August 23, 2005
Rick versus Carole: Let's get it started

The radio wars continue:

The dust had hardly settled on Gov. Rick Perry's unsuccessful special legislative sessions to cut property taxes Monday when re-election challenger Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn launched radio commercials attacking him for wanting to raise taxes.

Strayhorn's commercial criticizes Perry for proposing state tax increases without mentioning that they would have paid for local property tax cuts. Perry's campaign portrayed the commercial as an attack that offers no proposals to relieve rising property taxes.


"Some politicians think it is easier to tax than to lead," Strayhorn says in the commercial.

"Now, you might expect that kind of thing from a big taxing liberal in Washington, but here in Texas? From a Republican governor?"

Strayhorn says Perry raised state fees $2.7 billion in 2003 and then this year proposed "the largest tax increase in Texas history ... and not one penny for education.

"No wonder our Republican Legislature had to tell him no twice."

Harsh. A bit misleading, in that the Perry Plan was only a tax increase on 90% of the population, but this is about red meat, not subtle distinctions. And as In the Pink notes, it's not like Team Perry has been wearing kid gloves. It's also still the case that this is more substantive than I was expecting from a Hutchison/Perry primary. As long as the focus is on Perry's abject failures in Special SessionPalooza, I won't complain. We'll see how long it lasts.

You have to give Rick Perry credit, though. His talk radio presence is just masterful politics.

Since January, Perry has been a guest on more than 25 shows produced by radio stations in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland and the Rio Grande Valley.

He jokes with drive-time hosts and talks as much sports as politics. Of late, he's been heard to say he's worn out from the Legislature's failure to advance school finance and tax plans despite his setting such a goal in three special sessions dating to April 2004.


On Aug. 2, Perry called Austin's KAMX-FM, in response to an assistant assigned to find someone from politics for the "JB and Sandy in the Morning" show.

"Hey, Autumn, how are you, girl?" Perry said to her as he came on the air from the Governor's Mansion. "Good show. What's happening?"

His hosts didn't inquire into legislative doings. Perry touched instead on his enjoyment of bicycling, his admiration for University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido and men's swimming coach Eddie Reese and his own adventures in the Air Force, where he said a big concern for him and other pilots spanning the globe centered on where they could cash a check once they landed.

Perry said he was calling from the mansion's conservatory, where the legendary Van Cliburn once tinkled the piano for Perry's wife, Anita, on her birthday. He invited the morning team to come by sometime for a "hands-on" personal tour.

The show's producer, Alex Franco, known as Digitz on the air, said later: "We expected five minutes max with him, but it ended up 15 or 20 minutes. He obviously was enjoying himself."

Nice to know he was keeping busy while the second special session crashed and burned at his feet. And boy oh boy does Perry know his pigeons.

Ricci Ware, who hosts an afternoon program on San Antonio's KTSA-AM, said Perry has been a plum of a guest, proving more radio-savvy than other governors in his nearly 50-year career as a radio personality.

"He's totally in tune with media and what people want to know," Ware said. "I'm one of those guys very, very upset about what hasn't happened" on school funding and taxes in the Legislature. "I'm really convinced he's as ticked off about it as I am."

Ware credited Perry with quickly calling him back on questions that bubble up during his show or having aides do so.

Jim Douglass, among hosts of "Fox Talk" on KJTV-AM in Lubbock, said listeners love to hear from elected officials.

Douglass, recalling Perry's call toward the end of this summer's first stalled special session on education and taxes, said: "You could feel the frustration in his voice. He feels that calling up here, he's calling friendly listeners."

Another host of the program, Chris Winn, said, "You feel honored that the governor would use your show as a conduit of getting his point of view out there."

You think Perry rubs their tummies before or after he goes on the air? Thanks to Eye on Williamson for the link.

Finally, on a side topic, Rob passes along some info on how Strayhorn is doing with some rank-and-file Republicans. I still think she doesn't have a chance, and that her reach out to new voters strategy is a proven loser, especially for a primary, but she could surprise me. What's not a surprise is the traction she's getting with anti-Trans Texas Corridor rhetoric. I continue to believe this is an opportunity for Chris Bell for after Strayhorn loses in March. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 23, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Thanks a lot. Now I've got that darn Black Eyed Peas song running through my head.

Posted by: Patrick on August 23, 2005 12:55 PM

Hmm. Ricci Ware, eh? Why am I not surprised? I got a call from Ware's staff once a few years back, asking me to call in to the show to discuss the content of a private email I had written. I don't know how they obtained a copy of that email; it was intended as eyes-only, and I'm sure the recipient didn't hand it over. At the time, I had no idea who Ware was, but it didn't take long to find out that Ware doesn't discuss things reasonably with opponents. I like a good political battle as much as the next person, but this was clearly anything but a fair fight. I didn't call. As I said, why am I not surprised Perry consorts with the likes of Ware?

Posted by: Steve Bates on August 24, 2005 12:16 AM