There were big hopes inside the DNC that this would be the year that Texas turns into a Blue State. Or, at least a Purple State. Former Houston mayor Bill White, former Deputy Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration, flitted between running for U.S. Senate and Governor. He landed on the gubernatorial race. Though White is also the former head of the Texas Democratic Party, he was relatively unknown outside of the Houston area.
The DNC deployed professional political organizers to Texas after the 2008 election ended and hoped that the success in Colorado, for instance, would continue on into Texas. Turning Texas Purple, if not Blue, was the plan. There was much buzz when White entered the race as he was seen as someone with the national connections to mount a real challenge to Perry.
This from The Washington Times:
Polls suggest that former Houston mayor Bill White has not been able to close the gap with Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, and it is Republicans who are now hoping to score more gains in the Lone Star State. Veteran Democratic incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards is trailing in his 17th Congressional District race, and even longtime lawmakers like Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Solomon P. Ortiz are looking at closer-than-expected battles.
Mr. White has benefited from national Democrats' interest in the race, with more than $3 million of the campaign's $21 million fundraising total through September coming from national party donors. Polls at one point predicted an unexpectedly close contest.
And this: With redistricting looming in Texas, the nation's fastest-growing state, Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has said repeatedly the governor's race is high on the party's list of national priorities. The state could get as many as four new seats in the redistricting following the 2010 census.
"We've got a shot in Texas," Mr. Kaine told reporters at a breakfast in Washington earlier this month. Democrats have "invested pretty significantly in Texas" this year, he said, "which is not something we've done in the past."
White was ridiculed recently by the Texas GOP for not welcoming President Obama as he came to fund raise in the state. White claimed it was a scheduling conflict but he was seen as running away from the President, a man seen as too liberal in agenda for Texas. Odd, since White enjoys referring to himself as a liberal in interviews to liberal leaning press. Governor Perry met Air Force One when it landed in Austin, however, and even presented Obama with a letter outlining his ideas on securing the border with Mexico.
Perry made a strategic decision early on to refuse debates with White until White released all of his past tax records. White did not rise to the challenge and has allowed the thought that he is less than squeaky clean in his personal and business finances, as he hoped to portray himself.
For the most part, however, Mr. Perry has followed the classic strategy of front-runners, with a few new twists. He has avoided debates with Mr. White and limited his attacks. He has also skillfully harnessed the anti-incumbent sentiment this year, allying himself early on with the Tea Party and riding the wave of anger at deficit spending in Washington.
According to the latest Real Clear Politics poll, Perry is up by 8.5% and expected to win.