Surely Bill White and his campaign high command saw what happened to Kay Bailey Hutchison: Rick Perry defined her before she could define herself in the GOP gubernatorial primary, and by the time she spent her millions on ads attacking him, it was too late.
So how does the Democratic nominee for governor avoid the same fate? When should he introduce himself to voters outside of Harris County, who may not know his work as mayor of Houston, his expanded resume in and out of government, and his personal story? When should he start attacking Perry, and how aggressively? When should he start spending his own millions on the race: now, while things are quiet, or later, when voters start paying attention in earnest? And what does he do about President Obama, who is unpopular in Texas: embrace him and his agenda in the hope that the Democratic base is energized, or pretend that he doesn't exist so that persuadable independents and Republicans aren't put off?
To answer these and other questions, we turned to three White fans with experience watching, running, and kibbitzing about campaigns: Glenn Smith, an author who ran gubernatorial bids for Ann Richards and Tony Sanchez; Keir Murray, a political and public affairs consultant whose credits include local races from mayor of Houston on down the ballot; and Charles Kuffner, a progressive blogger named to Texas Monthly's 2008 list of the 35 people who will shape the future of the state.
Later this week: Advice for Rick Perry.