Analysis: Political Posturing in the mayoral race

Although still a couple of years to go until the city’s next mayoral race, political posturing is starting to materialize as to whom the contenders might be. The nexus driving the posturing within the city’s political circles is the perceived re-materialization of the Ray Caballero centric politics of the “progressive” mentality of reinventing the city for economic prosperity. Although not directly in the limelight, at this time, Ray Caballero has left a legacy in the policy mantra of city district representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega.

Although unable to generally muster the necessary votes to continue the Ray Caballero re-invention of the city, Byrd and Ortega have been helped in their quest by the ineffectual leadership of Mayor John Cook, the undying support of Byrd by District One Representative Ann Morgan Lilly and the occasional voting support from Representative Beto O’Rourke.

The possible reappearance of Ray Caballero in the city’s political landscape is driven by recent political realities. The first, obvious one is Caballero’s silencing of his greatest nemesis, Luther Jones. Jones is facing long-term incarceration therefore keeping him from further antagonizing Caballero’s implementation of his political agenda on the city. The recent elections of County Judge Veronica Escobar and State Representative Jose Rodriguez have further empowered the Caballero political faction in their perceived quest to implement their political agenda.

Against this backdrop is the June 11, 2011 run-off election between Ann Morgan Lilly and Lyda Ness-Garcia. Should Morgan Lilly result victorious then the balance of power will continue to favor Byrd and Ortega as they can continue to count on Morgan Lilly’s undying support of Byrd. Unfortunately for them, even a Morgan Lilly victory is tempered by their inability to garner a majority on city council in relation to their most controversial proposals as Acosta and Robinson generally do not side with them.

The other districts generally continue to vote independent, favoring their own political agendas. At the same time, the district five office holder is yet to be determined. District eight Representative-elect Courtney Niland seems to be business centric therefore her possible support of the Byrd-Ortega block is lackluster at best.

Should Ness-Garcia prove to be victorious in the run-off election, the Byrd-Ortega voting block is expected to be further eroded when it comes to the Caballero driven political agenda. Regardless of the election results on June 11, the Caballero led political agenda would likely manifest itself in a run for the mayoral office by Steve Ortega.

Although numerous rumors of a mayoral race by Steve Ortega have been played out in the city’s political circles, Ortega has not officially announced a run for higher office. As outlined above, though a mayoral run by Ortega seems to be in the making as a furtherance of the Caballero doctrine. At first glance, the mayor’s office no longer holds much political muscle since the city elected to go with a city-representative form of government, but the reality is that the office allows for political “muscle” to be leveraged upon the council. Although outwardly a “figurehead”, the mayor has the ability to leverage power in different sectors of the city in order to force specific votes on an issue.

More importantly, Ortega has begun to temper his public persona in an attempt to make himself more palatable to a larger electoral base while at the same time taking leadership roles in controversial policy issues such as the partner benefits controversy.  Recently, city representatives Susie Byrd and Beto O’Rourke, along with Steve Ortega publically endorsed a measure to legalize marihuana. Although Steve Ortega was at the official announcement, he, for the most part, let Byrd and O’Rourke, take the public leadership role on the issue. Both Byrd and O’Rourke have announced they are leaving political life. Ortega has not ruled out a run for the mayoral race.

In these and other controversial community issues, Ortega seems intent on keeping a “reasonable” public stance on the controversies in an apparent attempt to appear to be a “leader” while tempering his public posture as to not antagonize the electorate. This appears to reinforce a concerted effort on his part to seek the mayor’s office in the next election.

In these and other controversial community issues, Ortega
seems intent on keeping a “reasonable” public stance on the controversies in an
apparent attempt to appear to be a “leader” while tempering his public posture
as to not antagonize the electorate. This appears to reinforce a concerted
effort on his part to seek the mayor’s office in the next election.

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