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Please begin with an informative title:

Odd numbered years often feel dull for political junkies.  With no Presidential race to keep us entertained, just two Gubernatorial races, and only the occasional House and Senate special election to keep us on our toes, 2013 can feel like a drought after the year of plenty that was 2012.  Luckily, a number of big cities will hold their mayoral elections this year.  The top spot in large cities can serve as a springboard for higher office for some ambitious electeds; current or recent Governors and Senators Dianne Feinstein, John Hickenlooper, Dick Lugar, Martin O'Malley, Pat McCrory, and Ed Rendell among others all served as big city mayors.  At the very least, serving as the big dog in their city gives mayors the potential to influence affairs even beyond their municipal and sometimes state borders.

What follows is a guide to the big city Mayoral elections in 2013.  Determining what is and isn't a big city is pretty subjective.  For instance, Providence (which does not elect a mayor this year) is the dominant city in Rhode Island, but if it were located in California it would be severely overshadowed.  For the sake of consistency and to keep this diary at a reasonable length, I'm defining a big city as at least 300,000 people via 2011 census estimates.  For a full list of cities holding elections this year, see the U.S. Conference of Mayor's site here.  The list isn't perfect; they have a few election days wrong and list a mayoral race in Memphis that isn't actually happening in 2013, but it's probably the most comprehensive one out there.  

(Update 3/28: Following a great suggestion by David Nir, I've added a reference table on each election date, the filing deadline, and a quick note on election procedure).

2013 Big City Mayors Races
City First Round Second Round Notes On election procedure Filing Deadline
Omaha 2-Apr 14-May Top two candidates advance to second round Already Passed
St. Louis Already Passed 2-Apr Party primary winners advance to second round Already Passed
El Paso 11-May June 8 or June 15 Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance Already Passed
Arlington, TX 11-May 15-Jun Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance Already Passed
San Antonio 11-May 15-Jun Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance Already Passed
Fort Worth 11-May 15-Jun Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance>50% Already Passed
Los Angeles Already Passed 21-May Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance Already Passed
Pittsburgh 21-May 5-Nov Party primary winners advance to second round Already Passed
Tulsa 11-Jun November 12 Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance; possible August 13 primary runoff (see Tulsa entry below jump) 10-Apr
Detroit 6-Aug 5-Nov Top two candidates advance to second round 14-May
Seattle 6-Aug 5-Nov Top two candidates advance to second round 17-May
Charlotte 10-Sep 5-Nov Party primary winners advance to second round; Partisan primary runoff October 8 if no candidate wins >45%   19-Jul
New York 10-Sep 5-Nov Party primary winners advance to second round; Partisan primary runoff September 24 if no candidate wins >40% 11-Jul
Cleveland 10-Sep 5-Nov Top two candidates advance to second round 27-Jun
Boston 24-Sep 5-Nov Top two candidates advance to second round 21-May
Raleigh 8-Oct 5-Nov Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance 19-Jul
Albuquerque 8-Oct 19-Nov Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance 28-Apr
Atlanta 5-Nov 3-Dec Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance 30-Aug
Houston 5-Nov 14-Dec Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance 26-Aug
Miami 5-Nov 12-Nov Second round averted if one candidate wins >50%, otherwise top two candidates advance 21-Sep
Minneapolis 5-Nov Instant Runoff Ranked Choice Election 13-Aug

I've sorted the cities by the date of their next election.  As an example, Detroit will hold a primary in August with the top two candidates advancing to November; I've placed Detroit chronologically with other cities holding the first round of their elections in August.  Los Angeles and St. Louis have already held their primaries, and I've arranged those cities by the date of their general election.

A quick note on terminology before we start.  I've defined a "primary" as a race where no candidate can officially win the office without another election, and a general where a candidate theoretically could win that day.  In Seattle the top two candidates will advance to a general regardless of whether one hits 50% or not; I define the first round of that election as a primary.  In Houston, a candidate can be elected in the first round if he or she wins >50% of the vote; I'm defining that as a general election, and the next round if needed is the runoff.  The one exception to this rule in Tulsa, which has kind of a weird system.    

