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Mayoral runoff overview

Break’s over, back to the grind.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner and Bill King, the top two finishers on Election Day, present Houston with a clear-cut choice in everything from policy priorities to personal demeanor.

“I talk about the need for the mayor to emphasize education, opportunities, addressing the economic inequality – not having two cities in one, a city of haves and have-nots – and the importance of placing emphasis on the arts and parks and neighborhood parks,” Turner said last Thursday in his downtown law office. “Bill does not believe, you know when you talk about education and income inequality, that those things are vital components of a mayor’s duties and responsibilities. We disagree on that.”

King agreed with Turner that the runoff likely will focus more on issues than on personalities, given their distinct approaches to the city’s top political job.

“We have a career politician that believes that property taxes are to be raised by more than 4.5 percent a year versus a businessman who thinks the city needs to live within its means,” King told reporters last Thursday before reporting to jury duty on Houston’s west side. “We’ve got a career politician that’s been endorsed by all the employee groups that thinks we need to keep kicking the can down the road on the pension system versus a businessman who thinks we need to do what private industry did 20-30 years ago and solve this once and for all.”


Bill King

Bill King

Turner’s African-American base and King’s conservative one each make up about a third of the electorate, meaning if both groups return for the runoff, they effectively could neutralize each other, local Democratic strategist Keir Murray said.

“The battleground becomes what Anglo Democrats, Hispanics, Asians, independents – which of those voters come back and who gets them,” Murray said.

Already, King has tacked to the center.

Asked about the challenge of winning the mayor’s seat as a Republican, which has not happened in more than 30 years, King said, “I don’t claim to be a Republican. I really claim to be independent.”

Turner, meanwhile, received Garcia’s endorsement Friday.

After more than 260,000 city voters cast a ballot in the general election, outpacing even political scientists’ most generous projections, estimates for the runoff varied widely, from 140,000 to 210,000.

The runoff is expected to be around Dec. 12, but cannot be set until last Tuesday’s vote is canvassed.

I’ve given my thoughts on the precinct data and what it might mean for the runoff. I don’t know how many people who might be likely to vote in the runoff aren’t already aware of the policy differences between Turner and King, but however many of them there are, now is the time to figure it out. If I had to guess now, I’d expect more low end than high on the turnout scale, but it’s too early to guess. I figure the next step is for the TV ads to get started again. Hope you enjoyed this brief respite from the campaign.

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One Comment

  1. Ross says:

    Radio ads for King are already running.