Of all the bloggers, joggers, bum-smackers, fact-checkers, booty-snatchers, sack-scratchers, dog-catchers and other "observers" of the 2009 Houston mayoral race, it appears that Slampo's Place was alone in correctly "calling" the results. As Sr. Slampo wrote back on Oct. 24, after viewing the final televised debate between the candidates and ingesting a large plate of Indian take-out that he says left him "a bit gassy" ... "We still think it’ll be Locke and Parker in a runoff, with the black vote (and what else?) breaking monolithically for Locke and Parker beating the bushes to get her diehards to the polls, but either of those two and Brown wouldn’t surprise, and in any case it’ll be close, 3-5 points separating the three but Morales doing better than expected ... "Thank, you Hidalgo. We couldn't have said it better ourself. However, we must point out that we were a little (or a lot) off in setting the spread among the top three candidates, as the difference between top finisher Annise Parker and Out-of-the-Money Brown was a full 8 points (we figured that Farmer Brown would top out at about 25 percent), and, in truth, we thought Roy Morales would be lucky to crack 18 percent (rather than the 20.4 percent he got –– did the additional 2 or so come out Brown's instant "base" of not-so-committed TV watchers?).
OK, so we weren't that close. And we should also point out that most knowledgeable types whose forecasts came to our attention at least had Parker in a runoff, if not leading. That most knowledgeable of knowledgeable observers, the Bob Lanier Professor of Public Policy at the University of Houston, in his undercover guise as Prof 13, called the "advantage" for Parker and pretty much predicted that she would meet Locke in a second round.
So what happened to Farmer Brown? While we can't quite embrace Sr. Rick Casey's in-so-many-words assertion that Brown's finish proves money can't buy an election –– hell, this is America, you can buy any damn thing you want, at all hours, especially out on Harwin Drive –– it is true that there was much less than met the eye to Brown and his campaign, starting with the constant flurry of plans and proposals the Friends 'n' Family Candidate issued forth to project an aura of substantiality, if that's an actual word. The high point of his effort was the front-runner status he was accorded in late-breaking polls issued by the Chronicle and Channel 11/KUHF, both of whose "screen" of voters who claimed they would go to the polls for the very low-interest election seemed a bit suspect (you know how it is –– you catch some people-pleasing registered voter/respondent at home who's only vaguely aware there's an election and has no history of participating in past municipal election but has seen a PB commercial just recently so she's down for PB, at least for the moment). But PB gained no traction, no momentum from the attention delivered by these polls; instead, we suspect, they caused people who were unsure of their choices to look a little closer or go ahead and throw in with Morales, the other non-black, non-openly gay candidate (unless of course they were black themselves and had somehow been unaware that Locke's black, too, and upon having had that salient fact brought to their attention fell quickly in line so as to adhere to the rule laid out in the Unofficial Guide to Being an Authentic Black Person in America: that is, a black person can only vote for a black candidate, when given that choice). The general lack of widespread interest in the electoral doings basically brought the contest down to committed and informed voters, proving, again that low-turnout elections are to be preferred (the lower the turnout the better; our ideal neo-Platonic electorate would consist of just us –– me, myself y yo.) We believe, however, that PB might have fared better had he not come across in public as a Brooks Brothers-clad combination of Hee Haw's Grandpa Jones and Mr. Haney of Green Acres.**
But the dogs bark –– hear them baying, out in the abandoned graveyard, site of a future high-density loft-apartment development –– and the caravan moves on, although there appears to be some back-up on I-10 due to an overturned tractor-trailer blocking the left two lanes. As to that future, we suppose that either of the runoff choices would be OK and the election of neither would cause some great tragedy to befall the city, although we personally will be casting our second vote for Parker on Dec. 12. We believe that those who say there isn't much difference between the two are wrong, and that Parker will be willing to say "No" at least occasionally, or more often than Locke, although such ability is not one that translates easily into a snappy 30-second TV commercial. As usual, though, we're willing to be disappointed.
As charitable contribution to this great metropole of ours, we're waiving our customary $640-an-hour fee and offering the following advice, free of charge, to each candidate:
1. Locke: Get some white folks out at your next big party, so it doesn't appear to be the nearly all-black affair that the cameras revealed (perhaps falsely) when panning your victory celebration Tuesday night. Couldn't any of those honkified lawyers or engineers who gave you the maximum $10,000 husband-and-wife contribution show up and mill around for a while, for diversity's sake?
2. Parker: Get some males, guys, dudes to stand directly behind you next time you're on TV and up at the podium speechifying; the two gents you had behind you Tuesday night were placed way to far in the back to project on-camera. If need be, Hidalgo Hidalgo is available, for diversity's sake, to mill around behind you and smile, at his regular $640-an-hour rate (meal not included).
Next: M.J. Khan Shocks the World; Reveals Plans to Spend "Three Consecutive Nights" Inside City Limits!
AND: Chronicle to Resolve Runoff Dilemma by Endorsing Peter Brown and Roy Morales, Publisher Says
* Headline borrowed from the New York Times, which belatedly decided that it was "unfit" for even their on-line editions.
**Outdated Baby Boomer-vintage TV references, possibly not even accurate.