Now let's get to the races!

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Omaha, Nebraska
Population: 408,958
Mayor: Jim Suttle (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
Primary: April 2
General: May 14

Two years ago, Jim Suttle narrowly survived a recall attempt, prevailing over a well-financed campaign that attacked him on taxes, public sector union agreements, and his leadership style.  Suttle's political fortunes appear to have improved and he looks like the favorite against four opponents, but he is not assured victory.  He faces businessman and recall organizer Dave Nabity, City Councilwoman Jean Stothert, former Councilman Dan Welch (all GOPers), and Republican turned independent state Senator Brad Ashford.  Suttle's rivals generally accept that the mayor will survive the primary, and that the real fight on April 2nd is for the second place spot.  

The race to take on Suttle has revolved around Stothert's vote for a union contract, a vote Nabity especially has criticized.  Stothert has defended the vote and worked to portray herself as a staunch low-tax conservative.  Nabity is touting his lack of elected experience and emphasizing his business background while taking out ads attacking Stothert for her time in elected office.  Welch is describing himself as a moderate and calling for civility in government, while Ashford is stressing his legislative background.  The race remains fluid, but it appears that Stothert and Nabity are the co-frontrunners to take on Suttle, with both having more money than Ashford or Welch.  Stothert was also the target of a sexist T-shirt and anonymous Twitter account, which may generate some sympathy for her.  Stothert seems to be trying to get as much mileage out of this controversy as possible, running an ad linking Nabity and Welch to the attacks despite there being no evidence either is involved.  

Suttle has more money than any of his opponents and has the city's demographics on his side.  In contrast to the rest of Nebraska, Omaha has a Democratic lean, and Democrats have occupied the mayor's chair for the last twelve years.  However, during the recall Suttle saw reliably Democratic South Omaha vote against him, and he is well aware that he needs the area on his side to win.  Suttle is highlighting gun control in his campaign while defending his tax increases as necessary to preserving the city's fiscal health.  For the moment, it looks like this will be enough to earn Suttle another term, but this race will be worth watching until the end.

St. Louis, Missouri
Population 319,294
Mayor: Francis Slay (Democrat, running for reelection)
Partisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
Primary: Already passed
General: April 2nd

In this heavily Democratic city, the race for mayor was all but decided in the March 5th Democratic primary.  After a career of easy reelections, incumbent Francis Slay faced a credible challenge from Aldermanic President Lewis Reed.  Reed hit Slay on his handling of the city's pension and a major water consulting contract and attacked Slay for the city's crime rate.  Slay campaigned on his leadership and dramatically outspent Reed.  Slay also benefited from the endorsement of Congressman Lacy Clay, helping him achieve cross-racial support.  (Slay is white and Reed is black). Slay ultimately won 54%-44%.  With only a Green Party opponent, Slay is all but assured a historic fourth term.  

El Paso, Texas
Population: 649,121
Mayor: John Cook (Democrat, termed out)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
General election: May 11
Runoff: June 8 or June 15

City Representative Steve Ortega looks like the frontrunner here.  Ortega, an ally of freshman Congressman Beto O'Rourke, has the advantage of being the only elected official in the race.  Several other candidates are running, and at least one may be strong enough to mount a credible fight against Ortega.  Hyundai dealership owner Oscar Leeser, mortgage broker Gus Haddad (who lost to incumbent mayor John Cook 61%-28% in 2009), and Bagel chain owner Robert Cormell, look like they may have the money to compete with Ortega's name recognition.  Additionally, three other candidates are running but none look serious.  The next campaign finance reports should help tell us which of these businessmen are serious and which are duds.  

El Paso's controversial plan for a new baseball stadium may emerge as a major issue in the campaign.  The city plans to demolish its city hall to create the new $50 million stadium.  What impact this will have on the mayor's race remains to be seen: both Ortega and Haddad support the stadium and no candidate seems to have emerged as a champion against it.  

