We were out of town over the weekend, so I missed this.
An Easter weekend campaign event replete with rousing speeches, dogs of both the hot and four-legged variety and a kids’ Easter egg “scramble” kicked off Mayor Annise Parker’s re-election bid Saturday at Discovery Green.
With no announced opposition so far, Parker’s bid to retain what she called “the best job in the world” would seem to be a cakewalk — if not an Easter egg roll — compared with 2009.
In her first run for the office that year, the former neighborhood activist, city councilwoman and city controller nosed out the candidate anointed for the open seat by the downtown establishment, attorney Gene Locke, as well as two other candidates, to become the first lesbian mayor of a major American city.
This year, the establishment seems to be satisfied with the mayor’s job performance, as evidenced by her endorsement by erstwhile opponent Locke and by former mayor (and still political paterfamilias) Bob Lanier. Parker also has raised more than $1 million in campaign funds with two more major fundraisers still this week.
As I’ve noted before, by this point in 2009 we were over two months into a full-fledged four-way race. I still hear the occasional rumor about Paul Bettencourt and Benjamin Hall, and we were recently informed about some dude that no one knew was thinking about running for Mayor but apparently isn’t, but it’s hard to see how anyone makes anything more than a token attempt at it at this point. Hell, the only person quoted in the piece with negative things to say was Jared Woodfill, the silly Chair of the local GOP. How can there be an opponent if there’s no one saying oppositional things in a story like this? I agree with Keir Murray – barring someone who can massively self-fund, there just isn’t the room or the time for someone to mount a serious challenge.
I also agree with Murray about this:
Despite the campaign cakewalk to the November election, the mayor would face major challenges during her second two-year term, Murray said.
“The first term was the easiest,” he said. “The budget crisis is a continuing problem for anyone in office. Layoffs are coming, including HPD layoffs. There will be unhappiness. There’s no getting around it.”
The good news for the Mayor is that she most likely will have nothing but fringe opponents for re-election. The danger is that anything short of a Soviet-style margin of victory could be seen as electoral weakness, and may open the door for one or more serious opponents in 2013. Call this the Terence-Wales Effect, if you will. Now compare Lee Brown’s vote totals over five contested elections to Parker’s 2009 numbers and note that there’s an awful lot of people in this town who are not yet in the habit of voting to elect a Mayor Parker. Add that to the issues Murray identifies, and you can see what could happen. Given all that, expect the Mayor to run as vigorous a campaign this year as she did in 2009. She’s not just running for her second term, she’s already running for her third.