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Andrew White, Son of Late Governor Mark White, to Explore Democratic Run for Governor

Andrew White aims to capture the support of moderate Democrats and Republicans.

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Photograph courtesy of Andrew White

Houston investor Andrew White—the son of the late Texas governor Mark White and one of the small boat heroes of Hurricane Harvey—plans to launch an exploratory bid for governor in the 2018 elections this week. Although White wants to run as a Democrat, he aims to appeal to moderate Republicans who are frustrated with the state’s leadership on issues like the bathroom bill.

“What we’re trying to do is look beyond the issues and try to figure out who are the people leading us,” White says. “What kind of people are leading us? Are they people who are politically expedient, making short-sighted decisions? Are they people who are appealing to fringe elements of their party, the 200,000 to 300,000 fringe voters in their primary who represent less than 1 percent of the population of Texas, or are they willing to stand up and do what’s right?”

White says his favorite phrase is, “Do right and risk consequences,” the motto of Sam Houston. White’s father used that as part of a speech urging the Legislature to raise taxes during a 1986 financial crisis. Lawmakers raised taxes to prevent making drastic cuts to public schools, higher education, and social services, but it cost then-governor White his re-election bid.

“It worked out for the people of Texas. It didn’t work out for his career,” White says of his dad. “That’s the problem here. We have to have politicians who are willing to lose their job to do what’s right.”

The best example of that dearth, White says, is the so-called bathroom bill. When Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick forced a special session, Governor Greg Abbott put it on the agenda. Supporters of the bill, which ultimately died in the special session, said it would keep predatory men out of women’s restrooms, but it was largely seen as an attempt to discriminate against transgender individuals and as a political swipe at the LGBTQ community. Abbott and Patrick have not ruled out resurfacing the issue in any future special session or when the Legislature reconvenes in its 2019 regular session.

“The moderate Republicans are looking at their leaders and finding out they don’t represent their beliefs,” White says. “The old Republican party was pro-business and pro-jobs and ‘keep the government off my back.’ So what’s the bathroom bill? It’s an over-reaching government program to tell you that you need to bring your birth certificate into the bathroom. It might cause us to lose every Super Bowl, every national championship game—not to mention, how could Amazon consider a second headquarters in Texas if we’re having this argument right now? How many jobs do you lose? The sacrifice we would have to make over something that has zero data to support it is bizarre.”

White realizes that the Democratic party he wants to run under has not won a statewide race in twenty years, but he wants to move beyond party labels. “I’ve spent my career in business. I’m a very conservative Democrat, or I’m a moderate Republican or I don’t care what you call me,” he says. “It’s time to move beyond these simple labels . . . The issues are too complicated to limit to that just one team believes this and the other team believes that.”

Conservative Democrats left the party in the 1980s and ‘90s, but White believes current Republican leadership will make room for their return. “What we’re going to see is a switch back, a backlash,” White says. “The question is whether the Democratic party be able to accept them, or will it be too liberal to accept them. I’m right there in the middle as well. I’m hoping we’ll be a conservative party as well that the moderate Republicans will feel comfortable voting for.”

Andrew White during Hurricane Harvey in Houston on August 28, 2017.

Photograph courtesy of Andrew White

White, who is 45 and married with three children, rescued people when flood waters trapped them in their homes during Hurricane Harvey. White’s efforts were featured in national news stories, as well as Texas Monthly’s Voices From the Storm. White runs an investment firm called Sweat Equity Partners LP.

Within the next day or two, White plans to launch a Facebook page and AndrewWhite.com to solicit feedback, and he will make a decision in about a month whether to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Dallas gay bar owner Jeffrey Payne already has announced a run for the Democratic nomination and has pledged to put $2 million of his own money into the race. White says his decision will be based on the response he gets to his web sites.

“I don’t know what success looks like, but I definitely know what failure looks like,” White says. “If we hear crickets, I’ll go back to what I’m doing. I won’t waste my time if no one cares. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

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  • WUSRPH

    Slight problem: The “moderate/business conservatives” don’t control the primaries…..

    • roadgeek

      Absolutely right. I’m sure White’s a nice guy, cut from the same cloth as his father, but he’s no doubt pretty squishy on immigration, which eliminates him right there for me. He’s going to learn a hard lesson next year; hard for him and instructive for others.

