Carole Keeton Strayhorn: Frequent Candidate?

The cruelest insult in politics is "frequent candidate." If a reporter wants to send the message that a political aspirant has no chance ...
by | December 17, 2009

The cruelest insult in politics is "frequent candidate." If a reporter wants to send the message that a political aspirant has no chance to win and should be completely ignored, those two words will do the trick. The derogatory implication is that this is someone who is running for office just for kicks or for attention or because of something vaguely resembling mental illness.

It's a strange phrase because many politicians who have had a lot of success also are frequent candidates. (Cynics will say that a lot of politicians who have had success also run for office for kicks or attention.) The man likely to be the next governor of California, Jerry Brown, is, by any reasonable standard, a frequent candidate.

Why am I musing about this topic? Carole Keeton Strayhorn is talking about running for Texas Comptroller as a Democrat next year. From the Austin-American Statesman:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who was twice elected comptroller as a Republican and then ran a losing gubernatorial campaign as an independent, called Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie on Tuesday to discuss seeking the party's nomination for comptroller.

Strayhorn has been mayor of Austin. She ran for Congress. She was elected to the State Railroad Commission. She won two terms as Comptroller. She ran for governor as an independent. She ran for mayor of Austin again too.

So, Strayhorn, like Brown, is a frequent candidate. The question, though, is whether she's morphing into the sort of frequent candidate that political reporters address with such derision. In her last two races, for governor and Austin mayor, she didn't come close to winning. That means she'll be subjected to the question that scorned frequent candidates receive: Why, exactly, are you still running?

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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