State Supreme Court Justice Gammage Enters Governor's Race
Bell and Alvarado make it a three-way contest for now
The governor's race gained a new contender last week with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage filing to run in the March 7 Democratic primary, in what is now a three-way contest. Former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston filed his candidacy last week, and Fort Worth school administrator Felix Alvarado is expected to make his bid official by the Jan. 2 filing deadline.
In declaring his candidacy, the plain-spoken Gammage, of Llano, took direct aim at Republican Gov. Rick Perry by calling his integrity into question. "Today there is a corrupt political machine which stretches from Washington, D.C., all the way to Austin," he said, according to his prepared remarks from last Thursday's announcement. "Tom DeLay and his cronies are at one end, and Rick Perry and his pals are at the other. The money flows both ways. It has corrupted our politics, corrupted our government, and, more importantly, corrupted public policy and betrayed the public trust."
Gammage said there are several examples that bear him out on this point "but there is one that particularly sticks in my craw." He cited a cruise the governor took to the Bahamas in 2004 to discuss school finance issues with wealthy campaign donors. "He sailed the Caribbean on a ritzy yacht with a bunch of rich supporters and came back with a school finance plan that would be good for their special interests and to hell with everybody else," he said. (Gammage's Web site, www.gammageforgovernor.com, features a picture of a yacht that the candidate christened "SS Perry.") Gammage drew on the yacht story to make his first campaign promise: "As governor of Texas I will make policy in the state Capitol, not in the Bahamas."
In November 2006, the winner of the Democratic primary will face either Perry or Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is challenging him in the GOP primary, although she's also reportedly contemplating running as an independent. Musician and novelist Kinky Friedman is also running as an indie.
Gammage goes way back in Texas politics. Originally from Houston, he won election to the state Supreme Court in 1990 and retired from the court in 1995 to return to his private law practice. He has also served on the Texas Court of Appeals, the Texas Senate, and the state House, where he was a member of the so-called "Dirty 30," which worked to restore ethics in Texas government.