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Sylvester Turner announces his entry into the Mayor’s race

What we’ve all known about for months is now official.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

State Rep. Sylvester Turner announced his candidacy for Houston mayor today, formally adding the name of an influential lawmaker with deep ties to the African-American community to the growing field of contenders.

For 25 years, Turner has risen through the ranks of the state House and twice before has looked to parlay that experience into the city’s top job. Turner, who for the past year has openly talked about his plan to run a third time, made his decision public Friday in a video to supporters.

“People in my generation inherited a great city, with folks who have big dreams, and they made big things happen,” Turner, a Harvard-educated lawyer who grew up in low-income Acres Homes, will say in the video. “I see a city still doing that.”

Turner likely will be the early front-runner, as much as there can be a leader at all in a field featuring a dozen potential candidates, nearly all of whom have elected experience.

But few have reached out to the city’s movers and shakers over the past 12 months like Turner. He first made his ambitions public last February and has won over many power players in the Democratic establishment, from Sen. John Whitmire to the lobbyists and donors who can steer endorsements, dollars and ultimately votes.

He also has steadily raised mayoral money through his legislative account for at least six months. That fundraising – occurring while other mayoral candidates were subject to a fundraising blackout period – allowed Turner to enter 2015 with $1 million in the bank.

That’s the subject of some legal wrangling, but until and unless a judge says otherwise, it’s so. And Turner will need it to be so, because unless he decides to resign from the Legislature, he’s barred from further fundraising until sine die at the end of May, assuming no special sessions get tacked on. We’ll see if Greg Abbott is less promiscuous with those than Rick Perry was. Be that as it may, Turner will have a campaign kickoff event on March 28. A statement from his campaign is beneath the fold.

One more thing:

Given the caliber and crowd of the field, most mayoral candidates likely will appeal to small slices of the electorate in order to earn the 40,000 votes that most campaigns expect they will need to earn a place in a December runoff.

For Turner, that path is heavily dependent on strong support from the African-American community he has represented for two decades and which typically casts about 30 percent of the vote in municipal elections.

Yet that path could be complicated by the entrance of Ben Hall, an African-American pastor who lost to Mayor Annise Parker in 2013, who also is running for the job again.

Not really sure where that 40,000 number comes from. It has to be a function of how many “viable” candidates there are – does Ben Hall count? is Adrian Garcia in? – as well as overall turnout – are we in 2003 territory, where over 300,000 people voted in the first round, or 2009 territory, where that number was 180,000? If you assume five “viable” candidates (Turner, Bell, Pennington, Costello, King) and 200,000 total votes, then 40,000 is a reasonable goal. It’s also a goal that may well change as time goes on. Let’s just say that whatever the goal is, I’d want to exceed it by as much as possible.

Sylvester Turner Announces for Mayor
Turner Proposes a Road to the Future Initiative to provide job training while repairing local roads

HOUSTON – State Representative Sylvester Turner announced his candidacy for Mayor of Houston this morning – and immediately proposed a new “Road to the Future” initiative to teach young Houstonians a combination of vocational and life skills they need to become employable while providing on-the-job training repairing Houston’s streets and roads.

“We all need smoother streets,” said Turner. “But we also need to build better roads to the future for so many of our young people who are being left behind. I know we can do both.”

Growing up in Houston’s Acres Homes community, Turner went from sharing one room with eight brothers and sisters to Harvard Law School, founding his own business and then becoming a champion in the Texas Legislature for Houston’s middle class families.

In the Legislature, Turner has worked to stop utility companies from unfairly raising gas and electricity rates and to make health care more affordable for children and families. He has also led the fight to restore billions of dollars in cuts to public schools. As a small business owner, Turner has provided good jobs, affordable health care and a secure future for his employees for 31 years.

As part of the Road to the Future initiative, Turner will bring together community colleges, businesses, labor unions and non-profit organizations to create a combination of classroom instruction and structured summer jobs, after-school jobs, after-high-school jobs and bridge jobs – real jobs with real skills that will help make the promise of Houston real for every Houstonian.

Turner said his priorities as mayor will include a top-to-bottom performance review of the city’s Department of Public Works and implementation of a quick-fix program for potholes; stepping up community policing efforts and improving relationships between HPD and communities of color; and addressing economic inequality through increased support for schools and better aligning community college-based workforce training with actual private sector job needs.

Turner will kick off his campaign on March 28 at Minute Maid Park. He has appointed local businessman and community leader David Mincberg as his campaign treasurer. Mincberg served as a special assistant to Mayor Bill White for Multi-Family Housing Policy and later as Chair of the Houston Housing Authority.

Watch a video message from Turner and learn more about his campaign at: www.SylvesterTurner.com.

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7 Comments

  1. PDiddie says:

    I first saw the 40K (and 200K) in Bob Stein’s post at Baker Blog. He counts seven co-leaders, including Garcia.

    Why is the sheriff still waiting to get in, do you think?

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    He has to resign when he announces. No more paycheck. I would wait as long as possible.

  3. joshua ben bullard says:

    When a Houston voter considers voting for sylvester turner there is only one place to look, thats at his district in the north side of Houston,i will be the first to admit i havent found time to go and pull out the files on his district but we need to look at the crime levels in his district,have they moved up or gone down since his tenure?(at the state house)focus on the public streets in his district,i told turner in person at a christmas party “we are going to be taking a long definitive look at your district” sylvester looked surprised,so i said it again “your district is going to either get you elected or get you voted out” i will end with this for now,hopefully charles kuffner can do a full review of sylvesters district and report to everyone the facts,i can tell anyone that will listen as of right this moment,i have no idea whom i will vote for and i wouldnt think that anyones mind should be made up at this point.

    warmly,joshua ben bullard

  4. PDiddie says:

    Besides that, Paul (which I thought was obvious in my question, but apparently not).

    Yes, we already knew he can’t raise money until he resigns, can’t hire consultants, can’t even designate a treasurer. He’s still in the starting gate and while the others are passing the grandstand approaching the first turn. It’s almost the last minute now.

    And please don’t say “it’s still early”. All the donors are committing and attending glittering fundraiser upcoming.

    If he can’t afford not to quit his day job, why should he be considering running at all? Only the wealthy run for mayor, as we also all know. If he goes to work for a benefactor as a consultant, doesn’t that taint him?

  5. Paul Kubosh says:

    PDiddie….we agree “its not early”.

    “If he can’t afford not to quit his day job, why should he be considering running at all?”

    He shouldn’t. This is another reason why I don’t think he can win.

    Only the wealthy run for mayor, (poor people run also but they just don’t win).

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    My early predictions is that is Turner and King in the runoff. However, I heard that Ben Hall hired Wayne Dolcefino (sp). I have popped the popcorn and I am enjoying the show.

  7. PDiddie says:

    As to your first response above, I agree with you.

    As to your second, I think Pennington will do better at collecting the HEROphobes than King.