Houston’s mayoral race has come down to a notable runoff, with a final vote scheduled for this Saturday. Last month’s first round of votes in a seven-way race favored Annise Parker, a white lesbian who, if elected, would make Houston the largest U.S. city ever to have an openly gay mayor. Anti-gay activists and squeamish religious groups are mobilizing as per usual. They endorse her opponent, former city attorney Gene Locke, who won 25 percent of first round votes to Parker’s 31 percent. If he wins, he’ll become Houston’s second black mayor.
The anti-gay endorsement has put Locke in a slightly sticky position: Two of his key supporters gave money to a conservative political action committee behind a mailer condemning Parker’s “homosexual behavior.”
Naturally, a little political distancing was in order. From an AP article yesterday:
“Gene has been very clear with his supporters to not participate in divisive campaigning,” Kim Devlin, a senior Locke adviser said in a statement Tuesday. “Gene Locke has fought against bigotry his entire life and knows that there is no place for it in this campaign and this city.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic succinctly disputes claims that the mayoral runoff echoes a perceived split between black and LGBT communities during the California vote on Proposition 8 last year. Meanwhile, Brian Levin’s blog at the Huffington Post has more on the homophobic campaign tactics, with a photo of the anti-gay mailer that shows Parker taking a prior oath of office with her partner of twenty years. Above that, the mailer reads:
“IS THIS THE IMAGE HOUSTON WANTS TO PORTRAY?”
Quite possibly, yes. We’ll find out when the election results come in this weekend. It’s expected to be a close call.