Annisse Parker and Gene Locke Gear up for the December 12th Run Off..

It’ll be interesting to see how the campaigns between Annise Parker and Gene Locke shape up over the next few weeks leading up to the Dec 12th run off. We’ll be watching to see if the gloves come off to a point that  race, gender and sexual orientation play into people’s decision-making. We’ll be also watching to see how much outreach these two candidates do. Will they play it safe and focus on turning out likely voters or will they tap into the tens of thousands of eligible voters who stayed home this Nov 3rd. It’ll also be interesting to see who fellow candidates City councilman Peter Brown and Conservative Roy Morales endorse and whether or not it would make a difference. The playing field seems wide open and at this point if neither candidate fails to reach out and get large numbers of people to the polls, there will be an opportunity  for an ambitious block of people to galvanize their community and get them to weigh in on the contest. As you read the Houston Chronicle article below we encourage to think about what sorts of things you really want to have in a mayor and then start hitting Ms Parker or Mr Locke up. They need to hear from you.

-davey D-..

Parker and Locke hit the campaign trail anew

By BRADLEY OLSON and JOE HOLLEY Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6702939.html

Annisse Parker

Annisse Parker

The day after a smattering of Houstonians went to the polls to decide on a new mayor, the two top vote-getters trolled for money and support while the relative unknown who played the spoiler pondered what might have been.

Annise Parker and Gene Locke, contenders in a Dec. 12 runoff, were favorites from the beginning, while Roy Morales, the only Republican in the race, had little money, minuscule name recognition and single-digit poll numbers just a few days before the election. In the end, though, the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel placed only a few percentage points behind Peter Brown, a city councilman who blanketed the airwaves with his “blueprint” for Houston and poured nearly $4 million of his family fortune into the race. The Morales surge probably knocked Brown out of the runoff.

“I didn’t take votes from Brown,” Morales said in an interview Wednesday. “I recaptured my votes from him. Mr. Brown was trying to portray himself as a conservative. Peter is a liberal.”

Analysts said Morales took advantage of media opportunities that put him on the same stage as his opponents to send a clear message.

In every campaign appearance — and there were more than 40 with all four major candidates — Morales beat the drum of Republican Party orthodoxy. His message was a one-note sonata: I’m conservative, these other people aren’t. I’ll cut your taxes, these other people won’t.

Although major Republican stalwarts largely were missing from his campaign, he was the beneficiary of several last-minute lifelines that may have increased his appeal to conservative voters.

Perhaps the most significant was a shout-out he received at a Tea Party rally Monday night at Sam Houston Race Park. The estimated 10,000 people who attended were urged to vote for him.

He also was the beneficiary of two huge mail pieces sent to voters in West Houston, Clear Lake and Kingwood, urging party activists to cast their ballots for him. One came from a voter guide mailed out by the Texas Conservative Review and the other from the Harris County Republican Party, which endorsed him Oct. 19. The party’s mail piece was sent to 70,000 households, and volunteers made more than 200,000 calls on his behalf on Election Day.

“He really tapped into what you’re seeing in these town halls and this Tea Party movement,” said Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, who admitted his surprise that Morales crossed the 20 percent mark.

Keir Murray, an uncommitted political consultant, said Morales likely received a boost from Hispanic voters because of his name.

“Another important factor was the low turnout,” Murray said. “We had a small enough electorate that those who were showing up were actually fairly knowledgeable about the race, even though they may not have received much in the way of paid media from Morales.”

Brown’s surge fell short

In the end, the two candidates originally predicted to prevail at the race’s outset finally did, despite an unexpected surge from Brown, a 72-year-old architect.

Locke began the campaign as the anointed front-runner after locking up a number of deep-pockets donors and power brokers. Numerous potentially better-known candidates who considered making the race backed out after the strength of Locke’s establishment support became clear. He received the lion’s share of endorsements from labor and business groups and officials and campaigned on his experience as a senior adviser to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Port of Houston and other local governments.

Despite that support, and the hefty campaign war chest that came with it, Locke struggled in the race. He shook up his campaign staff during the summer, but still failed to gain traction with a strategy aimed at conservative Houstonians and African-American voters.

Gene_Locke-250

Gene Locke

While Morales peeled support away on the right, Locke may have surged as African-Americans became aware of his race in the final weeks as he and Brown traded attacks over the support of prominent black ministers, Murray said. Brown’s ads portraying Locke as a liberal and prone to tax hikes also may have turned off black voters, whom the councilman had courted for more than a year.

Parker, who had less funding than her major opponents, ran a straight-talk campaign focusing on her experience as a six-time elected official who can lead the city through an expected fiscal crisis. Voters cited her experience and name recognition as the primary reason they cast their ballots for the controller.

The campaign took a negative turn in the final 10 days as Parker and Locke pursued Brown, and Brown hit back.

No rest for the winners

Parker and Locke jumped right back into campaign mode Wednesday. After an early TV appearance, Parker went to City Hall to present her monthly financial report to City Council. Locke also was on early-morning TV.

Both worked the phones to woo potential newcomers to their campaigns, thank supporters and raise money for what many expect will be a hard-fought contest.

In an e-mail to supporters, Parker was blunt about her financial requirements.

“I need to raise more than one million dollars in the next four weeks to compete with the projected spending of my opponent,” she said.

Morales, meanwhile, was getting the brakes fixed on his car and trying to decide whether to endorse. The three-time candidate and Harris County Board of Education member would not rule out another citywide run.

“It took Lincoln six times,” he said.

bradley.olson@chron.com

joe.holley@chron.com

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