The city will also vote on a ballot measure that would add gays to the city's non-discrimination policy.  Last time the city voted on gay rights things didn't go so well: 55% of voters in 2010 voted to strike down a city law providing benefits to domestic partners.  Proponents of the 2010 ballot measure followed this up by unsuccessfully trying to recall Mayor Cook, Ortega, and City Rep. Susie Byrd; the courts rendered the proposed recall judicially invalid.  A vote for the non-discrimination policy would be a good sign that public opinion has changed in the last three years.

Arlington, Texas
Population: 365,438
Mayor: Robert Cluck (Republican, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
General election: May 11
Runoff: June 15

Robert Cluck has an easy race ahead of him as he seeks another term, facing only two perennial candidates.  

San Antonio, Texas
Population: 1,327,407
Mayor: Julián Castro (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
General election: May 11
Runoff: June 15

Rising Democratic star Julián Castro is seeking his third two-year term.  He has very little to worry about.  Castro will be able to seek one final two-term after this.

Fort Worth, Texas
Population: 741,206
Mayor: Betsy Price (Republican, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
General election: May 11
Runoff: June 15

Price is running unopposed.  

Los Angeles, California
Population 3,792,621
Mayor: Antonio R. Villaraigosa (Democrat, termed out)
Non partisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
General: Already passed
Runoff: May 21

City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel (both Democrats) won the right to advance to the runoff in a low turnout March election, with Garcetti leading 33%-29%.  With similar policy stances, the two candidates are relying on their biographies to put them over the top.  Greuel has talked up the fact that she would be L.A.'s first female mayor, while Garcetti is emphasizing his Mexican heritage.  

In recent days, one of the few policy differences between the candidates has emerged as a major issue.  Greuel is hitting Garcetti for his 2012 vote to overhaul the city pension system.  Greuel is stating that she supports the actual overall but criticizes the city's refusal to negotiate with labor before the vote.  The city has defended the vote, believing that collective bargaining was not required since the law would only apply to future city employees.  Greuel's stance may appeal to her labor allies but it has not played well with many of Greuel's business supporters, including the Los Angeles County Chamber of Commerce.  Greuel has backed off somewhat from her calls for new negotiations on pension cuts.  Despite this controversy, both candidates are considered to be supportive of labor.  Garcetti has the backing of the teamsters and teachers union, while Greuel has the SEIU and the LA County Federation of Labor as well as the well-funded Department of Water and Power union.  

At the moment, neither candidate appears to have a clear edge in what is likely to remain a low-turnout election.  The resignation of four key Greuel staffers and her decision to hire a new campaign manager are probably not good signs for her.  However, Bill Clinton's decision to endorse Greuel could give her a boost.  (Update 3/29: Garcetti recently received a prized endorsement of his own, from third-place finisher Jan Perry.  Perry performed very strongly among African Americans, and her support could help Garcetti expand his appeal to black voters.)  Unlike most mayoral races, this one is likely to be polled a few times before the runoff, so we should have a reasonably good idea of the state of the race soon.  (Update 3/29: sure enough, SurveyUSA released a poll showing Garcetti leading 47%-40%.  However, the poll was mostly finished before the Clinton endorsement and completely done before Perry's, so it remains to be seen what effect they will have)  For now, the race for America's second largest city looks like it will be a competitive fight to the finish.  

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Population: 305,704
Mayor: Luke Ravenstahl (Democrat, retiring)
Partisan election
Filing deadline: Already passed
Primary: May 21
General: November 5

Update 4/01: This post has been edited and updated to note the many developments in this race since this diary was first posted on 3/26.

Incumbent Luke Ravenstahl pulled the plug on his reelection after a Federal investigation of the city police forced the chief, who Ravenstahl appointed, to resign.  Now, two credible candidates are running to succeed him, with the Democratic primary being tantamount to election here.

