It looks like former Houston Mayor Bill White’s quest to unseat Rick Perry as Governor of Texas will meet with defeat this Tuesday, November 2nd. Bill White was swimming against an anti Democratic tide, so his campaign was likely doomed from the start.
Bill White’s argument for becoming Governor of Texas was that he was a “pro business Democrat” who could get things done, balance the state budget, and generally do a better job that Governor Perry. The argument proved to not be very persuasive. For one thing, as a number of Perry for Governor ads pointed out, Texas was in relative good shape all things considered during the current economic crisis. As Kay Bailey Hutchison found out before him, Bill White could not make the argument that he deserved to be Governor of Texas more than Rick Perry.
Mayors of cities tend not to be recognized outside their communities, with certain exceptions-Rudi Giuliani comes to mind. Bill White spent a lot of time building up his name recognition outside of Houston, leaving the city he used to run alone under the assumption that he already had a lock on Houston voters. After all, Bill White had already been elected Mayor of Houston twice, so the same voters should be willing to vote for him for governor.
Except that, according to KTRH news talk radio in Houston, this has not been the case. Bill White has been running behind during early voting. There is an easily explainable reason for this.
Local Houston offices are officially non partisan. While it was understood Bill White was a Democrat and an ally of Bill Clinton, he did not run for Mayor as a Democrat. That tended to mitigate whatever disadvantage White would have had if he had a “D” after his name. White could run as a businessman who could get things done without being tied to the tax and spend policies of national Democrats.
Running for Governor of Texas in 2010 has been a different matter; Bill White had to run as a Democrat in a year in which Democrats are seen as somewhere between child molesters and people who talk at the theater on the moral scale.
The Rick Perry Campaign was even able to turn Bill White’s business reputation against him by running an ad accusing him of profiteering from Hurricane Rita, which hit the upper Texas gulf coast soon after Katrina devastated New Orleans. White has denied the accusation, but it seems to have stuck to a certain extent.
Of course Rick Perry’s argument was not all negative. Perry depicted himself as standing up to President Obama, more unpopular in Texas than most states, and as steering Texas through the choppy waters of the recession. Here too Bill White was unable to provide a rebuttal.
And that is why Bill White is losing.
Sources: Can Bill White Win in Houston?, KTRH Talk Radio, October 21st, 2010
Perry unleashes first negative ads against White, Jay Root, AP, September 15th, 2010