The word is that a race for governor is “in play,” which I take to mean that White is keeping his options open, which is not really news. The bad blood between Rick and Kay is only going to get worse. Had Hutchison resigned in the fall, which was her stated intention, White would be in the middle of a special election for the Senate now. Instead, Perry faces a bloody gubernatorial primary against Hutchison, followed by a general election race against White. Perry has got to be furious. By delaying her departure from the Senate, Hutchison has made it possible for White to postpone his decision and hold onto both options, putting Perry at risk. If White is still weighing the Senate race, along with a race for governor, he must consider in which race the national political situation is likely to play a greater factor. The advantage for a well funded Democrat, which White would be, is that the Senate race is short, a wide-open special election followed by a runoff between the top two vote-getters, quite possibly against a Republican, appointed by Perry, who doesn’t have a lot of name identification or proven voter appeal. But the bad news outweighs the good news. Democrats haven’t had much to be motivated about during the first year of Obama’s presidency, unlike Texas Republicans, who are seething with hostility toward him. I think White would be in a much stronger position in a governor’s race. The obvious reason is that it’s a general election. Democrats will have somebody they can rally behind for the first time since Ann Richards. All the national issues that have inflamed Republicans — debt, deficits, government-run health care, that pie-in-the-sky cap and trade bill — don’t play a big rule in a governor’s race. I’m not selling Perry short. He is a formidable opponent with great candidate’s skills and a record that Republicans love. You can be sure that he will try to hang Obama around White’s neck. But Perry has a ten-year record that he will have to defend, and he will have been through a rough primary. If White can keep the race focused on state issues, he can win. The Republican base alone can’t win a statewide election.
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