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November 17th, 2009:

And a poll from Parker

We’ve seen Gene Locke’s poll, which showed him trailing Annise Parker by four points, 43-39. Now here’s a poll from Parker that puts her up by 13. The polling memo:

A recent Lake Research Partners survey of likely voters in Houston’s upcoming mayoral runoff shows that City Controller Annise Parker holds a strong lead over former City Attorney and lobbyist Gene Locke. In our recent survey, among likely voters with previous participation in past city runoff elections, Parker leads with 47 percent (37 percent strong) to 34 percent for Locke (27 percent strong). A fifth of voters (19 percent) remains undecided.

Parker holds this large lead even though the poll simulated high turnout among African American voters. The sample was comprised of 54 percent Anglos, 30 percent African Americans, and 12 percent Latinos.

Parker remains the best-known and liked candidate in the race and she maintains her lead even under a simulated attack. Only a substantially negative campaign from Locke can interrupt her momentum. Sixty-seven percent of voters have a favorable impression of Parker and 62 percent think she has done either an excellent (21 percent) or good job (41 percent) as City Controller. Fifty-seven percent of voters hold a favorable view of Locke.

In sum, Parker leads this race. Her deep base of personal support positions her well to win the runoff and become the next mayor of Houston.

Of interest as well is the footnote about methodology:

The survey was conducted among 600 registered voters in Houston with previous vote participation in municipal runoff elections and who are likely to vote this December. The survey was conducted November 11-15, 2009.

Like the pre-election poll that Team Parker did, this one makes a reasonable effort to identify people who really are likely to vote. That poll was a lot more accurate than the two media polls, which sampled registered voters. It would be nice to have the full crosstabs, but the sample strikes me as reasonable, and the first poll was accurate enough to give me some faith in this one. As Greg notes, the sample and methodology for Locke’s poll is less clear, though interestingly they both got about the same number of undecideds. I’m not sure if those folks will end up not voting, or if they’re just taking their time to make up their minds. Anyway, now we have a couple of data points. We’ll see how it goes from here.

Parker hits Locke over potential conflicts of interest

Annise Parker put out a strongly worded press release today that calls out Gene Locke for his work with the Andrews Kurth law firm, which has done a ton of business with the city, some of which was done by Locke, in recent years. I’ve put it beneath the fold, or you can go read Martha for more. Seems to me that the transparency theme, which is being echoed by people like Texas Watchdog, Slampo, Burka, and former Roy supporter Big Jolly, has the potential to do as much damage to Locke as Hotze-gate has. Speaking of which, you have noticed that no one on Team Locke, up to and including the man himself, have denied in any way the Chron reporting that he sought Hotze’s endorsement and met with Dave Welch and his hatemongering group of pastors, right? I just want to make sure we’re all clear on that.

The Chron story on this has Locke’s response.

Locke’s campaign said [Parker’s charges were] not true, as he resigned from Metro, the port and the sports authority before announcing his candidacy for mayor in April.

“I find it incredibly disingenuous that Annise Parker would question my integrity when she knows, and she has known, that I plan to resign from Andrews Kurth upon becoming mayor,” Locke said in a statement. “This is not only much ado about nothing, but this is the kind of negative campaign rhetoric Houstonians don’t deserve.”

Ashley Ronald Nelly, a spokeswoman for Andrews Kurth, said the former city attorney would have “no continuing financial ties of any kind to Andrews Kurth and derive no financial benefit related to the revenues of the firm.”

“Andrews Kurth and its predecessors have represented governmental entities for over 30 years, long before Gene Locke joined the firm in 1998,” she said in a statement. “Gene has spent most of his recent career advising governmental entities about the conflict of interest laws that bind them, and we believe that, as mayor, Gene will ensure that all persons and firms who work with or do business with the city fully follow those laws.”

Releasing his tax returns might help offer some evidence to back up that claim about no continuing financial ties, but that’s been a no-go so far. Read on for Parker’s statement. Prof. Murray has more.

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Beware the teabags of March

Apparently, the downside of inciting a torch-and-pitchfork mob is that you can’t always control where they’ll maraud. Who knew?

Across Texas, at least five Tea Party activists have announced their candidacies for U.S. House and Senate seats.

“If you are going to have a throw-the-bums-out (mentality),” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic group, “the bums (in Texas) are the Republicans.”

While Tea Party activists have rallied from New York to New Mexico, Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University, believes the Lone Star State is particularly fertile ground.

“The Tea Party movement is stronger in Texas than in many other places,” Jillson said. “It’s a presence throughout the country, but in the conservative parts of the country with a strong populist tradition, it seems to play a stronger role.”

Some are beginning to wonder if the national GOP may have created something it can’t control.

“The thing that the Republican incumbent fears the most is a challenge from the right,” Jillson said. “If you look anything like a moderate Republican, the talk-radio right could come out against you.”

Funny how these things work, isn’t it? I don’t know how to quantify the viability of all this. On the one hand, this is the base, and one presumes they vote in primaries. On the other hand, loudness and the ability to garner press coverage is an inadequate measure of a movement or candidate’s actual appeal. The money factor is important, too, and on that score I expect the incumbents to have a huge advantage. If this movement really gets organized and raises some money for its candidates, it could be a force down the line. I don’t see that happening next year, but who knows? It’ll be fun to watch.

Lykos asks Senate for regional crime lab funds

Harris County DA Pat Lykos went before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to ask for money that would be used to help get a regional crime lab up and running.

Lykos testified Tuesday in support of the Innocence Protection Act and urged lawmakers to implement a pilot program of independent DNA testing labs, with Houston as the first site.

[…]

She estimated $15 million would get a lab up and running in temporary offices in six months.

“The barrier is money,” she said. “The county has already developed a plan. I want to accelerate that plan.”

These things never move quickly, but given that the alternative is to wait till 2011 for the Lege to act, it’s relatively accelerated. I hope she succeeds.

Texas blog roundup for the week of November 16

The Texas Progressive Alliance is starting to feel an odd craving for can-shaped servings of cranberry sauce as it brings you this week’s highlights from the blogs.

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