The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon Her
Both mayoral candidates in Houston’s upcoming runoff election are Democrats. Both are considered socially liberal, but Gene Locke has quietly sought the support of anti-gay Christians who would rather dine on offal than vote for Annise Parker, an out lesbian. Even so, polls have consistently given Parker a modest but solid edge in the race, which indicates that for most Space City residents, her sexual orientation is not a determining factor.
From the Houston Chronicle: City Controller Annise Parker holds a slight advantage over former City Attorney Gene Locke just a week before the Dec. 12 runoff, according to the latest Houston Chronicle poll. While the race for Houston mayor remains too close to call, Parker’s 5.5 percentage point lead stems from advantages among several demographics, including women, whites, Hispanics and self-identified independent voters. Parker leads with 41.9 percent of the vote, followed by Locke’s 36.4 percent, according to the poll conducted last week by Zogby International. Nearly 18 percent of likely voters remain undecided in the contest, a sign of how fluid the race remains just days before the campaign will come to an end. “There’s a huge pool of undecided voters and the real question now is which way they split or whether they vote at all,” said John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International… Locke’s success will depend greatly on the turnout of African-American voters. (Parker is expected to pick up many of the whites who voted in the November election for third-place finisher Peter Brown, while Locke will hang on to Brown’s black supporters.)
The two most important issues in Houston politics have traditionally been crime and fiscal responsibility. Poll numbers show that voters give Locke an edge on the first issue – but they overwhelmingly believe Parker is better equipped to handle the second. Gay and Democrat she may be, but when it comes to city finances, her business street creds are impressive. Also, her promise to create jobs will probably resonate with citizens.
11118 If Parker wins the election, her partner of nineteen years, Kathy Hubbard, and their children, will not be eligible for city benefits. Here in Houston, same-sex households are considered unworthy of such fripperies as health insurance and pensions. From Bay Area Reporter: Parker is campaigning with a focus on fiscal restraint that, ironically, puts her in a wait-and-see position on the issue of domestic partnership benefits for city employees, while Locke says he’s for them now. (This isn’t surprising. If Annise had dared mention this issue during the campaign, religious conservatives would have flayed her alive.) Parker and Hubbard have been together since 1990 and have two adopted children. Locke is married to Aubrey Sampson Locke and they have five children. Neither candidate lists gay civil rights as an issue on their campaign Web sites. (Again, not surprising. Parker has the LGBT vote Locked Up. Pardon the pun. But addressing specific concerns of the community would at this point be viewed as favoritism. Gene Locke, an African American, is under no such constraints when appealing to black voters.) The gay newspaper Dallas Voice noted that Parker, unlike Locke, released her tax returns, and those of Hubbard, to the press. The paper reported that some criticized the move as her attempt to present her and her domestic partner “as a married couple.” (And if she had failed to release Hubbard’s tax returns, opponents would be shrieking, “What are they hiding?” It was a lose-lose situation. But Parker chose transparency as the better option. Why Locke hasn’t released his own tax records is anybody’s guess.)
It’s a sad state of affairs. On Annise Parker’s official website, I could find only one brief mention of Kathy Hubbard, referred to as her “life partner” – and no pictures of her lovely family. (The photo at the top of this post is from the Dallas Voice.) On Gene Locke’s campaign bio page, his wife and children are figured prominently.
In Texas, it’s all about appearances.
UPDATE: Election Day, December 12. The latest Rice University poll shows Annise Parker with a significant lead over Gene Locke – 49% to 36%.
UPDATE: Annise Parker has won the election.