The Observer on the RRC runoff

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.”

Well, okay, but I’m not buying it. I’m just not aware of any voter outreach by Mark Thompson, though to be fair I’m not really aware of any by Hall, and I’m only aware of a little by Henry. As for his stand on the issues, here’s his webpage. If you can tell what he was campaigning on, you’re more discerning than I.

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.

While I agree that the large turnout helped Thompson, it’s still not clear why it helped him. As I said before, there’s no obvious reason why a voter who had to pick a name at random would choose Thompson. All three candidates had simple names. Thompson did well regardless of whether or not he was the first candidate listed on the ballot. And if youth were somehow a factor, you’d think the 37-year-old Art Hall would now be in Thompson’s position. I mean hell, Thompson’s web page doesn’t even have a photo of him, so why would “young folks” have any reason to be drawn to him? Sorry, but this is nonsense.

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.

So what? Gene Kelly still gets people to vote for him, and he’s a potted plant. Being on the ballot multiple times before (though in Henry’s case, it’s only once as a Democrat) should be an asset in a low-information election, but here it wasn’t. We’re right back where we started, with a question that has no visible answers.

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.

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3 Responses to The Observer on the RRC runoff

  1. James Thompson says:

    I agree – Mark Thompson does not have nearly the experience of Dale Henry (nor, judging from his website, does he have a very good grasp on grammar).

  2. kwheaton says:

    Thompson is running on the fact that he is against the Toll Roads and the Trans Texas Corridor. That’s why he is getting so many votes. At a guess, he is probably against Coal Plants also.

    Dale Henry and Art Hall look like the proverbial Repubs, just waiting to see what they can get their hands on to make themselves a few bucks.

    I have recently heard some good things about Dale Henry, so if he gets elected in the Primary Run-off, I won’t feel bad voting for him.

  3. Nancy Yates says:

    I live in Hamilton County — fourth generation and I have no idea who Mark Thompson is. Dale Henry lived here in the mid 1960’s and was our city manager. He has always kept in touch with the community. We’re backing him here.

    These days it is hard to tell who is a new Democrat and who is a Republican posing as a Democrat. I think Dale is a Democrat-Republican-Democrat just like alot of people these days.

    Nancy Yates

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