Bill White Officially Enters Gubernatorial Fray

When we cornered Houston Mayor Bill White in late October after his campaign speech in Plano, he said he can appeal to conservatives and moderates as a Democrat because he knows how to make government run efficiently. He added that he's "honest and straightforward," which had been tested when we posed a hypothetical about the possibly of him running for governor if Kay Bailey Hutchison hadn't resigned from her Senate seat by the filing deadline.

"Honestly, it's not something I think about at all," he told Unfair Park. "I just think about how we win this race. That's an honest answer."

Although we thought otherwise, White stressed his commitment to running for the Senate, and his spokesperson followed up with us just in case his inability to give us a direct answer about the governor's race left us confused about White's intentions. "I see that folks are picking up your slant on 'Will Bill White run for gov?'" Katy Bacon wrote in an e-mail. "The answer is no. Bill's running for Senate, period."

At least one person has taken issue with White's flip-floppery now that he's formally filed to run in the Democratic primary for governor: Hank Gilbert, who just pulled out of the gubernatorial race and switched to run for agriculture commissioner for a second time. Gilbert told reporters that he's endorsing Farouk Shami for governor because White violated his trust by repeatedly saying he was committed to the Senate race.

Gilbert is sure to be in the minority in his feelings toward White, who is likely to breeze through the Democratic primary and could give Republicans a scare in the general election, especially if Governor Rick Perry wins the GOP primary as expected. In today's Houston Chronicle, Rick Casey explains that while White faces two major obstacles -- no Democrat has won a statewide office since 1994, and no big-city mayor has ever been elected governor of Texas -- he still has a shot to pull off an upset.

At his stop in Plano, White offered a preview of his possible stump speech as a gubernatorial candidate. "We're so close right now in this state to having a majority that represents the mainstream values of our state rather than the people who think we should secede from the union," White told the sparse crowd at the Baker Bros American Deli on West Parker Road. "But it's going to be a battle. I may not be the glamour candidate. I don't have the big hair of Rick Perry. And unlike Perry or Hutchison was, I was not a cheerleader in college."

Clearly, Cathie Adams and the Republican Party of Texas know he poses a threat, as they launched this web attack on Wednesday in anticipation of today's announcement.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten

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