bill white

Commercial Appeal

Jan 21, 2013 By Sonia Smith

It's no accident that Rick Perry has a 10-0 election record. Watch the campaign ads that helped convince voters he was the man for the job.

The Great Campaigner

Jan 21, 2013 By Jake Silverstein

After eleven contested elections dating back three decades, Rick Perry remains undefeated. Is he brilliant? Lucky? Ruthless? We asked the people who know best—his vanquished opponents.

Gov Hunt

Jan 20, 2013 By Kinky Friedman

As the only man ever to run against both Bill White and Rick Perry, I have a few thoughts on how either one of these fine, upstanding, admirable men could beat the tar out of the other.

The Great White Hope

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

During his three terms in office, Houston’s Bill White has been one of the most popular big-city mayors in America. Now he’s just the latest in a long line of Texas Democrats trying to win a statewide election. What makes Mayor Bill think he can break a fifteen-year losing streak?

Mitt Romney’s Bill White strategy

Jan 23, 2012 By Paul Burka

A single word can turn a campaign in the wrong direction. In the case of Rick Perry, of course, that word was “oops.” In the case of Mitt Romney, the word was “maybe”: Romney’s answer to the question of whether he would release his tax returns. It came across as…

The Great Campaigner

Aug 13, 2011 By Jake Silverstein

We interrupt your regular blogger to bring you a special message from the editor: So it’s official. As of today, at 1:30 pm EST, Governor Perry is finally a formal candidate for president (though we’ve been convinced he had eyes on the job as far back as February…

Dem Bums

Sep 30, 2010 By Paul Burka

Bill White’s toughest foe this fall isn’t Rick Perry. It’s the national Democrats. But he could still win. Maybe.

Richard Murray on the Harris County Vote

Sep 21, 2010 By Paul Burka

In an earlier version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that the 1990 governor’s race was between Richards and Bush. It was, of course, between Bush and Clayton Williams. The mistake was mine, not Dr. Murray’s, and has been corrected. This article from the blog of Dr. Richard Murray, a…

“Bill White refusing to debate”

Aug 25, 2010 By Paul Burka

The level of political discourse in this campaign is about as bad as I have ever seen it. Take today’s communication from the Perry campaign: Today is Day 171 of liberal trial lawyer Bill White refusing to debate. He also continues to refuse to release his taxes from his years…

Rasmussen: Perry 49%, White 41%

Aug 23, 2010 By Paul Burka

The race hasn’t budged since the last poll (July 14, Perry 50, White 41). What is significant is that White has spent buckets of money since the last poll and he hasn’t moved any numbers. Probably most Texans know how they are going to vote in this race. Here is…

Obama’s upside-down visit

Aug 8, 2010 By Paul Burka

Republicans are salivating with anticipation; Democrats are running for cover. This is nothing new. The biggest enemy of the Texas Democratic party has always been the national Democratic party, dating back to 1952, when Governor Allan Shivers broke the Solid South by endorsing Eisenhower, who carried Texas. The worst thing…

Perry, White continue to spar over Rita contract

Aug 7, 2010 By Paul Burka

Readers will recall that an earlier version of this saga featured Perry's claim that White, while mayor of Houston, personally profited from a contract between the Coastal Water Authority and BTEC, a company that provided generators to keep water flowing to major Houston industries during the storm. To refresh readers' memories, here is what I posted when AP's Jay Root published his story on the contract: This was the lead of the AP story that has rocked the White campaign today (June 10): Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who was widely praised for guiding his city through Hurricane Rita, acknowledged to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he made money by investing in a company that was hired to help the region recover from the storm. The story goes on to relate the following information. (Quoted material is from the AP story.) 1. "White helped line up private companies to provide goods and services as part of a massive relief effort." --Is there anything wrong with this? Certainly not. Houston was in an emergency situation. 2. "One of those companies was BTEC Turbines, where White had served on the board of directors before he was mayor." --Is there anything wrong with this? Hardly. White's service on the B-TEC board occurred before he was mayor. He had no connection with the company at that time. 3. "White said he called the company to help provide power generators to ensure the Houston-area refineries and the adjoining city of Baytown could maintain their water supply during the power outages." --Is there anything wrong with this? Of course not. The refineries and the public needed the water during power outages. 4. "The company then got an emergency contract with the regional Coastal Water Authority, White recalled." --Is there anything wrong with this? Not that I can see. Emergency contracts are used in emergencies. Does anyone doubt that this was an emergency? This was all about arranging for the Authority (a conservation and reclamation district) to provide untreated surface water to Houston, Baytown, and Deer Park as well as around 100 industries during a crisis. The authority is governed by a seven-member board. White has four appointees, Perry three. 5. "A little more than a year later, White invested about $1 million in the privately held BTEC, which has also provided generators to contractors in Iraq. He has reported about a $500,000 profit from the investment." --Again, I see nothing unethical in this transaction. The investment in B-TEC came ONE YEAR after the storm. Whatever payment BTEC had received from the emergency contract was in the past. You have to credit the Perry people with shrewdly making a mountain out of a molehill, but the dots do not connect. The post concluded with this comment: So, was White at fault in any way? Of course he was. He wouldn't release his income tax returns for two months. This was stupid. There is no other word for it. How could someone as smart as White not know that he was going to have to make his tax returns public. He allowed the issue to fester, and fester, and fester, and he just let Perry pound on him. Finally, he bowed to the inevitable and made them public. In the meantime, his dilly-dallying allowed the Perry campaign to plant the idea in the public's mind that White had something to hide.... * * * * Now, let's move forward to the current dispute, based on Root's AP story of August 4. Here are some passages from the story. In some cases I have combined paragraphs for convenience and clarity. My comments appear following dashes:

