Saturday, October 04, 2014

Race of the Day- Texas Governor

31 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Status: Likely Republican

No state has waited as long for an open election for Governor as Texas. The last time the office was up for grabs, a Democrat woman was elected. The state has become considerably more Republican since then though. In fact, not one Democrat has been victorious statewide in a generation now. Then incumbent Ann Richards lost to future President George W. Bush in 1994, and after his election to the White House in late 2000, the state has been governed since by Republican Rick Perry. The nation's longest consecutively serving Governor ran for President himself in the last cycle. It did not go well, but Perry, who can boast a record of economic success as Governor, has taken to wearing glasses and trying to improve his political image, as he is seen as preparing for another run for the White House in 2016.

With that in mind, it did not come as a huge surprise last year when Perry held a formal event to announce he planned to move on from the Governor's Mansion after the next election. While his approval numbers in the state have gone up and down a bit, the state may have endured a bit of Perry fatigue, and even Republicans at home failed to fully embrace him at times, despite his victories in contested GOP primaries and reasonably competitive general elections, which sometimes included dissident Republicans in the mix.

Political observers from the around the country may have been surprised in August though to read that Governor Perry had been indicted and faces a trial and possible time in prison. A special prosecutor convinced a grand jury in Travis County, a rare liberal outpost of the Lone Star State, to return charges against Perry alleging he abused his power. Republican elected officials being indicted in such a way before in that county is not without precedent, and the charges usually wind up dismissed by a judge. Perry has strongly proclaimed his innocence and that he acted appropriately in his role as Governor regarding the complex matter of his having wanted the Democrat District Attorney of Travis County to resign after a drunk driving conviction and outrageous jailhouse behavior caught on camera. The immediate reaction of many Texas Democrats, including their nominee for Governor, was to call on Perry to resign immediately and their remarks seemed to indicate they felt that Perry was guilty of the charges. However, public opinion, as well as the honest assessment of many Democrats across the country were that the charges seemed highly suspect and possibly politically motivated. Perry is seeking a quick legal process to prove his innocence and all the publicity and sympathy from conservatives may have the unintended consequence of helping his nascent Presidential run. The indictment of outgoing Governor Perry is a story all of itself, but does not seem to be playing a major role in the ongoing election to pick his successor.

In early March, Texas held the first 2014 primary in the country, but only one major candidate was running in each party and the general election contest was set in stone far earlier. Democrats look at changing demographics in Texas and believe that increasing numbers of African-American and Latino voters will one day turn the state blue, but they have been saying that for a few cycles now, and Texas Republicans keep solidly winning. An open election for Governor, with a nominee that the base of they party seemed to be excited about would seem to theoretically give Democrats their best chance of an upset, but despite some early speculation, Republicans have remained favored to hold the Governor's office throughout the campaign.

The Democrat nominee is Wendy Davis, a lawyer and State Senator from Fort Worth. A somewhat glamorous looking blonde, she is trying to follow in the footsteps of Ann Richards, the state's last Democrat to be Governor. However, while Richards had a famous Texas drawl, Davis seems to sound a bit more like a Valley Girl at times vocally. She first received national attention in 2013, when she stood in gym shoes for 11 hours on the floor of the Texas Senate and filibustered a bill that would restrict abortion in Texas. Her actions were successful, but only temporarily in delaying the law from being enacted, but she became a hero to many across the country on the left. During the course of this campaign, she wrote a memoir in which she revealed she has had two abortions herself while married to her now second ex-husband, due to the fetuses being diagnosed with health issues. Earlier in the campaign, stories came out that contradicted some of her personally stated biography in which she talked about being a divorced single mother, living in a trailer home age age 19. In fact, the divorce did not come until two years later and her first ex-husband supported her financially as she would go on to get her law degree. Davis would be forced to apologize for using "loose" language. The bad publicity from the incident though seemed to stop any momentum her Gubernatorial campaign may have had going at the time, as seen in competitive polls against the Republican nominee.

