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Where does Bill White go from here?

Kristin Mack writes about the Bill White buzz.

Mayor Bill White says he is not running for governor in 2006. Well, he doesn’t say that exactly. What he says, when asked, and it has come up lately: “I intend to be mayor for the next two years if that’s what the citizens want me to do.”

That leaves the door open, since the people who almost certainly will elect him to a second term as mayor on Tuesday also could speak in a draft-White-for-governor move.


As for the mayor seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, [White’s campaign manager Mustafa] Tameez says White is not encouraging support, although he has been asked to consider running.

“Just because people want it to be, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Tameez said.

If he did decide to run in the March primary, White would not have to give up the mayor’s job, according to the city’s legal department.

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, the only announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said he thought enough of the rumor to ask White if it was true. The mayor responded in writing.

“He said he felt like being mayor was a full-time job, and he absolutely had no plans to run,” Bell said. “I took that to be a pretty definitive answer. I don’t get the impression that he has done anything to give people the indication that he is running. I don’t think he’s trying to be clever or leave an opening so he can surprise everyone at the 11th hour. It would be contrary to the way he does things.”

First things first. The filing deadline for the 2006 primary elections is Monday, January 2, which coincidentally would also be White’s swearing-in day as a second-term Mayor. If he really were serious about challenging for the Democratic nomination for Governor, he’d better get a move on because time’s a-wasting.

While it is technically true that White could serve as Mayor while also running for Governor, in practical terms it’s nearly impossible to imagine. He’d need a travel schedule that would make Lee Brown look like a homebody. I just don’t believe he – or anyone – could manage to run both the city of Houston and a statewide campaign in Texas effectively.

Finally, much as Ed Koch discovered when he listened to the press clippings and entered the 1982 Democratic primary for Governor in New York against Mario Cuomo shortly after winning reelection as NYC Mayor by a wide margin, voters don’t often like it when a person who has pledged to them to do a job starts hunting for a bigger and better one before finishing the task at hand. I guarantee you that the fastest way to dent Bill White’s approval numbers in Houston is for him to announce that what he really wants right now is to be Governor. Not only will some of the people who just voted for him to be Mayor take that as a rebuke, but it will also bring everyone’s partisan feelings back to the surface. Obviously, if and when White decides to run for a higher office, he’ll have to remind people that though he may play well with Republicans, he really is a Democrat. There’s no way to do that without losing a few votes.

Now, there’s no question that Bill White would make a hell of a candidate for Governor. He’ll have the big mandate from Houston, the well-deserved plaudits for all his good work during Katrina and Rita, an enviable campaign war chest, and the ability to raise a lot more dough quickly. If someone were to take a poll now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were at least within margin-of-error distance from Rick Perry, if not leading him outright. If he were to decide to run, it would be the most exciting thing to happen in Texas Democratic politics since Ann Richards’ come-from-behind victory over Clayton Williams in 1990. It’s really easy to see where this buzz is coming from.

But let’s keep some perspective here. Bill White for Governor effectively means no more Bill White as Mayor. If he were planning to run, there’d be a lot more detectable activity towards that end than one suggestive domain name. Because of that, I don’t see this happening. 2010 and beyond? The sky’s the limit. Now? I could be wrong, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

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  1. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    Such a strong mayor as Bill White has the capacity to succeed in pushing for Paper Ballot evidence for local elections (and should he run for governor, state wide elections). If only he would try.

    Since Mayor Bill White will win by huge margins, it may be possible for voters to both have their Mayor and to tell the Mayor to support paper ballot evidence in elections, by writing in for Mayor: PAPER BALLOT EVIDENCE.

    And if anyone needed more proof for the need of paper ballot evidence, then here it is…a non-partisan GAO report which needs to be widely read and reported to advance confidence in democracy.


    Nonpartisan GAO Confirms Security Flaws in Voting Machines

    by Congressman John Conyers
    Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 09:50:27 AM PDT

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report today I requested with Rep. Henry Waxman and other Members Of Congress. In sum, the GAO found that “some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.” GAO found that these concerns “merit the focused attention of federal state and local authorities responsible for election administration.”

    What does this mean? Much has been made about this issue during the 2004 Ohio election debacle here on DailyKos and elsewhere, however, this is the first time Congress’ investigatory arm has weighed in on the problems with our voting machines. The GAO studied the work of others and ultimately put their stamp of approval on it. That lends important credibility to the cause of election reform generally, aand more specifically to requiring that every machine have a voter verified paper ballot that is used in election days audits and, if discrepancies are found in those audits, becomes the official record for the election.

    … we should focus on what we all agree on, and what the GAO found: these machines have substantial problems. To me, in addition to being an issue that goes to the heart of our democracy, this is a consumer protection issue. There are certainly voting machine manufacturers who produce a good product. But by and large, when it comes to a voting machine, the average voter is getting a lemon — the Ford Pinto of voting technology. We must demand better.

    More specifics about what GAO found: Serious problems were identified regarding the security control system, access controls, hardware controls, and the voter-verified paper audit trail system. Among the security shortcomings identified by GAO:

    1. Some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, thus making it possible to alter them without detection.

    2. It is easy to alter a file defining how a ballot appears, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and actually be recorded as voting for an entirely different candidate.

    3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards.

    4. Access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network.

    5. Supervisory across to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.

    6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy.

    7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.

    8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel.

    The suggestions made by GAO to ensure the security of machines barely scratch the surface of the problems what is needed to improve the national voting systems standards. Their report divulges that, despite the many official assurances that the problems of the past elections were isolated and few, the election system is indeed riddled with problems and flaws.

    The bottom line is until we make a serious commitment to address the significant security and controls concerns we have regarding our voting machines, American citizens have no reason to have complete confidence in our democracy.

  2. ttyler5 says:

    Hey, you guys think Boss Hogg White might try Metrainwreck and SafeClear on a statewide basis?

    The least he can do is try, right! :^D

  3. Bill White can serve as mayor and run for governor simultaneously as well as, or better than, Rick Perry can serve as governor and run for governor, or George Bush can serve as president and run for president. And I think we should take White at his word: He’ll stay where he is if that’s what the citizens want him to do. So if we want him to run for governor, now is the time for us to make it crystal clear. I think the big question is: Where do we need Bill White more: in Houston or in Austin? Comparing the strong powers a Houston mayor has to the weak powers a Texas governor has, I’m tempted to say White should stay mayor until 2010. But then maybe White as gubernatorial candidate could refocus the entire Texas Democratic Party onto a positive, results-oriented, moderate-progressive agenda that also could energize and inspire Democrats nationwide. As much as I love what White is doing for Houston, there may be a bigger good here.