The Democratic strategy

Jul 29, 2010 By Paul Burka

Marc Ambinder, politics editor and blogger for The Atlantic, writes that the Democratic message for the fall elections is shaping up to be, “We may be incompetent but they’re crazy.” Good party messages are organic, and they are not announced. Fortunately for Democrats, theirs just sort of came…

Should Perry have spurned stimulus money?

Jul 20, 2010 By Paul Burka

I don’t get it. White has been criticizing Perry for taking more stimulus funding than any state except California and New York. Is this a bad thing? White is a Democrat. Democrats want to use government to help people. Money helps people. Had White been governor, would he have told…

Rasmussen: Perry 50%, White 41%

Jul 15, 2010 By Paul Burka

The previous poll was 48-40, so very little change. Curiously, Rasmussen describes Perry’s lead as “modest.” Since the MOE is +/- 4./5%, Perry’s nine-point edge is the largest possible advantage that is still within the margin of error. Perhaps Rasmussen is downplaying Perry’s lead as a reaction to recent criticism…

Public Policy Polling: White, Perry tied at 43% (Updated)

Jun 22, 2010 By Paul Burka

Here is the writeup by PPP: One of the biggest questions about the 2010 election cycle, which we still don't really know the answer to, is whether it will be solely an anti-Democratic year or more broadly an anti-incumbent year. Our newest Texas poll would seem to suggest voter fatigue toward long serving politicians in both parties- Republican Governor Rick Perry is now tied at 43 with Democratic challenger Bill White. Texas would seem an unlikely candidate to provide Democrats their biggest win of the election cycle but the Governor's race there is a reminder that candidates matter. Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in the state like the job Perry is doing while 49% disapprove. Among independents the numbers are particularly bad- just 27% give Perry good marks to 55% who think he's doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread. In almost every race in the country right now Republican voters are more unified around their candidates than Democrats are and independents are leaning toward the GOP. Texas is running against the national grain on both of those counts- White is winning 15% of Republicans while Perry gets just 10% of Democrats and White also has a 42-36 advantage with independent voters. Things look promising for White but Texas is still a conservative state where Barack Obama is exceedingly unpopular and that could end up proving to be too much for him to overcome. It may end up that White is the right candidate just running in the wrong cycle. But for now this looks like a surprisingly strong opportunity for Democrats and a race that could certainly end up as one of the most closely watched in the country. * * * * The key numbers here are the Perry job disapproval rates. A couple of days ago, I noted Perry's "strong disapproval" rate in the latest Rasmussen poll. PPP's numbers are much worse for Perry. Rasmussen made the point that strong approval and disapproval are more important at this stage of a campaign than the overall numbers. But 49% is off the charts bad for Perry. Is it believable? My answer would be "somewhat." Perry has never gotten a lot of respect. He is a polarizing figure. The only real hope White has in this race is that the electorate will come down with a bad case of Perry fatigue.

