March 02, 2009
Schieffer jumps in

We have a candidate, one not named Kinky.

Former U.S. Ambassador Tom Schieffer of Fort Worth has just announced he is taking his first formal step toward seeking the Democratic nomination for governor during a Texas Independence Day press conference in the State Capitol.

"At the very time when Texas desperately needs leadership, people worry that we are experiencing a crisis of leadership," said Schieffer, the younger brother of CBS newsman Bob Schieffer.

Schieffer, who was still overcoming a bout with laryngitis, said he and his wife, Susanne Silber Schieffer, made a final decision about the race on Sunday.

Schieffer, 61, has been moving toward becoming a candidate since returning to Texas at the end of the Bush Administration in January after serving as Bush's ambassador to Australia and Japan. The Schieffers traveled more than 4,000 miles around the perimeter of Texas in a homecoming road trip that reacquainted them with potential voters.


Before becoming a diplomat in the Bush administration, Schieffer was an investor in the partnership that bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1989, with Bush and Edward W. "Rusty" Rose. Schieffer served as team president for eight years, running the club's day-to-day operations and overseeing the building of the Rangers' ballpark in Arlington.

Politically, Schieffer, a Fort Worth attorney, was identified with the conservative-moderate wing of the Texas Democratic Party during the 1970s and 1980s and was active in the campaigns of such high-profile Democrats as U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Gov. Mark White and Fort Worth Congressman Pete Geren. He was elected to the State Legtislature in 1972, at the age of 25, and served three terms.

OK, technically, Schieffer is still exploring, and won't officially make up his mind for another two or three months. My guess is that unless someone who can lure away much of his financial support comes along, he's in for real. You can read Schieffer's prepared remarks here (PDF). Glenn Smith reacts favorably. McBlogger was already on board - he sees Sen. Van de Putte as a better fit at Lt. Guv. I can certainly see the merit in that, though if she decides to go for the top spot it certainly won't break my heart. EoW is still skeptical, but willing to hear what Schieffer has to say. Vince is more skeptical.

I think LizeB summarizes the issue with Schieffer as succinctly as possible:

I'm having a tough time getting my mind around not regretting voting for Bush 4 times and wanting to be Dem candidate for guv.

I suspect we'll hear the name "Tony Sanchez" a lot in the coming weeks. I can deal with Schieffer's Bush associations - as McB says, there's a lot of Dems out there who have them, and we need to come to terms with it. I'm pretty open-minded on this - I've advocated welcoming exiles (self-imposed and otherwise) from the Republican Party to our ranks, including as candidates. Schieffer's much less of a concern on that score. What does concern me is that Schieffer is a man from a different era, coming home at a time when the state and the Democratic Party don't look anything like his heyday. I want to know what Schieffer has to say about today's issues, today's direction of each party, and today's solutions. I once said that I couldn't "shake the feeling that [John] Sharp is a 1990 candidate wanting to run in 2010", but at least he's run for office in this century. I need to know Schieffer isn't an oldies act, because that just isn't going to do the job. He's got the Lone Star Project on his side, and that will help address some of these issues, but that's just a start. I look forward to hearing more, and the sooner the better.

UPDATE: BOR has video.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 02, 2009 to Election 2010
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