There's a reason why I went to see Houston Mayor Bill White during his stop in Plano last month. It wasn't because he was one of many folks vying for Kay Bailey Hutchison's job in the Senate, although I suppose that would have warranted the trip. Nope. I've long viewed White as the best the Dems have to offer in this state.
In fact, I mentioned him last year as "a dangerous Democrat" if he decided to give the governor's race a try. Of course, this is why my initial questions to White when he sat down with me October 24 revolved around him switching from the Senate race over to the governor's. White failed to give me a straight answer after four tries, which further confirmed my suspicions that he was preparing for the move.
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However, Katy Bacon, his campaign spokesperson, sent me an unsolicited e-mail a few days later to stress that "The answer is no," to the question of whether White would run for governor.
Well, it turns out that the answer now is maybe and most likely yes. Shortly after Tom Schieffer announced his withdrawal from the governor's race this afternoon, White said, "I agree to consider running for governor," at the urging of Texans throughout the state.
This is bad news for the GOP and whoever emerges from the Perry-Hutchison primary battle. White brings an impressive résumé from Houston, including his ability to improve education and lower taxes. While Dems probably wish he looked (he's 55, white and bald) and sounded (he's hardly an inspiring speaker) a little different, he may be able to develop an actual plan to help the state. Meanwhile, Perry and Hutchison will be fighting over who's more conservative and how many votes she's missing in Washington.
White could easily grab a decent number of Republicans unwilling to vote Perry in for another four years, making a Perry-White face-off particularly troublesome for the GOP. Is he truly The Great White Hope, and are the Dems ready to steal the governor's mansion earlier than anyone expected? We'll find out soon, as White says he'll make a decision by December 4.