Rasmussen: Perry 48%, White 40%

Jun 18, 2010 By Paul Burka

Only 8% are undecided, with 5% preferring some other candidate. As with all Rasmussen polls, this one was an automated-response telephone survey of 500 likely voters conducted on a single day (June 16). The margin of error is is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Readers are probably familiar by now with the charge, leveled mostly by Democrats but also by some polling analysts, that Rasmussen's polls lean toward producing a "Democratic doom scenario" early in a campaign, when they can impact public perceptions, but as an election draws closer, they fall more into line with other polling. On election day 2008, Rasmussen nailed the presidential election results in Texas. For more on this subject, scroll down to yesterday's post, "Washington Post on the Rasmussen controversy." Some other numbers from the poll:

Perry says White should quit the race over Rita contract

Jun 9, 2010 By Paul Burka

This was the lead of the AP story that has rocked the White campaign today: Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who was widely praised for guiding his city through Hurricane Rita, acknowledged to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he made money by investing in a company that was hired…

Boy’s Life—Bill White

May 31, 2010 By Mimi Swartz

Before he was fighting for the governorship of the second-largest state in the country, Bill White was just a kid from Texas.

UT/Tribune Poll: Perry +9

May 23, 2010 By Paul Burka

At least it’s better than the Rasmussen poll. The numbers: Perry 44% White 35% Undecided 15% Someone else 7% If you were trying to put a good face on the results for White, you would say (1) Perry is under 50%; (2) 22%, more than 1 voter in 5, are…

Where’s Waldo?

May 23, 2010 By Paul Burka

I mean, where’s Bill White? The State Board of Education is in a meltdown that is getting worldwide publicity, and the best he can do is say that if he is elected governor, he would name a new chair. Big deal. He ought to be saying: This is Rick Perry’s…

Rasmussen: Perry 51, White 38

May 17, 2010 By Paul Burka

The numbers speak for themselves. We are seeing an instant replay of the Republican primary. Another Perry opponent has been unable to find a theme that resonates with the voters. Meanwhile, Perry has found a strange political bedfellow–Anise Parker, White’s successor as mayor–who delivered Perry manna from heaven: the devastating…

The Hill: Texas a Toss-up

May 6, 2010 By Paul Burka

Here’s what opinion columnist Brent Budowsky had to say earlier this week about the Texas governor’s race. Keep in mind that Budowsky was an aide to Senator Lloyd Bentsen and later worked for the House Democratic leadership. Disclaimer: I’ll cite the article, I’ll even publish selections from the…

Can the Arizona immigration law affect the Texas governor’s race?

Apr 27, 2010 By Paul Burka

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that a march protesting Arizona’s immigration law is scheduled for Saturday. A crowd of 100,000 is expected. This is a long way from the 500,000 who protested a crackdown on immigration in 2006. Nevertheless, the rising passion over the issue poses problems…

Did Bill White pioneer contingency fees?

Apr 23, 2010 By Paul Burka

This is a charge that the Perry campaign, through spokesman Mark Miner, has leveled at White. It seemed dubious to me, because contingency fees have been used by plaintiffs' lawyers since long before Bill White was practicing law. Contingency fees are used in personal injury cases when a client cannot afford to hire an attorney. The arrangement usually calls for a stipulated division of the award in a case between the lawyer and the client. If the plaintiff loses, the client pays nothing and the lawyer gets nothing. I e-mailed Miner to ask on what grounds he based the claim that White pioneered contingency fees. This was the response from the Perry campaign: Here are excerpts from three articles that show Bill White’s relationship with the pioneering of contingency fees. (Full articles are included below the excerpts.) [Note to readers: Rather than publish the full articles, I will provide links to them.] EXCERPT #1 from “Is This Guy Too Smart to Be Mayor?” Houston Press, 10/30/09 At that time in the mid-'70s, Steve Susman had left Fulbright & Jaworski to teach at UT law school. While in Austin, he began sketching out the framework for what would become a plaintiffs' public issue law firm with a revolutionary concept: contingency fee basis. To make any money, the lawyers would have to win their cases. Susman began recruiting aggressive young attorneys willing to gamble their skills in exchange for rapid advancement. White was the sixth lawyer recruited and quickly rose to star status.

The other mansion

Apr 21, 2010 By Paul Burka

Bill White is criticizing Rick Perry for allowing the taxpayers to pick up the tab for the home where is family is living while the Governor’s Mansion is under repair. Here’s what White had to say on the subject: Dear —– Did you know that Rick Perry is charging taxpayers…

The Rasmussen Poll: Perry 48, White 44

Apr 20, 2010 By Paul Burka

The previous poll showed Perry ahead 49-43. This one shows him ahead 48-44. The difference has no significance at this stage of the race. Perry is still under 50%, but very close. Remember, Perry didn’t break 50% in the primary until election day. The most interesting thing about the poll…

Did Bill White hire the Hutchison campaign staff?

