Race for the Run-off

There's still a week left until Election Day but one thing is already clear — two of the top three candidates for mayor will end up in a run-off election. A KUHF-11 News survey shows the race for the run-off is extremely close. Laurie Johnson reports.

"This November, Houston will hold elections for mayor, city council and other offices. Do you plan on voting in the November election?"

The run-off election is a matter of simple math. With seven mayoral candidates sharing the ballot and three people securing significant support, it's nearly impossible for any one person to get a majority of the vote. And with Peter Brown leading in the KUHF-11 News survey with 24 percent of the vote, it's a question of who will be in the run-off with him.

"We don't know who's going to be in that run-off. But no matter who is in that run-off with Peter Brown, we find that he has a commanding lead. There isn't any significant difference between Annise Parker and Gene Locke right now."

Rice University Professor and Political Scientist Bob Stein conducted the survey of 545 registered voters over the last week and a half. He asked people how strong their support was for each candidate.

"Peter Brown's support is interestingly weak. Tepid would be the right word. Gene Locke and Annise Parker, 3-1 voters who tell us they're voting for Gene Locke and Annise Parker are strong supporters — 75 percent. In Peter Brown's case it barely breaks 58-59 percent. I think what Peter Brown has got is a broad base of support. He's got support in every community. The problem for Peter will be probably that support is not very deep and may not take very much to, how shall I say, peel it away."

And that seems to be the strategy in this final week leading up to the election. Both the Locke and Parker campaigns are on the offense against Brown. Parker is trailing with 16 percent of respondants' support. Adam Harris is Annise Parker's campaign manager.

"Very interesting is how soft Peter Brown's support is, particularly as the news media begins to pay attention to the race and report on it — on what's actually happening. Peter Brown's claims, Peter Brown's stretching the truth in some things. I think when you see how soft his support is that you could see him drop down to 14 percent, 10 percent overnight as people realize he's not quite what he's made himself out to be."

Gene Locke is in a statistical dead heat with Parker, holding 14 percent of the vote. He's also bringing the full force of his campaign against the front-runner.

"Peter has the least amount of endorsements of the three major candidates. Peter has raised the least amount of money. Peter has the smallest amount of following of people who've stepped up to the plate to support him. But he's taken his family money and actually put over $2.5 million in. He's a liberal on the east side of town, he's a conservative on the west side of town. And so I think there's a real question that people just don't know who Peter Brown is."

Although Brown's spot in the run-off is all but guaranteed, Campaign Manager Lucinda Guinn says they're not taking anything for granted.

"Our message is something that has really excited a lot of voters. Every day out on the campaign trail Peter's fighting like he's still ten points behind and we fight really hard every day. We feel this excitement behind our blueprint to make Houston even better, behind our message and behind Peter's campaign."

And the reality for all three candidates is about 40 percent of voters are still undecided. Which means the question of who will be Houston's next mayor is still anybody's guess.

Tonight on 11 News at 10, a look at the immigration question. Do voters think HPD should do more to enforce federal immigration laws and do the candidates' positions match what voters say they want? To learn more, visit the 11 News website.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

 

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Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...