The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Sunday, August 28, 2005

2007 Horse-Racin'

Jaime Castillo's Saturday column centered around whether City Councilman Roger O. Flores would be running for Mayor in 2007:

Blame it on term limits.

Mayor Phil Hardberger has hardly gotten his chair warm since being sworn in June 17, but that hasn't stopped the behind-the-scenes discussions about the 2007 city elections.

With five term-limited City Council members poised to be put on the political street two years from now, it was only a matter of time before talk of potential mayoral bids surfaced.

And depending on whom you ask, District 1 Councilman Roger O. Flores is either seriously considering a run or at least is exploring the possibility.

According to one yarn, Flores has mapped out a future that would have him running for mayor and his mother, Vangie, running for the council seat held by her son and her late husband, Roger, before him.

Another oft-repeated story is that Flores has talked to at least one veteran council member about his mayoral aspirations and hired peripatetic public relations man T.J. Connolly to run his mayoral campaign.

First things first, Vangie Flores, who volunteers and sits on numerous nonprofit boards, said she's been approached about her possible interest in running for council.

"But I think in my particular case, I've given two public servants to the city — my husband and my son — and I think I'll continue to serve my city in that kind of a support role," she said.

As for the second rumor, Councilman Flores said he did have a "business meeting" with Connolly but that it did not center on a possible mayoral campaign.

"I think it's really, really unfair to even consider something like that when we just installed a new mayor and a new council," Flores said.

Asked if that meant he has completely shut the door on a possible candidacy in 2007, Flores said he is only focused on his council duties and his additional commitments at his family's restaurant business since his father's unexpected death last year.

"That's all I've got cooking," he said. "There are no irons in the fire."

From there, the lines blur.

Connolly confirmed that there "was no offer extended to me in the meeting" for consulting services.

But Connolly, while choosing his words carefully, did say that the discussion centered on politics.

"I had an enjoyable discussion with Roger about his political future," Connolly said.

"I think he has a bright future, but I and my firm are not looking to get into any political races."

Asked if he thought Flores might run for mayor, Connolly said: "Walking away from our meeting, I don't think Roger Flores closed the door to mayor in 2007 or in the future beyond that."

So less than three months after Phil Hardberger is elected Mayor, we've got our very first column in the Express-News about potential 2007 challengers. As Castillo points out, we're going to have a whole lot of qualified, competent councilpersons term-limited out in 2007, and alot of them do want to continue serving in some capacity. Just by the sheer number who are leaving, it stands to reason that at least one of them is going to think about running for mayor in 2007.

Now whether or not it's a good idea to challenge the mayor in 2007 is another question entirely. A serious, aggressive campaign is going to have get off the ground at least a year before the general. That's May 2006. That means a potential candidate is deciding whether or not to run against an incumbent mayor who has only 11 months of governing underneath his belt. Is that a big enough record to base a decision on?

A first-term mayor has only been seriously challenged once in San Antonio's term-limit era. Mayor Bill Thornton was challenged by Howard Peak in 1997- Peak won. Since I was all of 15 years old when this race happened, if anyone would love to give us some background about that election, please feel free to do so. First-term city councilpersons in San Antonio are challenged quite frequently, but since SA city council campaigns are all about field/grassroots efforts, there really isn't much of a comparison.

At the very least, a Hardberger/Flores matchup would give us a glimpse into what a challenger/incumbent municipal campaign looks like here in San Antonio. One quick number before we wrap this post up, as of July 1 Flores had about $40,000 in the bank, not a whole lot, but that's about 40% of what Julian had on Jan. 1, 2005- over four months away from the 2005 general election.