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Republicans for White

I’ve said before that Rick Perry can win, or at least he believes he can win, on Republican voters alone. Bill White needs to draw crossover support. With 49 percent of Republican primary voters choosing someone other than Perry, that certainly can happen. This is anecdotal evidence of that, and as such to be taken lightly, but it’s still evidence.

Wales Madden Jr., an Amarillo attorney and civic leader, cast his first Republican vote in 1948, for almost-President Thomas E. Dewey. Although he admits to voting for Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s, when Texas Republicans were a rare breed, he has voted almost exclusively GOP since Democrat-turned-Republican John Connally asked him to be the statewide party chairman for his presidential bid in 1976.

When his candidate for governor, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, fell to Gov. Rick Perry, he switched his support to Democrat Bill White.

Madden is one of a number of former Hutchison supporters who have crossed parties to support the former Houston mayor, including Houstonians Matt Simmons, CEO of Simmons & Co. International, and James Flores, CEO of Plains Exploration & Production Co.

In a Republican-red state like Texas, White has to lure crossover voters, big-ticket and otherwise, if he is to have any chance at all of defeating the longest-serving governor in Texas history, although wooing Republicans and independents remains a challenge for the party.

“Having worked pretty well with local Republicans, White has a pretty good chance to make some inroads,” University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said, “but it’s hard to bring these voters around.”

I can’t really say I’ve seen any sign of this in the polling data we have so far, but since the bulk of that is Rasmussen, it’s basically an open question at this point. One place to look for clues will be in the campaign finance reports that will come out in July. If White has picked up a significant number of Hutchison supporters, or just people with a history of giving to Republicans, that will be something. If not, it may mean they’re biding their time.

Other former Hutchison supporters now with White remain in the closet, so to speak, according to a prominent political fundraiser who works primarily for Republicans and who wishes to remain anonymous himself.

These voters, the fund-raiser noted, have been twice burned by Hutchison – first, in her 2006 flirtation with the governor’s office and then in her recent, less-than-spectacular governor’s race. Although they cannot support their party’s nominee, they worry about his long memory. They are inclined to lay low until they can determine whether White gains traction.

A strong poll result would be helpful, as would a strong showing on the fundraising report. Everybody likes backing the winning horse.

Speaking of polls, Rasmussen has its June result out, and after last month’s attempt at narrative-setting, it’s back in line with earlier numbers at 48-40. I look forward to hearing the explanations for White’s “comeback” from everyone who groped for one last month to explain Perry’s “surge”.

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  1. John Cobarruvias says:

    Personally, I dont believe it. In the end they will walk up to the booth and push the big R button. It doesnt matter if they are paying out their ass for services, or fees, or electricity, or insurance, or their kids college.

    Once they are in the booth where nobody is looking it is all R all the time.

  2. Mainstream says:

    As a Hutchison supporter and fairly active insider, I don’t see much evidence of Republicans supporting White. A few business leaders may hedge their bets, or vote based on longtime friendships, but I see no indication that the rank and file Hutchison backer will fail to end up in the R column in November.

    And the energy on the R side is palpable. Fernando Herrera held a block walk this weekend in HD 148 now represented by Farrar, and which is perceived as an uphill battle. Nonetheless, on a 95 degree Saturday, an amazing 85 adults plus some children showed up and signed in to walk. Wow!

  3. Brad M. says:

    How much did Herrera pay these “volunteers” to show up?

  4. John says:


    great blog and I love you a lot of time but sometimes you have to see reality. yes 49% voted for someone other than Perry in the R primary. But,

    Bill White got 516K votes

    Perry 760K (estimates if these numbers are off please someone feel free to correct me)

    and in 2008

    Obama only got 45% (or so), given the climate I honestly see zero way that White with his nothing personality is going to improve on that number.

  5. John,

    And in 2008, Barack Obama got 1,362,476 votes in the Dem primary – in which he finished second to Hillary Clinton, by the way – to John McCain’s 697,767. What did that prove? That a high-profile, high-dollar, hotly contested primary will draw a lot of votes – in that primary. Beyond that, there’s no correlation to November turnout.

  6. John says:

    I will wager anything right now Bill White won’t crack 45% in the general election. We are a Republican state for better or worse (definitely for worse). White has run a very uninspired race so far and I do know it is early. Perry can appeal to the masses, and I don’t really see the Repubs going to White, I mean this article is a White puff piece. Has anyone under the age of 70 heard of Wales Madden, and Matt Simmons is a supporter more for convenience. Plus if the Ashby lawsuit starts to heat up it will be interesting to hear Bill White defend what he did there vs. his intervention for Ed Wulfe in the Galleria. A project whose investors are Sarofim, Cohn and Anne (Peter) Brown. Hmm all large donors to White. Don’t think Perry will not exploit that and White’s explanation for the need of a park (which is still not built) is weak.

  7. John says:

    Well how did Barack get smoked by 10% given how many votes he received vs McCain?? Just smell the coffee the Dems will not win one statewide race, the could not even find enough people to run in every race (Comptroller)

  8. Cb says:

    For the most part I agree with John, Perry should have no problem winning. Just wait for Perry’s media campaign to gear up and crush White. But I am still holding out hope the dems can take back the house and I think there is a chance that a dem or two can win a state wide race-possibly on the state supreme court.