Who would have thought that after it was revealed that the "anti-gay" activist Dave Wilson donated $2,000 to the Gene Locke campaign that it would be the catalyst for a bad, bad weekend for the candidate?
It didn't help that Locke forgot to attend the first highly anticipated debate since the November election. Even after accepting the invitation to Houston PBS' Red, White and Blue, Locke was a no-show...giving the other candidate who remembered to attend the debate a win just for showing up.
Charles Kuffner notes, "It was intended to be a straight-up debate between Annise Parker and Gene Locke, except that Locke did not attend. So instead, it was a one-on-one conversation between hosts David Jones and Gary Polland and Parker about the issues of importance."
Locke still has some explaining to do, on the debate and other things. The Parker campaign has been hitting home with the "Come Clean Gene" campaign in which it's requesting Locke to disclose any conflicts of interest that he may have for being a partner with Andrews Kurth. They also want him release his 2008 tax returns.
Then came word that Roy Morales says he was "bullied" after he attended a Wednesday meeting at the offices of Republican political consultant Allen Blakemore with Gene Locke campaign manager Christian Archer.
That is quite the allegation coming from a military veteran who served more than 23 years and was a lieutenant colonel for the United States Air Force. Waterboarding may have occurred but other sources claim that it was just "advanced endorsement-seeking techniques" that were executed...wink wink!
Finally, to put a damper on the whole weekend, if it was not already bad enough: The Houston Chronicle settled their "rock, paper, scissors" stand-off by implementing the age-old "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" and endorsed Annise Parker for mayor.
On the money trail everything seems quiet; it's likely both campaigns have at least crossed the one-million-dollar threshold. In fact, Parker recently stated that she would begin her TV ad campaign after the Thanksgiving holiday. That would leave at least two weeks of TV ads from either campaign before the December 12 election day finale.
In order for Locke to rebound, he will need to:
a) remember to attend the next televised debate on KTRK on December 1 at 8 p.m.
b) release his latest IRS tax returns
c) reassure voters that he will step down from Andrews Kurth if elected mayor
d) distinguish himself from Parker and explain how he is the better candidate
e) create doubts about Parker's leadership.
He will most likely satisfy (a) but it's doubtful that he will succumb to Parker's demands and release his tax returns.
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He has stated at least on one occasion that he will step down as partner from Andrews Kurth, but if he does not drill that into voters' heads many will think that "conflicts of interest" exist, and shaking that cloud will be hard to do by Election Day.
In order to distinguish himself from Parker he needs to remind folks why he has received the overwhelming support from many prominent political leaders of Houston politics. Doubts about Parker will follow if he can persuade voters that the lack of support from those politicos indicates how those on the inside view her as a leader -- meaning they're not overwhelmingly hopeful about her.
Update: Our John Royal has the information on where Locke was when he could have been at the debate -- an Aeros game. "He got to drop the puck, and he was acknowledged as the man responsible for the Toyota Center being built," Royal says.
The only guy responsible? An acknowledgment like that is worth missing a debate or two.