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Gabriel Vasquez

Comparing Controller’s races

In 2009, we have a Controller’s race that features an At Large Council member, a Council member from a high-turnout, mostly white district, and Council member from a low-turnout, mostly non-white district. In 2003, we had a Controller’s race that featured an At Large Council member, a Council member from a high-turnout, mostly white district, and Council member from a low-turnout, mostly non-white district. I thought it might be interesting, if not necessarily instructive, to compare the races and see if we can learn anything. Here’s the data:

Year Candidate Votes Pct ================================= 1997 Tatro 6,449 23.19 1997 Parker 47,841 20.25 97 Runoff Tatro 15,739 56.25 97 Runoff Parker 139,787 57.45 1999 Tatro 12,349 57.64 1999 Parker 112,470 63.23 1999 Vasquez 5,418 36.70 99 Runoff Vasquez 4,055 60.59 2001 Tatro 15,811 56.52 2001 Parker 112,153 50.66 2001 Vasquez 11,248 100.00 2003 Tatro 52,258 20.40 2003 Parker 106,441 41.54 2003 Vasquez 30,319 11.83 2003 Holm 11,172 35.37 2003 Khan 4,096 37.55 2003 Green 53,163 31.20 03 Runoff Holm 18,411 50.04 03 Runoff Khan 6,889 53.31 03 Runoff Green 98,464 52.21 2005 Holm 22,500 100.00 2005 Khan 7,019 69.22 2005 Green 123,254 100.00 2007 Holm 14,733 100.00 2007 Khan 4,662 100.00 2007 Green 82,417 100.00

Couple points of interest. The 2009 Controller’s race has just the three term-limited Council members in it. The 2003 race had three other candidates – Gabe Vasquez, who as you can see was not term-limited that year, actually finished fourth, behind Mark Lee. Both Ronald Green and Annise Parker finished second in their initial races, then went on to win in the runoff. Parker had two opponents in 2001.

As for what it all means, well, the parallels are obvious, but I would not draw too much from them. Parker had a fair amount of money in 2003, more than Green has now, and she had three competitive elections going into her Controller’s race, where Green had only the first one. Tatro had money in 2003, but Holm and Khan have more. They’ve run aggressive campaigns, while Green has, um, not. Green and his tax issues have also presented a large target for his opponents, at which Pam Holm has gleefully aimed, with mailers, press releases, challenges to appear on the radio with her, and so forth. I don’t know who’s behind that robocall that trashes Green over this, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that have received it. And MJ Khan is out there, too, spending over $300K on TV, which is something Gabe Vasquez never did. This is just a very different race. I could try to come up with some mathematical relationship between all the numbers involved, beyond what you can plainly see, but I wouldn’t believe any of it. Consider them for entertainment purposes only.

The Controller’s race

The Chron writes about fundraising in the race to replace Annise Parker as Houston City Controller.

The three major candidates vying to replace Controller Annise Parker, who is term-limited and angling to become the city’s next mayor, raised more than $400,000 in the first six months of the year. That far exceeds what City Council Members Pam Holm, Ronald Green and M.J. Khan raised during the same time period in previous campaigns.

“This is significant, and is much higher than normal for the controller’s race,” said Nancy Sims, a Houston political analyst and former campaign consultant. “They need to raise and spend some money to extend out and make their voices heard in the clutter out there.”

Actually, I don’t think it’s all that unusual. I say that from looking at the July 15 finance reports from 2003, the last time we had an open-seat Controller’s race. At that time, Bruce Tatro reported raising $132K, with $43,500 on hand. Annise Parker did better than that, raking in $212K, with $117K on hand. Mark Lee, who was not an officeholder of any kind, reported hauling in $100K. And Gabe Vasquez took in $133K, though he was still claiming to be running for re-election in District H as of July. That’s $444K raised by the three leading declared candidates, which actually exceeds the $428K that Holm, Khan, and Green took in. The main difference is that this year, the top three candidates have more cash on hand – $734K now versus a bit more than $200K then; Lee’s statement listed $35K in expenditures but for some reason omitted cash on hand, so I’m just guessing.

One other thing that struck me for the first time as I was putting this together: In the 2003 Controller’s race, you had a Democratic At Large Council member who ultimately prevailed over two Republican district members (Vasquez switched parties in early 2003). Of course, Parker did have more money than her opponents, and a higher profile then than Ronald Green has now. In terms of campaign narrative, Pam Holm is in the lead. I suspect that ultimately won’t mean much, but I do think there will be more interest than usual in the 30-day-out finance reports for this race.

Finally, on a side note, there are still a ton of July 15 reports not yet in the system for this year. Herman Litt’s report is now up – he had raised less than $5K as of the deadline, but he didn’t have a fundraiser till after then, and the one he had was very well attended, so expect him to post good numbers next time. I found a report for perennial candidate Andrew Burks, who is running for At Large #2, as well.

Candidate interview: Hugo Mojica

We are getting close to the end of my interview series with District H candidates. Today I have a conversation with Hugo Mojica, who is a native of the Northside and who has worked for former Council members Gabe Vasquez and Michael Berry. He currently works for the Brilliant Lecture Series, a local nonprofit organization. My interview with Hugo Mojica is here.

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Rick Rodriguez
Yolanda Navarro Flores
Lupe Garcia
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