Sunday, October 23, 2011

The spotlight on Mayor Parker's prospects

Again, as many have already pointed out, not so much for 2011 as for 2013.

Political analysts predict Mayor Annise Parker has a virtual lock on a second term, but she still has a lot at stake in next month's election.

Winning isn't enough, the experts say. She needs to win big to head off a challenge in 2013 and to give her a stronger hand with the City Council. [...]

(P)oll numbers released last week suggest the mayor faces a dissatisfied electorate. Less than a month before the election, more than half of respondents said they were undecided. Thirty-seven percent said they would vote for Parker.

"Had she had a serious opponent she would have been at least in a runoff, and possibly defeated," said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein, who ran the poll for radio station KUHF and KHOU-TV.

Parker's approval rating was just 47 percent.

"It's the lowest job approval I've seen of a (Houston) mayor, ever," said Stein, who has been polling for decades.

Too slim a majority in November, some observers say, could encourage a stronger challenge two years from now.

Clue: The mayor's low approval numbers do NOT have anything to do with the national economy.

Parker and political analysts say most of the damage to her approval ratings is due to the sputtering national economy.

"If you look at what's on the minds of Americans all over the country, it's jobs and the economy," Parker said.

The "jobs" part, yes. But the mayor's jobs plan, as you can find in the article yourself and at her website,  appears to consist of 'instructing city departments to hire local firms and hoping that spurs job creation'. In the wake of the city's budget cuts that saw thousands of municipal employees lose their jobs, I have to say that is a pretty sad plan.

Aside from that, the mayor has been slammed by events mostly outside of her control that are well beyond the national economy: the red-light camera issue -- yes, mostly outside her control, and that includes poorly-worded vendor contracts and a ballot referendum voided by a judge and all the rest of the mess -- the Rebuild Houston emerging scandal, the George Greanias affair.

And while she has consistently earned low marks for style, it's also fair to suggest that she merited a bit of arrogance in besting her political opponents in the last cycle, and in grappling with the city's many challenges.

Annise Parker gets my (albeit tepid) support for re-election. Just like President Obama, in fact. In many ways she has done a good job, and in many others she has done the best she could with what she has had to work with. And yes, in some ways she's done a lousy job. She's still far and away the best -- indeed, the only -- choice for mayor in this cycle.

I hope, based on her forthcoming performance in office and a little better luck outside of it, that I can say the same two years from now.

No comments: