Today, August 8, is the first day candidates can file for Mayor on the November 8 City of Houston ballot. Filing will close September 7 at 5 p.m.
Mayor Annise Parker will be seeking reelection to her second two-year term. City of Houston term limits restrict officeholders to serving a maximum of six years (three two-year terms) in each office. 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. Bill King is seriously contemplating a run in 2013, believing that it would be easier to beat Parker one on one than to wait for 2015 and plunge into a crowded field for an open seat. If Parker is perceived as vulnerable (i.e. <70%), that could attract other credible candidates in 2013 in addition to Mr. King.
However, let's assume Mayor Parker is reelected in 2011 and 2013 -- certainly history suggest that is what will happen. Candidates are already being discussed to run in 2015 when Parker is term limited. Names I see and hear today are City Controller Ronald Green; At-Large Council Members Brad Bradford, Steve Costello and Sue Lovell; District Council Members James Rodriguez and Ed Gonzalez; State Representative Carol Alvarado; Sheriff Adrian Garcia; Ben Hall and Bill King.
History again suggests that the business establishment will lead a strong effort to seek to elect the first Hispanic Mayor of Houston in 2015. Houston is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the nation, and its business leadership values and supports diversity. It is simply a question of when, not if, Hispanics take the reins of power in Houston and Texas. Just as Houston business leadership rallied around and supported Mayor Brown to be the first African-American Mayor of Houston, I foresee a similar effort to support and elect the first Hispanic Mayor of Houston.
One name that has not been mentioned so far in the 2015 discussion is former Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. There has been much speculation, including some by this author, regarding what Commissioner Garcia will do next. She will not oppose Sen. Mario Gallegos, who is currently headed for reelection without opposition in the March 2012 Democratic primary. Some have speculated that she should run for Harris County Attorney or Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector next year.
In my judgment, Garcia should consider waiting and begin laying the groundwork to run for Mayor of Houston in 2015. She would have strong support in the Hispanic community, cross over appeal to both white moderates and progressives, and be viewed favorably by the business community. Just a thought.