Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn ended speculation today by announcing she will run for governor against Gov. Rick Perry as an independent.
"It's time to shake Austin up," Strayhorn, who is now serving as a Republican officeholder, told reporters today, the filing deadline for the 2006 elections.
"Governor Perry may be doing the best he can, but after five years, we have learned he is not the strong leader we need to put Texas above politics," she added.
To get on the ballot as an independent, Strayhorn will need to collect the signatures of 45,450 registered voters who cast ballots in neither party primary or runoff. The signatures will have to be collected between March 8 and May 11.
Anticipating Strayhorn's independent candidacy, Perry spokesman Robert Black last week said it would demonstrate "the latest desperate act of a politician who has no core convictions or guiding principles."
What scares me is the possibility that Strayhorn's trail-lawyer benefactors will continue to throw their money at her for the rest of the campaign. Without that kind of financial support, I fear that Bell or Bob Gammage will get squeezed out monetarily. Strayhorn already has a bunch of cash, and Kinky Friedman says he's got close to a million bucks. Where is the Democratic candidate going to get campaign funding amid all that?
Of course, neither Strayhorn nor Friedman has a guaranteed spot on the ballot just yet. With Perry sure to cruise to an easy primary win, a clear win on the Democratic side for either Bell or Gammage would give the two indies the full timeframe for collecting most of their signatures. A runoff would hurt their chances, since they'd have to wait until afterwards. PerryVsWorld is right - many people will be holding their breath until May 11 to find out if either or both of these two makes it. And that's assuming there are no challenges to the collected signatures. Oddly, neither major party candidate may perceive it as being in his best interest to do that, but if both of them appear to qualify I could see CKS and Kinky going after the other's petitions. To say the least, the calculus is strange.
UPDATE: Bob Gammage also thinks the Strayhorn news is better for Dems than for Perry. From a press release I just got:
"This is bad news for Rick Perry and great news for Texas. This guarantees that Rick Perry will have two strong opponents shedding light on his shortcomings all the way to November. There are plenty of decent Republicans out there who are fed up with Perry, Tom DeLay and the corrupt GOP Leadership.
"Texans understand that it is time for a change, that the current Republican leadership has turned its back on the needs of our families and our children and left then twisting in the wind. They are tired of the corruption, weakness and incompetence in the Governor's office. Strayhorn's defection is just the beginning of an exodus of thinking and caring Republicans from the ranks of a badly served GOP.
"This also reinforces our message that Perry, DeLay and the current Republican leadership are bad for all Texans, and we will carry that message to Democrats, angry independents and disaffected Republicans across Texas, through March and beyond."