Allen Blakemore Most Valuable Consultant – Overall
The most influential political strategist in Houston throughout the past decade can finally remove the city where he’s based from the banner headline on his professional resume and replace it with those three giant little words Lone Star State.
While U.S. Senator Ted Cruz all but owns the spotlight at a time when his former employer is the betting favorite to be the next governor here, the Bayou City bomber who’s officially known as Allen Blakemore has been around the block in these parts enough to know who the most powerful politician in Texas will really be come January barring an unforeseen electoral upheaval this fall.
Working in tandem with his longtime top client Steve Hotze, Blakemore hit the jackpot when he helped guide State Senator Dan Patrick to the biggest win at the Texas polls this spring in a bid to unseat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. As the chief campaign tactician for most of the top-shelf contenders on the activist Hotze’s biennial slate, Blakemore had substantial cause for concern in the early stages of a Patrick campaign that had gotten off to a very late start in a contest that initially featured two other statewide officials in addition to the wealthy incumbent who’d been on the job since 2003. Blakemore knew that Patrick would be bringing more baggage to the battle than some Republicans with a low tolerance for shock value would ever be able to stomach. But Blakemore is the kind of political consultant who tends to be at his best in a high-speed demolition derby like he could see from day one that the Republican battle for lieutenant governor would be in 2014.
With Patrick automatically inheriting the tea party mantle despite his opponents’ attempts to run as far to the right as they realistically could, Blakemore knew that the campaign could depend on word of mouth to a significant degree in terms of spreading the word about the senator’s conservative reputation and voting record to the masses outside of the insider circles. That helped make it possible to concentrate a heavier than normal amount of attention and funds on the herculean defensive effort that Blakemore could anticipate as the advisor for a candidate with a closet filled to the brim with skeletons from the past that opposition researchers were bound to dig up and showcase to the max. Blakemore would have to help Patrick brace for an assault of epic and unprecedented proportions as a candidate who’d changed his name and gone bankrupt in the sports bar business that he’d branched into after migrating to Texas from the northern U.S. to pursue a career as a television sportcaster who relied heavily on gimmicks to keep ratings afloat. As a candidate who’d managed to out-demogogue most of his fellow GOP legislators on the hot button topic of immigration, Patrick would have to be prepared to fight back on charges that he’d redefined hypocrisy as someone who’d actually employed people at his drinking establishments who were in the country illegally and willing to work cheap. The mud got deeper than even Blakemore might have imagined initially when one of the candidates who’d been eliminated in the first vote endorsed Dewhurst in the runoff a few days before going public with documents that showed that Patrick had spent time in a couple of mental hospitals after trying and failing to kill himself in the 1980s.
Instead of attempting to pretend that accusations that were undeniable simply weren’t true, Patrick’s camp and base supporters responded to the potentially fatal personal baggage revelations with howls of indignation based on the premise that dredging up bones from the long ago past was far more disgusting and shameful than the sins had been in the first place. Patrick gambled that conservatives who would have tried to chain Democrats and moderate Republicans in dungeons for the same basic character flaws would rally behind a candidate they love with forgiving hearts and unbridled compassion. The calculated risk appeared to pay off when Patrick ended Dewhurst’s proud and distinguished political career with 65 percent of the overtime vote. The margin of victory gave the impression that none of the bad staff that had been said about Patrick had mattered once the campaign had effectively made the opposition look like the villain for bringing the dirt up.
While the lieutenant governor’s race hogged the spotlight, Blakemore’s most impressive performance in the runoff arguably came as the consultant for the only Republican statewide contender who’d come-from-behind to win in overtime in a fight with a foe who’d had the lion’s share of conservative leaders and groups in his corner. Joining forces once again with Hotze, Blakemore pointed Ryan Sitton to a runoff victory in a Texas Railroad Commission race that he’d entered as a long shot on paper after losing a state House bid in the primary election just two years earlier. With Blakemore’s guidance and Hotze’s reference, Sitton pulled off a monumental juggling act by getting the industry support that had always been a prerequisite for winning RRC races at the same time he undercut ex-House Republican Wayne Christian’s tea party label perception after trailing him by a dozen points in the March vote. It’s true that Blakemore’s client in railroad commissioner race had the bigger war chest that made it possible to play up his experience in the energy business as a Friendswood engineering firm founder. But the three Republicans who lost statewide races on the runoff ballot above in late May all had more money than the overtime rivals who beat them.
Blakemore also advised Katy Republican Mike Schofield on how to hold a big early lead en route to a commanding runoff win in an open Texas House contest that had featured one of the stronger fields on the lower chamber battlefield at the outset. The overtime victories elevated Blakemore’s record for the first half of the 2014 cycle to eight wins and only three losses that were suffered in March in races that his candidates appeared to have no chance of winning no matter how many rabbits he could have pulled out the hat.