"City Controller Annise Parker is the clear front runner and a strong favorite to make the runoff. Parker is better known than any declared candidate, better liked, and receives solid job performance ratings," according to Parker's polling firm, Lake Research Partners.
"Annise starts the race with a one to two million dollar advantage over her opponents. Annise's opponents, all much lesser known, will have to spend a vast part of their war chests simply to gain name recognition. Meanwhile, Annise will be using resources to grow her advantage, building on her already strong lead and image," said Cynthia Miller and Dean Rindy of Rindy Miller Media, Parker's media consultants.
"The poll we really care about is the one conducted on Election Day," said Parker's campaign manager, Adam Harris. "But these numbers are significant because they show that Annise Parker's opponents are already behind and have a long way to go to catch up."
The poll shows that more than half of voters have heard of Parker and she has a six-to-one favorable ratio among those voters who can rate her (44% favorable to just 7% unfavorable). Parker also receives solid job performance ratings that are more than two-to-one positive. Half of voters (46%) rate her performance as City Controller either excellent (13%) or good (33%). Only 19% are critical (just fair/poor).
When poll participants were asked whom they supported for mayor at the beginning of the poll (before hearing information about the candidates), almost one third supported Parker (29%), while 18% support all other candidates combined. Half were undecided (53%).
Meanwhile, onetime Mayoral/Council candidate Bill King has sent out an email announcing that he will not be a candidate for anything in 2009. Hair Balls has a brief excerpt, and I've got the whole thing beneath the fold. He says he has "become increasingly concerned, and in some respects, even alarmed at the problems we are facing with regard to our municipal finances", and says he wants to have a "candid discussion" about it, but I presume that will be limited to his blog and maybe some op-eds in the Chron. So there you have it.
UPDATE: I like Carolyn Feibel's summary of King's email.
As most of you know, I have been considering a candidacy for mayor of Houston for sometime. I have recently decided that I will not be a candidate for mayor or any other office in 2009.Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 05, 2009 to Election 2009
There are several reasons for my decision, some personal and some political. Most prominent among these, I believe that my candidacy would likely result in an election that would emphasize partisan and other divides. It is my belief that such an election would not be healthy for the City or, frankly, particularly favorable to my candidacy.
The City is in for some very difficult times over the next several years, especially as it relates its finances. The multiple challenges of crime, crumbling infrastructure, crushing pension debts, falling oil prices and the aftermath of Ike will all weigh heavily. This is hardly a time that we can afford to be divided along partisan or other lines.
As I have attempted to become informed on issues facing the City, I have become increasing concerned, and in some respects, even alarmed at the problems we are facing with regard to our municipal finances. I believe we have made unsustainable commitments that will financially hobble future generations and that it is imperative that we have a candid and realistic discussion of these critical issues.
Before Hurricane Rita while I was still the mayor of Kemah, I began raising the alarm that we were not prepared to evacuate the region in the event of a major storm. Because I held an elected office, many discounted my warnings as political posturing. As a result, little was done and 150 died in the Rita evacuation. I fear that if I begin a discussion of the financial challenges facing our city as a candidate, there will be similar reaction. Perhaps if no political agenda can be attributed to my views, there will be a less skeptical reception.
I want to express my profound appreciation to all of you that have encouraged me to consider a candidacy. The mere fact that so many of my fellow Houstonians have expressed their belief that I am capable of such a leadership position has been a great honor.
I hope that you will stay tuned. We have some important issues to tackle.