Knowing that winning Dallas County is vital in his uphill battle to unseat Governor Rick Perry, Democrat Bill White dropped by Reverchon Park Recreation Center this afternoon for a quick media appearance with U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson in a last-ditch effort to grab votes before the polls close. Not surprisingly, White had little new to say, labeling Perry as "a career politician" in his short speech, so we decided to spice it up a bit.
Sure, he's not thinking about losing yet, but if that happens tonight, is he done with politics?
"I'm not thinking about losing," White said as the crowd of 11 cheered. (Among the 11: Johnson and one of her staffers.)
Thankfully, we were able to corner Johnson before White arrived 30 minutes late, although our chat came with strings: We couldn't talk about "the scholarship scandal;" we could only ask two questions; and one of those questions had to be about White.
First, we took Johnson's temperature about her race against Pastor Stephen Broden.
"Well, I have run my race as usual, and I haven't gotten too excited," she told Unfair Park. "I've represented District 30 for 18 years, and I think the people know me. And I've fortunately ignored him. I didn't even know him, and didn't know anything about him other than what he's been saying and said."
So she doesn't think Broden poses a threat?
"Well, I take all opponents seriously."
OK, then. So give us your sales pitch: Why Bill White?
"I'm here to support Bill White because I think he's a great alternative to what we've had. It's been very embarrassing, actually, to hear the stands that our government's taken. I've known [Perry] for years. I like him as a person, but he just is somebody I don't know anymore -- what he's talking about. I mean, he doesn't even sound like the same person. And I think for the state's good we need a change. Now whether the rest of the people feel that way or not, I don't know, but that's the way I feel. We have a constant struggle trying to get federal dollars to go where they're intended."
On borrowed time at this point, we mentioned her vested interest in county politics (to which she replied, "Uh huh") and asked how she saw races like district attorney and others turning out.
"I have not seen any polls, but we have tried to encourage the people to come out the way they did in 2006 so we can elect as many Democrats as possible. I'm a Democrat, and I'm loyal to the ticket. And I'm much more comfortable with the Democratic philosophy than I am with the Republican philosophy."
And how has Dallas County Democratic Party chair Darlene Ewing performed thus far?
"I don't really have any judgment on her. I guess she's done pretty well. I haven't heard any complaints, but we do have to be very vigilant. We can't just get out there during campaign time."
If the Democrats can't retain power, is it time for Ewing to go?
"Well, I guess the people have to determine that. I don't really get involved that much at that level. I didn't really know her until she won as county chair, but I do think that we could stand a little more liveliness and a few more young people staying involved. Now I have stayed involved with the Obama team, which has pretty much become the White team here, and we've met pretty much every month or so since the 2008 election, and they are the same people involved. I keep my campaign office open all the time, and people meet there. We plan there. We've got a walking team. I'm advocating the straight-Democratic ticket, and I hope the straight-Democratic ticket wins."
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