Elections

Poll: Harris County District Attorney Race Too Close To Call

Anderson and Ogg are tied in the Houston Public Media/KHOU Election Poll.

Most likely voters do not know which candidate to support in the race for Harris County District Attorney. That’s according to the new Houston Public Media/KHOU Election Poll.

The survey of likely voters found that both candidates are tied at 22 percent, with 45 percent undecided. The poll was led by Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein. He says he was surprised that so many voters are still undecided.

“I would not have expected [that] in a year when Republicans statewide are doing extremely well, when Wendy Davis has a double-digit deficit to Greg Abbott — that a down-ballot District Attorney race” would be so tight, Stein said.

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Harris County District Attorney Candidates Devon Anderson (L) and Kim Ogg. Photos courtesy Devon Anderson and Kim Ogg campaigns.

The professor is referring to Republican candidate Devon Anderson. She says she thinks her campaign efforts will win over undecided voters.

“People don’t really turn their attention to the election until right before it’s time to vote, and now it’s on their radar,” Anderson said. “So hopefully they’re seeing my television commercials and seeing all the people and groups that have endorsed me.”

Her challenger is Democratic candidate Kim Ogg. She says the large number of undecided voters shows that Harris County residents are ready for a change.

“We think there are women who are undecided who may be independent voters, or Democrats and Republicans who may be willing to cross over to the other side when they have a candidate or issues that they believe in,” Ogg said.

One central issue in the DA’s race has been reforming penalties for marijuana possession. Just over 62 percent of likely Harris County voters support decriminalization. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percent.

Stein says that the question of what to do with people caught with small amounts of the drug could be a decisive factor at the polls.

“The voters overwhelmingly, who are undecided, favor decriminalization,” the professor said.

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Both candidates have proposed softer penalties. But they differ on whether or not offenders should be arrested.

Ogg says arresting people for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Under her plan, anyone caught with four ounces or less would be ticketed and could avoid conviction by completing two days of community service.

“Well, first we see national trends indicating that people are relaxing their views on marijuana, but more importantly, taxpayers hate seeing their dollars wasted on things that don’t really make them safer,” Ogg said.

Under Anderson’s current plan, anyone caught with marijuana is arrested. First-time offenders caught with two ounces or less can avoid conviction through community service and classes, but repeat offenders are prosecuted. Anderson says she doesn’t think the policy will be a pivotal issue at the polls.

“I think the most important issue in the race is who is going to follow the law as it is written,” she said. “My opponent, when she announced her candidacy, said right off the bat that she’s going to violate her oath if elected and choose not to prosecute an entire class of offenses.”

Early voting has begun. Election Day is November 4.

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Tomeka Weatherspoon

Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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