Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hank Gilbert for Governor

The second highest vote-getting Democrat from the 2006 elections, agriculture commissioner nominee Hank Gilbert, said Wednesday he plans to join the fight for his party's gubernatorial nomination.

Gilbert, 49, a Tyler-area rancher, received 42 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Todd Staples for agriculture commissioner.

In the current governor's race, Gilbert said he can bridge the gap between Democrats and moderate Republicans who are “disgusted” with incumbent Rick Perry's service. Gilbert said he does not believe U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison can defeat Perry in the GOP primary.

He changed his mind about running for agriculture commissioner after hearing Tom Schieffer speak at the East Texas Democratic Summit. (If you have heard both men speak then you know how effin' funny that is.)

Gilbert's entry into the race became another potential stumbling block for Fort Worth businessman Tom Schieffer, who received endorsements Wednesday from some of the top state House Democratic leaders.

They included Reps. Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar of Houston, Jim Dunnam of Waco, and Pete Gallego of Alpine. The group said Schieffer will be able to govern the state by bringing Democrats and Republicans together.

Like Rachel, I think that this endorsement announcement was poorly timed -- it came yesterday when the news cycle was devoted to the passing of Ted Kennedy, and it was a lousy attempt to step on Gilbert's announcement (which occurred before Kennedy's death) -- and not particularly well-thought-out. Why exactly would the Texas House leadership feel the need to endorse Schieffer yesterday? It smacks of old-school patronage, something I hoped at least some of those people weren't so susceptible to.

So now Texas Democrats have Schieffer, Gilbert, Mark Thompson, and likely Kinky Friedman and Felix Alvarado running for governor. Barbara Radnofsky has announced for attorney general, and Jeff Weems is running for the Texas Railroad Commission. Who's going to run for lieutenant governor? Comptroller? GLO? Ag commish? State supreme court?

C'mon people; it's a week before Labor Day weekend and we need some brave souls to step up and take on the Republican monolith. I realize that recruiting candidates is the state party chairman's job (and we all know what a fabulous job he's doing). And certainly that massive recruiting effort will translate into significant support once the campaign for 2010 is in full swing ...

Still, if this is another cycle where the so-called insiders focus solely on a couple of Texas House races with the hope of retaking that chamber ... good luck with that. That will really motivate the base.

Update: Take note of Selby's speculation.

Update II: Kinky's getting in. Official announcement next week.

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