I have never pretended to be knowledgeable about the Houston mayor’s race, other than to pass along information that I have received from local sources, but I don’t get why Annise Parker has decided to go negative against runoff opponent Gene Locke. Her line is “Come Clean Gene” regarding his purported conflicts of interest with city business as a lawyer at Andrew Kurth, and she wants him to release his tax returns. Locke has already said that he would leave the firm if he is elected mayor. I don’t understand why Parker is going negative. If she believes her own poll, she has a 47-34 lead (and the endorsement of the third-place finisher). That is almost insurmountable, unless, of course, the anti-gay forces come forward with an effective smear campaign. They are running out of time; the start of early voting is Monday, if I have counted right, and December 12 is election day. Maybe Parker wants to take out insurance against a smear campaign, but when you have a big lead, and your opponent has just ducked a televised debate so he could throw out the first puck (I think the technical term is “drop the puck”) at an Aeros hockey game, and he doesn’t appear to have any momentum in the race, I think you’re just asking for trouble when you go negative and you have enemies who are itching to go negative against you. In any event, it isn’t likely to get Parker anywhere, since Locke is well thought of in town. What it did get Parker was a strongly worded statement by state senator John Whitmire: “It concerns me that fellow Democrats are resorting to smear tactics to destroy the reputation of my good friend Gene Locke. Our friendship spans nearly four decades. Throughout his career, both in the public and private sector, Gene has never been questioned on matters involving ethics or personal finances. In fact, Gene has counseled many public officials on issues involving ethics and financial disclosure. Those of us that have worked closely with Gene can vouch for his ethics and character. When Gene wins this race, rest assured he will follow all laws and ordinances that have been required of past mayors on these issues. Let’s try to have a discussion on issues important to rank and file Democrats throughout the city like public safety, transportation, and good parks.”