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Endorsement watch: It’s a twofer

Well, this is unusual.

Houstonians are fortunate to face a difficult choice for mayor this year between two exceptional candidates, public law attorney Gene Locke and City Controller Annise Parker. It’s likely one or both will be in a runoff after the first round of voting winds up on Nov. 3.

With the city facing critical financial decisions early next year as a result of the economic downturn, the next mayor will occupy a pivotal leadership position. Parker and Locke offer deep roots in the city and a dazzling range of life experiences and public service that would well equip either to serve as the successor to term-limited Mayor Bill White.

The Chronicle is withholding its final endorsement in the race until the runoff. We have made this unusual decision because the candidates are so evenly matched, and we want to hear more details about their ideas for managing the city before recommending the person who could well control the helm of City Hall for the next six years. The last three mayors have all served their allotted three two-year terms under the current term limits system.

I dunno. On the one hand, a number of endorsing organizations, including the AFL-CIO and Christians For Better Government, have taken a pass on the Mayor’s race, for similar reasons. It’s true, there are multiple good choices – I guess the Chron doesn’t like Peter Brown, though they never say why that might be the case – and it may as well be a coin toss for some folks. There aren’t that many pronounced differences between the candidates on the issues. As far as all that goes, I can certainly understand them taking this approach.

On the other hand, how many more details does the Chron’s editorial board need? Whether folks have been paying attention or not, the campaign has been going on for months, and there have been dozens candidate forums, not to mention a plethora of candidate interviews, at which the candidates have expressed their views on just about every topic imaginable. How could they feel like they don’t know enough to make a decision? How can they expect voters to make one if they can’t?

I’m going to guess that the ed board was split down the middle, which is why they chose to sit it out in this fashion. If so, I don’t know how waiting till the runoff will help, unless their poll is an accurate predictor. I might have suggested running two separate endorsements, one by a supporter of each candidate. Surely they have someone who could make the case for Parker over Locke, and vice versa. I think that would have served the voters better than this.

UPDATE: Martha has more.

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