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Rick Perry vs. Bill White: Toss Up for the Governor's Mansion

by: Matt Glazer

Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 02:09 PM CST

In the wake of Rick Perry's lack luster victory in a 3 person race and Bill White's impressive win in a crowded, well financed 8 person race, Cook Political Report has shifted the Texas Gubernatorial race to a toss up.

Some of the key points include, Perry is weak, White is strong, and Democrats have had a clear frontrunner for months while the Republicans have spent time and money sorting out their weak field.

White is probably the strongest gubernatorial candidate Democrats have nominated since Ann Richards was the party's standard bearer in 1990. He is a proven fundraiser, starts the race with a solid base of support, and boasts a resume in business and a record as mayor that will make it hard for Republicans to label him as a screaming liberal Democrat. It helps that Democrats nominated a Hispanic woman for Lieutenant Governor, which is likely to spike Hispanic turn out in November, something that will benefit White. Finally, there are some signs of Perry fatigue, which could hurt the Governor at a time when the electorate is restless.

The national mood plays into the shift from Cook. If KBH had won, it would stay as a likely Republican seat. However, what Cook fails to mention is, if KBH had looked stronger, White would likely still be running for U.S. Senate against John Sharp.

Interestingly enough, we might not have made such a move if Hutchison had won the primary since it would have become an open-seat contest where we would give greater weight to the state's traditional Republican voting patterns. But, in this case, Perry is a known quantity and traditional voting patterns may not matter as much. Stay tuned; this is likely to become one of the more hotly contested gubernatorial races in the country.

Perry is now up against a well organized, well financed Democrat. Some would argue this is the first time he has faced a challenger of this magnitude since becoming Governor when George Bush vacated the seat.

Cook alludes directly to this point.

Perry is known for running well funded, aggressive, no-holds-barred campaigns and this will be no exception. However, this also might end up being the most difficult race of his career.

The paradigm of this race is going to be clear. Perry will run as a proven conservative. White will simply lean on Perry to answer why so many things are going wrong in a state completely controlled by one party and a Governor who has been in the Mansion for a decade. He is responsible in part or whole for decreasing graduation rates, higher insurance costs, attempting to tax and toll pre-existing rolls, huge government land grabs, rising utility rates, and two different major budget shortfalls.

With a definitive White win, expect other groups to simply say...

As a result, we are moving the contest from the Lean Republican to the Toss Up column.

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Cook also predicts the GOP will win back the US House. (0.00 / 0)
So, (0.00 / 0)
I guess I would read that as interesting. Cook gives White more of a chance to win in the fall, than the Dems keeping the US House===White outperforms national D's.

Now, there's a reason to be happy.

[ Parent ]
keeping my fingers crossed! (0.00 / 0)
Talking to a moving vanline agent next wednesday!
Go Texas!
Go Bill White!

Bill White... (4.00 / 2)
Has a great chance to be the national headline for Democrats in November.  

Frankly, I think he will be.


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

I tend to think Jim Sharp (TSCpl3) is your best bet (0.00 / 0)
In both parties' primaries, there were several unopposed statewide races, and on your side, you had these unopposed statewide primary races:

Attorney General - D Barbara Radnofsky 483,885      
Railroad Commissioner - D Jeff Weems 481,902  
Supreme Court of Texas Place 3 - D Jim Sharp 489,413
Supreme Court of Texas Place 5 - D Bill Moody 478,151    
Supreme Court of Texas Place 9 - D Blake Bailey 472,004
Ct. Crim. App. Place 6 - D Keith Hampton 469,233
In place 3 for the Texas Supreme Court, Jim Sharp did surprisingly well.  He has a good ballot name, and he won the bar poll, and he's a sitting appellate judge.

Our race for place 3 on the Texas Supreme Court was a cluster-cuss with six candidates running to fill the spot a long-time incumbent had abandoned.  The GOP activists boosted Rick Green into the runoff, and somehow a Fort Worth family law judge bumped off four appellate judges to finish in second place.

If Rick Green does not ride the GOP activist wave into the nomination, I am not sure that your guy doesn't beat our candidate.  It seems like Dems do a bit better in statewide judicial races as compared to ticket-topping races.  If the GOP cannot get its runoff voters lined up behind Rick Green, I thik Jim Sharp may take this one.

[ Parent ]
I hope that's right (3.00 / 1)
As much as I want to be optimist in the governor's race, I think this analysis is an extraordinarily optimistic view, perhaps even naively so.  I think the race will turn on voter turnout.  Who will be most motivated to vote, Republicans or Democrats?  Republicans turned out in the primary more than 2 to 1 over Democrats; Democrats turned out more than 2 to 1 in 2008 and still lost to McCain.  

The issues that motivate voters to vote right now, both nationally and in Texas, are largely motivating Republicans.  It gets worse:  at least in Harris County, which is a dominant voter base in the state, the motivations for Democratic turnout drop because the controversial races - CD18 and HD146 - are already settled.  

The truth is, none of us here understand what motivates Texans to vote for guys like Perry or Bush.  So we try to write them off by calling them all sorts of names, and they keep winning.  Stick and stones ....  Until we truly understand what is behind Perry's political base, we will never be able to accurately gauge it.  And all the optimistism is simply wishful thinking.  But I'm still wishing!

yes, but (3.00 / 2)
this isn't just about turning out Democrats for Bill White.  If we only did that it is a guaranteed loss for us.  This about turning out Democrats, independents, soft Republicans, and disenchanted Republicans.  

Moreover, I believe Democrats are excited about Bill White and his candidacy here in Texas.  Optimistic analysis' such as the Cook Report only helps us to motivate Democrats to get out and vote.

Also, off-election cycles are traditionally about state and local issues versus being dominated by the national political debate or issues being discussed at the national level.

As a final note, this is the best shot Democrats have had at the governor's mansion in 16 years.  What on earth is their not to be excited about right now?

I don't buy into wishful thinking. I buy into realities. And the reality is we have a great candidate in Bill White that not only Democrats can, and should be excited about, but so too should Independents and soft Republicans be excited as well.  


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree about your realities (3.00 / 2)
I just put more attention on other realities.  And I generally ignore the polls until October, when they will start to be meaningful.  But it's all about turnout.  Question:  How many folks who voted in the Republican primary can White get on his side?  I think that's what will determine his success or failure.  I think he can get a lot of them, but we'll see if it's enough.  I seriously question the motivation, and hence turnout, of independents.

I do think White is a better candidate than Richards was - and I knew Ann going back to 1974 when she helped me get my first job at the Capitol.  He's not as charismatic, but I think he will be a more level-headed and responsible manager, and more capable of balancing the pros and cons of decisions before acting upon them.  Ann killed herself politically when she supported the Brady Bill, which she never needed to do; she kind of got full of herself after the keynote address at the National Convention.  I don't see White making that kind of mistake.  We'll see, though.

[ Parent ]
Organization! (5.00 / 1)
And it will come down to organizational effectiveness.  Perhaps White's group can do it, as Lloyd Bentsen's did in years past.  Some local groups, like the Travis County and Harris County operations will help, but the state organization couldn't manage the evacuation of a four-hole out house for a fire drill. Organizational effectiveness will produce the outcome.

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