Wednesday, January 04, 2006

White House Press Secretary's Mom bolts and torpedoes Republicans

As a general rule, I haven't put up a large number of posts discussing specific political races, but this one is interesting, because it involves a potential split in the President's party, in his own home state, and involving a family member (specifically the mother of) a key member of his own staff.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- 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. Monday's announcement all but guarantees Perry will be the Republican candidate on the November ballot.

"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."

Strayhorn is the mother of Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Strayhorn said of Perry: "He has given us higher property taxes, bigger government, higher insurance rates, toll roads, has abandoned our border and ignored our broken schools."

Not disagreeing about the schools especially, although I used to live in Texas for a year, and most of the problems in the school system were already there under the governor who preceded Perry (some guy named George.) But Perry has done nothing at all about fixing the problems of the school system.

Even in Texas, Democrats have still managed to draw about 45% in the past few statewide races for state offices. And it could be the one state where the effect of the Katrina evacuations are significant politically and could make it more Democratic (with 150,000 former residents of Louisiana who had to flee Katrina now living in and establishing new lives in Texas, and they being overwhelmingly Democratic; even in a state the size of Texas, a hundred thousand new voters will have an impact.) So a split in GOP ranks in the governors race could be an enormous opportunity for Democrats.

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