Schieffer Out, White Swapping?
Governor hopeful expected to back Houston mayor to switch from Senate race
By Richard Whittaker,
1:03PM, Mon. Nov. 23, 2009
Democrats are setting their clocks for 3pm this afternoon. That's when gubernatorial hopeful Tom Schieffer will be holding a press conference in the Capitol. The open secret is that this is expected to mark his exit from the governor's race, and that he'll be throwing his weight behind Houston Mayor Bill White.
Yeah, White is running for senate at the moment, but it's broadly expected that he'll be transferring races, leaving former Comptroller John Sharp with a clean run for that nomination.
So what's the thinking? Schieffer was having trouble winning over moderate Democrats, and was busy defending himself against concerns of being too close to George W. Bush. White versus Sharp was already mean, and would have become a bloodbath, so that save Democrats a potential civil war.
Republicans, on the other hand, will go after White for misleading voters about his intentions (in fact, they're already doing it).
They may have some ammunition because there have been reports for months about polling on either Sharp or White in the governor's race, although it was unclear whether that came from either campaign, was really stealth push-polling, or was just wishful thinking by Dem activists. Either way, White is the kind of candidate that other Democrats like seeing at the top of the ticket: Great track record, able to bring in lots of campaign cash, and a bare-knuckle campaign fighter that will give Gov. Rick Perry no quarter. Expect big name Dems to start declaring for other state races very, very soon, and potentially for other transfers to follow.
Going solely on gut response, my expectation is to see Hank Gilbert go back to agriculture commissioner: He said all along that the only reason that he went for governor instead is that he wasn't inspired by any of the other gubernatorial candidates.
Similarly, Sen. Eliot Shapleigh for lite guv. The rumors about a gubernatorial run never seemed to ring true, because Shapleigh is a creature of the Senate and likes it there. With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stuck in limbo because Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison steadfastly refuses to get into campaign mode, he's a prime target, and Shapleigh versus Dewhurst could be one of the most interesting races on a November 2010 ballot.
The big question? Will White be at the Schieffer event?