      • txasslm

        Are you sure he’s a nice guy or are you sure he’s squishy on immigration? If it’s the latter, would you tell us why you’re sure?

        • roadgeek

          He self describes as moderate, which guarantees immigration squishiness. I have little doubt.

          • He describes himself as a “very conservative Democrat”.

            Maybe he can team up with Joe Straus on an indy ticket in some way.

          • roadgeek

            Texas used to have Blue Dog Democrats. I even voted for a few of them. But they’re gone, and despite his best intentions, I don’t expect Junior to pick up their mantle. He is seriously misjudging the state political landscape.

          • SpiritofPearl

            But do you really know?

          • roadgeek

            No, I don’t. But given his background and his party affiliation I can surmise and probably be completely accurate. There will be ample time for White to lay out his Open Borders views between now and next year.

          • roadgeek

            Besides, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who publicly advocates for a closed border, stronger inland enforcement, E-Verify and an end to chain migration, as well as a huge reduction in legal migration? And changing the criteria for legal migration? Anyone out there? Anyone at all?

          • Don Baker

            Also is there any democrat who respects your gun rights? The gun issue is really not a single issue, rather it is a bellwether issue that tells you if a candidate views you as a constituent to be represented or a subject to be ruled. That is why I will never vote for any democrat for any office.

          • J D

            Yes but I am not running for governor.

          • Dana Hill

            I’m a democrat that respects your gun rights. Sheesh. So tired of people claiming liberals want to ban guns. Gun control does not equal Gun Ban. I own a gun, and I want to keep it.

          • Don Baker

            If you want to keep your gun stop voting for democrats. Where they are a majority they are making it incrementally impossible to own a gun. Years ago I was a democrat. Now because of the gun issue I will never ever vote for any democrat for any office. Any democrat who claims to support your gun rights is a liar.

          • J D

            Yes but I am not running for Congress. States are too lazy or go rogue.

      • John Bernard Books

        You’re as squishy as they come. Nice guy or not White will do as instructed by the DNC.

    • John Bernard Books

      remember the fake Russian dossier?
      “The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.”
      https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/clinton-campaign-dnc-helped-pay-for-work-on-dossier-about-russia-and-trump/

      What do the moderates have to do with anything? As long as the radicals like you spreads your propaganda and tells the moderates to get in line or else, we will continue to have politics as usual.

    • anonyfool

      It’s an incredible misread of the American body politic for him to think this is even possible. Voters switch parties after a disruption – there is no disruption in average American daily lives besides the daily Trump news dread – for non GOP voters. The economy is still running mostly fine which is the main driver of disruption.

  • Mark White

    I love my brother and his commitment to putting Texas politics on a civil track and focusing on what matters most–building the education system and the infrastructure of tomorrow.

    • roadgeek

      How is he on immigration? Don’t just mouth platitudes….be specific.

      • donuthin2

        Single issue guys are rarely constructive in their voting decisions.

        • roadgeek

          Wonder how this Governor White is going to get along with Speaker Phil King? Cuz RINO Joe Straus just announced his retirement.

  • Catherine McCoin

    Texas, this is our chance to right the ship with a man who will always put principles above party.

  • Margaret Fortinberry Walker

    A true bipartisan who truly wants best for Texas.

  • Rules of Blazon

    All I know of this cat is what i just now read in the blog post, but (assuming an awful lot here, of course) i like how this could set up against Jade Helm Greg. Really not sold on the gay bar guy.

  • SpiritofPearl

    When discussing immigration, Texans should be WELL INFORMED about the economic consequences of “squishy” immigration policies. In a state whose economy is so heavily dependent on undocumented labor, there will be negative economic outcomes to waging war on undocumented workers.

    How about some REAL governing that works to establish a guest worker program?

  • Tasso Triantaphyllis

    If his aim is to get moderate republicans he will fail! You are either a democrat and espouse democratic values or you are not! Being wishy washy does not get you anywhere! Remember a guy named “Bill White”?

  • Tasso Triantaphyllis

    We need to have a candidate who will inspire the democrats and the independents to vote! We do not need any candidates who will allegedly attract moderate republicans! The suggestion that any republican will vote for a democrat is laughable!

