Houston’s 2019 municipal election cycle won’t kick off until after the dust of next week’s midterm election settles, but potential contenders are already throwing their names in the ring to take on incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Last night, Houston trial attorney Tony Buzbee announced on Fox 26’s The Isiah Factor that he plans to run for the Bayou City’s top spot and is rather confident about his chances.

“The mayor race in Houston traditionally has been as boring as watching paint dry and I think that we have a city that’s above average with below-average leadership, and I’m considering very seriously—because there’s a lot of people asking me to do this—running for the mayor of this town,” Buzbee said.

When pressed by host Isiah Carey on whether he is, in fact, running rather than considering running Buzbee said, “Why would I be on your show if I weren’t?”

Buzbee went on to say that Houston has made the list of the top five cities with the worst crime but failed to make the lists for best restaurants and places to live. He said Houston doesn’t make those lists because of leadership.

“We have an above-average city, with below-average leadership.”

Buzbee said that he will win and that would be best thing for the city.

“The pay-to-play at the Houston City Council and the Houston mayorship needs to stop. I’m not going to take one campaign donation; I will finance the entire campaign,” he said. “If it costs me $5 million I will spend it. Do I need to be mayor? No, but I will be a good mayor for this city.”

He also said he would forego taking Houston’s mayoral salary, which tops $200,000. Similar pledges have been made by Austin’s mayor Steve Adler and more recently President Donald Trump. Buzbee said he will give the salary to a random voter that he chooses every year in what he called a “mayor lottery.”

His claims about foregoing salary and fully funding his own campaign should be taken seriously. Buzbee has long been a major donor and fundraiser in the city, recently giving $90,000 to the Harris County Democratic Party.

But it is not just Democrats that have been on the receiving end of Buzbee’s donations. He’s also contributed large sums to Republican leaders like Rick Perry (who he represented in his indictment case) and Gov. Greg Abbott.

In 2016 he hosted a fundraiser in his home for then-candidate Donald Trump. He has also previously hosted the Clintons in his home. Buzbee ran in 2002 as the Democrat nominee for state representative, losing to then-candidate Larry Taylor in the seat currently held by State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood).

While it’s assumed that Turner will be seeking a second term, Buzbee is the first candidate—unless you count pro wrestler Booker T—to formally announce his candidacy for the mayor of Houston.

Aside from working at his namesake firm, The Buzbee Law Firm, he also serves on the Board of Regents for the Texas A&M system.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Buzbee for comment on this story, but that request was not immediately returned.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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