Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 2, 2006

IT'S LIKE A WHOLE OTHER COUNTRY....The writing was on the wall. Two weeks ago, Texas Comptroller and gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn dropped hints that she'd consider leaving a GOP primary against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R) and commissioned a poll asking Texans about a scenario in which Strayhorn ran as an independent. Today, she made it official.

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn turned her back on the Republican Party and announced Monday she will run for governor as an independent.

The move allows Strayhorn to escape a potentially ugly primary battle against Gov. Rick Perry. The GOP primary is set for March 7.

Strayhorn, who calls herself "One Tough Grandma," has been a harsh critic of Perry's leadership over the past couple of years.... "I am a Republican," she said. "But I know we must set partisan politics aside and do what's best for Texas. That is why I am running for governor as a Texas independent."

It sets up one of the more entertaining gubernatorial contests of the year. At this point -- and, given recent history, conditions can still change -- we have one vulnerable incumbent Republican (Perry), a Republican running as an independent (Strayhorn), a musician/writer/humorist running as an independent (Kinky Friedman), and two very credible Democrats (former Rep. Chris Bell and former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage).

Will Strayhorn peel off Perry's Republican support? Will Friedman be taken seriously enough as a candidate to compete? Will White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Strayhorn's son, help his mother's campaign?

This one's going to be fun to watch. Pass the popcorn.

Steve Benen 8:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Donate money to the Republic of Texas.


If they succeed, then most of America's problems will be solved.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

If nothing else, "Strayhorn" is a great name for a Texan.

I can think of some great names for New Yorkers, but they're a bit on the vulgar side.

Posted by: alex on January 2, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

we have one vulnerable incumbent Republican (Perry), a Republican running as an independent (Strayhorn), a musician/writer/humorist running as an independent (Kinky Friedman),

So far so good...

and two very credible Democrats (former Rep. Chris Bell and former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage).

You lost it there, dude. Nobody is going to vote for those guys.

Really, if they had any sense, the official Texas D's would dump the primary and endorse Kinky.

['Or even Strayhorn.']

Posted by: ash on January 2, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Daily Kos has her claiming to be Democrat.
Here she says shes Republican.
I would like to have it cleared up.
It would be nice to know which way she leans.
Is she just a repugnut deserting a sinking
ship. Is she a Dem trying to inlighten a
other wise Red state.
Perhaps it is best to keep people confused.
Maybe others will follow this example.
Would a Indepedent party be the hope we
may all be looking for?

Posted by: Honey P on January 2, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

The post on DK says that she is a former Democrat.

Being a former Democrat is not inconsistent with being a Republican today, although the constant switching makes me wonder if maybe she is actually a member of the Opportunist Party. That would be consistent with most Republican, especially since she gave birth to the known liar Scott McClellan.

Posted by: Ray on January 2, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just starting to warm, and Waking The Dead on Mystery Monday is coming on BBC America; no offense Alex.

Isn't her other son the Doctor who is our great leader for Medicare?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 2, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Chris Bell is not a "credible Democrat." He's a jackass.

His notion of how to make a media splash involved showing a reporter where he vomited as a drunk college student.

Posted by: Snoopy on January 2, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Fun to watch? I'm from Maryland. Why the fuck would I give a shit about who Texans pick to be their next shitty governor?

I've got much more important things to pay attention to.

Posted by: tech9 on January 2, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Strayhorn is a former Democrat who turned Republican and is now running as an Independent. Current Republican Governor Rick Perry is also a former Democrat who switched parties at the behest of Karl Rove before he ran for Land Commissioner. Then he ran for Lt. Governor and assumed the Governor's seat in 2000. Then he won handily in 2002.

At this point, I would have to say that this is indeed one of the more interesting races. Strayhorn's best hope is that it is a four-way race and everyone who doesn't like Perry (around 50% in our state if you count Democrats and Independents and not-uber-conservative Republicans) congeal behind her because they think no one else has a real shot.

I've been covering Texas politics for 2 years and it is always this interesting.

Oh yeah, by the way, I'll have to double check and see if he actually filed, but Felix Alvarado was also in the running for the Dem nomination and the Scott McClellan question got answered back in July when she announced she was running: no. One of her sons is her campaign manager, though.

I think tech9 should care because young, politically successful governors of Texas tend to want to become president someday and I think Perry might have that ambition.

Posted by: Nate-N on January 2, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Texas. No one will vote for the dems. They will get fewer votes than Kinky.

Posted by: Scott on January 2, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, this would be a yawner except for the fact that Ms. Strayhorn's younger son is Scott McClellan.

When the president's spokesman can't convince his mama to stay the course, in the president's home state... I'd say things aren't looking good.

Posted by: vetiver on January 2, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Texas gubernatorial elections are a farce. They're usually an opportunity for some zillionaire to attain a kind of immortality and kingship. Sometimes, as in the case of George W. Bush, they're a chance for us crazy Texans to enshrine a popular character. Rarely are they a serious exercise in governance, and since the Texas governor is more of a figurehead than an actual governor by most states' standards, we feel free to play games with the office.

By that measure, I'd expect Kinky to win. Texans really like to say "Up yours, buddy."

