The Texas race is notable for a number of reasons this November. First, it is one of the few where a Republican incumbent governor is facing a competitive race from a Democratic challenger. Second, Texas is a state where political mavens have been anticipating that a changing demographic will cause the state eventually to become politically competitive. Third, holding the governor’s office provides the winning party with an opportunity to situate House seats in the most advantageous manner following the census. Finally, an interesting thing, at least to me, is that both candidates hope to discuss their approach to the same issues, in many cases. This should lead to an intelligent race between two candidates with high name recognition and wide appeal among potential voters.

Rick Perry – Republican

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Biography – Rick Perry was first elected governor of Texas in 2000, and has remained in office until now. He was raised by his tenant farmer parents in Paint Creek, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Animal Science. He then entered the Air Force in which he served from 1972-77. Prior to serving as governor, he was elected to 4 terms in the State House of Representatives, 2 terms as state Commissioner of Agriculture, and one as Lieutenant Governor.

Issues – Perry intends to emphasize a number of issues in this campaign. These include:

Border Security – Perry contends that he has made Texas safer by placing more security forces on the border on land and in the air. He also has increased the resources available for these individuals.
Education – Perry asserts that, as governor, he has raised school accountability and has increased standards in public schools. He has developed standards that require school systems to allocate more funds into classrooms instead of administrative positions.

Job Creation – Perry takes credit for the massive amount of jobs (over 600,000) created in the state in the last three years. The state’s business climate is favorable to the formation of new jobs, and the number of technology careers places Texas well for more employment creation in the future.

Problems: The main problem Perry faces in this race has to do with the contentious primary when he defeated Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Almost always, when a competitive primary is followed by a tough election campaign, it is difficult to rally all of the partisan support behind the nominee.

Bill White – Democrat

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Biography – Bill White is the mayor of Houston, Texas, and has served in that office for three terms. White was raised in San Antonio, attended Harvard as an undergrad, and graduated from the University of Texas Law School. He built a law firm in Houston, and then served as Deputy Secretary of Energy prior to being elected mayor of Houston. He is married with three children.

Issues – The issues White plans to emphasize are:

Jobs/Economy – White, like Perry, plans to emphasize job creation and the state of the economy. He plans to do this by attracting technological occupations, training the workforce, investing in infrastructure, and using tax incentives to attract employers.

Education – White wants to improve achievement and reduce dropout rates in public schools. He would also like to increase access to public colleges and universities, primarily by setting up more research universities in the state.

Health Care – White would like to increase access to health care by reducing the cost of insurance premiums. This, he feels, will make insurance more affordable for small businesses, which will then offer the insurance to their employees.

Problems: The main problem that White faces in this campaign is the partisan voting alignment of the electorate. Currently, and for the last several decades, the voters have tended to support Republican candidates for statewide office. Although the demographics of the electorate are changing, it was believed by many that the state would not become competitive for another few cycles.

Polls: As seen below, polling up until now shows this race to be extremely competitive. According to Real Clear Politics (shown below), polling currently favors Perry by less than 5%. Assuming no outside distractions, the race is likely to remain tight throughout the campaign.

Texas Governor – Perry vs. White
Poll Date Sample Perry (R) White (D) Spread
RCP Average 2/2 – 6/21 45.0 40.5 Perry +4.5
PPP (D) 6/19 – 6/21 500 LV 43 43 Tie
Rasmussen Reports 6/16 – 6/16 500 LV 48 40 Perry +8
R2000/Daily Kos (D) 2/8 – 2/10 600 LV 46 42 Perry +4
Dallas Mng. News 2/2 – 2/10 1508 RV 43 37 Perry +6