That candidate is state Attorney General Greg Abbott. While Texas Republicans have battled it out in many ways recently in a state in which they dominate politically, Abbott was the consensus choice for Governor, and appeared to be "next in line" for a several year period in discussions as to when Perry would eventually step down. Thirty years ago, Abbott was crushed by a tree while running and has been in a wheelchair since. Early this year, some Davis supporters were caught questioning if Abbott really needed the wheelchair after all or was just using it for political purposes and there some snarky remarks, harkening back to her filibuster, about how only Davis would "Stand with Texas." Another fact about Abbott is that his wife Cecilia, would be the first Latina to ever be First Lady of Texas, and his campaign has tried to use that distinction in order to win support in the state's sizable and growing Hispanic community.

Texas Gubernatorial elections have a reputation for being rough and tumble and Davis and Abbott have continued to battle it out for months. Behind in the polls, Davis has attacked Abbott for being too close to special interests and for his actions as Attorney General in regards to education cut funding. The ethics of both candidates have been called into question by the other side and issues related to the state's considerable illegal immigration problem have received much attention during the race. Most recently, the diagnosis of an Ebola patient in Dallas has been the biggest story in Texas and has been discussed in candidate debates.

There is no question that Davis is pretty liberal on social issues, such as abortion and same sex marriage and she does not seem to shy away from those matters. She may think the state is moving to the left, but it is doubtful that it is as liberal now as her supporters may wish. Abbott has consistently held a lead in the polls, and in the most recent one, led his opponent by a 51-40 margin in a survey released yesterday by Rasmussen Reports. His financial advantage in the race is often massive. The March primary turnout difference in favor of Republicans was overwhelming and it is worth noting that Davis lost nearly a quarter of the primary vote to an unknown opponent with an Hispanic sounding surname.

However, some Republicans have grumbled that Abbott may not be running an aggressive enough campaign against an opponent they believe should go down in a landslide. Davis certainly has a good deal of loyal supporters and is running a hard-charging campaign and some think that Abbott's strategy, including in the recent debates has been too cautious and might be risky.

Nonetheless, Greg Abbott remains a heavy favorite to become the next Governor of Texas. He might not one day be a Presidential candidate like GWB or Rick Perry, but he has a strong edge this year in a reliably Republican state. He will finally get his chance to hold it's top job, while the next moves for his Democrat opponent, who had at least a bit of time as a political celebrity on the left, remain to be seen.

Abbott campaign link:

Gubernatorial races predicted thus far: 14 D (1 Safe, 5 Likely, 4 Leans, 4 Tossup) , 19 R (6 Safe, 7 Likely, 6 Leans)
Overall totals predicted thus far: 21 D, 26 R (Democrat net gain of 1)


At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Conservative Democrat said...

Corey, expect Abbott to win 57%-39% over Davis.

Abbott will win 44% of Latinos and 11% or 13% of African Americans.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, I'm the wife of Steve Boudreaux.

Texas does currently have 1 Democratic statewide officeholder in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (via party switch) in Lawrence Meyers, who's running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Here's my predictions on how the statewide offices will look like on November 4th:

United States Senator
Cornyn (R-inc.)-61%
Alameel (D)-36%

Governor (open)
Abbott (R)-57%
Davis (D)-39%

Lieutenant Governor (open)
Patrick (R)-55%
Van de Putte (D)-41%

State Attorney General (open)
Paxton (R)-60%
Houston (D)-37%

Comptroller of Public Accounts (open)
Hegar (R)-53%
Collier (D)-45%

Commissioner of the General Land Office (open)
Bush (R)-70%
Cook (D)-27%

Commissioner of Agriculture (open)
Miller (R)-62%
Hogan (D)-36%

Railroad Commissioner, Place 1 (open)
Sitton (R)-56%
Brown (D)-43%

Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court
Hecht (R-inc.)-64%
Moody (D)-34%

Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 6
Brown (R-inc.)-61%
Meyers (D)-38%

Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 7
Boyd (R-inc.)-57%
Benavides (D)-38%

Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 8
Johnson (R-inc.)-84%
Chisholm (Lib)-16%

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3 (open)
Richardson (R)-59%
Granberg (D)-36%

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4 (open)
Yeary (R)-78%
Sanders (Lib)-20%

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9 (open)
Newell (R)-83%
Strange (Lib)-14%


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