Councilman Bill Peduto and former state Auditor and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Jack Wagner are all in the hunt in the race.  An early March poll showed Peduto out front at 30%, followed by Wagner at 20%, and Michael Lamb at 13%.  (Lamb has since exited the race).  A recent Peduto internal poll featured almost identical numbers.  Wagner leads in the cash race with $300,000 that he had left over from his Gubernatorial campaign.  Peduto has filed an injunction against him, claiming he illegally transferred money for the race; Peduto himself has $261,000 available.  State Representative Jake Wheatley is also in the race but has raised very little money and has barely registered in the polls.  However, following Michael Lamb's departure from the race, he is now the only prominent African American running; he's still very unlikely to win, but he should make an impact on the race.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has become a key issue in the race.  Ravenstahl has gone to court challenging UPMC's non-profit status, arguing that it should pay more in taxes.  Peduto has gone further than the mayor arguing that other large non-profits should be taxed.  Wagner has not signed on to the legal challenge and Wheatley has not commented on the suit.  

At the moment it appears Peduto is the frontrunner.  However, Wagner recently received several union endorsements which could help his campaign in a low turnout primary.  Wagner was also endorsed by former-third place candidate Michael Lamb after Lamb departed the race.  The recent departure of City Council President Darlene Harris from the race may also benefit Wagner as the two shared a working class base of support.  With two months left until the race essentially ends, the burden is on Peduto to hold onto whatever lead he may have.  

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Population: 391,906
Mayor: Dewey Bartlett (Republican, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: April 10
Primary: June 11
Primary runoff: August 13
General: November 12

Mayor Dewey Bartlett appears to be popular, but he faces a competitive race from his Democratic predecessor.  Kathy Taylor chose not to run for a second term in 2009 but has decided to jump back into the fray this year.  Taylor is emphasizing her successes in office; unsurprisingly, Bartlett is adopting a similar strategy, pointing to the increased police presence in the city.  A third candidate, former GOP City Councilman Bill Christiansen has also made public safety a priority in the campaign.  Christiansen also recently appeared at a Day of Resistance rally against gun control.  

Tulsa employs a fairly unique voting method that the Tulsa World explains it well:

If more than two candidates file but one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes at the primary election, that candidate is elected.

If more than two candidates file and no one gets more than 50 percent in the primary but two together total more than 50 percent, then those two top vote-getters advance to the general election.

If more than two candidates file but no two total more than 50 percent, then the top candidates whose votes total more than 50 percent go to a runoff election. The top two vote-getters in the runoff advance to the general election.

An early November poll showed a tight race, with Bartlett leading Taylor 24%-22%, and Christiansen at 11%.  The poll is old and has a small sample size of 311 people, so take it with several grains of salt.  Still, it's a good bet that this will be a competitive race.  

Detroit, Michigan
Population: 713,777
Mayor: Dave Bing (Democrat, has not declared intentions)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: May 14
Primary: August 6
General election: November 5

The state's decision to appoint an emergency manager for the city of Detroit is probably the last nail in the coffin of Dave Bing's political career.  It's far from clear if Bing wants another term, but given recent events as well as Detroit's longstanding economic and crime problems as well as Bing's well publicized feuds with the City Council, it's very unlikely he'll get one.  

A number of candidates (all Democrats) have entered the race.  For now, former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan looks like the man to beat.  Duggan has showcased his success in turning the medical center's finances around and his opposition to the Emergency Manager Law.  Duggan is the only white candidate running in a heavily African American city, and would be Detroit's first white mayor since Roman Gribbs left office in 1974.  

Wayne County Sheriff and former police chief Benny Napoleon appears to be the race's other frontrunner.  Napoleon is highlighted his success reducing crime in the city and has made further crime reductions a priority in his campaign.  Duggan and Napoleon have already begun exchanging barbs.  Napoleon has played down the racial aspects of the contest but has attacked Duggan for moving to Detroit from the suburbs only last year.  Duggan has in turn worked to portray Napoleon as lacking the necessary financial experience to fix the city's economy.  

A number of other candidates are running: they include former state Representative Liza Howze, former city attorney Krystal Crittendon, and state Representative Fred Durhalur.  So far, all have struggled to gain traction.

Only one poll has been publicly released so far.  The early March Mitchell Research survey put Duggan ahead of Napoleon 38%-17%, with Bing at 8% and everyone else trailing.  In a hypothetical head-to-head, Duggan defeats Napoleon 42%-30%.  (It's worth noting that during last year's Presidential election Mitchell Research was not a particularly impressive pollster).  For now, it appears that Duggan is the favorite, but at this early date the only thing that looks certain is that Bing will not be around for another term.

Seattle, Washington
Population: 608,660
Mayor: Mike McGinn (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Primary: August 6
General: November 5

Mike McGinn has not had an easy tenure.  After being narrowly elected in 2009, McGinn's time as mayor has been dominated by an unsuccessful and unpopular fight to stop the construction of a new tunnel, problems over the city's police chief, policies favoring developers that have angered much of his base, and doubts about his leadership.  Ominously for McGinn, a SurveyUSA poll showed the mayor's approval rating upside down at 37%-43%.  To make matters worse, only 26% of Seattle voters supported him for reelection in a hypothetical primary.  McGinn is running for reelection and emphasizing job growth and drops in crime under his leadership, but winning looks like it will be a very uphill climb.  

A host of candidates have announced that they will take on McGinn.  The more prominent ones include Councilman Bruce Harrell (currently the only person of color in the race), state Senator Ed Murray (who would be the city's first openly gay mayor), Councilman Tim Burgess, and former Councilman Peter Steinbrueck.  It's also possible other prominent candidates will jump in while there's still time.  The race looks wide open; SurveyUSA showed Steinbrueck running second to McGinn at 18%, Burgess with 9%, Harrell and Murray both with 8%, and activist Kate Martin (who does not look like she'll be a major candidate) at 6%.  

Any candidate makes it to the general against McGinn will start out the clear favorite (if McGinn even makes it to the general).  An analysis lays out some of the different outcomes.  Burgess has a good chance to consolidate moderate voters and make it past the primary.  Murray's activism on gay marriage and battle hardened campaign team gives him a good shot to win enough liberals to advance.  However, the other prominent candidates have a chance to secure a general election spot.  Harrell is uniquely positioned as the only minority candidate, and Steinbrueck is popular among neighborhood activists.  The construction of a new basketball arena looks like it will be a divisive issue.  McGinn, Harrell, and Burgess are for it, with Steinbrueck against.  This race will likely be volatile and worth watching all the way to the end.  

Charlotte, North Carolina
Population: 731,424
Mayor: Anthony Foxx (Democrat, has not declared intentions)
Partisan election
Filing deadline: July 19
Primary: September 10
Primary runoff: October 8
General election: November 5

If Anthony Foxx runs for reelection this race will be an afterthought.  However, there are reports that Foxx may be tapped for a position in the Obama administration.  If Foxx is not chosen for the Cabinet but Congressman Mel Watt is picked for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Foxx may forgo reelection to run for Watt's Charlotte-based seat.  Either way, this would create a competitive open seat race for the top job in the Queen City.

The Charlotte Business Journal has identified a few people who may run if Foxx doesn't.  The report named state Senator Dan Clodfelter, and Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon.  While Democrats dominate Charlotte it is likely a Republican will make a run for the seat.  However, John Lassiter, who Foxx defeated in a competitive open seat fight in 2009, has ruled out another race.  If reports of Foxx's departure get more serious expect a lot more names to surface from both parties.  

New York, New York
Population: 8,175,133
Mayor: Michael Bloomberg (Independent, retiring)
Partisan election
Filing deadline: July 11
Primary: September 10
Primary runoff: September 24
General: November 5

With the possible exception of the Virginia Gubernatorial race, this election is probably 2013's best-known contest.  All polling shows that the Democrats are heavily favored to win here for the first time since 1989.  City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is the clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary: a recent Quinnipiac poll shows her far ahead of her opponents at 37%, close to the 40% needed to win without a runoff.  Quinn has been an ally of Mayor Bloomberg but is working to distinguish herself from him.  An issue that has dogged her on the campaign trail is her role in changing the election laws to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term.  Quinn's rivals have worked to tie her to Bloomberg and hit her in other vulnerable areas.  Former Comptroller and 2009 nominee Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill De Blasio have also attacked Quinn for stonewalling a vote on paid sick leave, a vital issue to labor.  Comptroller John Liu rounds out the list of prominent candidates.  Liu has campaigned energetically but it faces a tough battle after a Federal investigation charged two of his associates.  

