Earle still pondering a run for Governor

Ronnie Earle reminds us that he’s still out there, and still thinking about mounting a campaign for Governor.

Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who most recently got national attention for his prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, said Friday that he is “leaning toward” running for governor in the 2010 Democratic primary.

Earle, 67, said he hadn’t set a timetable but will probably make a decision “sooner rather than later.”


[Tom] Schieffer and [Hank] Gilbert responded to Earle’s potential candidacy while attending a reception in Austin on Friday night for the Democratic National Committee.

“I’ve known him forever,” Schieffer said. “He would be a formidable candidate. I hope he doesn’t run.”

Asked whether he is concerned about a new opponent, Gilbert said, “Not in the least.”

“That’s a good thing about the Democratic Party,” Gilbert said. “We don’t say no to anybody.”

If I were advising Earle, I’d tell him to go ahead and make that decision soon. Schieffer has started to consolidate establishment support, while Gilbert’s entry has fired up a number of activists, including some who were once Earle boosters. There’s still room in the field for him – frankly, I think the bigger, the better at this point – but more and more people are starting to line up behind one or another of the confirmed entrants. Don’t miss the train, that’s all I’m saying.

One more thing, from the PoliTex companion piece:

Earle said that if he runs, he would push for cracking down on Mexican drug cartels and organized crime and press for measures to help rescue the “shrinking middle class.” Hallmarks of his campaign, he said, would focus on “prosperity, public safety and equal justice under the law.

Earle dismissed Republican criticism that he engaged in partisan politics during his years as DA, saying that his prosecutions included 13 Democratsand four Republicans.

“Some high-profile Republicans accused me of being a partisan prosecutor, but the record belies that,” he said.

I know some people think that Earle’s role as prosecutor of elected officials who are accused of lawbreaking will be a bad thing for him as a statewide candidate. In particular, the concern is that his prosecution of Tom DeLay will make it impossible for him to get crossover votes. I disagree with that. There’s not a lot of people who care about DeLay any more, and those that do aren’t likely to vote for any Democrat anyway. I think DeLay’s status as a symbol of corruption, and Earle’s role in fighting it and helping get him out of government will appeal to independent voters. He’s got a good answer to the question, and as long as he sticks with that and steers the conversation back towards what he wants to do as Governor, I believe this issue will eventually fade away. Having said that, I would be a little concerned about the timing of DeLay’s eventual trial. That will be a distraction if it happens while he’s on the campaign trail, and if DeLay ultimately walks it will be a lot more than that. I don’t know how to assess the risk of that – the proceedings have taken so long already, who knows when it will finally culminate? And of course, on the flip side, a conviction would be a huge boost for Earle. So who knows?

UPDATE: Todd Hill has more.

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