McClellan Supports Mom in Indpendent Bid

White House spokesman Scott McClellan will break with his boss on at least one issue this year… who should be the next governor of Texas.

From The Houston Chronicle:

The Texas governor’s race is just getting started and already White House loyalties are divided, with President Bush backing Gov. Rick Perry and White House spokesman Scott McClellan supporting his mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

“The president will support the Republican nominee, and it’s pretty clear the Republican nominee will be his friend, Rick Perry,” McClellan said today.

Strayhorn, the Texas comptroller elected as a Republican, announced Monday that she will run as an independent in the governor’s race.

The White House spokesman is the youngest of her four sons.

“My mother cares deeply about Texas, and she has my full support,” McClellan said.

By running as an independent, Strayhorn avoids facing the incumbent in a GOP primary battle that tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

Strayhorn, campaigning as “one tough grandma,” said she is still a Republican and understands Bush’s decision to support Perry.

Perry, who like Strayhorn was once a Democrat, served as lieutenant governor when Bush was governor.

“I respect what he’s got to do, he is still my good friend,” Strayhorn said of Bush during a campaign swing around the state. “He’s got to do what he’s got to do. My focus is Texas.”

The president generally refrains from making endorsements in contested Republican primary races, but Perry did not draw a primary opponent this year. So Strayhorn’s decision to run as an independent saves Bush from having to answer a lot of awkward questions about his choice in the primary.

“The president considers my mother a friend,” McClellan said.

Before joining the White House staff in 2001, McClellan ran his mother’s 1996 campaign for Texas railroad commissioner and her 1998 comptroller’s race.

He said he has no plans to vacate his podium in the West Wing to help out his mother’s campaign this year.

Instead, McClellan’s brother, Brad, a former assistant Texas state attorney general, is running their mother’s gubernatorial campaign.

Brad’s twin, Dudley, is an attorney. Strayhorn’s other son, Mark McClellan, is the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Bush administration.

“I am so pleased and proud of all my sons,” Strayhorn said today. Bush is planning to actively campaign for Republican candidates this year. But his early backing of Perry probably won’t be significant in the Texas race, said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray.

“It would be huge news if he didn’t support Perry,” Murray said. “It’s what you expected, and it will be marginally helpful for Perry. But it’s only news if the president is breaking with someone from his own party.”

Also running for governor as an independent is satirist Kinky Friedman. Former U.S. Reps. Chris Bell of Houston and Bob Gammage are the Democratic primary candidates.

Although he is supporting his mother in spirit, the White House spokesman can’t actually vote for her. McClellan is registered to vote in Virginia.

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