Drag queens, bathroom predators in new ad targeting GOP voters

It's hard to forget this one: the fictional depiction of a predator confronting a defenseless child in a women's bathroom. The advertising campaign was pivotal in defeating the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in 2015 and now it's back, part of a stretch-run strategy by the ultra-conservative Campaign for Houston aimed at increasing Republican voter turnout.

"I think it's an example of Republicans are scared about getting swept in Harris County," said Mark Jones, political analyst at Rice University. "We know there are about seventy spots on the countywide ballot that tend to go one way or the other and right now, they are leaning a little blue."

The latest campaign and coordinated onslaught of targeted direct mail also accuse Democrats of funding "drag queen" reading programs in public libraries while asking the question, "Had enough?" and urging voters to protect so-called "family values" by supporting a straight Republican ticket.

University of St. Thomas political analyst Jon Taylor said the "scare tactic" could backfire.

"It smacks of desperation," said Taylor. "With all due respect, when you have a picture of a clown-faced drag queen on your mailer, that suggests to me somebody who is concerned enough about this election that you are sending out what are most assuredly scary pieces to people. Will it gin up support for Republicans? Sure, but it could do the opposite. It could gin up support for Democrats."

"I can tell you, a lot of Republicans will not like this because it's too much in your face," added Taylor.

The driving force behind "Campaign for Houston" is Dr. Steve Hotze, who has been a consistent, outspoken critic of civil rights advances by the LGBT community.

A spokesman for the Harris County Republican Party says his organization had nothing to do with the drag queen spot, but added Campaign for Houston is entitled to express its views.