P.S. I say "we" because I've lived in Texas for the past 20 years. As a Democrat and progressive, I can say that the only real governor we've had during that time was Ann Richards. We're not likely to get another in the next election.

Posted by: Motherlode on January 2, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Same Ms. Strayhorn who decided the Unitarians weren't a religion, tried to pull their tax-exempt status in Texas, then later reversed herself.

Posted by: voxd on January 2, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

If they succeed, then most of America's problems will be solved.

Better if the secede. They've succeeded far too well as it is, at our expense.

Posted by: tk on January 2, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Motherlode >"...I can say that the only real governor we've had during that time was Ann Richards..."


She was the first person I thought of when I read this

I`d love to see her jump back in & actually make this race interesting to the real world (Yea, I know it won`t happen...)

"Politics is just high school with guns and more money" - Frank Zappa

Posted by: daCascadian on January 3, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know that no one will vote Democratic in Texas. After all, Kerry did better in Texas than Bush did in Massachusetts (38.2 to 36.8).

Posted by: Joe on January 3, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK


Always love a good quote from Uncle Frank.

The way I always heard it (not that this one came from FZ) is that politics was Hollywood for ugly people.


Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Cue Scottie exiting stage left to help Momma Strayhorn just as his credibility hits zero with the press corpse. Bush could use a new face in the White House briefing room. This is a perfect out. Pin a medal on Scottie for lying his ass off for two years and give a new toadie a chance.

Note to the press: Don't give this next guy the benefit of the doubt because "he's a nice guy". What are you, rubes?

Posted by: joejoejoe on January 3, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

This will indeed be an interesting race. Perry (aka Governor Hair) will be the GOP candidate. Bob Gammage will likely be the Dem candidate, and he will be a formidable opponent. I will vote for him IF Kinky does not get on the ballot, as I am currently campaigning for Friedman. And yes, he can be taken seriously enough--not by everyone, but by many others. Anyone who wants more info can go to www.kinkyfriedman.com.

The biggest problem Friedman and Strayhorn face is getting on the ballot. Under Texas law, they will each need to get approximately 48,000 petition signatures within two months of the primaries. And here's the catch: not only do the signatures have to come from registered voters, but in order to be valid they have to be from people who did NOT vote in the primaries. The presence of Gammage will make this even more of a challenge for Friedman. Unless the other Dems drop out, many Democrats will vote in the primary just to make sure Gammage gets the nomination. The other Dems should drop out, as Gammage is the only one of those currently in the race that can beat Perry.

I don't see Strayhorn convincing enough Republicans to support her, and her chances of getting many Dems to support her are damn near zero. For anyone who thinks Friedman's candidacy is a joke, just realize that Carole Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn is way more wacky.

Posted by: WCharles on January 3, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kinky all the way.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 3, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

No one must ever again use the phrase 'pass the popcorn'.

Posted by: cld on January 3, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Strayhorn is not only a flake, she's about as oily a character as you'll ever meet. When I was at UT I went to a meeting where she gave a talk. She said everything you wanted to hear, but just a little too well.

As far as the election goes, Perry'll probably win. He's a jerk, but he isn't in the headlines or local news all the time so he'll probably be returned to the statehouse by default. The two Democrats named just don't have the heft to overcome the party's bad name in the state.

Posted by: Derek Copold on January 3, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

This story made me laugh, because it says she avoided an ugly primary battle with fellow Republican. Yes, I suppose she did, but instead traded it in for an ugly general election battle. Why would that be such good news for anybody?

Posted by: Bruce K on January 3, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to know where to begin there are so many errors in these posts. Rick Perry will kill all four on the mental midgets running against him in the General Election. He may break 50%. Ann Richards would only carry one county out of 254 in Texas if she ran this time. Perry was never Land Commissioner. He was the Agriculture Commissioner after beating Jim Hightower in 1990 the first republican elected statewide in Texas in 120 years. Strangehorn has spoken favorably of a State Income Tax, which will kill her in Texas even if she ran as a Vegetarian. Rick Perry is not a Zillionaire; he grew up on a tenet farm that had no running water until his was five or six years old.

Posted by: hamiltonfan on January 3, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce K,

I bet John McCain would have preferred a general election contest with George W. in 2000 to the much smaller voter pool he faced in the Republican primary.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 3, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I wonder if Strayhorn has some deal with the Perry people for a later appointment--
she will draw off a lot of votes, but further split the vote on the democratic side so Perry will be able to win easily.

Strayhorn had a chance pre-Katrina, but even those of us like myself who intensely dislike Perry think that he did a pretty good job with handling the evacuee situation. He had made such a fiasco of school finance prior to Katrina that I think he would have lost otherwise.

I think that's what Strayhorn's people have concluded as well, which is why she isn't going mano a mano with him.

But it also helps Perry if she runs as an independent rather than in the primary, because while he won't get too many Democratic votes, she would probably get some from more moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, which would have hurt him in the primary.

The two Democrats in the race (and I am a Texas Democrat saying this) have less chance of winning than Kinky Freidman. They don't have the pizzazz, status, or name recognition that is needed.

The Democrats will probably pick up quite a few seats in the legislature though, since they mucked up the school finance work so badly. That's where the hope is.

Posted by: CF on January 3, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah! We get to vote for a woman for governor in November, a strong independent woman!

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