Texpatriate has learned that President Barack Obama has endorsed Annise Parker for a third term as Mayor of Houston. The last minute endorsement comes on the heels of another big-time Democrat, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, announcing his support for Parker. The support will be sure to attract increased support in the African-American community, though one must wonder how effective it will be after two full weeks of early voting wherein the majority of the electorate has most likely already cast ballots.
Obama’s last minute nod into the election reeked of similarity to low-effort selections he has made in other major city’s Mayoral races, most notably New York City. However, New York holds partisan Mayoral elections, wherein President Obama simply supported the Democratic candidate. However, in the non-partisan Houston election, the race consists of two frontrunners who are ostensibly both Democrats. However, challenger Ben Hall has recently taken some bizarre positions seemingly inconsistent with Democratic values, most notably a homophobic opposition to a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. President Obama has shown, for all intent and purposes, this is a typical election with one Democrat. And that Democrat is Annise Parker.
President Obama, in endorsing Parker, delivered the following statement:
“Under Mayor Annise Parker’s leadership, Houstonians have come together to lift their city out of the recession and today, Houston is at the forefront of moving America’s economy forward. Mayor Parker understands that her most important job is to make Houston an even better place to live, work and raise a family. That’s why she has advanced innovative programs that are helping to create middle-class jobs, sustain small businesses, build stronger, safer neighborhoods and help prepare our kids for the future. I’m proud to support Mayor Annise Parker.”
This is the first time Obama has ever made a selection in a Houston Mayoral election. In the 2009 contest, President Obama took no sides but he did famously call and congratulate Parker after he victory.
One wonders how this would have affected the campaign if Obama had endorsed Parker earlier, or would have even campaigned on her behalf. The African-American political community has rallied in no small part behind Ben Hall, forming the main component of his most loyal supporters. If this endorsement had come earlier, there would be no question that Parker would win without a runoff. Ultimately, however, the “November surprise” may be too little, too late to avoid a runoff.
Personally, I put the odds of Parker winning outright at about 50/50, with her finishing range somewhere between 47.5% and 52.5%. If she goes into a runoff, though, she will wipe the floor with Hall in December.