Former Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democratic candidate for governor, speaks to a gathering at Cafe on the Square Saturday. State Representative Patrick Rose is in the background. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
State Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) said Saturday that he is endorsing Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) in a party primary race against incumbent Hays County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley).
Rose said Barton “is more able to unite the (commissioners) court,” the divisions of which precipitated the primary struggle. Sumter and Barton both were elected in 2006 and have, since then, feigned little unity on a court consisting of four Democrats and one Republican.
The state representative, who is running for his fourth term to represent Hays, Caldwell and Blanco Counties, spoke Saturday at Cafe on the Square, where he also stumped for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White, the former mayor of Houston. The event amounted to a rally for local Democratic Party insiders, who witnessed Hays County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe, who is unopposed by either party in her re-election bid, introducing Rose, who then introduced White.
White made his second stop in San Marcos, though his first as a gubernatorial candidate. White first came to San Marcos in November to rally support behind his bid for the U.S. Senate, White later dropped out of that race and injected himself in the run for the governor’s seat.
White said that he received about 8,000 emails asking him to run for governor as it became increasingly unclear whether incumbent Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison would complete a promise to vacate the Senate seat and concentrate solely on her bid for governor. White said Hutchison “threw in the towel and said she wouldn’t resign,” which prompted him to jump in the race for the state’s highest elected office. White said his supporters agreed that Texas “could not afford Rick Perry” for another term as governor.
White said that he first believed Hutchison would have been the Republican nominee for governor, but he now thinks Perry may have it in the bag because Hutchison’s senatorial duties are bound to impede her gubernatorial campaign.
Hutchison said last month in the second and final Republican gubernatorial candidate debate, which included Gov. Perry and former Wharton County Republican Chair Debra Medina, that she would resign her seat regardless of the primary outcome.
In an effort to appease conservatives worried that a Democrat could possibly win her seat and cause the Democratic Party to regain a super-majority in the Senate, Hutchison said, “There’s not a scintilla of a chance that a Democrat will be elected to the Senate in Texas.”
White said he’s confident in his bid to the governor’s chair, saying that “Texas is a state of opportunity.”
Said White, “We have to do better than we’ve been doing and I’ll work hard… to make that happen.”
Republicans have controlled the governor’s mansion since George W. Bush won election in 1994. In 2002, Republicans took control of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. White said Perry has mismanaged the governor’s office and is responsible for the “extreme partisanship” in Austin. White even went so far as to accuse Perry of corruption.
White specifically alluded to the allegation that Mark Griffin was asked to resign from the Texas Tech Board of Regents by Perry staffers after Griffin introduced Hutchison to a political rally in Lubbock. Perry’s press secretary, Allison Castle, denied the allegation, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“Perry has been selling positions on state boards and commissions,” White said. “They belong to the people …Seems to me like corruption, because it’s the use of public office to advance an agenda.”
White said he would put Texans ahead of special interest and party politics, bring more jobs with a future to Texas, and improve achievement in kindergarten through 12th grade in public schools. He also said he’ll cut the high school dropout rate, make college more affordable, and rein in rising insurance and utility rates.
“(White has) been a leader in the corporate boardroom,” Rose said. “He’s been a leader in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet (as Deputy Secretary of Energy). He’s been a leader as mayor of Houston … (White) has a record of job creation. We have a pro-business Democrat in Mayor White.”
Rose also said White has the experience to lead Texas through any crisis, as he “led with competence and compassion” through the Katrina Hurricane emergency that plagued Louisiana, specifically New Orleans, prompting refugees to take shelter in Houston.
Touting his experience as Houston mayor, White said his administration cut tax rates five years in a row, created a special team to welcome returning veterans with jobs and services, and added more jobs in Houston than 16 states combined.
White was re-elected twice as mayor of Houston with 86 percent and 91 percent of the vote. Unlike most Texas cities, which have a council-manager form of government, Houston has a mayor-council form of government in which the mayor holds much more power and responsibility.
White said that Perry, Hutchison, and Democratic primary opponent Farouk Shami will spend approximately $35 million seeking election. White said he will spend a “tiny tiny fraction than that, but I’ll emerge stronger than them.”
Shami’s gubernatorial bid against White took an indignant turn when he called an advertisement by White’s campaign “racist.” Shami said White’s advertisement identifying himself as a native-born Texan (he was born in San Antonio) was racist against Shami, who is a Palestinian born outside of Jerusalem.
“It doesn’t matter where we’re from,” Shami said at a recent campaign stop in South Texas. “I’m a better Texan than he could ever be.”
Said White, “I never thought it was racist to tell people where I was born… To use a term like (racist) so casually is something questionable to me.”
Shami will speak to the Texas State College Democrats Wednesday (5:30 p.m. at the LBJ Student Center, Room 3-9.1).
White said the poll numbers he’s read indicate that should he and Perry fight it out come November, “Perry is beating me with people who know nothing about me. And I am beating Perry with people that know something about me.”
White, 55, graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s in economics. He also studied law at the University of Texas, where he edited the college law review.Email | Print