I was able to attend Bill White’s noon announcement today that he is switching from a run for US Senate to Governor of Texas. I have personally believed that he should have run for governor all along, but supported him for his Senate run. The event was well attended even though it was snowing outside (yes, snowing in Houston) and most folks were fleeing to their homes in the burbs. One of my friends quipped that “hell had to freeze over for a Democrat to win state wide in Texas, and it looks like today it just happened.”
White’s speech was very positive and hit on all the theme’s important to thoughtful Texans…education, with a specific focus on reducing the high school drop out rate and increase attendance to 2 year and 4 year colleges. He also talked of not only holding teachers accountable, but also the governor who is in charge of the schools. He talked of increasing health coverage for Texans, and reminded everyone of his record as mayor of improving the city while also helping seniors stay in their homes by giving them property tax relief. He also recalled his energy industry experience and pledged to bring more energy jobs to Texas not only in the traditional industry but in newer green energy technology. He also pledged to work to reduce insurance rates in Texas, that are now highest in the country. His best line was in his normal dry wit…referring to our current governor’s courting of extremists and touting secession from the Union. White said that he wants “Texas to Lead the Nation…Not Leave It.”
Mayor White’s Senate run was a going to be a long haul, running in a 2010 special election to fill the seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, then for a full term in 2012. The problem, of course, was KBH. She has been duplicitous for over a year, first announcing she was leaving in October to run for Texas Governor, then moving that date to December, then finally to after the Republican primary in March, 2010. “After the primary” translates to “I’m going to lose to Perry, so I’m keeping my Senate seat.” She has done what many consider to be a horrible job in managing her campaign for governor, falling over 10 points behind Perry. Of course, Perry has been courting the extremist right wing base of the party, calling for secession, and recently saying that the EPA will strangle Texas or some such nonsense.
As it became clear that Hutchison was not going to vacate her Senate seat, pressure began mounting for White to move to the governor’s race to take on Perry. I was one of those, believing that White has the state wide appeal that he would need to win. Today was a great start.
More in coming days.
Update December 4, 2009 4:15 pm: Here’s the video of White’s announcement: