Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oliver Pennington leaves Houston mayoral race

That's a scramble for those on the right.  Speaking of right, Mark Jones gets it for once.

The 75-year-old retired attorney's exit removes the candidate best positioned to secure conservative votes, said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. That could have a significant impact on a crowded race in which any candidate with a reliable base has a shot at earning one of two spots in the December runoff election that will surely follow November's initial vote.

The news is an obvious boon to Councilman Steve Costello and former Kemah mayor Bill King, Jones said, two centrist-to-conservative candidates who were set to spar with Pennington for the same supporters.

"There simply was not enough room for them to all three run and have a real chance of entering the runoff," Jones said. "Pennington had at least a potential path to the second round. But it would have been a very uphill battle to actually win a runoff because the characteristics that made him one of the more viable Republican candidates also made him less viable against a Democratic foe in a runoff."

That's it, except for the Bill King part IMHO. Unless potholes are already the Tea Party mantra, then I have him underestimated.  But it's the HERO development, also yesterday, that is the conservative mantle waiting to be picked up and used as a cudgel.

Opponents of Houston's non-discrimination ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, a state district judge ruled Friday, validating city officials' decision to toss out the petition foes submitted last summer.

After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart.

Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election.

"The jury's verdict and the judge's ruling are a powerful smack-down against the forces of discrimination and intolerance," said Geoffrey Harrison, lead attorney for the city, in a statement. "And maybe, just maybe, they'll reconsider their misguided ways."

Don't count on that.  Somehow "Not free to pee in safety" seems a more motivational war cry than "fix the potholes".  So we'll see how things go as Costello and King bid for the Steven Hotze/Dave Wilson caucus; maybe Pennington at some later point endorses one or the other to move the needle.  He's giving us a clue at the end of that top link.

"As long as two-thirds of our general fund budget is tied up by firemen and policemen's salaries and pensions, and when the main activity going on in addition to that, which is ReBuild Houston, is not delivering what it could deliver, I think there are improvements to be made," Pennington said, referencing the city's ambitious street and drainage repair program. 

ReBuild Houston is Costello's deal, aka (in conservative circles) as the 'rain tax'.  So that's slamming Costello a little bit.  And since all this news broke on a night when one of our seasonal toad-strangling rainstorms flooded several parts of the city, it seems like a topic we'll also be hearing more of.

No comments: