Saturday, August 29, 2015

The At Large 3 contest

Here are the entrants, as usual from the city's filings page and in alphabetical order.  Via Kuff, who has a post up about this and some mayoral fora upcoming, Mike Morris at the Chronicle's graphic shows the names listed in ballot order.

This race IMHO presents one of the more interesting lineups of candidates among the At-Larges despite its complete lack of diversity (I find AL 1 and AL 4 to be the protoypical mud wrestling matches, with AL 5 demonstrating more of what Houston is all about demographically).  Let's not bury the lede; one of Peterson or LaRue hopefully can push the incumbent Kubosh into a runoff in December.

Peterson has a long and impressive resume': strategist for NASA, leadership experience with environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, chairman of Senate District 11, active with the Bay Area New Democrats -- in short, everything just about anybody on the left could look for in a progressive, activist Democrat.   LaRue voted in the 2014 Republican primary in 2014, and McElligott -- affiliated with the Harris County Green Party, the only such candidate on the ballot -- voted in the 2010 Republican primary.  In a conversation with me, McElligott indicated that he did so strategically in the governor's race that year, for Kay Bailey Hutchison over Rick Perry.  I don't know LaRue's motivation so let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he did the same as McElligott.  (Many more Democrats than will admit it do this.  They even encourage others to do so; that's how weak Texas Democrats have become in midterm elections.)

McElligott has fleshed out strongly progressive policy issues: participatory budgeting (they've given it a go in NYC), repealing TABOR, reforming tax increment financing, advocating public banking and paid leave... sadly, these initiatives are outside the realm of concept for most municipal voters.  They will just screech "soshulist" and point at Bernie Sanders (or Jill Stein).  McElligott's paving the way to real progress for Greens, Democratic socialists and non-Democratic progressives.  Good on him for that.

LaRue is trying to run right down the middle of the partisan divide, rarely a winning electoral strategy at any level these days.  He has campaigned actively, appearing at numerous Democratic functions with photos on his Facebook page, and even making news as he and his husband became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license issued in Harris County.  Here's OutSmart magazine's retelling of the day-long saga involving Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart's refusals, County Attorney Vince Ryan's threats of legal injunction, and the media swarm that covered it all day.  Here's an article where LaRue describes his views as centrist and bipartisan, and also that his motivation for joining the race was Kubosh's votes against HERO.  And he's open about chasing moderate Republican votes, so there's that.

Despite his folk hero status, LaRue did not get the GLBT Caucus endorsement, probably due to their distasteful "viability" ratings of candidates.  Kuff underscored this point a couple of weeks ago in his reporting on endorsements.

I simply would not expect a great deal of votes to go to McElligott -- something on the order of the Greens' usual market share in contested races, about 1-2% -- but LaRue and Peterson could spoil each other's chances and let Kubosh waddle back to the horseshoe.  The incumbent and portly bail bondsman has voted against HERO and taken five large, the maximum financial contribution, from Steven Hotze this go-round.  He has a big target on his very wide back.  He got lucky two years ago when the Democrats washed each other out, and his popularity from fighting (and winning) the red-light camera battle with Mayor Annise Parker was at its zenith.  But unless turnout favors the liberal strongholds in the city, we could be looking at a rerun of 2013.

Prediction for the general: Kubosh could skate over thin ice again if Peterson and LaRue split the Democratic vote. If one of the two can get the incumbent mano a mano in December, odds are good that the seat flips.

1 comment:

PDiddie said...

Yes, hindsight and all can make for chuckles, Big Boy. I thought the funniest miss was how many votes the Green got: something on the order of 10K MORE than Marty McVey... who may have actually been the 'most progressive in the race' for mayor.