October 31, 2006
TV or not TV?

Is today the last you'll see Chris Bell on TV? Maybe, maybe not.

At least two Houston television stations - KPRC and KHOU - have no Bell campaign commercials booked or paid for to air after today. Two of Bell's rival campaigns say that is true at television stations across Texas.

Bell said late in the day that Houston trial lawyer John O'Quinn had given his campaign another $300,000 to keep his advertising on the air.


Bell's campaign reports showed that as of Saturday he had only $84,106 in cash available for the final drive. And Bell lamented to reporters early Monday that all the money he had received from O'Quinn was gone.

When reporters asked Bell if his campaign was about to go off network television, he replied: "We'll see today." Bell spent the afternoon in Houston trying to raise more money.

Bell campaign manager Jason Stanford said rumors of Bell going dark on TV are premature.

"We have substantial new money that will keep us up as we are now currently. Not going dark. It's late-breaking. ... Scout's honor," Stanford said.

However, Bell's campaign staff on Oct. 17 told reporters that O'Quinn had guaranteed a $1.5 million bank loan for Bell. The campaign finance report released Monday showed O'Quinn actually guaranteed a loan of $1 million on Oct. 18. That was in addition to a $1 million donation he made Oct. 12.

In addition to O'Quinn's money, Bell raised another $790,000. The money was spent on heavy network television advertising during the past two weeks.

Given that a month ago, nobody thought Bell would be on TV at all, I can't say this is the worst news I've ever heard. And it's interesting that both the Perry and Strayhorn camps saw fit to point this out to reporters. Maybe they're breathing a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Paul Burka looks at the latest Zogby Interactive poll for Governor, which as previously noted paints a picture of a much closer race than the Chron Zogby poll does, and he comes up with another reason why not.

The bad news for Bell is that his success seems to have come not at Perry's expense but at Strayhorn's.

Dude. All campaign long you've said that the reason why Rick Perry is unbeatable despite poll numbers in the 30s is because none of his opponents have been able to coalesce the anti-Perry vote. Now we see Chris Bell doing exactly that - this is what it means when some of Strayhorn's support migrates to Bell, as was the case when Friedman started losing voters to Bell - and it's still bad news? Is there anything that could happen in this race that would constitute good news for Bell by your reckoning?

I'm not saying that Bell is suddenly a favorite to beat Rick Perry. Heck, if he does go dark over the next week, he could very easily slip back to the pack and be in danger of falling behind Strayhorn. And yes, Perry's numbers have ticked up a bit from the shockingly (improbably?) low 30s to the 37-38 range, where even I will concede he's approaching nigh-unbeatable territory, though quite clearly Bell's upward mobility has been faster. All I want is a little consistency. Is that so much to ask?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 31, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack