Greg Wythe gives a fascinating (to Houston political junkies, anyway) overview of the Republican/Democrat breakdown in the upcoming city election. Basically, if things break right, Houston could go from an 8-8 balance of city offices to a 12-4 advantage for one party or the other. He thinks the Republicans have the advantage right now, but there are a lot of races that are too close to predict.
One race of interest is City Council District H, currently held by Gabriel Vasquez. Here's Greg's take:
A heavily Hispanic district, this was Gabe Vasquez's district - he of party switching infamy. The race is full of neophytes ... and one well heeled Republican: Hector Longoria. When [Michael] Berry dropped the Mayor's race in favor of another At Large race, it was Longoria's race he entered. So with Vasquez's last second entry for the Comptroller's race, this left an opening. This one's another runoff. But the question is which unknown will survive to December and reclaim this one for the Dems? ... and can they overcome Longoria's money advantage? I'd think the odds favor Longoria here. I hope I'm wrong.
Both Vasquez and Longoria are based in the affluent and more Anglo Woodland Heights, rather than the much larger and more Hispanic areas north of the Loop and east of I-45 (here's the map). This is a Democratic area, including the Woodland Heights - Precincts 0003 and 0004, both located in the WH, voted for Al Gore (note the size of the Nader vote, too) and Ron Kirk - yet Vasquez, who as noted before was strongly disliked by the Democratic hierarchy before he jumped ship, won easily in 1999. (Feel free to do one of those great color-coded maps of yours for District H, Greg. And if you know where returns for city-only elections are, please tell me 'cause I couldn't find them.)
I think the Woodland Heights and the neighboring areas, all of which are liberal-leaning and which tend to turn out in elections, are the key to Vasquez's success. On an up-or-down partisan basis, he'd lose, but in a traditionally nonpartisan city race, he's used his connections to the area to demonstrate his concern for these areas, he's been effective in representing them, and he's been rewarded by the voters here. I don't know if Longoria has the same credibility that Vasquez has, but I do know that his campaign mailers tout his membership in the Woodland Heights Civic Association. If nothing else, it's a step in the right direction for him.
Bottom line: Like Vasquez, Longoria needs to carry this area. He clearly knows this. Vasquez overcame strong resistance in 1999. Longoria has no obvious opponent just yet. In my opinion, this race is his to lose.
UPDATE: I'm very glad to have been wrong about Longoria's prospects in this race. And just because I'd not heard of the other candidates at this time doesn't mean they didn't have bases of support.Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 28, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack