After several months of campaigning, voters went to the polls to pick a new mayor that will replace term-limited Annise Parker. Houston had close to 27% voter turnout in what is usually a sleepy election where 10% to 13% voter turnout is expected. What prompted Houstonians to turnout this time? One word, HERO; also known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or Proposition 1. There is no denying that the fear tactics of the radical Christian right-wing worked and drove voters to defeat a bill that would most likely benefit them in some capacity.
After the dust settled, only two candidates remained standing. Republican, Bill King and Democrat, Sylvester Turner squeaked by with 25% and 32% of the votes respectively. Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia was the real loser with only 17% of the vote total; he resigned earlier in the year as Sheriff because someone honestly sold him on the idea that he would be able to win. Now, he wakes up Wednesday morning with different reality than what he expected earlier today.
But, why did Garcia lose? He had name recognition. Money was not an issue even though he joined the race late. This was not his first rodeo. Some will attribute his loss to a lack of Latino voter turnout. Perhaps, there is some truth to that. Latinos supported President Barack Obama in his two bids for president. How did Obama repay Latinos? He nominated the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in United States history. He also deported the most Latinos than any other United States President; he is often referred to as the Deporter in Chief. In essence, Latinos are not happy with Obama. Similarly, Latino Houstonians were not content with Garcia either.
Garcia enforced the controversial 287(g) program as Harris County Sheriff. 287(g) allows trained local law enforcement officials to conduct immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions. In Harris County, this usually takes place when a suspect is booked after being arrested regardless of culpability. Some defendants then have an immigration hold placed, which results in deportation. Latinos were upset with the fact that Garcia helped deport immigrants as a child of immigrants. At the end of the day, they did not show up to support a candidate that they felt never supported them as Sheriff.
Now that we know there will be a runoff between Turner and King; who will be our next Mayor? Currently, we know how 57% of the voting population will likely vote on December 12, 2015. It is the remaining 43% that will matter. Turner only needs to pick up a little more than 18% of the voter total to win. Garcia was able to capture 17% of the voter turnout. King on the other hand needs to double his performance. In other words, the path to victory will be a lot smoother for Turner than King, especially because King can no longer rely on a faux wedge issue (HERO) to drive out his conservative base.