Former City Attorney Gene Locke has filed his treasurer's report for the Mayor's race. I've got his press release beneath the fold. He was joined in doing so by City Controller Annise Parker and (be still my heart!) Roy Morales, who says he plans to "merely raise money with which to explore the idea of running". And if that isn't a vision that will have them swooning in the aisles, I don't know what is.
There are two other hopefuls who have not yet filed their reports. One is Council Member Peter Brown, whom everyone knows is running. The other is another former City Attorney, Benjamin Hall, who apparently was about to announce his entry into the race until he got a phone call from Locke. What happened isn't clear, but Locke has made his announcement, and Hall as yet has not. And a lot of people I know are talking about it.
Today's Chron talks about how the Mayor's race keeps starting earlier and earlier - in 1991, Bob Lanier and Sylvester Turner made their announcements in the summer, and that was to challenge an incumbent, Kathy Whitmire. The story also notes that former Gov. Mark White is apparently "still strongly considering entering the race", which is the first I can recall hearing of him in awhile. I really don't see what his path to victory is, but stranger things have happened.
And finally, a note on campaign tactics:
When the Internet was not yet in general use, Lanier and Turner used debates, news coverage and heavy advertising on TV and radio to promote their candidacies.
This year's contenders will use those tools and go far beyond, [Rice University political scientist Bob] Stein said, following the Obama campaign's use of on-line networking and fundraising, as well as using computerized data about voting habits and other demographics to identify and contact likely supporters.
Building word of mouth through Facebook, Twitter and other online avenues, along with the "micro-targeting" of voters, takes time that most previous mayoral campaigns never allowed, according to Stein.
At the City Council level, District H candidate Ed Gonzalez takes the early lead in the social networking race, as he's the first of that group (that I know of) to get on Twitter. Which he used to announce his new blog. Karen Derr has had one of those for awhile, but as far as I know Ed's the only one on Twitter. Both of them, plus Maverick Welsh and Hugo Mojica, are on Facebook. I'm sure things will get going more quickly in this race, given the much shorter time frame for it.
UPDATE: Over in Austin, mayoral hopeful Carole Keeton Strayhorn is thrilled about the grassroots twitter. I don't think I can add anything to that.
UPDATE: And you can add Maverick Welsh to Twitter.
Prominent Houston attorney Gene Locke today officially designated a campaign treasurer. The official filing clears the way for his entrance into Houston's 2009 mayoral race.
"I took the step of designating Jacob Monty so I could begin using money for my campaign to succeed Bill White as Mayor. With a background as diverse as Houston's - and a work ethic that has helped me cultivate the many opportunities citizens here are afforded - I am confident and ready to lead this city into a new era of prosperity," says Locke. "This is a time for Houston to prepare and respond - if it becomes necessary - to challenges. We endured and learned from the oil bust of the 1980s, and more recently handled devastating hurricanes with heart, muscle and optimism. I intend to exemplify, and hold high, these elements of our community's winning spirit as I roll out a successful campaign."
The son of a teacher and grandson of farmers, Locke graduated valedictorian from his high school in Marshall, Texas. He was accepted to the University of Houston shortly after the school integrated. There he became known for his leadership and attentiveness to social issues and civil rights. Later, he entered South Texas College School of Law, working days at the Shell refinery and attending classes at night.
After receiving his law degree Locke moved to Washington to serve as Chief of Staff to Representative Mickey Leland. His influence and reputation grew as he returned to his chosen city. He served as Houston City Attorney under Mayor Bob Lanier from 1995-1998. A partner at Andrews Kurth LLP law firm, Locke remains General Counsel to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority where he has been instrumental in putting together contracts that brought Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center to fruition.
Gene Locke is a devoted husband and father. His wife, Aubrey Sampson Locke; daughters, Tembi and Attica; sons, Nicholas, Douglas and Thomas - are among his biggest supporters. Locke notes, "This race has been a long time coming. I feel like I have been preparing for this all my life. I am now at a point where I can do whatever is necessary to achieve my goal of being the best mayor to ever serve this great city."