Thursday, August 27, 2015

The At Large 2 contest

Once more, your choices on the ballot in November from the city's filings page, listed in alphabetical order by last name, and links to those candidate web pages where they exist.

Let's begin by recounting that just two years ago, Robinson defeated then-incumbent Burks in a squeaker of a runoff, 50.7% to 49.3, or a margin of less than 500 votes out of 52,000+ cast.  In the general that year, Robinson led with 41.2% followed by Burks with 38.2, Rivera with 16.3 and Trebor Gordon with 6.3. Gordon was rumored to file but did not, so the stage is set with Davis, a black pastor virulently opposed to HERO, replacing the Republican Gordon.

In 2011, when this seat was open, ten challengers split the vote, with Burks -- a perennial loser in City Hall elections to that point -- finishing first in the general, followed closely by Kristi Thibaut.  Robinson came in fourth that year, and Dick seventh.  Burks prevailed in December in a similarly close runoff election, 50.2 - 49.8, or just 111 votes.

Attorney Dick ran for mayor in 2013 and clocked in a solid third, well behind behind Annise Parker and Ben Hall but ahead of six others including a Green and a Socialist candidate, with over 18,000 votes out of 172,448 cast, or 10.6% of the tally.  (See the link above in the second graf for more details if you like.)  Dick also seems to like to run for political office more to boost the fortunes of his law firm than actually get elected, ever since his signs debacle a few cycles ago.

In a non-bathroom election year, you'd have to score a rematch with Robinson and Burks as the most likely outcome for a runoff.  But Dick and especially Davis complicate matters, with their distinct conservative supporters unlikely to switch away from their preferred candidate until the runoff dust is settled.  Rivera, a resident of Kingwood with a lengthy military background and a longtime Republican as well, completes the list of conservatives trying to win this office.  Latinos turning out for Garcia might know nothing about him and mark him on the basis of surname alone.

Burks has a Facebook page that saw its last update in March, with sad tales of knee replacements and broken arms and the passing of his mother.  His former campaign website,, returns a 404 on direct link, but the Yahoo search listing redirects to a domain hawking garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement.  And from deep in the bowels of the Internet, a site which looks current but only lists his political campaigns up to 2001 ("at present").  Still, none of this sort of thing held him back in 2011.  Though a nominal Democrat, Burks's record  is a fairly conservative one.  His HERO position is unclear.*  That isn't the case with Davis or Rivera or Dick, so expect the Republicans and social conservatives among the black Dems to be divided in their allegiances in this tilt.  No one of them can likely best Robinson -- a solid Democrat and quiet but effective council member with no philosophical challenger -- but a runoff with one of them, and the HERO vote in the record books, might be a different circumstance.

No bets taken on who might wind up facing the incumbent in December.  It all depends on how well the various conservative constituencies turn out their voters.

Prediction for the general: Robinson may be able to avoid a runoff if the black vote splits between Burks and Davis; even if it does then one of the two others could join him in the finals.  Strong liberal turnout for HERO gets him over the bar without one.

*See Charles Kuffner's remarks in the comments.

1 comment:

Charles Kuffner said...

Pretty sure Burks was a HERO repeal petition signer. Check with Brad Pritchett or Noel Freeman, they can confirm or deny this.