    • Rules of Blazon

      I dunno about that. I ain’t laughing – I think there’s a maybe a market for this kinda thing that didn’t exist until this year. And let’s get real, the gay bar guy aint got a prayer. So I hope this cat makes it official. If no one else gets in, he’ll prolly get my support.

    • donuthin2

      Nope, I am a Republican and looking for options.

    • José

      You the same guy who used to dribble a soccer ball on South Main Street?

  • Betty Gerlach

    The last great governor we had was Mark White. He did more in four years to set our state on the right track (education, technology, diversification, women and minorities in government, etc) than any Republican governor since. Why not give his son a chance to carry on the torch!

  • Robert Mason

    Well coming from a Republican point of view, a fiscal conservative can go a long way to help Texas. Unfortunately for the bar guy, there is just to many negative things out there about him. I do not agree with the way Abbott has handled things, but he remains very popular here in Austin.

    • He’s popular about 40 miles outside of Austin. In any direction, all the way to the state line. If you skip over the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio city limits, the RGV, and El Paso.

      • Robert Mason

        Does not look good for any Democratic candidate. The bar guy in Dallas does not have a snowball’s chance in hell. This guy at least has some level of name recognition that is not associated with being a gay male debutante.

  • Tim Cornelson

    What we’ve got happening in politics isn’t working. (I really wish we had term limits across the board.) Power, preference, patronage… it is stalling our Nation and our State. I’m hopeful that we can move on to the real issues that cause real change when they are addressed in real ways. Maybe we can take a card from the Houston Astros playbook: they’ve used big data analytics to see what is *really going on* and make *real changes* that aren’t driven by solely personal preference or feel.

    I’m open to given a proven business leader a chance if he is really driven to see Texas made stronger such that the *lives of Texans* are made better across the board.

    • Steve Agan

      Oh, come on, Tim. How about an enthusiastic, non-qualified endorsement. : )

      • Tim Cornelson

        You make it sound like I don’t mean what I say…. I really think things are stalled out; there’s gridlock everywhere; I really wish we had term limits; and I’m really ready for change.

        • Steve Agan

          I know you do. I’m just ribbing you a little bit there. Your “if he is really driven” just seems too cautious. Don’t we both know that’s exactly what he would do?

    • St. Anger

      “I’m open to given a proven business leader a chance if he is really driven to see Texas made stronger such that the *lives of Texans* are made better across the board.”

      you do realize this is exactly what every trump voter said?

      • Tim Cornelson

        I don’t expect that every proven business leader leads and acts the same as President Trump. In fact, I’ve found President Trump to be an extreme exception to almost every proven business leader I’ve ever known. All that to say, I never meant that statement to have such a broad implication.

  • John Bernard Books

    The Bushes were quickly rewarded for GW’s attack on Prez Trump
    “A television actress has accused former President George H.W. Bush of touching her from behind while she was posing for a photo alongside him and telling her a dirty joke.”
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/former-president-george-h-w-bush-accused-heather-lind-touching-n814131

    can they get kookier?….yep

  • John Bernard Books

    Ask yourself why democrats haven’t won a statewide election in decades and decades. Is it because dems promote bad policies or is it because republicans are racist? You answer will give you the answer……decades and decades…….

    • J D

      1 weakness. 2. ideas people think don’t work. This year the GOP tried to pass a bathroom law that no one wanted. They passed a sanctuary city bill that half struck down. Lastly they tried to pass a Voucher bill. Also the GOP has declared annexation of nearby unincorporated lands almost illegal. Greg Abbott is on his way to facing a challenger in his own party. Greg Abbott is a very weak person. Seem the GOP has passed unpopular and not needed laws. 7 Amendments being voted right now are mainly what we don’t need and never needed.

  • donuthin2

    I was once what I considered to be a conservative Democrat and then became a moderate Republican, and now very uncomfortable with the Republican party, both in Texas and nationally. The party is secondary to me; much more interested in someone who will have the will and intellectual capacity to be a leader. I will be watching this guy if he makes a decision to run.

    • John Bernard Books

      I suspect you’d be more comfortable with Rep Twanna Dukes repping you…

  • John Bernard Books

    Hand writing on the wall…
    “Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election. ”
    https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/25/speaker-house-joe-straus-wont-seek-reelection/

    Struas did the honorable thing and said you can’t fire me I quit…..