Mar 17, 2010 By Paul Burka

Here we go again. Another Rick Perry challenger can’t get his act together. Why has White allowed the issue of when he is going to release his income tax returns to fester? He is going to have to release them, sooner or later. He needs to get the subject off…

Read my lips: Maybe new taxes, maybe not

Mar 10, 2010 By Paul Burka

I was out of town yesterday, so I didn’t hear exactly what Bill White had to say at the Texas Tribune’s event in response to a question about whether he would rule out a tax increase. Press accounts said that he did not rule them out. This was a difficult…

Perry’s case against Bill White

Mar 8, 2010 By Paul Burka

This is the text of an e-mail I received from the Perry camp about the attacks the Perry campaign will use against Bill White: “Bill White as Mayor of Houston: supported gun control; opposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; made Houston a sanctuary city; left Houston with twice as…

Can the Democrats win a statewide race?

Mar 4, 2010 By Paul Burka

I have expressed my opinion on many occasions that the Democrats don’t have a chance to win a statewide race, aside from Bill White, in this election cycle. But some unexpected developments might prove me wrong. Their best shot is Jeff Weems, who is running for the Railroad Commission. This…

Last words about the GOP governor’s race

Mar 4, 2010 By Paul Burka

Perry’s decisive victory over a sitting United States Senator is going to propel him into national prominence. Republican power brokers will have to take notice of him as a potential presidential candidate, if they haven’t already done so. Who on the Republican side would make a better candidate? Mitt Romney…

Out and About

Mar 1, 2010 By Mimi Swartz

Annise Parker, the newly elected mayor of Houston, is ready to discuss any of the challenges facing her city. That will happen as soon as everyone else is ready to stop talking about her sexuality.

Research 2000: Perry +4 over White

Feb 13, 2010 By Paul Burka

Research 2000 is a reputable national polling firm. That said, the result is definitely an outlier. The latest UT/Tribune poll, for example, has Perry and Hutchison leading White by identical nine-point margins, 44-35 in Perry’s case and 43-34 in Hutchison’s. This margin is a little higher than the presumed R…

The Democratic debate

Feb 8, 2010 By Paul Burka

First question was on vouchers...technical difficulties (mine) Next question: Legislature may reconsider Patrick bill requiring sonograms. Do you support reconsidering it? White says, not going to make advance judgments but would not allow Legislative sessions to get hijacked by wedge issues. Shami would not take away freedom of any Texan, let woman consult with her doctor. No abortions after 90 days. Question to Shami -- Would you support overturning bill on same-sex marriages. Answer: Human beings should have the right to do what they want to do. I would not take away freedom. Photo ID question to White -- How do you prevent the session from being hijacked. White: Perry has brought the politics of Washington to the state house. If any noncitizen is voting they should be prosecuted and serve time. In this country, not everybody is required to have a photo ID. Follow-up, how to prevent shutting down business. White: Been over 14,900 votes since I was elected mayor, and those votes didn't break down along party lines. I bring people together, treat every view with respect. Shami: Voting is a privilege and a duty. People have lost their trust in career politicians. They ask now for a driver's license. We don't need a voter ID. Don't waste our time on nonsense. ???? from voter trying to find a job in audience: To White, when I got back in job market, I'm viewed as overqualified and also my age. How do you keep older Texans from being disqualified? White--we ought to make sure that each person has access to job training where there is a job waiting in the end. People came to my city after Katrina. We worked backwards with employment place to match people to jobs. ???? Companies are slashing jobs. What would you do? White: as mayor, I brought companies to Houston. Texas has outperformed rest of America for decades.

White’s second ad

Feb 5, 2010 By Paul Burka

This is your basic bio spot — current family shot, childhood (“parents were schoolteachers”), off to college (“earned a scholarship”), then family life (“taught Sunday School”) to mayor of Houston (“cut taxes five times”). The closing shot is taken from the floor up, so that White’s baldness is not evident.

Bill White’s first ad

Feb 1, 2010 By Paul Burka

It’s a good start. White chose the right message–improving education. Perry is vulnerable. Education advocates believe that standards have been lowered during the Perry years. The issue plays to White’s base but it also crosses party lines. Republicans in the suburbs and in rural areas care about public schools.

