As of yesterday, 15,792 folks had voted in person in Harris County. Compare that total with 2005, when 24,132 in-person votes had been cast. So far, 2007 is running at 65% of the 2005 pace. Two years ago, about 332,000 ballots were cast in Harris County, 192,000 of those in the City of Houston. If the current trend holds, we’ll see more like 216K votes countywide, and 125K in the City in 2007. That would put turnout in the neighborhood of 10% — pretty low.
While Mayor White is running a few commercials, he faces no serious opposition. A high-profile mayor’s race is the driver of turnout in odd-year elections in Houston, and the absence of a meaningful mayoral campaign has dampened interest in voting, to be sure. The only real mystery is whether or not White can best his 91% share of the vote from 2005. (We predict he’ll fall a little short, but not by much.)
It’s only yesterday that we received a batch of election-related mail. Two were from Commissioner’s Court touting the county bonds, one was pro-Prop 15, and the other was from the GLBT Caucus with their endorsed slate. That plus a single piece from Zaf Tahir last week has been it. No robocalls, either, as far as I know. If this is typical, it’s no wonder turnout is low.
There’s not that much money out there, either, at least not in the contested races.
“Incumbency has some advantages,” said Councilman M.J. Khan, who has nearly $300,000 on hand and no opponent. “One of the advantages is that they can raise more funds.”
Khan, who faced a challenger in 2005, said he collected money just in case.
White raised just $46,000 since September 27, but he had more than $2.2 million in cash available from previous events. The mayor’s totals by far outpaced his opponents: meat packing plant worker Amanda Ulman and engineer and wrestling promoter Outlaw Josey Wales IV. Neither filed campaign reports online Monday.
Councilman Peter Brown, who some speculate has ambitions to succeed White, has more than $500,000 on hand, more than any of his colleagues. His opponent, write-in candidate Leatrice Watson, has not filed a report this election cycle.
Council members Anne Clutterbuck, Sue Lovell and Melissa Noriega all headed into the election with more money left to spend than their opponents.
Councilman Jarvis Johnson, who faces police sergeant Kenneth Perkins, did not file his report by 5 p.m. Monday, as required.
At least 19 candidates failed to file their reports on time, making fundraising comparisons in several races impossible.
In the District I race to replace term-limited Councilwoman Carol Alvarado, candidates John Marron and James Rodriguez both spent more than $40,000 during the reporting period. Marron had a $20,000 on-hand cash advantage for the remainder of the campaign, according to the filings.
Buoyed by contributions from homebuilders Bob Perry, and Richard and David Weekley, District E candidate Mike Sullivan held a financial lead over opponents Manisha Mehta and Annette Dwyer. A fourth candidate, William R. Williams, did not file a report by 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, a political action committee opposing the Houston Independent School District’s controversial $805 million bond package, Concerned Citizens for School Equality, reported raising $42,220 in October, including a $15,000 donation from the campaign fund of state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. The group spent about $36,580, mostly on radio advertising. The report for a pro-bond PAC was not available.
In the District II HISD trustee race, former board member Carol Mims Galloway topped most of her competitors by raising $9,604 for the October filing period. Charles McCloud, the last of the five candidates to enter the race, filed a report that covered most of September and October, and showed a total of $22,555 raised.
District IV candidate Paula Harris raised $13,618 in October, including $4,000 from state Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston, and $1,000 from the Houston Federation of Teachers. Her opponent, Davetta Mills Daniels, raised $14,822.
And here this is, because I feel like it:
Remember, the lower the turnout, the more your vote counts. But you still have to vote.