The following blog article was written by Mark P. Jones of the Baker Institute at Rice University and appeared in today’s Houston Chronicle. Benchmarks for Bill White on November 2 Bill White’s overriding goal on November 2 is to be elected governor of Texas. In the event he is not successful, however, the strength of his showing in the election is nonetheless relevant for his political future — in particular for his potential candidacy for the United States Senate in 2012. Below are some benchmarks (expressed in terms of proportion of the vote) for the former Houston mayor in this year’s election, keeping in mind that he has been forced to campaign in a difficult year for Democratic candidates nationwide. 46.0 percent. This is the highest percentage won by any Democrat in a statewide race during the past decade. John Sharp (a potential rival in the 2012 Democratic Senate primary) won 46.0 percent of the vote in his 2002 campaign for lieutenant governor. Surpassing this mark would position White in the driver’s seat for the Democratic Senate nomination, as well as provide strong support for the case that he would be a formidable rival for whichever Republican wins the party’s nomination in 2012. 43.7 percent. This is the percentage won by President Barack Obama in 2008 in Texas. While the overall political context, as well as the composition of the voters participating in the election is distinct in 2008 and 2010, White’s 2012 quest for the Senate will be advantaged by the extent to which he exceeds President Obama’s vote share. 40.0 percent. This is the percentage (39.96 percent to be more precise) won by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez in 2002. Failing to cross this threshold would be a traumatic blow to White’s political future. Assuming the opinion polls are to be trusted, White is in no danger of falling below Sanchez’s 40.0 percent and should, in all likelihood, also eclipse President Obama’s 43.7 percent. Besting Sharp’s 46.0 percent will be a much more difficult task, but, remains an attainable goal for White. * * * * I have a certain piece of rural property that I would like to wager on White not getting more than 46%. Time to bet the farm.