The ideal Democratic nominee for governor is ...
Thu September 3, 2009 8:58 pm

... Pete Laney.

He appeals to Democrats on the left and on the right. He can win votes in rural Texas, where Democrats are weakest. He has friends throughout the state. He knows the issues backwards and forwards. His personality oozes authenticity. He was a state leader in the days when leaders and lawmakers put aside their differences to do what was best for Texas.

When Laney was speaker, I thought that if you could reassemble the constitutional convention of 1876, the one person in the entire state they would pick to lead the convention would be Pete Laney. He was one of them, a farmer, a believer in limited government, a straight-arrow type. He is a partisan Democrat who put Texas ahead of party throughout his speakership. It was Laney who introduced George W. Bush to the country as the president-elect in December 2000.

The only down side I can see for Laney is that he has been out of politics since he left the House following the 2006 elections. His last moment on the statewide radar screen came in 2002, when the Legislative Redistricting Board, of which he was the sole Democratic member, drew up a map designed to elect 90 Republicans. (It actually elected 88, more than enough to enable Tom Craddick to claim the speakership. Speakers do not have a lot of statewide name recognition, unless they get it the wrong way, as Craddick ultimately did. Laney served stayed long enough to see Craddick's grip on the House begin to loosen in the 2006 elections.

There is no love lost between Perry and Laney. They do not like each other at all. A battle between them would no-holds barred.

Laney has never been comfortable making speeches or being on television. He'll have to polish his speaking skills. Candidate skills can be learned. It's not that hard. I think he's the best shot -- make that the only shot -- Democrats have got.

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