Two New TV Ads in Houston Mayoral Race

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Peter Brown's Third Ad: Community, Focused On Public Safety: Watch

Ah, another Houston ad on “safety”. Except this time Pete Brown is Sam Waterston and is going to rig up the Houston Police Department with satellite cameras that are going to track officers on the beat down to the nearest nanometer. I feel like I'm watching a commercial for Law & Order Houston.  

Annise Parker “Only One”: Watch

There was an opportunity for Parker's ad campaign to get better from the mediocre first entry. That opportunity was not taken. It feels like I'm watching something in which the goal was to insert as many buzzwords that polled well into 30 seconds rather than something with a coherent theme or message.

For 1st class city, these ad campaigns are flying coach.  


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Former Publisher & Owner of the Burnt Orange Report. Political Thinker, Digital Explorer, and Time Traveler.


  1. A Virtual Auction, Not A Real Campaign
    The big news here is that all three campaigns are now focused on raising money and targeting marginal, which is to say Republican, “likely voters”, with large media buys and slick production values — all financed by the same interests. One exception is Brown's somewhat old-money campaign finance, as ever so very slightly distinct from the others' relatively new-money campaign finance.

    Although the City of Houston has a Democratic majority, all three campaigns are scrupulously non-partisan, which is to say bi-partisan, thus, Republican on the margin.

    This sort of “soft-center” politics (a) protects vested interests at City Hall but (b) lends itself to decisive, last-minute, hard-right intervention by Dan Patrick from his suburban bastion in the far Northwest precincts of the county. No clue on whether or what that will be.

    All three campaign consultant-managers have signed a pact to avoid debates before existing political organizations. So, unless something happens outside of the joint control of all three campaigns, there is nothing going on here but obscure, inside-politics, personal rivalries — no big issues and little popular interest in the campaign.

    Actually, a lot is going on: the most complex private applications of public credit ever concocted right here, maybe ever in the whole world: The Rice bail-out of Baylor College of Medicine, something involving the Hospital District and Memorial Hermann Hospital System, a joint city-county stadium deal to build the very jail voters disapproved of, and world-class mystery over the airport system and port of somewhere-out-in-Galveston-Bay authority.

    Do not expect to hear much about Sir Alan Stanford before he dies in custody awaiting a public trial that will never happen.

    The massive obscurity of local politics and opacity of local government reflects the fact that all three of the candidates are City Hall insiders and have been enablers, rather than critics, of the regime there. This may be the hallmark of politics driven by foreign-held debt managers. It may pervade national politics increasingly as well.

    In any case, these three Democrats all want to be in the succession of Louis Welch, Bob Lanier, and Bill White — handmaidens of the Greater Houston Partnership of land-speculators and slum-lords.

    Brown would condition that obeisance with “planning” and Parker with “budgetary controls”. Gene Locke could prove to be the best spokes-model the Partnership ever hired. His ads could be better than Allstate's “good hands”, when they hit the air. In any case, all three candidates are now locked-in to the debt-driven deal-culture at City Hall by this auction-type campaign.

    The fundamental problems of Houston remain (i) a grim crime-ridden, low-wage, underground economy dominated by illegal labor but (ii) glossed over by a pretty overclass economy dominated by import concessions and financial intermediation. Oh, we also have (iii) an eroding shore-line and industrial base. Thanks to subsidence (sinking land) caused by oil & gas production, Houston is about twenty years ahead of the rest of the planet in actually experienceing the effects of global warming (rising sea levels).

    But, there is nothing middle-class or working-class about our patron/client politics, so it is ripe for exploitation by the far-right today, maybe the far-left someday. What is most conspicuously missing is a “hard center”.

    None of the campaigns or political parties are building trust-relationships with individual voters. Voters are now anxious and bewildered, but neither inspired nor angry — just hoping the worst of the national economic and financial situation is over.

    So, turnout in early voting looks like it will be very low.

    Since the Democratic Party has no “base” vote and is not the opposition or the ruling party in Houston or Harris County, there is an eerie truce right now.

    The GOP would like to unleash a ferocious counter-attack next year to protect their hold on the Courthouse. But, they could be demoralized and disorganized by their own statewide primaries. Of course, Democratic calculations based on karmic insight into what KBH will do before she actually decides may prove unreliable and disorienting, as well.

    Really, there are increasingly no parties or principals in Texas politics, just intermediaries.

    Voters may be exhausted and thoroughly confused by our issue-free local politics and helplessness in the face of collusive bargaining nationally over health-care and climate-change. The almost entirely self-referential candidates for local offices seem to have little to do with how state or local government actually works and will be entirely evasive as to who they are accountable to when the debts from this campaign fall due.

    Credit rating agencies, maybe. Now, there's a perfectly mysterious, completely elusive scape-goat.

    So, “who could have known?” may be the signature excuse for failure of our ruling elite as Obama fades into memory and Enron-style bi-partisanship returns.

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