Why Is the GOP Backing Shelley Kennedy?

The Houston City Council District C runoff is between two Democratic women.

Why are Republicans picking sides and urging GOP voters to elect Shelley Kennedy?

Two like Mary Jane Smith and Greg Meyers, who both posted endorsements on November 27th.


Mary Jane Smith calls herself a “conservative libertarian Republican,” also endorsed Shelley Kennedy, claiming it was about getting the trash picked up:

But she didn’t leave it at that. She also called Kennedy a “2nd Amendment advocate.”

Someone asked Smith to clarify what she meant by that, so Smith said it means “she [Kennedy] supports my right to own a gun. Abbie Kamin is part of the leftist movement that wants to take guns away from citizens.”

Kamin’s website lists five things the City of Houston could do right now to mitigate the impact of gun violence. Kennedy’s website does not have specifics on where she stands on the issue of guns, but her campaign Facebook page does have several posts featuring Moms Demand Action, a group which often lists the same things Kamin lists as reasonable gun safety measures that could be adopted without violating the second amendment. So maybe Mary Jane has access to information the rest of us do not.

Another Republican who could very easily have stayed out of the race jumped in anyway. Gary Polland, the former Harris County GOP Party Chair who actively and vociferously opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. He and his Texas Conservative Review just sent out endorsements in the mail:

This photo of a set of signs in the Heights made me laugh the other day because I thought hahaha, hanging signs for candidates is clearly a volume business, so you might as well get them all up while you’ve got the ladder out:

When I first saw it, I thought it was a pretty easy game of ‘one of these things is not like the other …’ since four of the five candidates whose signs are hanging out together are srtaight white Republican men.

But all five of them, it turns out, have the endorsement of Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review.

Kennedy’s name shows up over and over again in lists of endorsements that are largely or exclusively Republican.

Early in the race, I pointed out that Shelley Kennedy had made a contribution in February 2019 to Bill King’s election campaign.

The first response I got to raising that was that she had not known it was a campaign event when she went to it.

Later, when I asked about it at the Caucus screening, one of the screeners said they had asked about it and Kennedy explained that a client asked her to donate and she had’t felt comfortable saying no.

I didn’t push at the time, but neither of those are great excuses.

She didn’t know? The contribution shows up in King’s finance report in the midst of a series of campaign kickoff events, which weren’t joint events and which were branded with his campaign material. Anyone who has made a donation to a political campaign knows that it isn’t as simple as handing over $100 – you have to make the check out to the campaign or use the campaign’s online giving site that requires you to provide your employer and occupation information.

So it is hard to say you didn’t know.

I’m sympathetic to having a client ask you do to do something, but then again, I’ve also turned down business before, even when I could have used a paycheck, because a potential client’s views did not align with my own politics. She gave to a Tea Party-endorsed candidate because someone asked? What else might her client ask her to do that she’d feel obligated to agree with or do?

The explanations didn’t sit right with me, so I’ve been watching. And now, as District C goes to pick who will represent them for four years, I’m sharing what I’ve observed.

I’ve been involved peripherally in local politics for a over a couple of decades now, and have seen a couple of odd coalitions form across the aisles (hello, Bipartisan Blanket Caucus), but it doesn’t happen often, even in allegedly nonpartisan races.

So, take it for what it is worth, which may or may not be much, but one candidate in this race is attracting much more Republican support than the other, and given the general tenor of politics these days, that gives me pause.

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