Wednesday, November 9, 2011

City of Houston Election Wrap-Up

As I predicted in my blog posting on September 6, it was generally a successful night for incumbents and for frontrunners in the open seats.  Eleven out of thirteen incumbents were reelected outright:  Mayor Parker; Controller Green; and Council Members Adams, Sullivan, Hoang, Pennington, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Costello, Noriega, and Bradford.  Two incumbents are in a runoff:  District A Council Member Brenda Stardig and At Large 5 Council Member Jolanda Jones.
In the five open seats, again as predicted, Alvin Byrd is in a runoff for District B with Pearland resident Jerry Davis; Ellen Cohen won District C outright; Kristi Thibaut is in a runoff for At Large 2 with perennial candidate Andrew Burks; Mike Laster won District J; and Larry Green won District K.
There will be four Council runoffs, with the election most likely called for December 10. My current analysis: 
District A -- Incumbent Brenda Stardig trailed Helena Brown 41.1% to 47.2%.  This race could go either way.  Stardig is taking a lot of heat for voting for Renew Houston, which failed in District A in the 2009 vote.  As the incumbent, Stardig should be able to raise the money to be competitive.  Additionally, to the extent that Schoellkopf’s voters (11.7% of the vote) return to the polls, you would expect them to break for Stardig.  Rating:  Tossup.
District B -- Alvin Byrd led an eight candidate field 25.1% to 24.4% over Jerry Davis.  Davis will be better funded in the runoff, but Byrd has stronger grassroots.  Rating:  Leans Byrd.
At Large 2 -- Andrew Burks led Kristi Thibaut 17% to 15.9% in a ten candidate field.  Thibaut will pick up all of the establishment endorsements; Burks will continue to have strong support in the African-American community and will attempt to appeal to Westside Republican voters. Rating:  Leans Thibaut.
At Large 5 -- Incumbent Jolanda Jones led Jack Christi into the runoff 38.3% to 33.4%.  This will be the third consecutive runoff for Jones, and the second straight against Christi.  In 2009, Jones defeated Christi 50.24% to 49.76%.  Jones will turn this into a Democrat/Republican race, and in a 60% Democratic city that should give her the edge.  Rating:  Leans Jones.