true teacher's pet:

When (Kaufman) announced her retirement, I assumed there would be a jockeying of candidates from both Democrats and Republicans. On the Dem side, several names have been bantered about, including Sue Schechter. On the Republican side, while there have been talk of several semi-notables, the main guy is shaping up to be Kevin Mauzy. Who is he? Mauzy has been Kaufman's chief deputy for years, and Kaufman quickly endorsed him as HER choice.

As previously blogged, I spent many late election evenings in the Harris County Clerk's ballot cave over the past couple of years, and not only did I never meet Mauzy, I never even heard of him before this. But let's allow Miya to continue ...

Yesterday, while covering Prof. Barton Smith's bi-annual chat about the Houston economy, I ran into Kaufman and Mauzy at the luncheon.

"Are you trying to get Mauzy in front of the TV cameras so he'll have an advantage?" I asked.

"Isn't it obvious what I'm trying to do?" Kaufman answered with a big grin. "It's called earned media, it's very important."

We chatted a bit more about Kaufman's plan. Basically, during the run-up to the November election, she tried to hand over every on camera media request to Mauzy. she (sic) plans to continue doing that as we get closer to the December run-off. The idea is to give Mauzy free TV exposure, and valuable name ID. In addition, since most of the questions asked by the media are mundane, uncontroversial clerk stuff, it's easy to sound like you know what's going on.

Basically, Kaufman's trying to give Mauzy the "air of incumbency" without being an incumbent or an elected official. This is not illegal, and it just might work. Think about every media outlet that will need an interview or a quote about voter turnout or polling hours between now and next March. If Mauzy's the one giving the information, then that's an advantage his opponents can't buy. It will help stave off Republican contenders, and force Democratic challengers into an even more uphill battle.

Let's pause for a moment here.

The Harris County Clerk, the person responsible for administering elections in the nation's third most populous county, is -- once again -- using her office to influence voter opinion to her choice, this time for the person who would succeed her. And Shay, a hard-working member of the ABC affiliate in Houston covering the political beat, is favorably impressed by this?

If you wanted an example of political corruption enabled by a compliant corporate media, you would be hard-pressed to find a better one.

Read the comments and you'll note that a GOP precinct chair isn't too fond of the idea, either. Then again Mr. Large has been in the news over his, ah, issues with other Republican candidates also.

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