Naked City

Perry capitalizes on Katrina, Strayhorn fumbles

Gov. Rick Perry came out of the Katrina week looking like a saint for welcoming evacuees (above), while his 2006 gubernatorial challenger, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, just added to the storm's hot air.
Gov. Rick Perry came out of the Katrina week looking like a saint for welcoming evacuees (above), while his 2006 gubernatorial challenger, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, just added to the storm's hot air. (Photo By Bob Daemmrich)

Even from his harshest critics, Gov. Rick Perry has drawn rare praise for his handling of the hurricane crisis, opening the state's doors to 250,000 evacuees from New Orleans and other storm-ravaged cities.

At the same time, his Republican primary rival, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, missed a key opportunity last Wednesday to draw on her "mama and grandmama" instincts and throw out a few lifelines of her own. Instead, just two days after she announced she was suspending her ad campaign in response to the hurricane (it's "not the time for politics," she said), Strayhorn called a press conference to blast Perry for failing to take a strong stand against sexual predators of children.

This was the same day that Perry had agreed to provide shelter to 23,000 New Orleans residents, and when most other state officials and media outlets were singularly focused on the welfare of their Louisiana neighbors. Asked about her previous declaration that this wasn't the time for politics, Strayhorn didn't budge. "This is not about politics," she said. "This is about our children. This is about our most precious resources."

Strayhorn had timed her press conference to draw attention to the state of Florida's new mandatory sentencing law for child sex offenders. "Jessica's Law" – named after Jessica Lunsford, who police say was killed by a registered sex offender – took effect Sept. 1.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

state politics, Rick Perry, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Jessica's Law, Jessica Lunsford

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