If odds makers in Vegas were taking bets on Houston’s mayoral race next year, the edge would definitely go to Mayor Parker, simply because she already has the job and in most cases incumbents win. However, Rice University political professor Mark Jones says Parker has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way.
"She’s angered some council members for sometimes relatively trivial issues. The drainage fee wasn’t handled very well in terms of how it was presented to voters and how it ended up being rushed through, and then how it was dealt with afterwards."
Jones says it didn’t help that Parker inherited a lot of problems from day one: some from the economy and some from other reasons.
"You have some people who I think really appreciate the difficult task she’s taken and that she’s sort of taken a lot of the economic and tax issues head on. By the same token though, you have a lot of people who sort of more generally look at her tenure and say, ‘Well, wait a second all we’ve had thus far is a lot of negative things: cuts, reorganizations. But the inability thus far to demonstrate positive things she’s done.’"
But is any of that enough to be defeated? That depends on who runs against her. University of Houston professor Brandon Rottinghouse says she probably won’t get much competition, but if she does we won’t know for at least a few more months.
"I don’t know that at this point you have a viable challenger. You can see the same trends happening nationally. People who may want to run are waiting to see how some of the budgets shape up and to see what specifically might be the issues that they might challenge an incumbent on. And so, I think you’ll see that happening shortly, but it seems to me that it hasn’t happened yet."
Professor Jones believes in order for Parker to lose it would have to be a perfect storm of candidates with each one getting more votes, even though, they could never beat her head-to-head in a two man race.
"The only way she probably would lose would be to have someone come from the right, sort of a Republican — sort of a Paul Bettancourt-type person. And then at the same time someone come from the left probably from the African American community. And the risk she would run is that they would draw sufficient number of votes and she would finish third and not make it to a run off."
Both men say the likely hood of that happening is slim. And that could give the mayor a little peace of mind as she kicks off her campaign at Discover Green park with a rally and an Easter Egg Hunt.