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Who might run for Mayor in 2023?

Mayor Sylvester Turner

So Election 2019 is (modulo District B) safely in the books, and Sylvester Turner is in office for his second and final term. In years past at this time I’d be taking a look ahead at the next city election – who’s termed out, who could be vulnerable, who might be priming for a run, etc – but with the next election not until 2023 that seems like a stretch. We can start thinking about who might throw their hat into the ring for Mayor, however. The field in 2015 was quite large, and I’d expect something similar in 2023. Houston Mayor is a prime gig, and it doesn’t come open very often.

I’m going to run down a list of names that seem like potential contenders. I want to stress that this list is entirely the product of my imagination. I have no inside knowledge of anyone’s intentions, and I make no warranty on any of these claims. I’m just thinking out loud. So with that in mind…

Chris Brown – He’s the current City Controller, he’s won twice citywide (which among other things means he’ll be term-limited and thus would need to run for something else, if he wants to stay in city elected office), he’s a strong fundraiser, he’s got a long history in city politics. Annise Parker and Kathy Whitmire were both Controllers before they were Mayors. He does have a bit of baggage, and his win over Orlando Sanchez was not by much, but if there’s one person on this list who would surprise me by not running, it would be Chris Brown.

State Sen. Carol Alvarado – Served three terms as Council member in District I and was Bill White’s Mayor Pro Tem before winning election to the Lege in 2008, and continues to be involved with city issues as a legislator. If she has statewide ambitions – and as a young Senator looking at a Democratic-trending state, she should – Mayor of Houston would enable her to run from a bigger base. Legislators have been elected Mayor in various cities recently, including Dee Margo (El Paso), Eric Johnson (Dallas), and of course Mayor Turner. As an incumbent, she’d be in a strong position to build up a campaign treasury in advance of running, as Turner did in 2015. The main negative here is the old story of Latinos having a hard time winning citywide elections, but someone is going to break through, and being a veteran establishment Democratic elected official is a good way to get there.

Amanda Edwards – OK, sure, she’s running for US Senate now, but so are multiple other viable candidates, only one of whom can survive the primary, never mind the uphill battle that would follow. While she would certainly prefer to be well into her first term in Washington, it’s hardly crazy or insulting to say she might be available for this race. She was an At Large Council member, one who I thought would have been in a decent position to run for Mayor this year anyway before she changed course, with a strong fundraising history. Running statewide, especially for a federal office, is a great way to vastly expand your donor base. She may well be done with city politics regardless of what happens this year, but I’d be remiss if I left her off this list.

State Rep. Sarah Davis and State Rep. Jim Murphy – Both are incumbent Republican State Reps, and I’m lumping them together here. Davis has a decent chance of losing this year, and while Murphy will be a favorite to win in 2020, he may find himself in the House minority, and decide it’s not to his liking. Houston is a Democratic city, but as establishment, business-friendly, moderate-by-modern-GOP-standards Republicans, you could imagine one of them at least making it to a runoff in the way Bill King did in 2015, and if things broke right, they could win. As with everyone else on this list they can raise plenty of money, and if Texas is still run by Republicans in 2023 they could argue that they’re better positioned to defend our local autonomy better than any Dem running.

Abbie Kamin – I know, she was just elected to District C, and incumbent Council members don’t have a strong track record in Mayoral races (Dwight Boykins, Steve Costello, Peter Brown, Orlando Sanchez, Chris Bell, Helen Huey, Gracie Saenz…you get the point), but in both the November and December races her performance was impressive, she was one of the best fundraisers of the cycle, and having District C as your base is a pretty good jumping off point, especially in a multi-candidate field where the goal is to make it to round 2. Like I said, this is just me thinking out loud.

Orlando Sanchez – Yeah, him again. You just know he’s going to keep running for things. He has name recognition, he did better than expected in losing to Chris Brown, and hey, the third time was the charm for Sylvester Turner. Why not Orlando?

