Sunday mornings are for church. In my case, it's George Stephanopoulos and reading the Sunday paper online. In today's Chron, Brad Olsen writes about Gene Locke's "uphill battle" with Annise Parker. Check out the numbers provided by Charles Kuffner.
While numbers don't lie, there is plenty of room for interpretation (or misinterpretation). My brother, ConFrijoles, likes to say that context is everything... so I'm going to give you the election results from last Tuesday with some context.
Attorney Gene Locke made the runoff with 26% of the 19% voter turnout against Annise Parker, whose name has been on the ballot for 15 years; Peter Brown, who spent 3 years and millions of dollars to win 51% of the vote in 2005 for At-Large 1; and perennial candidate Roy Morales.
Gene had never put his name on the ballot before, yet raised enough funds to compete with a popular establishment candidate. Yes, I said it. Anyone who has been in office for 12 years can't run as an outsider. It just doesn't make sense.
The chatter in the www's has been knocking Gene for his multiple endorsements from elected officials and leaders in the Hispanic community, as if we made a mistake in supporting Gene Locke for Mayor. The reality is that Latinos didn't turn out in higher numbers to vote. Of those who did, they did so because they always vote or have a niece/sister/cousin/granddaughter who bugs them or takes them to vote.
Let's face it -- none of the major campaigns made a significant push for the Latino vote because it was not a big part of the winning formula on November 3rd. Latinos were not a base constituency for anyone other than the former IT guy, Roy Morales, and he picked up his share of the Latino vote despite telling Mexicans he'd deport as much of us as possible, if elected.
As a first time candidate, Gene Locke came in second and certainly has his work cut out for him. I'm still puzzled why "some people" knock Gene for his multiple endorsements from community leaders. Or are they knocking Gene? The criticisms of endorsement sometimes seem to be aimed at Locke supporters for not backing the more well-known candidate.
The hostility has been palpable. The accusations of pandering and of "deals" being made for endorsements along with the inanity of "what else have they been promised?!?" only promise to intensify in the run-off. I saw a CNN report featuring Kuffner who told CNN that this election is essentially a battle of personalities, about who is better liked. Candidates aside, I can name about 5 people I am never talking to, ever again, thanks to this election cycle.
Latino voters outperformed the crucial black voting bloc one time -- in 2007's HISD bond election. Look -- I am no statistician. I saw the numbers from Tuesday, and without pulling up the calculator app on my phone, I can see that Locke underperformed in Latino neighborhoods against his opponents. The support for Locke from Latino elected officials is not any more significant than it is for Parker. I've remarked to friends how strange it feels to not have "my people" around me these days -- (Ms. is a Parker supporter, others are staying out of it). At the same time, I am enjoying and taking full advantage of the opportunity to work with Latino community leaders and elected officials on the other side of town. Kumbaya, and all that shit.
My analysis is this:
- Annise did well on Tuesday because she's been on the ballot for about 15 years and the motivated city voter recognized it. She also had a significant turnout in her base.
- Gene Locke did well because he appealed to his base and was able to hold his own across all parts of the city. He's a newcomer to elected politics but has worked hard in reaching out to all communities.
- Peter Brown did not do well because he has no base. I agree with Dr. Murray that he needed a big turnout to do well. His performance on Tuesday just proves that some voters watch too much TV.
So, here I am, plugging in numbers, creating spreadsheets and grids to spread the Gene Locke love all over Districts H & I. It's a big job to do on a Sunday, but football makes it better.
Hasta next time.