I've publicly wondered about the bizarre result of the Railroad Commissioner primary election, as I still can't think of a plausible reason Mark Thompson came away with a near-majority of the vote. To help me try to understand this a little better, the Observer blog attempts to find an answer by asking Thompson what he thinks.
Thompson says that voters responded to his message. "What happened was I was talking about the issues," he said. "Art Hall and Mr. Henry just talked about themselves."
Thompson said before the election he did some amateur polling and was told by voters that they were supporting him because of his call for reform -- and, he added, because they didn't want an investment banker (Hall) and they feared Henry was too close to the industry. There's also the fact, which Thompson didn't mention, that Henry first ran for the commission in the Republican primary in 2004.
"None of these candidates are right on the issues," Thompson said. "Those guys... They forgot one thing. They forgot the people... I supposedly had no knowledge, but what did I do? I fought for the people."
I'm sure Mark Thompson is a nice guy with his heart in the right place. But there's no way he got his message across to enough voters to nearly win the nomination outright. You can't communicate with two million voters without spending money, and Thompson had (and has) no money. Sorry, but this outcome is as mysterious as it was before Thompson tried to explain it.
Unfortunately, Dale Henry doesn't do any better a job trying to explain it:
Henry proudly talks about his campaign to unseat GOP Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones in 2006 (as a Democrat). Jones beat Henry by 12 percentage points.
"It just thrills me to death that Mark has done as well as he has," Henry said. But he said that he stopped in Thompson's hometown of Hamilton, Texas, on a recent campaign swing and noted that nobody he talked to seemed to know who Thompson is. "This is back to the Obama phenomenon," Henry said, suggesting that the huge turnout among "young folks" helped Thompson.
Henry is 76, but, he notes, "I look about 55." He said his age should not be a concern to voters and added he could see himself serving two terms. Thompson is 48.
Thompson said what matters about Henry is not his age necessarily, but the fact that in two previous elections he has failed to win the office.
"He's already been beat twice," Thompson told me.
The good news is that the runoff should have a much smaller electorate, which in turn should be better acquainted with the candidates. The runoff voters should, and hopefully will, make the right choice and pick Dale Henry as the nominee. Early voting is next week, so get ready to cast that ballot. We need the best slate we can get, and that means having Dale Henry for Railroad Commissioner.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 25, 2008 to Election 2008