So the race for Texas Governor is finally set… incumbent Rick Perry vs. former Houston mayor Bill White. Most claim that it is Perry’s race to lose. He’s a powerful establishment-Republican that flirst with the fringe Tea Partiers when convenient. And according to Paul Burka’s blog at Texas Monthly, it’s Perry’s race to lose at this point, and much more of an uphill charge for White. Texas (as we know it) is still a staunchly Republican stronghold. But there’s one thing that Texans like much more than party affiliation or even (dare I say it) political ideology. It’s strength. Right now, that’s what hurting Bill White the most… Perry’s getting all of the “strong points” because people simply don’t know enough about him. I’m not talking the city of Houston here… we’re already in White’s corner. But the rest of the state barely knew his name until this primary was over.
So the former Mayor has got to toughen up and be CLEAR with his positions. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s downfall was her lack of clarity. Is she pro-life or pro-choice?? The primary debates exposed grave weaknesses for her on issues that should have been crystal clear. In Texas politics, you earn more salt with a voter that understands your point, even if they disagree with you. Bill White is ahead of the game on this, but there’s still some room to grow.
Secondly, don’t let Texans have a short-term memory. This was Kay Bailey Hutchison’s greatest gift to the White campaign. All of the dirt and shameful cronyism that Perry has amassed as governor is incomprehensible compared to some red ink on the Houston budget or disagreements with Harris County. The Governor’s press power is unmatched, mostly because he always knows exactly what to say, and what to leave out. Bill White may have to get a little ugly, but voters need to be reminded that Rick Perry’s campaign talk is nothing like his governance.
Finally, White’s campaign must be built from the ground up. Pandering to the Democratic Party establishment simply won’t work in Texas. His ground team has got to be twice as diligent as Perry’s by registering voters and getting the word out about White.
So an uphill battle?? Probably so, but to those of us that are tired of Perry’s antics, it’s certainly worth it for Texas. Let’s see what Mr. White can do.