September 22, 2003
Berry drops out

Michael "Boy Wonder" Berry has dropped out of the mayoral race, apparently facing up to the reality that he had no chance whatsoever of winning. He said he didn't want to be a spoiler, which from my anti-Orlando Sanchez perspective is a shame. Sanchez will surely get most of Berry's current supporters, which he really needs given his lackluster showing so far.

On that note, Chron columnist John Williams compares Sanchez's effort to Louie Welch in 1985. Welch was quiet through the summer after being declared the early frontrunner, and this allowed then-Mayor Kathy Whitmire to control the debate. Williams doesn't go into some of Sanchez's screwups on the campaign so far, but maybe now with Berry out they're no longer worth harping on. If so, Sanchez is the luckiest man in politics today.

What's even more interesting is Berry's timing, since the top story in the Metro section of the Chron's morning edition was about how Berry differentiated himself from the other three candidates at a debate sponsored by The Metropolitan Organization. You'd think he wouldn't have bothered to participate if he knew he was getting out, and you'd think he'd have faced the reality of his poll position and weak finances sooner than this. But who knows? He's now running for another at-large Council seat, which I think means he'd get a new six year term-limit cycle, and gets a ton of free publicity for it. Crazy like a fox, I guess.

UPDATE: Alex and I have been debating this last point, about term limits, in the comments, and I think he's right: Berry would still be subjected to the three-term limit on the grounds that it's the same type of office, even if it's a different seat. I tried to find a city statute to clarify but eventually gave up - their PDF model sucks compared to the HTML layout of the State's laws. Anyway, unless someone can say with authority otherwise, Berry has two terms left.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 22, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think he gets a new six year cycle. As I understand it, you get six years of council total. So if you were to have a district seat, you couldn't run for an at-large seat after six years (and you couldn't sit out two years and then run again).

Is my understanding incorrect?

Posted by: R. Alex on September 22, 2003 12:47 PM

Honestly, I don't know. I think your interpretation ought to be correct, but this is the first instance I can think of where a sitting council member abandoned his seat and then announced he'd run for a different seat of the same type. Let me do a little research.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 22, 2003 12:50 PM

Well, my assumption is based on the fact that no district councilman ran for at-large when their 6 years were up. Seems unlikely that none would if they could. [shrug]

Posted by: R. Alex on September 22, 2003 6:55 PM

I think you must be right, Alex. I tried to find the applicable city ordinance, but gave up amidst chaos. Anyone with a citation would be welcome here.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 22, 2003 7:48 PM

You're both right. Berry only has 4 years left on the council if he wins. Keller and Ellis also only have 2 years left on the council if they win.

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on September 23, 2003 4:26 PM