Other Republican and Teachers Party?

You’ve got to love the quote from this opinion pice in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that says the Texas Democratic Party is on the way to becoming a viable third party. :)

This is also an interesting take on what has become a largely a 2-way race between Perry and Strayhorn.

Texas newspapers are full of editorials about Republican candidates in the party primary beginning today and about the weak challenges from Texas Democrats, who seem well on their way to becoming a viable third party.

From the way money and voters are lining up, Texas is shaping up as a two-party state this fall:

The Republican Party.

And the Other Republican and Teachers Party.

She hasn’t been endorsed by a single newspaper yet or even earned her way onto the ballot, but Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn is emerging as the only candidate with the money and structured support to challenge Gov. Rick Perry.

The state’s oldest and largest education group, the 65,000-member Texas State Teachers Association, is backing Strayhorn. The association and three other teachers groups welcomed her with loud cheers Saturday when about 400 teachers braved the icy cold to rally where they have felt frozen out for years: the Texas Capitol.

Teachers unions typically back the Democratic nominee. But Strayhorn, a Republican with a son working in the White House, is a former Austin schoolteacher, high school tennis coach, school trustee and mayor running as a “Texas independent.”

As if to prove that, Strayhorn opened her speech Saturday by saying “how proud we are” of state Rep.-elect Donna Howard, a Democrat and former suburban school trustee who won an upset victory last week in Austin against a Republican backed by some of Perry’s top donors.

“I’m staying away from all party politics,” Strayhorn said afterward. “I voted for the most qualified candidate.

“I think this state is hungry for independent leadership. People are sick of all the politics. Texans want somebody who can get the job done.”

That’s almost exactly what novelist and musician Kinky Friedman said when he launched his independent campaign for governor last year. Back then, Strayhorn was still talking like a Republican who planned to challenge Perry early in the primary, railing loudly against his lack of leadership in the Legislature and calling him a “do-nothin’ drugstore cowboy.”

She no longer calls him names. But she still talks about him. “A leader would have fixed school finance nine special sessions ago,” she told the shivering teachers, counting all the legislative sessions called by Perry. “And you would have had a large pay raise nine years ago.”

Shouting across the Capitol lawn toward the governor’s mansion, she said that if she were governor, “the Legislature would be in here right now working to fund our schools. And you wouldn’t be out here in the cold freezing on the steps. You’d be sitting at the table working with your governor.”

As if on cue, a worker added a “Strayhorn for Governor” sign to the front of the lectern during what was billed as an education rally sponsored by an East Texas group called No Texas Teacher Left Behind.

“I do not believe Rick Perry cares about education in this state,” Strayhorn told the crowd. Later, she said her rallies have been drawing as many as 1,000 teachers to schools and community colleges. She’ll need crowds like that signing petitions beginning March 8 to put her on the November ballot.

Perry “is just systematically dismantling the public-school system” by not increasing the budget enough and favoring a pilot voucher program that would divert public money to private and church schools, she said.

Strayhorn has supported the same pilot voucher program in the past. She said that she still supports the idea but that now is not the time for it.

“I’m not saying that I would never support them,” she said. “I’m saying that I would take vouchers off the table for discussion. No more talk until we address the needs of the public schools.”

She has talked to a group organizing Democrats for Strayhorn, she said. Presumably, there will also be a Republicans for Strayhorn.

She said local elected officials from both parties and state education leaders will promote her petition campaign. She said she’ll be “all over the state” in March and April lining up signatures from voters who didn’t cast a ballot in the primary.

A weekend poll in The Dallas Morning News showed her running neck and neck with Democratic candidates Chris Bell of Houston and Arlington lawyer Bob Gammage, both well behind Perry.

But the Democrats have been campaigning for weeks. Strayhorn’s petition campaign hasn’t begun.

Strayhorn said running as an independent has made her the “happiest I have ever been in politics,” reminding her of her early campaigns for school trustee and mayor, both nonpartisan races.

“I’m going to be out talking to clubs and civic groups instead of party rallies,” she said. “I feel like I’m running for a local office again. I’m going to go out and talk about Texas, not politics.”

On her headquarters wall is a copy of the campaign announcement from her 1972 Austin school-board race.

“The only politics with which I will concern myself,” she wrote, “are the politics of quality education.”

Sounds like a once and future Texas independent.

6 Responses to “Other Republican and Teachers Party?”

  1. rj Says:

    It’s races like these that make me think that America wants a centrist party in between Republicans and Democrats, and made up of defecting elected officials (moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats, it could only work if they came from both parties), not people that are currently disenfranchised.

  2. IndiPol Says:

    Unfortuantely Strayhorn is an accidental independent because she knew she was giong to get trounced in the Republican primary. She is a Democrat fomerly hiding in Repubilcan clothes due to the voting demographics of Texas.

  3. rj Says:

    “She is a Democrat fomerly hiding in Repubilcan clothes due to the voting demographics of Texas.”

    ...which would equal a member of a centrist party between conservatives and liberals :-)

  4. Joey Dauben Says:

    Austin, FYI:

    It’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

    Dallas has the Morning News.

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