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Today’s The Day in Texas!

Looks like we could see a major announcement that might, just might, set us up for a competitive four-way race for governor of Texas. Very interesting stuff.

From The Houston Chronicle:

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s campaign Friday declined to dismiss rumors that she will file Monday as an independent candidate for governor.

Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders would not answer direct questions about whether Strayhorn will file Monday in the Republican primary or as an independent.

“Carole Keeton Strayhorn is a candidate for governor. She is a Republican. She will be filing for that office on Monday,” Sanders said.

Robert Black, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, said that if Strayhorn files as an independent it will prove she is only interested in running for office for her self-aggrandizement.

“If Carole Strayhorn leaves the GOP, it will represent the latest desperate act of a politician who has no core convictions or guiding principles,” Black said.

“Political opportunism will have motivated Carole Strayhorn to abandon two parties and two sets of principles all in the name of furthering her own political ambition,” he said.

Former Democrat

Strayhorn switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP in 1986 to mount an unsuccessful challenge to a Democratic incumbent congressman in Austin. As a Republican candidate, she won elections to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1996 and comptroller in 1998 and 2002.

Monday is the deadline for candidates to file for either the Democratic or Republican primary; as contestants for the Libertarian Party, which chooses its nominees at a June convention; or as an independent candidate for office.

Democrats who already have filed to run for governor include Chris Bell, a former congressman and Houston city councilman, and Bob Gammage, a former Houston lawmaker who now lives in Llano.

Satirist Kinky Friedman already has filed as an independent candidate for governor.

To get on the ballot, an independent candidate must collect 45,450 signatures of registered voters between March 8 and May 11.

Valid signatures cannot include people who voted in either the Republican or Democratic primaries or runoffs.

A costly effort

Independent campaigns are rare in Texas because of the signature requirement. A successful petition campaign typically hires professional canvassers at a cost of $150,000-$250,000 to collect two to three times the number of signatures required just to make sure the threshold of valid signatures is passed.

The most effective independent campaign in recent Texas history was Ross Perot’s run for president in 1992. He received 1.3 million votes, but that was just 22 percent of the statewide turnout.

Strayhorn last June had announced as a Republican candidate for governor, challenging Perry’s bid to win a second full term.

Strayhorn’s announcement prompted Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to drop any consideration of challenging Perry. Hutchison ran for re-election instead.

The problem for either woman challenging Perry in the Republican primary came down to the profile of the primary’s voters.

Typically, fewer than 700,000 voters turn out in a GOP non-presidential primary. That is less than 6 percent of the state’s registered voters.

Republican surveys have found that 42 percent of these voters consider themselves “very conservative,” compared with 19 percent of all Texas voters. About 40 percent say they share the positions of the Christian Coalition, and two-thirds go to church weekly.

Perry leads rival in poll

Perry has worked to gain favor with these voters on issues ranging from abortion to gay rights. He also spent the summer meeting with gatherings of socially conservative ministers.

Perry has shown signs of vulnerability among Texas voters at large, however.

A Scripps-Howard Texas Poll taken after the failure of special sessions on public school finance last summer found just 39 percent of the Texans surveyed thought Perry was doing a good job as governor.

The governor’s handling of crises created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita bolstered him with the public. His job approval rating jumped to 49 percent in a Texas Poll released earlier this month.

That poll also found Perry leading Strayhorn 55 percent to 24 percent among the 424 respondents who said they were likely to vote in the Republican primary.

An independent campaign that got on the ballot would keep Strayhorn’s candidacy alive until the general election.

Perry also has to face another round of school finance special sessions because the Texas Supreme Court has given the state until June to come up with a new system. Additional failures could renew public discontent with his administration.

3 Responses to “Today’s The Day in Texas!”

  1. Adam Says:

    She just announced that she will run as an INDEPENDENT!

  2. Joey Dauben Says:

    Rick Perry now has to fend off two lesser-knowns:

    Larry Kilgore [] and Rhett Smith

    And now with Strayhorn committing political suicide, the gubernatorial race looks like a cake-walk for Perry now.

    I can’t wait to see if Kilgore won’t light up in vote totals from the anti-Perry crowd.

    The Democrats will nominate Gammage, unless some late-filing comes in from a heavy hitter.

    Kinky won’t get on the ballot if Strayhorn does.

    But then again, the Libertarians better hope they have other statewide candidates to pull in the 2-5% that their gubernatorial nominee can’t do. If Strayhorn actually pulls it off, it will be, in this order:


    If Kinky is in the race, it will be like this:


    Realistically, I don’t believe the Constitution Party has a shot at ballot access, though I’d love to see another third party be recognized.

    I still can’t believe Strayhorn announced as an independent. Oh well, she was a Democrat anyway.

  3. Rock Howard Says:

    The nLibertarians will be in 6 statewide 2-way judicial races and thus are assured continuing ballot status through 2008. They also have recruited over 200 candidates for the 2006 election cycle - a new record.

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