The rumors about Houston Mayor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bill White switching to the Governor's race circulated again this week, and the White camapign denied them (again). With Kay Bailey Hutchison appearing to once again be waffling on her decision to resign from the Senate, some have thought White would rather jump to the governor's race than wait until 2012.
Ross Ramsay's Texas Tribune article identified John Sharp and Rick Perry as the two pushing the rumor, which if true certainly does not put Sharp, the former Texas Comptroller and current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, in very good company.
BOR's Todd Hill wrote in August that Texas Democrats should "get off Bill White's back and get on John Sharp's" when it came to deciding if one of the two leading Democrats would switch races.
I think Sharp is better qualified, and in a better position politically, to change the dynamics completely of the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Sharp's campaign doesn't appear to be raising the funds necessary, outside of personal loans, to remain competitive in a potential U.S. senate race. I suspect that is because those donors who thought Mayor White would run for governor versus the United States Senate suddenly found themselves choosing between Sharp and White. Many people, including myself, believe that Bill White is the brightest star we have in the Democratic Party, and donors and grassroots supporters do too. Those who committed to Sharp assuming White would run for governor suddenly switched allegiances upon his announcement that he would run in an eventual special election senate race. White's fundraising numbers prove that is the case. That doesn't mean those donors don't support Sharp, they just don't support him in a head to head race with Bill White.
In this race without an election date, not much has changed since August, although White's financial advantage over Sharp has only widened.
Sharp came extremely close to defeating Rick Perry in 1998. Since then Perry has gone form being George W. Bush's Lt. Gov. to becoming one of the most unpopular governors in Texas history. Despite Perry and Sharp's past collaboration on school finance, if he decided to switch to the governor's race, he would probably be the favorite versus Perry. Democrats would have a strong candidate for governor and Bill White's huge fundraising lead would stay in the Senate race, where he gives Texas Democrats their best chance to win a Senate seat in years.