Analysis as Houston mayoral candidates head into stretch run

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In the horse race that is the battle to be next mayor of Houston, Adrian Garcia now has the biggest target on his back. That's because internal polls and pundits alike indicate round one of this fight is about coming up with enough support to finish second and face frontrunner Sylvester Turner in a runoff.

"This is a battle for number two," said Brandon Rottinghaus, political analyst with the University of Houston.

And it's Garcia, currently in the runner-up spot, likely to draw fire.

"Which suggests that internal polling especially among King, Costello, Bell and Hall that he (Garcia) is vulnerable in a way that Turner is not, at least in the first round," said Jon Taylor, political analyst with the University of St. Thomas.

Vulnerable because of Garcia's performance as Sheriff.

"There have been a lot of allegations about how the jail is run. There have been concerns about the clearance rate of some crimes under his watch. The discussion, the narrative could set in that he is simply not qualified to run the sheriff's office or to be mayor," said Rottinghaus.

Taylor believes Bell is too short on cash to compete and the two moderates, Steve Costello and Bill King have all but canceled each other out.

"Simply put, all of the money would have gravitated to one person rather than split between two, you've got essentially moderate Republicans and business types that might have joined forces and might have made the run-off," said Taylor.

Multiple campaigns report Ben Hall, with his harvest of anti HERO votes, may be positioned to mount a challenge.

"I think Hall is really the wild card here," said Rottinghaus.

Of course, everything could change in the upcoming October Blitzkrieg of media and campaign messaging.

Oct. 5 obligatory campaign financial reports will indicate who has resources for the stretch run and who is lacking.

Costello is expected to unload part of his considerable war chest on a half million dollar TV ad buy to reach voters.

Others in the field will do their best to match and capture enough support to survive.