Everyone, including me, thinks that Houston mayor Bill White will be the Democratic nominee for Texas governor in 2010 — except, perhaps, Bill White. The latest talk around Houston is that White is thinking about taking on U.S. Senator John Cornyn in 2008 instead. It makes sense. The fully loaded Republican field for governor in ’10 may well include Kay Bailey Hutchison — assuming she really means it this time — and she’d be a formidable general election foe. Cornyn, however, is low-hanging fruit, with one of the lower approval ratings in the Senate (he’s tied for 87th out of 100). Not that it would be an easy race: Mayors have a hard time running statewide (ask Ron Kirk and Kirk Watson, to name two recent examples), and the Republicans have a ten- to fifteen-point edge in party identification. Then again, White has a couple of strengths of his own: personal wealth and crossover appeal (the Houston business community loves the guy). Plus, if Hutchison, who has been superb at bringing home the bacon (most recently in getting funding for Hurricane Rita victims), does indeed quit the Senate to run for governor, community leaders all across Texas will be wondering whether Cornyn has enough clout and respect to attend to the state’s needs.
Politics & Policy