There has been much talk here on Burnt Orange Report (and across multiple failed drafts) about the Texas Governor's race, especially with no one knowing who may run where. Statewide, Houston Mayor Bill White is leading the charge in the yet to be scheduled US Senate race, and former Comptroller John Sharp has joined him in that race. However, the statewide ticket lacks any announced candidates for Lt. Governor (arguably the most powerful statewide office), Comptroller, or Land Commissioner- all members of the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB). Barbara Ann Radnofsky remains the sole candidate for Attorney General (another LRB position).
Part of the reason the ticket isn't fleshed out is because the Republicans don't have any more semblance of a ticket — and won't until Kay Coward finally decides if she's going to resign or not. Additionally, the conversations is revolving around the Governor's race where potentially strong candidates in state senators Kirk Watson and Leticia Van de Putte have declined runs, leaving us with the lineup of humorist Kinky Friedman, unknown Mark Thompson, 2006 check-bouncer Felix Alvarado, and former 1970's State Rep. Tom Schieffer who's voting history for George W. Bush causes perpetual headaches for activists.
But according to multiple sources that have confirmed this to Burnt Orange Report, Hank Gilbert, our 2006 Agriculture Commissioner candidate is gearing up to run statewide in the Governor's race. Gilbert was one of the first three TexRoots endorsed candidates, which included soon to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia.
This is an exciting development. Not only would such a move shake up interest for activists who have long appreciated Gilbert's true Texas style, it has the potential to set up a productive and active primary to keep Democrats from straying over into the Republican fold for Kay Bailey Hutchison. From conversations with those close to Gilbert, he's secured commitments and support to take his campaign to the top of the ticket should he choose to and start a campaign with more online infrastructure than anyone else in the 2006, 2008, or 2010 Democratic fields.
While our statewide ticket isn't dependent on our Gubernatorial nominee, it has an influence in providing support for the downballot races, including freshman members and rural Democrats in the Texas House. Compared to some of the current gubernatorial candidates, Gilbert could be an asset for Democrats' downballot efforts. From what I've been told, Gilbert is interested in helping to proactively fill out other spots on the statewide ticket and is interested in working with other candidates to minimize unnecessary conflict.
Gilbert has been effectively campaigning for the last 4 years at the grassroots level, organizing rural communities with independent, moderate, and even Republican voters against toll roads, the Trans-Texas Corridor, and on land and energy issues. That's a huge head start that could benefit a statewide campaign.
For those unfamiliar with Gilbert, here is his awesome speech at the 2006 Texas Democratic Convention.