A few GOPers are running with the hopes that lightning will strike again and give them another victory here.  They include former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota and billionaire John Catsimatidis.  Democrat turned Independent former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., will be on the Independence Party’s line in the general election and is seeking the GOP nod too.  Additionally, still Democratic state Senator Malcolm Smith may run as a GOPer.  (Update 4/2: Smith was just arrested for allegedly trying to bribe his way into the good graces of local GOP chairmen.)

Oh, and there's always the rumor Anthony Weiner may run for something.  Whatever.

Cleveland, Ohio
Population: 396,815
Mayor: Frank Jackson (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: June 27
Primary: September 10
General: November 5

Incumbent Frank Jackson looks set for another term.  Rich guy Ken Lanci has made some noise about a run.  However, Lanci's last foray into politics was not particularly impressive, with him winning 12% and third place in the race for Cuyahoga County Executive.  Unless something very weird happens, Jackson will have little problem getting reelected.

Boston, Massachusetts
Population: 617,594
Mayor: Thomas Menino (Democrat, retiring)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: May 21
Primary: September 24
General election: November 5

3/29 Update: This entry has been almost completely rewritten since Tuesday's original post to reflect Menino's retirement, and updated as recently as Friday morning to include potential candidates to replace him.

After a recent health scare, longtime mayor Tom Menino is announcing his retirement.  Since Boston has no term limits and recent mayors have enjoyed long tenures, Menino's decision offers ambitious candidates a possibly once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure the top job in Beantown.  

Councilmember at-large John Connolly declared his candidacy before Menino made his decision.  Connolly is stressing improving the city's schools and has $300,000 in the bank.  Aiming to win over younger voters, the 35 year-old Connolly has promised to shake up the status quo.  Against Menino, Connolly was a long-shot; now he may stand a real chance to win.

The race is certain to attract a number of other candidates.  State Representative Martin Walsh previously declared that he would run if Menino did not.  Other potential candidates include Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, city Council President Stephen Murphy, city Councilors Felix Arroyo, Tito Jackson, Robert Consalvo, Michael Ross, and Charles Yancey, state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and state Representative Jeffrey Sanchez.  It's quite possible that other serious candidates will jump in as well.  Only one thing has certain: Menino's retirement turned this race from a sideshow into perhaps the most exciting mayoral race in the country.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Population: 403,892
Mayor: Nancy McFarlane (Independent, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing Deadline: July 19
General election: October 8
Runoff: November 5

After being elected by a landslide two years ago, it’s a very good bet that Independent Mayor (but Obama supporter) Nancy McFarlane will earn another term.  

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Population: 545,852
Mayor: Richard Berry (Republican, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: April 28
General election: October 8
Runoff: November 19

Republican Richard Berry managed to win his seat in heavily Democratic Albuquerque after two Democrats split the vote, allowing Berry to prevail with a plurality on 44%.  That feat won't be repeated this year: the city's voters recently chose to raise the threshold to avoid a runoff to 50% from 40%.  Given that no Mayor has ever gotten 50% on the first round of voting, it's a good bet Berry will be forced into a runoff.  

A late October poll pegged Berry's approval rating at an intimidating 68%.  Whether Berry's numbers remain this high is an open question.  Recently, a Department of Justice Civil Rights investigation and reports of excessive force by the city cops led police chief Ray Schultz to step down.  Berry's most prominent Democratic opponent, former City Councilman Pete Dinelli, is emphasizing the problems in the department in his campaign.  Also in the race are former Democratic Albuquerque First Lady Margaret Aragon de Chavez and retired policeman and Republican Paul Heh.  The Democrats will probably need the police controversies to stay in the headlines to have a good shot here, though Berry can take nothing for granted in a city this blue.

Atlanta, Georgia
Population: 420,003
Mayor: Kasim Reed (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: August 30
General election: November 5
Runoff: December 3

If Kasim Reed has any prominent challengers on the horizon, they've been very quiet.  Reed should have little problem winning another term; an internal Reed poll pegs his approval rating at 83%.

Houston, Texas
Population: 2,099,451
Mayor: Annise Parker (Democrat, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: August 26
General election: November 5
Runoff: December 14

Annise Parker had a disappointing reelection in 2011, barely avoiding a runoff in a race with unknowns after she spent millions to win.  As she runs for a final two-year term, it looks like she'll face a real opponent.  Former City Attorney Ben Hall has announced his campaign; Hall, seeking to become the second African American Mayor of Houston, is attacking Parker for high taxes while calling for more revenues and lower crime.  Hall is also portraying himself as a fresh face, criticizing Parker's long service in elected office as "leadership fatigue".  

It's too early to evaluate how big a threat Hall is to Parker's chances and it's possible other candidates will jump in if Parker looks weak.  It's also a question of how formidable Hall may be in a runoff: two Houston Chronicle writers have differing analysis about whether African Americans are likely to turnout in a runoff with the type of numbers Hall needs.  However, after her uncomfortable reelection two years ago, Parker can take nothing for granted.  

Miami, Florida
Population: 399,457
Mayor: Tomas Regalado (Republican, running for reelection)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: September 21
General election: November 5
Runoff: November 12

Tomas Regalado looks like the favorite for reelection.  However, this has not stopped fellow Republican and 35-year old City Commissioner Francis Suarez from mounting a challenge.  Suarez, the son of former Miami Mayor and current County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, raised a hefty $460,000 to Regalado's $91,000 in the final quarter of 2012.  Suarez is emphasizing innovation and development and will likely cease on criticisms of Regalado's management abilities and his perceived lack of a big picture plan.  Union anger with Regalado's handling of labor negotiations may also give Suarez a boost.

However, Suarez has an uphill climb.  Regalado remains popular and benefits from having no major scandals and the fact that he has never raised taxes.  Additionally, he is likely to hit Suarez as inexperienced.  This race is worth keeping an eye on, but it looks like Regalado has the distinct advantage as he seeks another term.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Population: 382,578
Mayor: R.T. Rybak (Democrat, retiring)
Nonpartisan election
Filing deadline: August 13
General election: November 5

R.T. Rybak's retirement has opened the floodgates for ambitious Minneapolis politicians.  Currently, five past and current office holders (all members of the Democratic Farm and Labor Party) are seeking the job.  Councilwoman Betsy Hodges is talking up her public safety accomplishments in office and calling for fixing the city pension system.  Former Councilmember Jackie Cherryhomes has been out of office for ten years, and is emphasizing her experience as a consultant and lobbyist since then.  Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew left office in 1999 and has since served as president of an environmental consulting and marketing group; he is stressing his business experience.  Councilmember Don Samuels is calling for reducing the crime rate and bridging disparities that exist in the city.  Finally, Councilmember Gary Schiff (who would be the city's first openly gay mayor) is focusing on his work on consumer issues and calling for reducing poverty.  One Republican, Cam Winton, is running as an independent.  While he has little chance, it's interesting to note that his campaign treasurer is Ashwin Madia, the DFL nominee for Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District in 2008.

All five DFL candidates are seeking the DFL endorsement in June, which takes 60% of the delegates to win.  The DFL convention could help winnow the field and give a candidate a boost.  However, as R.T. Rybak proved, it is quite possible to win without the endorsement.  Handicapping this race is particularly difficult: it's a distinct possibility that other candidates will jump into the election late.  Additionally, Minneapolis employs a ranked choice voting system that introduces another complication to the contest.  Unless a strong frontrunner emerges, this race could keep people guessing past Election Day.

That's all the big cities!  If you have an interesting mayoral election I didn't get to, please tell us about it in the comments!  Also, if you have any corrections, local insight, etc., please feel free to let me know!  

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Darth Jeff on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 11:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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