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

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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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10 Comments

    • So,
      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.

    • I tend to think Jim Sharp (TSCpl3) is your best bet
      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.

  1. Organization!
    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.

  2. yes, but
    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.  

    Todd  

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