December 08, 2005
Strayhorn the independent?

Put me down as being highly skeptical of this.

Some Texans have received calls from a polling company asking whether they would support Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for governor if she ran as an independent rather than as a Republican.

Gov. Rick Perry's campaign denies it is sponsoring the poll. Mrs. Strayhorn's campaign won't say.

"We don't discuss our polls," said Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders. "We are regularly in the field testing voter attitudes."

Mrs. Strayhorn has announced that she will challenge Mr. Perry in the March 7 GOP primary. Recent polls indicate she trails the incumbent more than 2-to-1.

In pursuit of the nomination, Mrs. Strayhorn has gotten a large number of campaign contributions from typically Democratic sources, such as trial lawyers.


Candidates have until Jan. 2 to file to be on primary ballots. Asked whether Mrs. Strayhorn would file to run as a Republican, Mr. Sanders said: "Carole is a Republican for governor in 2006."

According to a Strayhorn supporter from Houston, some backers have tried in recent weeks to encourage her to leave the GOP and run as an independent. One backer said she probably would lose a race against Mr. Perry in the GOP primary but would fare better as an independent on the November general election ballot.

As an independent, Mrs. Strayhorn would have to collect 45,000 signatures from registered voters who skipped the primaries to qualify for the ballot. Singer Kinky Friedman plans to try to get on the ballot as an independent.

On the one hand, as PerryVsWorld points out, if this poll didn't come from the Strayhorn camp, it would have been a trivial matter for them to deny it. I certainly wouldn't put it past Team Perry to dream up this sort of thing as a bit of agitprop, but why would they waste their money on it, and why would they create a story to give Strayhorn the publicity? No, the simplest explanation is almost certainly the correct one: Strayhorn is considering her options.

The question I have is what took her so long? Was it really not obvious before now that she was never in a good position to threaten Perry in the GOP primary? She could have switched parties (back in 2003, when she was really roasting Perry during that session's budget debacle, would have been a prime time for it), or gone independent months ago, and been in a much stronger position than she is now. Let's face it - if she decides to drop the primary challenge and try the independent route now, everyone will interpret it as a retreat. She's stuck, and now perhaps she's realizing it. (Which would put her one step ahead of the trial lawyers and folks like Ben Barnes, who are throwing their money down a rathole by giving it to her.)

And if she does run in the GOP primary, then forget about running again as an independent. However questionable her strategy of appealing to non-traditional primary voters may be, it's pure genius compared to running that kind of campaign in a primary and then having to depend on the people who still didn't vote in any primary to get you on the ballot.

Finally, I agree with PvsW's assessment of a four-way race: It improves Rick Perry's prospects for winning. In a three-way, Perry will lose the support of those who don't like the job he's done but can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. I can't see a third opponent, even a former partymate, peeling off too many more of his voters than that, and with the anti-Perry vote now having three places to go, his share will be proportionally greater.

So like I said, Carole's stuck. She could have had a real shot at the Dem nomination, and she could have strangled the Friedman insurgency in its crib. But she chose neither of those, and now I think it's too late to reconsider. C'est la vie.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 08, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

The more I watch Strayhorn, the more convinced I am that she is a stalking horse to split the field and guarantee a Perry plurality.


Posted by: Xpatriated Texan on January 31, 2006 9:08 AM