Monday, December 12, 2011

Anti-incumbent fever sweeps out city hall

If voters were happy with (Houston's) mayor and current city council, they certainly didn't show it in runoff elections Saturday.

They threw out two incumbents by large margins and filled two other seats with men who had no government experience.

The results illustrate a continuation of a national trend of anger and frustration toward government during the worst economic stretch since the Great Depression, political observers said.

In short: Voters want change.

"A lot of people are angry at virtually all institutions and the government is high on their list," said Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston. "And these are the people in a low-turnout election that are most likely to show up because they are angry. They're agitated."

About 57,000 voters participated in the election, 6 percent of the 920,000 people registered to cast ballots in Houston.

Yeah, the 6% want change, all right, and they're turning out in record (low) numbers to elect the very worst people on the ballot. This crew has burned through several labels in the past few years -- angry white males, TeaBaggers -- but suffice it to say that they have more time on their hands than they do good sense.

And the lower the turnout, the more incumbents are endangered. Which is why the King Street/True the Vote vote-suppressing criminals are fully weaponized for 2012.

Councilwoman Jolanda Jones lost At-Large Position 5 by 8 percentage points, and councilwoman Brenda Stardig suffered a 10-point defeat in District A. In races to replace term-limited council members Jarvis Johnson and Sue Lovell, voters chose a restaurateur, Jerry Davis, over one of Johnson's aides, Alvin Byrd, and picked a pastor, Andrew Burks Jr., over a former state legislator, Kristi Thibaut. Davis will represent District B, Burks will take At-Large 2.

The results show clear opposition to the status quo, particularly following a general election in which Mayor Annise Parker and several council members narrowly avoided runoff elections, said Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University.

"It's a strong repudiation of this administration -- not just the mayor, but the council," Stein said.

District A, which elected the city's first TeaBagger, has a 57% Hispanic population. Barely any of which can vote, or bothered to. Byrd and Thibaut weren't incumbent office-holders but suffered the same fate as Jones and Stardig because they were perceived by the slight majority of the 6% as such.

Even without a 600,000-vote suppression tool like the TXGOP's Voter/Photo ID bill, 2012 is shaping up as an absolutely brutal year for incumbents of both parties, and that includes candidates who resemble incumbents by virtue of their prior proximity to the corridors of power.

As we wait for the court to give us some extended filing deadlines, that's something else to think about for those considering running for any office ... in any party.

Update: Charles disagrees. At least until he gets his numbers, anyway.

No comments: