The Fort Worth Star-Telegram endorsed Chris Bell in the governor’s race. I confess to being flabbergasted. I thought it was as certain to endorse Rick Perry as the Dallas Morning News was. Here is the paper’s reasoning:

“Texas government needs a change.

“Ever since 2002’s scandal-plagued legislative elections, which were laced with questionable fundraising and PAC-money spending, conservative Republicans have dominated the Capitol. That they would have strong influence over the state is not bad, and it is not wrong. After all, Texans elected them. What is bad is the lack of balancing force.

“None of the elected branches includes a power strong enough to pause the steamrolling effect of the most extreme ideas from the GOP’s conservative wing. Even Republicans who might not fully agree with those extremes feel compelled to conform. The message has become clear that if they don’t, their own party’s big-money contributors stand ready to bankroll opponents in the next election who will play along.

“A solution is available, one that acknowledges the legitimacy of the current legislative conservatism but also recognizes the need for balance in crafting public policy.

“Texans should elect a new governor: Democrat Chris Bell.”

As is the case with the Houston Chronicle‘s endorsement of Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the editorial is unlikely to have a major impact on voters. But it does reinforce the impression that people who follow state government–including even the Dallas Morning News editorial board–but don’t have a partisan ax to grind have little respect for Rick Perry and the way he has run the state. And it gives Bell some badly needed credibility and will furnish material for a TV spot.