Gene Locke

Parker elected Houston mayor

Dec 13, 2009 By Paul Burka

Annise Parker won the runoff with 52.78% of the vote to Gene Locke’s 47.22%, amounting to an 11,000 vote margin [This is the corrected tally; see “What was Parker’s final margin?” above]. She grabbed the lead with the early vote and kept it to the end. A late poll supposedly…

Houston mayor’s race: anti-gay activist sends 35,000 mailers

Nov 29, 2009 By Paul Burka

From today's Chronicle, one day before the start of early voting: Longtime anti-gay activist Dave Wilson, who once led a successful effort to amend the city charter to deny benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian city employees, said he has sent out 35,000 fliers opposing the mayoral candidacy of Annise Parker in part because of her sexual orientation. The front of the flier has a 2004 photo of Parker being sworn into office as city controller while her partner, Kathy Hubbard, looks on, accompanied by the headline: “Is this the image Houston wants to portray?” On the back is written, “Just because Annise Parker is a lesbian doesn't make her qualified to be mayor of Houston.” Former mayoral wannabe Bill King, a Republican and a Gene Locke supporter, circulated this analysis of the runoff: What will the Republicans Do in the Mayor's Race? With Democrats breaking largely along racial lines and Latinos showing little interest in the current mayor's race, white-suburban-Republican-leaning (WSRL) voters will likely to be the deciding factor in the runoff. A KHOU poll released last week showed Locke and Parker in a statistical dead heat. But significantly it showed that Locke, who got very little white vote in the November 3rd contest, is now polling at about 25% of the white vote. This is consistent with the poll from the Locke campaign showing a significant block of the WSRL voters immediately moved to Locke after the November 3 election. As I suggested in my previous post, it seems reasonable to speculate that a great many of these voters are social conservatives for which Parker's lifestyle is the deciding factor. But that leaves about 25% of the white vote, mostly WSRL, as undecided. Which side this group comes down on will probably decide the election. A number of Parker supporters have been making the case that since Parker came in first or second and Locke came in last in many WSRL precincts, she has the upper hand in winning this vote. However, I think that analysis misreads the November 3rd results. It overlooks that even in the most Republican precincts there are still Democratic voters. For example, Precinct 612 is in the heart of Kingwood and is rock-ribbed Republican. However, in the 2008 election, Obama still got 24% of the vote in that precinct.

Houston mayor’s race: Whitmire slams Parker for going negative

Nov 25, 2009 By Paul Burka

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…

Houston mayor’s race: Parker attacks attorney Locke’s conflicts of interest

Nov 16, 2009 By Paul Burka

The gist of the accusation is that several of Locke's clients while he was a lawyer/lobbyist at the well connected Andrews Kurth firm had significant ties to the city government and entities with whom the city had interlocking ties (Metro, the Houston-Harris County Sports Authority, and the Port Authority). The Parker campaign says Locke benefited from these relationships by at least $17 million, and that if he is elected mayor, he would have "inescapable conflicts of interest." As the release points out, the mayor makes appointments to the boards of all these entities, all of which are represented by Andrews Kurth. Is anybody surprised? Not I. There have always been ties between city hall, the mayor, the politically connected law firms, and (before the oil bust of the eighties wiped them out) the big banks. If you go back to the seventies, lawyers who were close to then-mayor Fred Hofheinz wrote the legislation creating Metro and then became Metro's law firm. It has been ever thus. The release follows: The Parker campaign today released information revealing that Gene Locke and his law firm have profited by over $17 million from his legal and political relationship with local taxing authorities in just the last six years - a situation that constitutes a serious conflict of interest. "If elected, Gene Locke would have inescapable conflicts of interest," said Parker. Lawyer-lobbyist Locke has billed local government agencies like Metro at rates of up to $640 an hour. He billed $574,000 in fees to the Sports Authority alone in the last 30 months. Locke is a partner in the politically-connected law firm of Andrews Kurth. The firm has made more than $17 million in the last six years alone from the City of Houston, Metro, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the Port Authority of Houston, the same public agencies whose boards Locke would appoint members as Mayor - while his law firm, Andrews Kurth, continues to work for the City and each of those agencies. The mayor of Houston appoints half the members of the Sports Authority, five of nine members of the Metro Board, and jointly appoints the Chairman of the Port Authority. Andrews Kurth represents all of those agencies. Andrews Kurth also does millions in legal work for the City of Houston.

Houston mayor’s race poll: Parker +4

Nov 14, 2009 By Paul Burka

Note to readers: Bill King, who had considered running for mayor but decided not to make the race, has sent his considerable e-mail list the results of the first known post-election poll. This is his report. My comments follow the asterisks, below: Gene Locke's campaign has released the first poll taken since November 3. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday nights (November 9 & 10) by Paul Maislin, who also polled for Lee Brown and Bill White. The poll showed [Annise] Parker leading by 43-39% with 18% undecided. The margin of error was 4%. The poll shows that Parker and Locke are splitting Peter Brown votes [the third-place finisher--pb] fairly evenly with most white Democrats shifting to Parker and Brown's African-American supporters moving to Locke. The undecided voters at this point are mostly suburban, white, and Republican leaning. The suburban-white-Republican-leaning voters that have made up their minds about the race are breaking strongly in Locke's favor by about a 70-30 margin. This group is primarily been responsible for Locke moving from 10% down in the election to within the margin of error of Parker. The poll is modeled on a 170,000-voter turnout in the election. About 180,000 voters voted on November 3. Turnout normally falls in a run-off election; however in the 2001 mayoral election, when Lee Brown was challenged by Orlando Sanchez, the turnout actually increased from 280,000 to 310,000. UH political science professor and long-time Houston pollster, Dick Murray, thinks this could happen again this year. The general consensus is that a low turnout in this election helps Parker because of her relatively small, but very loyal base. Conversely, if turnout is higher, Locke will be the likely beneficiary because additional voters will more likely be African-Americans or Republican leaning voters.

Is Hotze playing in the Houston mayor’s race?

Nov 13, 2009 By Paul Burka

My Houston-based colleague Mimi Swartz forwarded to me this e-mail from Carl Whitmarsh, a local Democratic blogger, to Arthur Schechter, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, concerning the mayoral runoff in Houston. I provide no warranties about its accuracy: Hotze, along with [political consultant] Allan Blakemore, are rumored to be heading up…