December 11, 2008
More Senate scrambling

Vince does an overview of the jockeying for Kay Bailey Hutchison's eventually-to-be-open Senate seat, and in the midst of a thorough job makes a curious statement:

As for Democrats, John Sharp is, as we previously noted, a sure thing. Sharp has previously held statewide office, most recently as Texas Comptroller. He will have the cash, institutional support, and grassroots support to make the run. Plus, although more progressive than potential opponents like White, he has bi-partisan appeal which is necessary at this juncture to win in Texas--especially since a statewide victory will require inroads in conservative East and West Texas in order to boost expectedly blue numbers from the state's major urban metros.

As for the rest, none, aside from White, are particularly well-known statewide as Texas Democrats' bench remains sparse since the party has been out of power statewide since the 1990s and hasn't controlled either chamber of the legislature since 2003.

Houston Mayor Bill White seems to be toying with the idea of running for Hutchison's seat, although he could decide to seek the governorship--something that people view as more likely. If there is a 2009 special election, White may throw his hat into the ring if for no other reason than to raise his name idea for a run for the governorship. It seems very doubtful, however, that White would beat Sharp in a Democratic Primary race if the resignation was timed to trigger one. And, in a special election free-for-all, he would only pull votes from Sharp. Although Sharp is by no means a liberal Democrat, he is more progressive than White. And, there are some things--like White's close relationship with a former Enron executive--that are causing some Texas Democrats concern.

I have no idea where the notion that the pro-life Sharp is more progressive than White comes from. I do recall, however, that being pro-life was considered by many to be a negative for Mikal Watts when he was looking at a Senate run. Be that as it may and with all due respect to Vince, someone is going to have to show me a detailed list of positions on which Sharp and White differ to get me to believe that Sharp is the more progressive of the two.

Now having said that, if Sharp wants to run as the more progressive option, then by all means please do so. If we're going to have more than one Democrat run for that seat - and for what it's worth I'm still rooting for White to run for Governor - I'd love for the debate to be held on that turf. I'll be more than happy to give Sharp a full hearing regardless, but he doesn't start out being associated with the word "progressive" to me.

As for Sharp's money-raising abilities, I'll just note that Burka has his doubts about that, and that I feel confident Bill White will more than hold his own in that department. Given Sharp's early announcement, we'll start getting progress reports on his success soon enough. There's more discussion of Sharp's announcement and candidacy at BOR, where his work on the business margins tax comes in for some criticism.

On the other side of the aisle, former Secretary of State Roger Williams is set to announce his own exploratory committee for Senate any day now. If he does enter, Williams would be the candidate with the best hair by a large margin. He'd also likely raise a bunch of money. Expect Sharp and Williams to have more company in this race soon.

UPDATE: Apparently, Sharp has his own fortune now, and is prepared to spend a chunk of it on the Senate race. That changes the calculus somewhat, but not the fact that Bill White (also a pretty wealthy guy) will be a formidable fundraiser.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 11, 2008 to Election 2010
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