A call from the Hutchison campaign

Jan 20, 2010 By Paul Burka

The call had to do with my post yesterday ("Was the Hutchison poll phony?") in which I expressed my concern about whether their poll, which the campaign has said showed them two points down, was on the level. Obviously, the campaign was none too happy about what I wrote, and in retrospect I think the snark factor was excessive, even for blogging. After we got the "pleasantries" out of the way, they offered to share some information with me. The main reason for my doubts, as I wrote, were the differences between the campaign poll and the Rasmussen poll, which reinforced previous polls about the race. I was also dubious about the 26% of the electorate that was said to be undecided. This seems like a very large number in a race in which 88% of the vote (Perry 43%, Hutchison 33%, Medina 12%) is already accounted for. Today I met with a representative of the campaign. The representative showed me some numbers, which I will pass along to readers. As I have said repeatedly in the comments section in response to readers who have questioned the accuracy of polls that I have reported on, I am not the local Honda dealer. I don't give warranties, or a "CR Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports. Readers can judge the credibility of the information for themselves. Caveat emptor. 1. The Hutchison campaign, like most campaigns, does polling on a small scale as well as on a large scale, polls that are snapshots in time. I saw the results of some of these polls, graphed and printed. They show that since January 3, Hutchison has trailed Perry by no more than 3 points and has led by no more than 2 points. 2. One of the things discussed during the call was the accuracy of the Rasmussen poll, which has been my "control" for polls about the race. I pointed out that Rasmussen and SurveyUSA, the robocall polls, did the best job of calling the 2004 election. The Hutchison folks pointed out that Rasmussen is the only pollster who had Scott Brown losing in Massachusetts. (This was before the polls closed.) Sure enough, Rasmussen called it wrong. 3. The Hutchison campaign has done polling about the debate. This is what they came up with: --21.7% of the primary electorate viewed the debate --39.1% thought Medina won --16.9% thought Hutchison won --15.5% thought Perry won --14.4% thought Perry and Hutchison tied --14.1% were undecided None of these numbers seem implausible to me, though the viewership seems quite high for a gubernatorial primary debate. Maybe people are just very interested in politics right now.

Lone Star Project: “Strongest slate of candidates in years”

Jan 6, 2010 By Paul Burka

From a release by the Washington-based Lone Star project: With 2010 candidate filing now closed, it’s apparent that Texas Democrats have filed their strongest slate of candidates in years. We can expect that our ticket will be led by Houston Mayor Bill White who brings an impressive resume and unquestioned…

The down-ballot Democrats

Dec 20, 2009 By Paul Burka

Here is who has filed so far: Governor: Felix Alvarado, Bill Dear, Farouk Shami, Bill White Lieutenant Governor: Ronnie Earle Attorney General: Barbara Ann Radnofsky Land Commissioner: Bill Burton Railroad Commissioner: Jeff Weems Agriculture Commissioner: Kinky Friedman (Hank Gilbert has said that he will run) A knowledgeable Democratic source told…

White Ends “Suspense”

Dec 4, 2009 By Paul Burka

There never was any doubt that Bill White was running for governor, and for that matter there wasn’t much doubt that he wanted to run for governor even when he was running for the Senate. Perry is now fighting a two-front war. A general election race against a Democrat will…

Did Kay think of this?

Nov 30, 2009 By Paul Burka

By delaying her decision about leaving the Senate, she damaged her candidacy in an unexpected way. Once Bill White recognized that there would be no Senate vacancy, he switched to the governor’s race. In doing so, he instantly won the loyalty of Democrats across Texas. Had Hutchison resigned her seat,…

Can Bill White penetrate the Republican vote?

Nov 24, 2009 By Paul Burka

As mayor of Houston, White enjoyed considerable support — political and financial — from Republicans. But he occupied a nonpartisan office. Can he repeat that success in a partisan race against an incumbent Republican governor, and can he do it outside of Houston as well as inside? The answer depends…

The Schieffer candidacy

Nov 23, 2009 By Paul Burka

It never really got off the ground. Tom had just been out of the game for too long. The conservative Democrats who had been his political allies during the seventies, when he served in the Legislature, had ceased to exist as a political force. I had the opportunity to meet…

Waiting for the Hutchison ad

Nov 23, 2009 By Paul Burka

I had a conversation with John Sharp this afternoon. Sharp said that White’s first preference has always been to run for governor. What had kept him out of the governor’s race was the prospect that Hutchison would win the primary, leaving White to face the most popular figure in Texas…

White noise

Nov 9, 2009 By Paul Burka

I keep getting e-mails from friends in the politics game that Bill White is going to switch to run for governor. Got one this morning, in fact. Burnt Orange gives life to the rumors today as well. My Houston-based colleague Mimi Swartz made some calls at my request,…