Endorsement watch: For Huffman in G, eventually

You really have to read all the way through this endorsement to understand who exactly it is they’re endorsing. Stop too soon, and you’ll get the wrong idea.

CM Mary Nan Huffman

We have a confession to make. When super-lawyer Tony Buzbee announced his run for the District G seat on City Council, we were somewhat intrigued. As journalists, we are in an endless battle to make the important stuff — city budgets, tax increments, infrastructure plans — not boring. No matter what you think of Buzbee, and his most recent legal success getting an impeachment acquittal for Attorney General Ken Paxton, the man is definitely not boring.

There was the time he parked his World War II-era Sherman tank in front of his mansion to the consternation of his River Oaks neighbors. Not long after, he alleged that a woman he brought home destroyed $300,000 of artwork including two Andy Warhol pieces. In 2019, he ran for mayor saying City Hall smelled of corruption and hauled in a wheelbarrow of manure for emphasis. When he forced Mayor Sylvester Turner into a runoff, Buzbee gave a rambling speech that raised eyebrows and left some wondering about his lucidity. These days, he seems to have turned a corner in his personal life. He’s vocal about his sobriety, but that hasn’t lessened his flair. Just consider that in the middle of defending Paxton and announcing his City Council bid, he also helped launch a new brand of THC-infused drinks called HoBuzz as an alternative to alcohol. Genius marketing. We’ve been forced to mention it at least three times in editorials.

Buzbee’s ability to garner headlines has piqued the interest of voters — and so have the substantive issues he’s campaigning on. They see burst water mains going unrepaired for days, gushing thousands of gallons of water during a drought. They see hulking housing projects approved by the Houston Housing Authority going up without having heard about them from their citycouncilmember in advance. Although this wealthy part of Houston — bounded by I-10 and Westheimer, stretching from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs to Upper Kirby — pays an outsized chunk of the city’s taxes, they often feel forgotten.

“I have to think that somebody like Tony Buzbee could be a much sharper thorn in the saddle,” Nick Kornuta, an HOA president in Eldridge/West Oaks, told us when we reached out to him and other neighborhood leaders by phone.

In fact, Buzbee, 55, can be more than a thorn and a provocateur. Besides his win for Paxton, he got felony charges against former Gov. Rick Perry thrown out and won a $41 million settlement for a spider-bit victim. There’s no question he’s had big wins in court and we have no doubts Buzbee could torch city department heads about potholes on social media and stage spectacles designed for maximum media exposure. City priority lists may well yield more quickly under such pressure. Greg Travis, the previous councilmember, has endorsed Buzbee, claiming Huffman has failed to keep street rebuilds and repairs in the district moving. He claims Buzbee will get projects moving faster.

We urge voters in City Council District G to stick with incumbent Mary Nan Huffman. She won a special election in January 2021 after Travis resigned to run for an open state representative position. A 40-year-old former prosecutor, she voices dissent at City Council meetings as one of the few conservatives while avoiding the controversial statements her predecessor made. Although constituents may not notice her advocating for them, she’s been effective. When the housing department put forward their recommendations on affordable housing, she persuaded the mayor and fellow councilmembers not to submit a letter of support for Felicity Oaks, a proposed development inside Loop 610 and the only one considered for District G. This editorial board unsuccessfully urged Turner to ignore Huffman, but her opposition likely doomed the proposal, which is what many of her constituents wanted.

That right there, the sixth paragraph in this long article, is the first mention of the incumbent, and the only paragraph about her that is mostly positive. The remainder is more Buzbee and some criticism of Huffman. Note also that there’s no rhetorical qualifiers or other indicators of a shift – no “all that said” or “nonetheless” or what have you – before the sudden turn to endorsing Huffman. I had just about convinced myself that the headline on this was wrong when I finally got there.

I consider myself a student of the “Chronical election endorsement” form, and I have no idea what is going on in this one. Was there a split on the Board and this was the compromise? Was they day this was written National You’ve Got To Hand It To Him Day? Who knows. The headline tells you what you need to know, if the article itself wasn’t clear. My interview with CM Huffman is here.

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2 Responses to Endorsement watch: For Huffman in G, eventually

  1. Jenifer Egrets says:

    Looks like Buzbee is going to win. Republicans lose when they get the Chronicle.

  2. Frederick says:

    I voted Huffman on Monday. Least worst of 3 candidates.

    Buzbee would be interesting to see on the council for entertainment value, but my preference is a CM being more of a work horse than a show horse.

    We’ll see how the race turns out. Run off probably.

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