THE BIG CONVERSATION
If editorial boards had the last say, next month’s primaries would be a moot point and gubernatorial candidates could have spent Valentine’s Day eating stale candy like the rest of us. Some of Texas’ largest newspapers weighed in this weekend on their choice for governor, and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Houston Mayor Bill White grabbed the lion’s share.
Sen. Hutchison reigned in nods from the Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, the Houston Chronicle, and a handful of mid-sized papers from across the state. This follows her endorsement from the Austin American-Statesman last week.
The San Antonio Express-News said White is its choice on the Democratic ticket, saying that while he is “not flashy” he is “extraordinarily solid.” The folks at the Houston Chronicle saw enough of White as mayor to proclaim he has the “executive mettle and worthiness to lead state government.” Like Hutchison, White also grabbed the attention of some of Texas’ mid-sized dailies.
Now, let’s go to the flip side.
Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry might be able to shrug off his lack of editorial page ink as the polls have him comfortably in the lead over Sen. Hutchison and former long-shot candidate Debra Medina, who learned last week that reality does indeed bite sometimes.
According to newspaper poll released Saturday, Perry is polling at 45 percent compared to Hutchison’s 29 and Medina’s 17. Results of a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Friday reflected the same results for Perry, at 45, with Hutchison and Medina at 21 and 19 percent, respectively.
Perry is still short of the 51 percent he needs to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff. That means Hutchison could still use the endorsements as ammo if she survives until April. But first she must fend off the undecided voters that might still choose Medina, despite her “9/11 truther” fiasco last week.
White, meanwhile, could start planning for November if he so chose. The Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll shows he has 50 percent support from voters (the newspapers didn't poll that race). His closest rival, Houston businessman Farouk Shami, trails considerably at 11 percent.
- If you don’t need endorsements, conservative talk-show radio shows or claims about Mexicans and their effects on our solar system to decide for whom to cast your ballot, then the wait is almost over. Early voting begins Tuesday, and the Texas Secretary of State’s office has all the information you need here. Early voters can vote at whichever site they choose, provided it is within their political subdivision. What’s up for grabs other than the governor’s seat? Click here for a Cliffs Notes version from the Secretary of State.
- It turns out there is more on the average person’s mind than the governor’s race. Poll numbers released this weekend reflect where Texans stand on a variety of issues, including legalizing undocumented aliens and transportation. Our own Texas Tribune /University of Texas poll shows that aside from the state economy, Texans are also concerned about federal spending and the national deficit.
- Remember Ken Starr? If not you might soon remember. The rumor mill has it that the man behind the investigation into the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal is close to be named president of Baylor University. The Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has his take here and , KWTX out of Waco has its report here.
- And be sure to look at our new and improved database of 340,000 government employee salaries, now sortable by job title, agency, and on and on.
Voters can end dysfunction at State Board of Education – Austin American-Statesman
Taking a Texas Primary Ever Farther to the Right – New York Times
Candidates for West Plano seat in Texas House digging deep into their own pockets for campaign funds – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Friends bid farewell to Charlie Wilson – Associated Press