  • WUSRPH

    The last real speaker’s race was in 1974….two major candidates with about 6 or 7 minor. It will be interesting to see if King can wrap it up before others can get going….You would have thought that if Straus had a preference he would have given him advance notice so that he could be working the phones from early today lining up support….the only possible good point of King getting a walk he will not have to make as big a deal with the radicals as he would have had he had to fight for each vote. But, in any case, the House will probably definitely move further to the right….

    • J D

      I am looking forward to the day when King finally gets a wake up call as Speaker and he has to deal with the Democrat in the Governor Mansion or he won’t be in charge of the House and comes speaker Chris Turner and King will be the only Republican west of Dallas if you get what I mean.

  • John Bernard Books

    All republicans are excited Straus is quitting and dems are sad….
    “Wendy Davis ✔@wendydavis
    This is a sad day for TX. @SpeakerStraus is the definition of public servant – always people above party. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/25/texas-house-speaker-joe-straus-wont-run-re-election-watch-him-address-/ …”

    • J D

      Republicans will be crying when they won’t be having a Governor and hopefully lose enough seats to not override veto’s.

  • BCinBCS

    R.G. wrote: “Abbott and Patrick have not ruled out resurfacing the issue [the bathroom bill] in any
    future special session or when the Legislature reconvenes in its 2019
    regular session.

    I’ve got twenty bucks that says he will save it for an election cycle to fire up support from his base.

  • John Bernard Books

    What a revolting development….or whats a dem to do?
    Do dems vote for a dem like White…or do they crossover and vote for a republican lite like Straus for Guv…….
    If dems crossover then they can’t vote in the dem primary….whats a dem to do….
    This is more fun than watching the Astros win the world series…..

    • President Pumpkin Spicy Linda

      If Straus runs, I’ll vote for him and I’m a Democrat.

      • St. Anger

        Evidently not.

        • President Pumpkin Spicy Linda

          I don’t think he’s going to run, but I wish he would. I’d love to see Abbott as a one term governor. I’d really love to see Ken Paxton in prison whites.

        • President Pumpkin Spicy Linda

          For decades, Texas Democrats were more like moderate Republicans. I’d vote for a reasonable Republican, if one exists anymore, if I thought he had a chance to win because I don’t think the Democrats are going to put up a candidate that stands a chance.

  • Steve Agan

    I’ve known Andrew for many years. I think he would be an excellent Governor. He is friendly, smart, hard working, and reliable — and he has a good sense of humor. The ideas proposed by Governor Gregg Abbot in his State’s Rights Manifesto, “Restoring the Rule of Law,” are disturbing to me, and, if adopted, would likely take our country back 100 years, to when child labor was legal in many states, there was no federal minimum wage or overtime law, and employers could discriminate with impunity based on disability, race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Government is a human institution and, though imperfect, can be used as a powerful tool to improve the lives of all people. Andrew understands this and, I believe, would help to start moving Texas in a much better direction. Now . . . if we can just get Clark Lord to run for a seat in the Texas State Senate. : )

  • J D

    I am ready to see the shock of the Texas GOP when they are going to have to actually straighten up and work with a Democrat as Governor or they won’t be running the Legislature and won’t be able to hold hearings on vouchers, bathroom bills and other BS that pertains to a few country hick preachers and handling snacks. They’ll try to compare him to his daddy but they will lose that argument. We’re ready to confront the shock jocks this time.

    • roadgeek

      And who’s going to be the Democratic governor? The guy who owns the gay bar? Yeah, that’ll do well in Lufkin and Del Rio.

      • J D

        I am referring to Andrew White. Got it Mr Potter

  • Don Baker

    One White in Texas was enough. Abbott will have my vote.

    • J D

      He has been in favor of free goodies lately. His latest shame Constitutional Amendment election made me go out and vote no.

  • Kozmo

    Too bad for the White dynasts, Straus wrecked their big news splash today.

  • RuthAnn J

    Mark White can county on my vote, and my support in his 2018 election should he choose to run.

  • anonyfool

    Lupe Valdez for Texas governor! https://www.texastribune.org/2017/11/06/dallas-county-sheriff-emerges-potential-gubernatorial-candidate/
    Kind of tired of political dynasties, would think most average folks are. Might as well swing for the fences with Valdez instead of trying to bunt the way to a win with a candidate like White.