I been asking around from Houston to Austin and most of the folks I come across who were excited about Obama and came out to enthusiatically help put him in office seem to not know anyone on the Democrat side who they feel should be running for governor or the eventual vacated Kay Bailey HutchinsonSenate seat. Thats not a good look. Not a good look at all. Sure political insiders like to toss out Kirk Watson as a possible candidate for governor, but too be honest I get more excitement and better name recognition when I ask if rappers Bun B or Chingo Bling should run for office. Who knows one of them might just do that if for any reason to
Well all that sounds fine and dandy, but Edwards and Rodriguez be better off huddling up with the folks who put Obama into office and making sure they are household names to that audience. In anycase what may wind up being being the real story here is the lack of a compelling Democrats in a wide open race in a wide open state. If someone doesn’t put their hat in the ring soon, we might be placing a call to Port Arthur Texas, to a gentleman named Bernard Freeman and encourage him to toss his hat in the ring and shake things up. He just might just be what the doctored ordered for a party that is winding up to be a bit uninspiring right about now. Note to Democrats: new Obama voters know who Mr Freeman is quite well-Do you?
GUEST OPINION DAVE MCNEELY
The Republican primary dogfight between Gov. Rick Perry and principal challenger U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is already on the national political front burner.
Not often does a sitting United States senator challenge a governor of the same party, in the nation’s second most populous state.
Republican pollsters say Texas is still solidly Republican. Democrat Barack Obama got less than 44 percent in Texas in 2008.
But the governor’s general election race in November of 2010, regardless of who the GOP nominee is, could also draw a lot of attention. Texas might become a player in presidential elections again.
The only serious announced candidate for the Democratic nomination is Tom Schieffer of Fort Worth, former President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Australia and then Japan. Humorist/songwriter Kinky Friedman also might seek the nomination.
But if the Perry-Hutchison mudfight keeps intensifying, other Democrats may run.
Most-mentioned is state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, who already has one statewide race under his belt. His weekly newsletters to supporters are decidedly sharper recently – mostly potshots at decisions by Perry.
Watson’s Senate seat is also up in 2010. He said he’d decide what to run for at the end of the summer.
Most prognosticators think the Republican nominee will win the November general election. Perry certainly does.
But hopeful Democrats point out that Perry won reelection in 2006 with just 39 percent.
Republicans nationally think their chances to make gains are better in 2010 than in 2006 and 2008, when Democrats won control of Congress. Reasons:
— With few exceptions, a new president’s party usually loses congressional and other offices in the first mid-term election after his inauguration.
— Some pollsters say the bloom has worn off Obama’s reformist rose, with growing concern about borrowing to provide economic stimulus, and about the costs of reforming the nation’s health care system to cover virtually everyone.
Depending on which way issues cut leading up to the election – health care, unemployment insurance, housing prices, economic stimulus, the overall economy, Iraq and Afghanistan – Democrats may have a shot.
If the Republican nominee emerges seriously tarnished from the negative TV ad war Perry and Hutchison are expected to wage, the Democrat may have a shot.
Adding to the buzz this election cycle will be a special election to succeed Hutchison in the Senate. That also should draw a lot of national attention.
Two significant Democrats – former state Comptroller John Sharp and Houston Mayor Bill White – are already running, regardless of when the election is held.
Both have appeal to centrist Independents, and some Republicans, so are particularly suited to run in a special election. There are no party primaries; all candidates run on the same ballot, regardless of party. If no one gets a majority, the top two have a runoff.
Sharp and White are serious, thoughtful, cagey politicians, who aren’t running just for exercise. Both are raising money, and Sharp has put more than $2 million of his own into his race.
Several Republican candidates already raising money include state Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, former Secretary of State Roger Williams (no relation), U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
The wealthy Dewhurst is thought to be the most formidable Republican, since he can fund a campaign from his own pocket. That’s a huge head start in a federal race, where the size of campaign donations is limited, but the amount a candidate can give to their own campaign isn’t.
If Democrats win for governor, or senator, and especially both – that should put Texas back on the presidential political map for 2012 and beyond.
A Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won Texas since 1976. There had been an adage that a Democrat couldn’t become president without carrying Texas – until Bill Clinton did so in 1992 and again in 1996.
Just to demonstrate the math, in 2004, President George W. Bush carried Texas, and won, with 286 electoral votes to Democrat John Kerry’s 252. Had the Democrat carried Texas’ 34 electoral votes, Democrats would have won, 286-252.
If a Democratic presidential ticket carries Texas, plus California (which has been solidly blue the last few elections), Florida (a swing state), New York and Illinois, that’s around 170 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
A Democrat who demonstrates they can win either of the top two Texas statewide offices in 2010 could easily be on the short list for a presidential ticket in 2016.
Contact McNeely at davemcneely111@ gmail.com
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