Houston’s mayoral election next month is sort of like a nonpartisan primary. If any one candidate among all the would-be mayors garners a majority of the votes, that will be that, but in the very likely event of no candidate getting more than 50 percent, the two top contenders will head into a December runoff. Thanks to everything from Hurricane Harvey fallout to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s clash with city firefighters over pay parity, this year’s field is even more crowded than usual. As such, it can be hard to keep everyone straight and make an informed decision. Here are a few key things to know about the most eye-catching candidates:

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Party

Old-school Democrat

Key Moment

Hurricane Harvey, hands down, during which Turner was the voice of calm, focusing on getting people help and keeping the city’s water and sanitation systems running, not playing politics. 

Why He'll Win

See above. Also, the Houston-born and -raised incumbent, elected in 2015 after serving 27 years in the Texas Lege, stood up to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association over the city’s inability to afford Prop B—which mandates equal pay for firefighters and police officers—a move that actually may have garnered him some points with conservatives.

Why He'll Lose

In 2017 Turner sought to address Houston’s bloated-pension problem by negotiating deals with police, firefighters, and other city employees while shepherding $1 billion in pension-obligation bonds through the state legislature. While the fix helped shore up city finances, it also led directly to the 2018 passage of Proposition B. Now Turner is being portrayed as the guy who doesn’t appreciate firefighters, and that’s not good.

Of Note

Turner’s mom was a maid at the Rice Hotel, his dad was a commercial painter, and he went to Harvard Law School.

Former Kemah Mayor Bill King

Party

Republican

Key Moment

His 2015 tweet about being proud that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz had voted for his mayoral bid, which he later deleted.

Why He'll Win

King captured 49 percent of the 2015 mayoral runoff vote, losing by just 2 percent.

Why He'll Lose

King has ideas, but fellow contender Tony Buzbee has similar ideas, and in a flashier package.

Of Note

In August 2017 King, a former Chron columnist, wrote a New York Times op-ed defending Mayor Turner’s decision not to order the city evacuated during Harvey.

Famed Defense Attorney Tony Buzbee

Party

Independent who donates to both parties but hosted Trump in 2016 and sure sounds Republican.

Key Moment

The January day that he pushed a wheelbarrow full of horse manure into his own Midtown campaign headquarters to back up his claim that City Hall stinks.

Why He'll Win

You can’t go 10 feet without seeing one of Buzbee’s campaign signs. He’s not accepting donations but has more than $5 million in campaign funds to keep himself in the spotlight and attempt to distinguish himself from the less showy King.

Why He'll Lose

Houston hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1982, we tend to re-elect incumbents, and razzle-dazzle will only take a person so far.

Of Note

In 2017 Buzbee bought a fully  functional World War II–era Sherman M4A4 tank for $600,000 and parked it in front of his mansion. After the River Oaks Property Owners’ Association complained, he donated it to Texas A&M.

Former Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell

Party

Liberal Democrat

Key Moment

Back in 1985, when Lovell lost the election for president of the highly influential Houston GLBT Political Caucus to Annise Parker by one vote.

Why She'll Win

She’s an Eleanor Tinsley–era Dem whose platform is focused on public safety, infrastructure, and quality of life, all nonpartisan issues.

Why She'll Lose

She’s appealing to some of the same contingent as Turner but doesn’t have his years of experience or connections.

Of Note

When the Houston GLBT Political Caucus was first created, Lovell, then-owner of a printing shop, let the group print fliers for free.

District D Councilman Dwight Boykins

Party

Turner-style Democrat, but with a pro–Prop B twist.

Key Moment

In June, when his campaign website accidentally went live before he’d announced he was running.

Why He'll Win

He’s pro–Prop B.

Why He'll Lose

He’s got nothing else to distinguish himself from Turner, the guy he supported before deciding he wanted to be mayor himself.

Of Note

Shortly after announcing his mayoral run, Boykins told a group of students that girls should “keep their legs closed.” (He subsequently apologized “to anyone who may have taken offense.”)

Business Owner Demetria Smith

Party

Democrat, the kind who is going to fight “poverty, injustice, and oppression,” in that order. No word on exactly how she intends to do this.

Key Moment

In 2018 she briefly ran for governor, only to be disqualified after her check for the filing fee bounced.

Why She'll Win

Smith was born and raised in South Park and, during her 2015 mayoral run, did garner about 1,200 votes.

Why She'll Lose

She’s run for office multiple times and hasn’t scored a win yet.

Of Note

Her campaign platform is called The Movement.

Pastor Kendall Baker

Party

Republican, the anti-HERO kind.

Key Moment

In 2014, when he showed up to protest Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance at a City Council meeting, Baker took the opportunity to complain about how he’d been fired from his position as head of 311 after being accused of sexual harassment.

Why He'll Win

HERO was voted down, so maybe Baker will be voted in.

Why He'll Lose

Those sexual harassment allegations in this #MeToo world.

Of Note

If elected, Baker says he’ll solve the complicated Prop B issue during his first month on the job.

Businessman Naoufal Houjami

Party

Independent

Key Moment

In 2010 he was named chairman of the Texas Modern Whig Party, a position he held until 2016.

Why He'll Win

It’s been 165 years since the Whig Party has been heard from around here, but you never know, it could make a comeback.

Why He'll Lose

The Whigs died out 165 years ago for a reason.

Of Note

He’s the author of an e-book, Business Plan of Self-Serve Car & Pet Wash.

Entrepreneur Johnny Taylor

Party

Democrat, running on a platform that apparently will solve every issue in the city.

Key Moment

In 2016 local radio station KCOH sought a restraining order against Taylor and his company, Mobile Encryption Technologies, alleging that Taylor, hired to develop the station’s mobile app, had taken over its communication systems while claiming to be its GM. The order was granted, although the case was eventually dropped.

Why He'll Win

Anything is possible.

Why He'll Lose

The radio thing seems like a big hurdle for any candidate.

Of Note

He is a U.S. Navy vet who's been married for more than 20 years.

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