Today, 'leading' Democratic candidate Tom Schieffer launched his gubernatorial campaign in Forth Worth, a portion of which he used to represent as a state legislator in the 1970s. You can read more about that announcement and view his kickoff speech here. I say 'leading' in quotes only because of the current declared field (rounded out by humorist Kinky Friedman and Mark Thompson), Tom Shieffer is the most serious candidate, even as he trails Kinky in recent polling. Of course, that's polling without Mark Thompson being included, who as we should know, has an uncanny ability to beat better known and funded primary candidates with no rational explanation.
So what changed today? Not much. The real change in the Governor's race happened yesterday.
It's no accident that Sen. Van de Putte's letter declining a run for Governor and subsequent endorsement of fellow state senator Kirk Watson of Austin happened the day before Schieffer's announcement. Watson's going to be able to take the time to consider his options, see the reception to both that trial balloon as well as the response to Shieffer's official launch (and even step a little on his media, whether intended or not).
While I don't know what Watson will decide, at least the last 24 hours has seen people start taking affirmative actions to say “yes, no, or maybe” with greater confidence so the political calculus can become clearer for all interested parties. That's a good thing in my book. And for what it is worth, various BOR staff writers have been involved in both “draft” groups on facebook, which ended up with over 760 for Sen. Van de Putte this spring and now over 225 for Watson in the last 24 hours alone.
I watched Tom Schieffer's speech. I wasn't offended by anything in it but at the same time, wasn't particularly inspired by anything in it either. Talking to other activists, granted, on the more progressive side of things, it's mostly the same refrain. No one dislikes Tom (well, some do for his relationship with former President Bush), but there is a sense that this election should be more than just “not disliking” our nominees, especially at the top of the ticket.
And in what should have been a day focused around Schieffer's plan and policy ideas, two separate statements have generated needless “cringe” moments that could separate him from grassroots activists.
“And also remind people that this is not going to be easy. It's going to be really hard. And if they want to do that, I get to be governor. And if they don't want ot do that, I can go make money, and I've done my civic duty of trying to lay it out.”
Responding to a reporter's query, Schieffer said today: “I think Sen. Watson is a very good candidate… He told me he was not going to run for governor. I hope nobody (else) runs for governor. I hope everybody will fall out on both sides, but I suspect that won't happen.”
Huh? I never knew that running for the Democratic Party's nomination for Governor was so much of a burden.
Of course, Mark Thompson and Kinky Friedman have been more obnoxious this past week in their own strategies.
Mark Thompson via Twitter on Shieffer's announcement:
Tom Schieffer Channeling Sam Rayburn now to run as a Democrat? Didn't he channel Benedict Arnold to sellout the TX Democrat Party with Bush?
Kinky Friedman seems to have no comment on Schieffer, but instead, gave a crass gift to Perry last week after the Governor injured himself while mountain biking.
NBC-DFW: Although Kinky Friedman promised fewer jokes this time around in his campaign for Texas governor, he did not resist the allure of a zinger last week.
The author-musician-humorist sent Gov. Rick Perry (his likely gubernatorial opponent) a special sympathy gift: a pair of training wheels.
The purpose of the gift was two-fold. Gov. Perry broke his collar bone last week as a result of a mountaing biking accident. However, Friedman included a note saying, “Sorry you got hurt. Too bad they don't make training wheels for a legislative session.“
I thought Kinky was promising to be a more serious candidate in his conversations with Democratic County Chairs. Back to the jokes already… and bad ones at that. While Perry is easy to get a cheap laugh out of, his gift and accompanying note is in poor taste. It's unsettling when the only emotions I feel of any kind in the Governor's race are negative, and directed towards Kinky Friedman.
But I'm not sure that I should be entirely surprised, should I? For now, I'm going to blame it on the Texas heat.