Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Here on the East Coast, far away from Hurricane's Ike destruction, it's almost impossible to evaluate the response by elected officials. But it's worth remembering that the political stakes -- in addition, of course, to the human stakes -- are quite high.
That's because two key figures in the response, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Bill White, may run against each other for governor in 2010.
Perry has won reelection twice, but mainly because he's a Republican in Texas, where every statewide elected official is a Republican. The 39% of the vote he took in a four-way race in 2006 was underwhelming.
If the people of Texas judge his response to Ike a success, voters may truly embrace Perry for the first time. With Perry likely to face a primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the governor certainly could use the support.
As for White, he's viewed as the Democrats' best hope to break the Republican stranglehold in Texas. That's because he's the mayor of the largest city in the state and because he's viewed as a pragmatic, middle-of-the-road leader. Of course, nothing tests a leader's effectiveness like a natural disaster.
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