February 20, 2003
It's a great time to be a political consultant

Tim Fleck gives an overview of fat times in the local political consulting industry, thanks to the sure-to-be-a-record-breaker Mayoral race that looms large this November. First up, we see that Bill White is not letting his Democratic credentials keep him from going after Republican voters:

For instance, businessman and former state Democratic chairman Bill White has hired fund-raiser Herb Butrum, a veteran Republican consultant with ties to the Bush family who raised money for both Mosbacher and Sanchez.

Butrum predicts he'll have no trouble tapping GOP sources to support his candidate.

"People understand the mess the city is in," says Butrum. "More than anything, people want to see the city fixed, and that will trump most partisan feelings.

"For the city to come out of that, it's going to take real business experience. That resonates with Republicans regardless of party labels. Bill has always been viewed as a real uniter and a very smart guy."

Asked whether he can deliver GOP movers and shakers to White, Butrum says a number of people already on the team are "very, very close to the Bushes and the Perrys of this world." He expects that the White campaign will unveil a high-powered battery of GOP supporters in coming months.

We'll see if the Democrat-who-can-appeal-to-Republicans act works any better for White than it did for Chris Bell and George Greanias. I think it's more likely to annoy Democrats and amuse Republicans, but if you're a guy with a big bankroll, actual credentials, and no obvious base of support, I guess you have to do something.

This bit I'm still trying to understand:

The conservative Republican team of Allen and Elizabeth Blakemore is handling hyperambitious Councilman Michael Berry's mayoral campaign, although a lot of smart money is betting that Berry eventually runs for controller instead. Berry could draw away attention and support from Sanchez in the early going while roughing him up with hardball attacks behind the scenes in the conservative community.

Allen Blakemore certainly has the connections to do that, since he is joined at the hip to right-wing activist Steven Hotze and his church-based political network. In any case, the rivalry between Sanchez and Berry for Republican votes also creates a mini-soap opera pitting the Blakemores and the Waldens against each other. (Social note: These two tandems have never been particularly fond of each other and should not be included on the same dinner party list.)

The Waldens are Dave and Sue, mentioned elsewhere in the article. I don't get why the Blakemores have hitched their wagon to Boy Wonder Berry. He's certainly no more conservative than Orlando Sanchez, he's even less experienced in city government, he has no realistic chance of winning, and he could siphon off just enough support from Sanchez to let White and Turner in to the inevitable runoff, an outcome which I'd think would make most GOPers grind their teeth. Maybe it is just a bluff and he really wants to be comptroller, but again, there are other conservative Council members who would seem to be more attractive to the Blakemores (I'm thinking Bruce Tatro especially). Can any of the local Republicans help me out on this one?

No mention in this article of Chief Bradford. The Chron's John Williams had an amusing roundup of what-they-said/what-they-meant from each campaign's main flack regarding a possible Bradford candidacy. If that's accurate, then as a Bill White supporter I ought to start encouraging the Chief to toss his hat in.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 20, 2003 to Local politics | TrackBack

I think history has shown White's formula is a losing one and I don't suspect that will change in this election. I think we should resign ourselves to Turner and Sanchez and go from there.

I'm trying to look at the bright side. Either Sanchez wins (fine with me, though not for you, obviously) or Sanchez proves once and for all that a Republican will never be mayor and next time a moderate Democrat stands forward they'll see the "moderate" as being more conservative than their opponent and the "Democrat" meaning "electable."

Posted by: R. Alex on February 21, 2003 8:51 AM