Texans for Insurance Reform: Bell up, Kinky down
Wed October 18, 2006 5:04 pm

A new Texans for Insurance Reform poll, by Austin-based Opinion Analysts, is being talked about but not officially public. The grapevine says that Perry remains in the mid-thirties, that Strayhorn and Bell are tied for second in the 20% range, and that Friedman has fallen into the high single digits, reflecting a shift of Democrats away from Kinky to Bell, related to their respective performances in the debate. The rise of Bell is a development that must please the Perry campaign, because they would rather that the race come down to a contest between the two major party candidates, in which their party is more major than the other. Strayhorn can draw from the entire political universe. Bell can't. Perry can attack Bell with impunity. He can't attack Strayhorn with impunity. So perhaps it isn't surprising that a rumor raced through the Capitol this afternoon--including a phone call to me--that Strayhorn was leaving the race and endorsing Bell following a conversation with one of the trial lawyers who supports her. I had to cut that conversation short because of an incoming call, which turned out to be from an influential Capitol hand asking me if the rumor was true. I think not. I called the Strayhorn campaign and got an unambiguous No. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened and it won't be the last.

The reason why such a rumor might have a shred of credibility is that Strayhorn's strategic plan was destroyed when Bell got funding from John O'Quinn. The idea all along was that Strayhorn and Perry would be the only two candidates on television for most of the campaign, and she would become the magnet for the anti-Perry vote. Now that Bell has enough money to run his spots until late October, Strayhorn has little chance of breaking away from him. I would say that she's done, except that all of the challengers have been done from the day four candidates made the ballot.

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