Toss Up In TX-GOV
by Nathan Empsall, Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 10:32:16 PM EDT
I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating: This is not an anti-Democratic year, it is an anti-incumbent year. And that means Democrats can blunt our losses by winning in places where Repubs are still in charge.
Case in point, a new PPP poll shows the TX-GOV race tied at 43. Even better, incumbent Repub Rick Perry’s approval spread has dropped to 36-49 while Democrat and former Houston Mayor Bill White is at 37-25. This is a race we can win and a candidate we should get behind.
Perry’s approval rating briefly surged when his secessionist talk gave him new-found popularity among Tea Party types, but I’m not surprised it didn’t last. Let’s remember, this is the guy who won re-election in 2006 with just 39% of the vote. More importantly, Governor Good Hair is no small government libertarian. Constitutionally and historically, the Governor of Texas is a weak figure, but Perry changed that, grabbing power the same way his predecessor did at the national level: taking it despite the law and against the peoples’ wishes. In his first two terms, he tried to ram through a corrupt and untransparent $145 billion highway project that no one wanted, including land owners, environmentalists, and yes, the 2006 state GOP platform. In 2007, he circumvented both families and the state legislature by issuing an executive order requiring all girls to receive HPV vaccinations before 6th grade.
Last December, Texas Monthly explained why White might be the dream candidate Texas Democrats have been looking for for the past 16 years. He has no true political enemies – a rare thing for a mayor – and is widely known for his adept handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. Additionally:
He banned, for all practical purposes, lobbyists from city hall and from any involvement in city contracts, thereby cleaning up what many had come to call "the trough." He took on the city's legendary traffic jams and, in a series of programs, untangled some of them and sped up commuting times. He reduced the city's property tax rate five years out of six; shored up the city's wobbly pension system; reduced the City of Houston's energy consumption by 6 percent, making Houston one of the greenest cities in the country; took on petrochemical companies over air pollution; added parks and libraries; cleaned up decaying neighborhoods and built affordable housing; revamped a badly managed police department, resulting in the city's lowest crime level in decades; and signed new contracts with firefighters giving them 38 percent raises, the first salary increase in six years.
An inept and unpopular incumbent? Shifting demographics? A great Democratic candidate? This is the best chance we’ve had to win in Texas in over a decade and might be the best chance we’ll get for the next one. It’s the perfect year to have this shot, too, since the 2010 census will give us the chance to fix Tom Delay’s corrupt Congressional redistricting.
The end of another fiscal quarter is rapidly approaching, so I’m going to start pushing our Going on Offense Act Blue page again. With the Arkansas primary over, I’ve replaced Bill Halter with Bill White. Please give to White today, and to any of the other stellar progressive candidates who represent our best chances to win this November.