In the final televised debate before the election (and may I say that with all the debates and candidate fora we’ve had, no one can legitimately claim to be unfamiliar with the three hopefuls), Bill White and Orlando Sanchez stepped up their attacks on each other.
White, CEO of a large investment firm, questioned whether Sanchez would be capable of running City Hall with its staff of 20,000, asking how many employees he has had in his work history.
Sanchez responded with an attack of his own.
“You’re running to represent big business, Enron-size business,” Sanchez said. “I’m a small-business person.”
White pointed out that Sanchez did not answer the question.
“I’ve built many small businesses, and I know how many people report to me,” he said.
The runoff will be such fun if this is the lineup for it. While Sylvester Turner threw jabs of his own, the other two mostly let him be.
Given an opportunity to question each other, White and Sanchez acted more like runoff opponents, attacking each other instead of Turner. White even complimented Turner’s commitment to after-school programs.
The most recent polls show a fairly close race, with White leading the field and Sanchez in second place. If the two do make it into a runoff, neither would want to alienate Turner’s supporters.
Some time ago in a world championship bridge tournament, a highly regarded team from Poland seemed to try to throw a round-robin match against an overmatched opponent. Their apparent strategy was to alter where they finished among the top four qualifiers so that they would face a squad from Iceland in the semifinals instead of a Brazilian team that was considered to be stronger. The Poles wound up winning that match anyway, so their gambit failed. As it happened, Poland beat Brazil, and faced Iceland in the finals, where the team they thought they’d handle easily in the semifinals clobbered them.
I was reminded of that story as I read about how Turner, currently running third in the polls, is being allowed to be above the fray while White and Sanchez attack each other. It would be pretty ironic if the negativity turned off enough voters to allow Turner to get into the runoff. White has more to lose from this in the general election, since Turner seems to be likelier to pick up disaffected White supporters, but if he makes it to the runoff he should be in good shape. I can’t see Sanchez successfully wooing too many Turner voters, not after his orgy of using the Clintons as a club against White. As noted before, Kevin sees it differently.
It’s almost jarring after reading that article to peruse this Houston Press cover story on Bill White. No one in this piece, and that includes White’s ex-wife and a former boss who lost a million bucks investing in a business White set up a few years back, had anything negative to say about him. That’s pretty amazing, and quite the contrast to this earlier profile of Michael Berry, in which there was no shortage of naysayers.
UPDATE: Christine comments on a Sanchez TV ad that has stuck in her mind.