November 21, 2008
Waiting for Bill

We may know about Mayor Bill White's political future soon, according to Gardner Selby.

"He's going to make a decision in the near future," said Michael Moore, White's chief of staff. "It will be based on where he could do the most for Texas with his experience and abilities."

I touched bases with Moore while preparing a column running in Thursday's newspaper on jockeying among Texans who might want to succeed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, if she resigns in advance of running for governor in 2010.

Moore said White, who wasn't immediately available, is talking to people around Texas by telephone, sounding out his prospects. Most observers expect White to make a try for the Senate or for governor.

White's goal is to settle his plans well before the end of this year, Moore said. "Days," Moore said, "not weeks."

My guess, as Selby speculates further down, is that this has to do with whether or not he wants to be a part of the Obama administration, and not about any future campaign plans. I know Mayor White has said he'd cosinder running for either Senate or Governor in 2010, but I continue to believe that the Governor's mansion is the best fit for him, and I think that's what he'll ultimately choose. While the conventional wisdom is that he would prefer to avoid a potential race against Sen. Hutchison should she choose to run for Governor as well, I don't think he should be afraid of such a fight. If it were up to me, I'd make that campaign be about how KBH is just a nicer version of Rick Perry, who would want to do all the same things that Perry has done since taking over in 2001, just with a friendlier face on them. I feel confident that Mayor White would have a clear vision for what he'd want to do in Austin, and how he'd be an agent of change at a time when we could really use it, and having seen him run for Mayor as an unknown quantity who wasn't given much of a chance to win at first, I think he'd have a concise message to communicate that vision in a way that voters would find attractive. I think KBH should be at least as worried about running against White as he should be of her.

There's one more thing to consider: If White ran for Governor against KBH and lost, her Senate seat, which I presume would remain in Republican hands if White can't break through, would still be up for a full six-year term in 2012. He could still get a shot at that, potentially with an Obama re-election effort also working in Texas. I think there's a good chance it wouldn't come to that, and that somebody else would be the beneficiary of whatever Team Obama does in Texas in four years' time. But it's something to keep in your back pocket, just in case.

Finally, since I continue to hear chatter that John Sharp is angling to be the Democratic candidate to replace KBH in DC, let me just say that I am not exactly overjoyed at that prospect. I like Sharp, but if he's going to take one more shot at a statewide run, I'd much rather see him aim for Lt. Governor again. At least there, as the leader of a body where Dems are still a minority, his moderate/bipartisan creds would be much more useful. I still can't quite shake the feeling that Sharp is a 1990 candidate wanting to run in 2010, but maybe he'll prove me wrong. All I can say is that the Democrats really need to start building our their bench.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 21, 2008 to Election 2010
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