Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The jockeying for political position in 2010 (and 09)

Texas Governor: The GOP primary between Incumbent Governor Mofo and Senator Perjury-is-a-Technicality is officially under way:

From the Wall Street bailout bill to helping the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Ike, it seems the federal government can do nothing right in the eyes of Gov. Rick Perry.

The latest shot came Tuesday, when Perry accused federal environmental protection officials of "actively working to do more economic harm" to the state through potential regulation of carbon emissions linked to climate change.

"Washington has Texas in its sights," he said.

Many political observers believe Perry's harsh rhetoric is designed to position the governor in his bid for an unprecedented, third four-year term in 2010. The target is his likely challenger in the Republican primary, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is more popular than Perry in some polls.

Hutchison in late September told her Senate colleagues that she wouldn't seek re-election to a leadership post and is planning to form an exploratory committee for the governor's race.

"I guess it's a pretty good shot to take on the federal government if you're running against someone who is an agent of the federal government," said Greg Thielemann, director of the Center for the Study of Texas Politics at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Let's not overlook Mayor Republican Lite.

Whatever plans (Bill White) declares, a perhaps more burning question still looms large over his intentions: Can he actually win statewide office?

Among the chattering classes in Austin and Houston, and even some White lieutenants at City Hall, no one is quite sure. But they do agree on at least one thing: Whether he runs to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison next year if she resigns to run for governor, or whether he seeks the state's top job himself in 2010, White may have an uphill battle ahead.

The chances for a Democratic governor in the next election "are more bleak than any Democrat honestly wants to admit," said Mark Sanders, a Republican consultant who ran Democrat Tony Sanchez's 2004 campaign against Gov. Rick Perry. "It's not going to happen in 2010. There are just too many factors working against that."

Chief among the challenges, according to Sanders and more than a dozen strategists from both parties, is a significant GOP advantage laid bare by the Nov. 4 election results, even in a contest that saw historic statewide turnout for Democrats. Political handicappers all over the state are still parsing reams of data, but many are putting the divide at between 8 and 10 percentage points, a daunting deficit in the near term. Some have even wondered whether 2014 would be a more optimal year.

"In a positive Democratic climate with a good candidate like White, you might bring that down to the mid-single digits," said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. "Whether you could bring it down to zero in 2010 — or in other words, win — is a tall order."

All of the above make me nauseous. SOS (as in "save our ship"). Won't a real Democrat consider running? I am NOT looking at you, Kinky Friedman.

Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commisioner: SOS (as in same old shit). With the clash of the titans at the top, the Republican incumbents Dewhurst, Abbott, Combs, and Patterson are cockblocked. Nobody on the Democratic side seems willing to take on another uphill fight for the moment. Lots of rumors, though; Barbara Radnofsky for AG is a persistent one.

Agriculture Commissioner
: Expect a rematch between Todd Staples and Hank Gilbert, the shining Democratic star for 2010.

Houston Mayor, 2009: Eugene Locke has apparently bumped Bill King out of the contest; Annise Parker will make the race, likely to do so as well is Peter Brown. Somebody mentioned the name of Roy Morales, the great GOP hope in a non-partisan affair. It is to laugh.

Political fortunes still to be determined: Rick Noriega, Nick Lampson, and a number of other Democrats who narrowly lost last month. Noriega and Lampson could lift their profiles with a stint in the Obama administration.

Whose names are you hearing bandied about?

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