The candidate list for Corpus Christi mayor has been solidified and now all eight candidates who have their eyes on the prize will fully turn their eyes towards the ultimate prize that they are seeking. Because of the crowded field, it is highly likely that the winner will not be decided until a December runoff.
Mayor Joe McComb has been the focus of a lot of criticism in light of what many saw as his early absence during the coronavirus pandemic. Only when fellow Republican candidate Carolyn Vaughn announced her intent to run for mayor, did McComb appear to become more public in the coronavirus response efforts. McComb has been the focus of attack as he continues to take a hardline approach against the well engrained local good old-boy establishment that is largely held in tact by a handful of local developers and financial players.
Carolyn Vaughn, who is vacating her seat on Nueces County Commissioners Court to run for the mayoral seat, has been heavily criticized by Republicans for leaving the County Commissioners seat wide open for Democrat control if the far-left County Judge Barbara Canales is able to secure an appointment to the seat. The vacancy there would leave Brent Chesney the lone voice of reason for conservatives on the county administrative body. The overall reaction from local Republicans has not been a positive one towards Vaughn. However, the vote will likely end up being split between the two among Republicans.
In what was no real shocker, city council member Paulette Guajardo announced late last week that she was filing to run for mayor herself and form a challenge for the seat. Guajardo will likely have to overcome some pretty big obstacles in her way to secure her chances for the seat. Largely aligned with the developer crowd and the Canales pact, it is likely that Guajardo would be facing fierce completion and not be able to secure enough bipartisan votes to compete in the overall contest unless she can figure out a way to build the bridges that she has torn down among some communities.
Guajardo, who seeming likes to take credit for everything that happens in the city is seen by many as simply a strategic player in the field and is going to have to overcome her record of saying one thing and doing another. She does however, suffer from the “Phil Gramm Symdrom” where she has never met a camera that she didn’t like and among city political observers, that is helping her with publicity for her campaign. Overall, Guajardo might not be able to score enough votes for a runoff entry, but she will be able to cloudy the waters from the mainstream contenders.
Also in the field is Joe Michael Perez, who made his announcement at the Selena Memorial last month is running on the campaign slogan of “Let’s Get It Done,” but has offered very little insight into what that means. The most likely outcome is that Perez will be able to score a few hundred votes in the race but will wind up far short of anything that would pose a real threat to McComb, Vaughn or Guajardo.
The usual name of Pancho Villa, who has been able to score some votes in the past as a novelty candidate is running for the seat. Dr. Roberto Seidner, a largely unknown and quiet candidate is also running for the seat. If Seidner ends up being able to win over the undecided and newcomer vote, it is likely that he could stand a chance in being able to earn a sizable percentage of the vote, if he can somehow get enough publicity and talk about ideals that he feels would be a real game changer for the city.
John Medina, who many see as an outside candidate also filed for the race, although it has been known for sometime that he would be making a running for the seat after he has had political signs out for months promoting himself as a candidate and he has vocal on various self-created platforms to help him gain esteem among voters. Medina lies somewhere between a novelty candidate and an “accidental threat” to key candidates, if he can somehow activate his following, though not entirely likely. If Medina did somehow start to fully engage his core, other candidates would likely charge rule violations over the signage issue. That said, Medina is not all-in-all out of the question if he can activate his baseline to get out and vote.
One outside candidate that is quietly gathering attention is the clean cut and likable Eric Rodriguez. Rodriguez is by far not a novelty candidate when it comes to being able to dig into the issues that are impacting the city and he is very analytical when it comes to preforming due diligence. Like Medina, Rodriguez runs a local website that has created some decent attention. While he isn’t seen as a an “insider” or a “rouser,” like many of the other candidates, it is possible that Rodriguez could be able to snag a good amount of the vote. A lot of that depends on well he can activate his base.
The overall view of the candidate list tells political wonks that this race will not be decided in November and that Democrats and novelty candidates are in fact making it difficult for mainstream candidates to find their balance—and that could mean problems for them if they are unable to connect with the regular voting base.
Matt Pierce Briscoe submitted this report on August 18, 2020.