The field – Not every Mayoral contender is visible from a distance. Every recent competitive race has featured at least one wealthy non-politician type, some more successful than others (Bob Lanier, Bill White, Rob Mosbacher, Gene Locke, Ben Hall, Bill King, that guy from 2019). I’ll be surprised if 2023 is an exception, but I have no idea who that person may be at this time. Similarly, every competitive race has had at least one strong black candidate, and if Amanda Edwards sits it out, someone else will step up. One or more people that no one is thinking of now will be on the radar in 2023. Ask me again in a couple of years and we’ll see who that might be.

That’s my list. Who would you add?

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14 Comments

  1. Mainstream says:

    I don’t think Rep. Sarah Davis would be interested. Brenda Stardig and Mike Knox and Michael Kubosh are much more visible in Republican circles and in discussions of city policy. Possibly Dave Martin, but he has not been high profile within Republican circles.

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I expect to spend the next 4 years opposing Kubosh and Knox. Easy enough to figure out which of these far right wing Conservative Republicans are raising more money than a ‘last term’ City Councilmember. Just look at the campaign finance reports. I am.

  3. N.M. Horwitz says:

    Sarah Davis lives in West University Place.

  4. Mainstream says:

    N. M. Horwitz, you are mistaken. She moved, but I still seriously doubt she has any interest in competing for City of Houston offices, and I expect she will be re-elected to the Texas House, making this whole discussion moot.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Michael Kubosh is a genuine Houston hero, along with his brother, the erstwhile OTK’er. Getting rid of Bill White’s red light cameras ought to be the only reason anyone needs to vote for him, and a non partisan reason at that.

  6. brad says:

    Bill,

    I think you mean genuine right-wing hero, not Houston.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    Brad,

    No mistake. As we discovered, the red light cameras were truly a non partisan issue. Frankly, they were victims of their own success. People who supported them initially because they figured, hey, they will only cause issue for other people, started getting tickets themselves, or worse, started getting rear ended. The longer it went on, the more voters were personally, negatively impacted by the cameras, and thus, it was defeated at the ballot box.

    The Kubosh brothers were unarguably the proximate cause of getting the issue on the ballot. That’s actually not right OR left wing….it’s populism.

  8. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Easy way to settle this….Lets demand all Houston City Councilmembers state how they are voting for President, US Congress, and US Senate in 2020.

  9. Mainstream says:

    What ever happened to ballot secrecy?

  10. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Kubosh has a right to not tell people who he is voting for President, Senate, and Congress.

    But as an elected official, I think it is fair game to ask who theyre voting for. Their job is to take votes for the people. Their judgement is important.

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    Agree with Tom on this one.

  12. C.L. says:

    I drive through roughly a dozen red light intersections between the Heights and the Med Ctr every day. Out of the 12 this morning, five had folks blazing through well, well, well after their light had turned red. And nothing out of the ordinary with that statistic/percentage.

    Bring back the cameras, I say.

  13. Jason Hochman says:

    CL, the cameras are best left alone. I still can’t believe that the city had a contract without a termination for convenience clause. I only have half a brain but I know that a government contract should have a t for c clause. The city never does reach out to me for advice although I have volunteered to help.

    I ride a bike from the Heights area and the Med Ctr. every day, so I am sure that I see you out there emitting carbon and stealing my dreams and childhood.

    I hope that this list of candidates is indeed speculative. Mrs Kamin emailed me for her fundraiser. Only in office one week and she’s is raising funds. Her campaign claims not to know about the Voluntary Compliance Agreement with HUD. How can someone who gets elected not know what’s going on in city government? Even I read the agreement and I am lucky if I remember to zip up my jeans.

    She’s good at fundraising and that sums it up. Good at letting wealthy donors feed at the trough. Only wealthy people with their own money should be elected and they can self finance their campaign.

  14. C.L. says:

    Anyone risking their life to pedal the 6-8+/- miles from the Heights to the MedCtr every day, with stolen childhood dreams, half a brain, and who can’t remember to close his/her fly will get my vote come next election !

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