White Rallies Travis [Video]
Footage from the Houston mayor's opening gubernatorial campaign volley in Austin
By Richard Whittaker,
9:31AM, Thu. Dec. 10, 2009
When first booked, last Sunday's event at Scholz Garten for Houston Mayor Bill White was billed as Bill White for Senate. By the time he got there, it was Bill White for Governor. That could explain why just about every elected official and Democratic activist in Travis County squeezed into the back room to hear his first gubernatorial stump speech in Austin.
As reported in this week's issue, Democrats have become very enthusiastic about White's candidacy, and in part that's because they're pretty sure that they'll be facing Gov. Rick Perry come next November. White's Houston has pretty much been a center for whatever traces of economic stability Perry has claimed for Texas, potentially undermining one of his key platform points: Combine that with the perceived apathy towards Guv'nor Goodhair amongst all but the most die-hard conservatives, and they suspect Perry's actually up for defeat.
That said, even White admits that he's not the most eloquent stump speaker, but there's an often forgotten fact in all this campaign talk. While Perry has a reputation as a political pit-fighter, that hasn't been tested at the ballot in almost over a decade. His last tough fight was beating John Sharp for the lieutenant governorship in 1998's massive turnout election: Prior to that, it was taking out incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower in 1990. He was appointed to the governorship in 2000, and since then has faced the self-destructing campaign of Tony Sanchez in 2002, and stood back in 2006 while Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn tore strips out of each other. Arm-twisting under the dome and fighting a real campaign are very, very different skills.