April 03, 2004
State GOP slaps Strayhorn
Whatever else Governor Perry may have going for him, he does have the full support of his party's infrastructure, at least publicly.
The head of the state Republican Party rushed to the defense of Gov. Rick Perry on Friday and chided GOP state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for criticizing his leadership -- or lack thereof.
State Republican Party chairwoman Tina Benkiser singled out the comptroller's attacks on Perry in a letter to members of the State Republican Executive Committee.
Though she didn't mention Strayhorn by name -- instead calling her "one of our Republican elected officials" -- the reference was unmistakable: She quoted from a Star-Telegram news article about Strayhorn's attacks on Perry.
"These types of attacks, described by a news report as 'from the left,' do not further the policy debate in any substantive way and only serve to generate negative media attention for our entire Republican family," Benkiser said. The Star-Telegram article was attached to the letter.
One member of the Republican executive committee who got the letter, Roy Casanova of San Antonio, said Strayhorn had done state leaders an "injustice by taunting them."
In our more fevered imaginations, some of us bloggers - me, Greg
, and BOR
, to name three - have speculated about Comptroller Strayhorn switching parties in order to run for Governor. The main reason why I think this is possible is simply that Strayhorn will be treated like a dead rat on the kitchen table if she challenges Perry in the Republican primary. I just don't see how she can win there. She won't get funding, she won't have a real base to work with, and she will have to contend with Perry's fairly high approval ratings among Republican voters.
The only way I think she can make any kind of real challenge is from the other side of the aisle. She'd have to make a convincing statement about "the party abandoning me", she'd have to do a lot of work to convince the state Dems that she's for real (and she might have to fend off a primary challenge here from someone like Jim Turner), and she'd still be a longshot to win. However small, though, she would have a chance, and that's better than no chance no matter how you slice it.
Look, she's (I think) 63 now (can't find her blasted date of birth anywhere). How many chances is she gonna get to run for Governor? Better to throw the dice now than wait six years and maybe watch some up-and-comer zip past you. A lot would have to go right for her, but at least it could happen. Will it? Beats me. But it could.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 03, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People
Ah, the Republicans are eating their own.
Makes me feel like I'm back in California again.
This is the clearest indication yet that events might nudge the granny our way, and naturally, I'm predisposed to be favorable to the idea. The kicker now, is that I think the GOP has got to be eyeing a challenge to Strayhorn even if she does nothing more than run for re-election as Comptroller. Given the success they had in defeating Steven Wayne Smith (and kudos to them for that offing), I think there's a sense of a bolder hit on Strayhorn based on this. As always, I could be wrong. But if it helps convince anyone named Strayhorn to switch parties, then what the hell.
Maybe Democrats want Strayhorn to switch parties, but I don't think she'd suddenly push the Democratic agenda even in that unlikely event. She seems to be a bit of a maverick, sort of like the John McCain of Texas politics -- not afraid to challenge the party or their leadership when they think something stinks.
I suppose if nothing else, changing parties might make a challenge for the governorship more viable. There are probably enough party hacks closing ranks around Perry that a challenge from within would fail. (And really, how often does an intra-party challenge to an incumbent succeed in the primary?)
For that reason and that reason alone could I even *remotely* see a party change. But even then, it's not like she'd be politically in bed with the Democratic leadership. If nothing else, I guess, for Democrats it would be better than four more years of Perry.
Dem. State Party chair, Charles Soechting, has already been rather kind on Strayhorn, noting that she has been a good Democrat in the past. She'd have a tough sales job of convincing rank & file voters, admittedly. But given the tease of picking up Texas' leading vote getter from 2002, I suspect she'd survive many potential challenges.
The maverick reputation is a kind way of putting it, though ... opportunistic is another word, and its a charge she'll have to address if she ever made the move. I think the fact that her move to the GOP was seen as such is bad enough. Having to explain a move BACK to the Dems would compound things for her. That, and any number of her more conservative positions would seem to be the two detriments to her making the move back, I think.
That said, I'd place the odds somewhere in the low 2-digit range for a switch (20-30% perhaps). This is the hottest the thermometer's gotten on this reading in a while, too.
I find it somewhat ironic that the GOP machine in Texas would criticize the gramma for attacks when they pretty much went after her in the legislative session, stripping succesful programs away from her office because she had the balls to say that both parties had been fiddling while the Texas public education system burned.
I'd vote for her in a heartbeat, regardless of what tag she has after her name.
Don't be deceived... Strayhorn has some serious political aspirations, and has the closest thing to a Texas political family dynasty outside of the Bush's. That takes a little bit of cunning, and political know-how.
Perry has no original ideas, or extraordinary statewide appeal... and the GOP knows it. I believe Strayhorn's comments are not so much directed against Perry, as they are issued for the purpose of building the public perception of herself as an ideologue. Any way you look at it, there is simply nothing to be gained from her taking down the Gov., he seems quite capable of cutting his poll numbers off at the knees all by himself.
I seriously doubt a party change is in her future. However, if and when Perry and Kay Bailey decide to switch seats in 2006, I think these comments are a sure indicator that CKS is setting herself up for a all-female showdown for the governor's mansion between herself and the one Texas Senator who actually thinks for herself.
I've said it before (perhaps in comments on this blog, even), that Strayhorn will do whatever it takes to further her political career. Back in the days when Dems were in control of most of TX, she was a Dem while mayor of Austin. When it became clear to her that she couldn't win if she wasn't a Republican in her Railroad Commission campaign, of course she switched. If she feels the political winds changing this election, she'll switch back - hide and watch!
However, if and when Perry and Kay Bailey decide to switch seats in 2006, I think these comments are a sure indicator that CKS is setting herself up for a all-female showdown for the governor's mansion between herself and the one Texas Senator who actually thinks for herself.
Surely she's gotta know she'll lose that, probably badly. Perry may be vulnerable to Strayhorn, but no way is KBH.
But does CKS have any other choice? Why else would you publicly expose yourself against your party's statewide leader, in a state that will not elect you to office as a party-switcher out of the GOP, and where the establishment is sure to slap you around for breaking ranks? Sorry to burst any bubbles, but its all nothing more than political posturing for public perception. (Pardon the alliterations) =)
Think Bob Graham, except on a statewide level. I think we're looking at a situation where CKS is seeking to establish a legacy, even if it only includes the phrase "gubernatorial candidate, 2006".
Why else would you publicly expose yourself against your party's statewide leader, in a state that will not elect you to office as a party-switcher out of the GOP, and where the establishment is sure to slap you around for breaking ranks?
I look at it this way: CKS polled something like 20% support among Republicans in a hypothetical primary matchup against Perry (Hutchison, by comparison, drew more support than Perry in a similar hypothetical). If by switching she can get full Democratic support plus that 20% of Republicans who like her better than Perry, she can win.
Is that likely? Again, probably not. But it is doable, and it's something that can be affected by CKS' political skills. Surely any politician worth her salt is confident that she can carry her support with her most places she goes.
"Is that likely? Again, probably not. But it is doable, and it's something that can be affected by CKS' political skills. Surely any politician worth her salt is confident that she can carry her support with her most places she goes."
I think this is our common ground. Rule #1 for running for office - create press with your political skills.