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How Does Garcia’s Announcement Affect The Houston Mayoral Race?

In case you missed the news last week, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has officially announced he is running for mayor of the city of Houston.

His entry into the race seems to complete the lineup of serious candidates for the city’s top job.

And even though voters will not to go the polls until November, there are two candidates considered the front runners at this early stage of the campaign.

News 88.7’s Florian Martin explains why.

Mayoral-race
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and state Rep. Sylvester Turner are considered early frontrunners in the race for Houston mayor. Photo by: (left) Florian Martin, (right) courtesy of the Turner campaign

 

Seven candidates are vying to replace Mayor Annise Parker: City Council member Stephen Costello, former Congressman Chris Bell, former Kemah mayor Bill King, businessman Marty McVey, former City Attorney Ben Hall, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and state Rep. Sylvester Turner.

Many consider Garcia and Turner the frontrunners at this point in the campaign.

As the candidate who most recently announced, Garcia has some momentum. But by waiting until May when all other serious contenders entered the race months ago, he may have lost some important endorsements and fundraising opportunities.

Recently, Turner got the support of two high-profile Hispanic lawmakers — state Reps. Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle.

I recently asked Walle if he would have endorsed Garcia instead, had he been in the race at the time. His answer was probably as direct as you’ll get from a politician.

“I have a lot of respect for Adrian,” Walle said. “He’s a close personal friend, but at this point he’s not a candidate in the race.”

Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University, said waiting hasn’t necessarily hurt Garcia.

By entering the mayor’s race, Garcia will have to resign as sheriff, and Stein said being the county’s top cop brings a lot of free publicity that you probably don’t get by merely being a mayoral candidate.

Stein also thinks Garcia wanted to take care of some problems with the Harris County Jail before turning in his badge and gun.

“Now there’s some downsides to this,” Stein said. “You can’t raise money; you can’t put together campaign organization; you can’t begin to do TV, radio ads, campaign activities because the law requires that you resign. But you do all of that do build up name ID.”  

Which Garcia, as the sheriff, already has.

The candidate said he considers joining the race when he did perfect timing, and he is not worried about possibly missing out on some endorsements or on fundraising.

“The endorsement that I wanted the most is that of the citizens of the city of Houston,” Garcia said. “That’s what was most critical to me.”

And he said people started donating to his campaign immediately after he made his announcement last week.

Sylvester Turner, for his part, said he considers the endorsements from Hernandez and Walle significant in his quest to reach Hispanic voters.

“It speaks well to the diversity of the city,” he said. “And it also says that this campaign is ready to represent the diversity of the city.”

Stein said any portion of the Hispanic vote that Turner gets has to be seen as a plus, “because it offsets what he loses in the African American community to Ben Hall.”

He said between Turner and Garcia the Hispanic vote will probably go at least 60-40 to Garcia, but what really matters is turnout.

And with Garcia starting his campaign so much later than everybody else, that could affect how many of his supporters show up at the ballot box.

“Turnout is not something you just mobilize just on or before Election Day,” Stein said. “It’s also the registration of new voters, voters who’ve moved around, informing voters about where and when they can vote.”

Election Day is about six months away and a lot can still happen. At least at this point in the campaign, many political observers agree Turner is the man to beat.

Garcia isn’t far behind him. But Stein and others say it won’t be an easy road to the run-off.

 

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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