Palmer Pandemonium

Candidates' volunteers enter the gate in procession, cheering like mad, pumping their candidate's signs, and circle the auditorium in a festive pomp reminiscent of the Olympic opening ceremonies. But the party is a lonely one for some of the mayoral candidates, the five also-rans who had no staff and together, won only about 1,300 votes, or 2.2% of the vote.

Former mobster John "Wheelman" Johnson, Ted "the Webhead" Kircher, Ray "the Vet" Blanchette, and Max Nofziger's alter-ego, Kirk Becker, all sat at their tables, watching the votes trickle in like water from a savannah. Absent from the losers' lament was the also-rans' leading vote-getter, Jennifer Lauren Gale. Because she rarely showed up at candidate forums to express her opinions and spent a week dodging photographers from the local daily, few knew her issues. Still, she won 420 votes, 59 more than her nearest dark-horse competitor, fellow homeless person Becker. Simply put, Gale had a brilliant campaign strategy: She ran as a woman. The ex-marine with the five-o'clock shadow and a tender homemaker's voice is actually just a sweet transvestite. She's got three female names, and many think it was those names -- she was the only woman in the race -- that won her so many votes.

At his candidate's table at Palmer was Becker, in his trademark holey jeans and bandana. Becker hoped to win a couple thousand votes but only got 361. His issues -- low-cost housing and more computers in the libraries -- are timely, and his solutions are sensible. But in terms of financing and organization, his campaign was like a field of wheat before locomotives Kirk Watson and Ronney Reynolds.

Meanwhile, ex-mob wheelman Johnson could have burned holes through steel with his eyes, angry as he was at his poor showing; of all the night's candidates, he came in last, with 154 votes. Johnson is violently concerned about police harassment, and wants to stop the mounted officers on Sixth Street from intentionally dumping "mounds and mounds of horse manure" next to his hot dog and fajita stands. Johnson harbors hatred for representatives of "The Austin Comical," because this paper doesn't take his poop scoop seriously enough. Asked for a comment, he called this reporter a "scumbag" and hissed, "Why don't you get out of my face!"

Standing nearby, Blanchette got a giggle out of that, then cocked his head back and waxed philosophical on the raucous ceremony: "Shakespeare was right. All the world is a stage and we're merely actors."

Finally, there's Kircher the candidate who wants to save the world with the web. Kircher, who received 165 votes, believes that his failure to win means that Austin's future course will veer violently to the Stone Age. "There's a serious gap between what happened here tonight and the reality of the growth industries moving into the information age." Sure, buddy.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle