Democrats in Texas may not have won a statewide race since 1994, but last Saturday, Democrat Annise Parker won a run-off election with 52.8% of the vote to become Mayor of Houston, America's 4th largest city.
While both run-off candidates happened to be Democrats, Annise Parker was the only one who was part of ActBlue's municipal candidate pilot project, which includes Houston, raising $18,350 through ActBlue for her campaign. A large portion of those funds came from the grassroots efforts of local, state, and national Stonewall Democrats who were interested in supporting an openly lesbian candidate and were able to track donations through their branded ActBlue partnership.
We congratulate Parker on her election as she becomes the highest ranking openly gay person elected as Mayor of a major American city. Her victory is bigger than that, though, as she is also the first candidate in decades to win without the backing of traditional establishment players and the city's business interests.
Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston on Saturday, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.
Parker, Houston's current city controller who first emerged in the public arena as a gay rights activist in the 1980s, defeated former City Attorney Gene Locke on an austere platform, convincing voters that her financial bona fides and restrained promises would be best suited in trying financial times. Parker, 53, will replace the term-limited Mayor Bill White on Jan. 1.
Her victory capped an unorthodox election season that lacked a strong conservative mayoral contender and saw her coalition of inside-the-Loop Democrats and moderate conservatives, backed by an army of ardent volunteers, win the day over Locke, a former civil rights activist who attempted to unite African-American voters and Republicans.
The current Houston City Controller and former Councilmember, Annise Parker has been elected 6 times in Houston and is rooted in civic activism. She commanded a dedicaded volunteer army which helped her secure victory in the run-off in face of last minute attacks on her sexuality, which has hardly been an issue in the prior year long campaign.
And as noted in an article by Politico, her election in Houston is a reflection of a larger trend in politics, where high growth, diverse cities are leading Democrats back to power even in traditional Republican counties and states.
But the election of Annise Parker in Houston makes clear that the Charlottes and Houstons are now at the forefront of American political change, while the shrinking and declining big cities of the Northeast and Rust Belt are bringing up the rear.
"Houston is your post-racial, post-ethnic future of America," said demographer Joel Kotkin. "It's a leading-edge place."
ActBlue is there to help those candidates get out on that leading edge and connect with a diverse and growing community of small donors. It's a powerful force which is evident even in Texas where Annise Parker recognizes the impact this election has beyond her city.
“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history,” she said. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office. I know what it means. I understand, because I feel it, too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community. We are united in one goal in making this city the city that it could be, should be, can be and will be.”
“Hear me: The city is on your side,” she said. “I learned about the problems and the needs and hopes of our city at the neighborhood level. I understand what needs to be done to move us forward. … I promise to give to citizens an administration of honesty, integrity and transparency,” she said. “The only special interest will be the public. We are in this together. We rise or fall together.”