November 14, 2003
Break's over

After a week off, Bill White and Orlando Sanchez are back on the campaign trail. There was the usual carping between camps, but the real news is here:

White, meanwhile, worked on making inroads with Houston's African-American population, which gave more than 80 percent of its support to mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner. Turner, a black state representative, placed third in the nine-candidate field Nov. 4.

White, an Anglo, announced endorsements by several prominent black elected officials -- including Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, state Sen. Rodney Ellis and Fort Bend County Constable Ruben Jones, who plays an important role getting African-Americans to the polls in the Missouri City area.

During a news conference Thursday at Mickey Leland Memorial Park, White said he and wife Andrea White were with Leland the night before the congressman left on a 1989 trip to Africa, where he died in a plane crash.

"Bill White is no stranger to our community," Lee said. "Before he was old enough to register himself, Bill worked in the civil rights movement of the '60s registering minority voters.

"He supports affirmative action in its truest spirit to provide opportunity for those who have been historically denied such opportunities."

Depending on your perspective, you can thank or blame Ruben Jones for Lee Brown's victory over Sanchez in the 2001 runoff. His get-out-the-vote operation was the difference. These endorsements make it almost academic whether or not Sylvester Turner now officially supports Bill White.

White did pretty well in the general election in predominantly Hispanic precincts as well. Check out these numbers from Tim Fleck.

Whereas Sanchez had carried a majority of Hispanic voters in his losing 2001 runoff against Lee Brown, an Insider survey of eight key precincts in last week's election showed a dramatic reversal.

In Magnolia Park's Box 11, Sanchez had beaten Brown by 294 to 183, a 63 percent majority. Last week Bill White took the same precinct 279 to 160, a 58 percent majority for the leader. Likewise, in Denver Harbor's Precinct 560, a Sanchez majority of 77 percent over Brown was reversed with White receiving 127 votes to 103 for Sanchez. Sanchez carried only two of the key precincts surveyed.

"The Hispanic community figured out that Orlando is a Republican," analyzes [consultant Craig] Varoga.

"I think the Republican outreach effort to Hispanics has a lot of explaining to do," agrees Marc Campos, who worked for Sylvester Turner's mayoral campaign.

I said before that I didn't think Sanchez would get the same level of Hispanic support that he did in 2001, and I'm glad to see that I was right.

The most shocking thing I've read in a political story this week:

As we went to press some big-bucks Sanchez supporters were reportedly chewing over the idea that their candidate might be better off dropping out of the runoff in a unity gesture. If that happened, Orlando would in defeat have made Houston political history.

Obviously, Sanchez has not dropped out, but just the mention of such a thing is incredible. If he winds up getting pasted in the runoff (say, 60-40 or worse), maybe he should have gotten while the getting was good.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 14, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack