Monday, January 21, 2013

Madame Mayor's re-election chances

They're pretty good. It really doesn't have all that much to do with Ben Hall, either.

"Hall is a formidable challenger but is a long shot to unseat the mayor," University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said in an email.

Rottinghaus noted Hall's funding capability, his vision and his qualifications but suggested that "with Parker's nationalizing profile and perceptions of her doing a good job, it is a more uphill fight."

Rottinghaus added that Parker's most formidable challenge may not be Hall, per se, but a crowded primary field that could squeeze her out of a runoff. "In a runoff, a well-funded candidate like Hall that can put the right coalition together could have a chance," he said. "This may be the model -- almost successful for Gene Locke -- that Hall is looking to create."

Uh, no. Charles is correct. The Chron could not write this story, though, without kissing the ring of the Quitter. Just. Like. Always.

Former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt said he and (HCRP chair Jared) Woodfill discussed the possibility of him running for mayor but said his interest was predicated on the possibility that Parker may leave office early to take a position in the Obama administration, thus necessitating a special election.

"In a special election, I could see what the party chairman is pitching, because that's a low-turnout scenario that would be favorable to Republicans," he said.

Bettencourt also suggested that Hall's candidacy was based, at least initially, on the possibility that the mayor would leave office early.

"The glacier's moving," he said. "The question is, where is it going to stop?"

Quittencourt gets one thing right here: he cannot beat Annise Parker.

In fact, Parker doesn't lose unless she gets a medium-strength challenger from her left. And then a conservative, pro-business, religious African American like Hall has a chance -- but not in a head-to-head runoff against the mayor; her ground game is too strong.

See, Annise Parker is really the moderate Republicans' best choice. The only people who have supported the mayor in her previous two races that will not do so again are whatever exists of a progressive voting bloc. It might be enough of the electorate -- 10 to 15% -- to be a factor in the open primary... but it might not.

Oh, there will be one or two fringe Republican options -- a Christianist and a cut-taxes corporatist -- but neither will be named Bettencourt. It wouldn't be close; she'd whip his ass.

The rumor-mongering about Parker taking a job in the Obama administration is nothing but that. Nobody except a handful of Republicans are saying it, and they don't know what they are talking about.

The early line is on the mayor. But her odds were much better two years ago, and she nearly coughed up a big lead then. Expect there to be some kind of a Green Party/Kubosh brothers alliance as there has been over a few policy disagreements, like with the food-sharing ordinance and Parker's handling of the Occupy Houston ejection.

At this point the mayor's chances are good, but they decrease a little every day.

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