I'm a little late on the draw with this, but it's been a weird week for me. In the Pink and PinkDome both report on the rumor that two-time near-miss Lt. Gov. candidate John Sharp is about to throw his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination for Governor.
I have a lot of respect for John Sharp. But for less than 70,000 votes and a couple million of James Leininger's dollars, he could have beaten Rick Perry in 1998, which among other things would likely have averted the re-redistricting fiasco of 2003. He had the strongest Democratic showing statewide in 2002. I've no doubt he'd be able to raise money and make a good run against Perry this time around. But like Greg, I don't feel that Sharp is the right person at this time.
I believe that in order to win in 2006, a Democrat will have to excite the base (which is something we really haven't had since what, 1994?) while still being able to reach out to folks who haven't been voting Democratic lately. Sharp has proven in the past that he can do the latter, but I don't believe he'll be able to do the former. I don't think he's oppositional enough to say something like "We need to do things differently because what this group and this Governor are doing now just plain doesn't work". Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never seen that as Sharp's style.
It still remains to be seen how well Chris Bell can do these things, of course. He's gotten some good traction among the faithful so far, and like Greg I think he's got the right message and the right resume for it. I feel pretty good about his chances to reach those he's reaching out to.
There's another factor to be considered, which is the Kinky Friedman effect. I've written that I think Kinky will draw more from Perry supporters than from Bell supporters. I'm far less certain that this will be true in a Perry-Sharp matchup, and that gets back again to my doubts about Sharp's ability to fire up the base. I think a nontrivial number of Democrats will see Sharp as the same old (losing) stuff, and will find solace in voting for Friedman on the grounds that at least he's forceful about criticizing Rick Perry.
Again, I could be wrong about Sharp. He could surprise me. Losing can have a tonic effect on candidates. I don't really expect that to be the case here, though.
As long as we're speculating here, Gardner Selby (via PinkDome) tosses out a couple of names in addition to Sharp's: former Austin Mayor and candidate for Attorney General in 2002 Kirk Watson, and former State Senator Ted Lyon. As with the Republican side of the equation, I expect to see a lot more action here once KBH officially tells us what we're pretty sure we already know.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 09, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack