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Where the line is

Me, July 17:

I disagree that anyone who might think about challenging the Mayor will wait two years before taking action. They’ll simply wait to see how Parker does in November. Like all three of her predecessors in the term-limits era, Parker is running against non-entities for her first re-election. Two of those prior Mayors, Lanier and Bill White, cruised easily with around 90% of the vote, and had a similarly smooth ride for their second re-election. Brown, on the other hand, received only 67% of the vote against his two no-name foes, and was immediately seen as vulnerable for 2001; serious opposition, from Council Members Orlando Sanchez and Chris Bell, subsequently ensued.

So I believe that Parker’s 2013 opposition will be based, at least in part, on how she is perceived to have done this year by that standard. If the conventional wisdom says that she beat expectations, she’s less likely to face a real opponent in 2013. If not, you can expect someone, quite possibly more than one someone, to start campaigning against her fairly quickly.

What is the threshold she must achieve in order to meet or exceed expectations? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. That will be determined by the local political hive mind after the election. It’s going to be a function of gut reaction more than anything else, so there’s no point trying to assign a number to it.

Robert Miller, August 8:

As of today, Mayor Parker has no politically credible opposition and will be reelected in November. Since the advent of term limits in Houston, every Mayor has served the maximum six years allowed — Bob Lanier (1992 – 97); Lee Brown (1998 – 2003); and Bill White (2004 – 09). Only Mayor Lee Brown was seriously contested after his first election. Mayor Lanier won his second term with 90.80% and his third term with 82.66%. Mayor White won his second term with 91.03% and his third term with 86.48%.

The race Mayor Parker is really running this fall is to be unopposed by credible opposition for her third and final term in the November 2013 election. Mayor Brown only won his second term with 67.29% against two non-credible candidates, Jack Terrence and Outlaw Josey Wales, IV. Brown was then perceived as vulnerable, and in his final election drew two strong opponents — Orlando Sanchez and Chris Bell — and was forced into a runoff squeaking by with 51.67% of the vote.

In my judgment, Mayor Parker needs to break 70% in her reelection on November 8 or the 2013 Mayoral election will immediately begin.

Despite my previous reluctance to assign a number to the threshold Mayor Parker must clear, I don’t have any quarrel with this analysis. I would just add two points. One is that there really isn’t any difference between, say, a 69.81% showing and a 70.23% showing. This is about perception, not metrics. Whatever total the Mayor gets, if enough people say to themselves “Geez, I thought she’d have done better than that”, then she will be seen as vulnerable and the wannabes will start emerging from the woodwork. If that’s not the reaction most people have, they won’t. Maybe assigning a number now will affix it in the consciousness of the arbiters of these things, but I still think we won’t know for sure what the consensus will be until after the election.

And two, there’s another factor that could make this line move around a bit, and that’s the credibility of Parker’s opposition. I’m not talking about a late entry from one of the campaign peacocks that have been flitting about, I’m talking about whether or not the local GOP decides to get behind Fernando Herrera the way they belatedly got behind Roy Morales in 2009. Right now, Herrera’s a no-name, with no obvious means of support, who can fairly be compared to Lee Brown’s 1999 opposition. But if the HCRP and maybe the Texas Conservative Review get behind him, that changes. He still wouldn’t be anything remotely formidable, but he’ll be taken much more seriously, by the Parker campaign and by those who cover the Parker campaign. If the perception of the race changes from “Parker versus nobody” to “Parker versus somebody with real institutional backing”, then the perception of the result changes, too. Now getting 70%, against a somebody who isn’t a nobody, looks much more impressive. Getting 60% looks pretty good, in fact. She might still be seen as vulnerable after that, but if so it won’t be because she couldn’t run up the score against an overmatched opponent. It will be because she didn’t have an overmatched opponent in the first place.

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3 Comments

  1. paul kubosh says:

    Hmmm……so this assumes bettencourt doesn’t run. Will the republicans get behind herrera if bettencourt doesn’t run? Good question. I would like to know if the powers that be realize that this is a democrat city? The way they ran the anti-prop one campaign makes me wonder. I can tell you there were many places and events we were at pushing our prop. 3 agenda and they were no where to be seen. For instance the July 4th festival was very successful for us. If they were there we didn’t see them. I expect Parker to get reelected because of many reasons. If that is the case then the battle goes on. We got plans for the charter in the future. I promise to give you a lot to blog about.

  2. […] I think I have a pretty good idea now how Leibniz must have felt. Maybe I need to register as a […]

  3. […] 2013. There are too many variables in play. I still believe, as I said before the election and before anyone else, that an underperformance by the Mayor would make it more likely she will draw a serious opponent […]

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