TX-Governor: Is Hank Gilbert the Right Candidate for Democrats?

The Republican candidates for governor of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, appear set to go nuclear on one another ...
by | August 28, 2009

The Republican candidates for governor of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, appear set to go nuclear on one another in a nasty, negative campaign. Democrats would be optimistic, except their party seems to view their candidates like the porridge from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Democrats worry that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (not yet a declared candidate) is too partisan. His cases against Hutchison and Tom Delay would become issues on the campaign trail.

They worry that Tom Schieffer, a former ambassador and state legislator, isn't partisan enough. His close friendship with George W. Bush might leave Democrats disinterested and disillusioned.

And, they worry that humorist Kinky Friedman is too undisciplined. He isn't one of those serious comedians-turned-politicians like Al Franken.

In that context, Democrats hope their newest candidate is just right. From the Houston Chronicle:

Gilbert, 49, a Tyler-area rancher, received 42 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Todd Staples for agriculture commissioner.

In the current governor's race, Gilbert said he can bridge the gap between Democrats and moderate Republicans who are "disgusted" with incumbent Rick Perry's service. Gilbert said he does not believe U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison can defeat Perry in the GOP primary.

(Hat tip: Swing State Project)

Forty-two percent isn't a horrible showing for a Democrat running statewide in Texas. Nonetheless, Gilbert's chief selling point at the outset appears to be that he isn't the other candidates.

However, some Democrats are thinking that the first bowl of porridge wasn't so bad after all. Schieffer has shown some momentum lately, winning endorsements from key Democrats in the legislature.

Gilbert is an intriguing candidate because of his statewide campaign experience and his apparent lack of baggage. Schieffer is an intriguing candidate because his Republican ties might serve him well in the general election.

Still, for Democrats, the right candidate -- the one with a realistic chance to win the governorship -- might be Houston Mayor Bill White. The one problem is that he is running for U.S. Senate, not governor.

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

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