Three issues facing Perry – Debt, Tuition, and Unemployment
As we’ve known for a while, the best bet for Democrats to win the governor’s mansion in Texas in 2010 was to run against Gov. Rick Perry. The first post primary poll shows Bill White doing well and the race very close and Cook Political Report now rates the race a toss up. After all 49% of voters in the2010 Texas GOP Primary voted against Perry, and it’s probably much easier to vote against someone the second time.
But the another problem facing Perry is that he will now be facing an opponent that can attack him from all sides. In the GOP Primary, with three candidates fighting over a narrow and mostly extreme base of support, his main opponent, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and her campaign felt they couldn’t take on Perry on certain issues. That won’t be the case with Bill White. This part of his acceptance speech on Tuesday is already getting much notice in the media.
They’ll talk about the massive amount of debt in Washington, which none of us agree with, in order to hide the fact that debt has almost doubled in Austin under Governor Perry. They’ll think that you will not notice this. [Emphasis added]
As Politifact points out today Bill White says Texas debt has doubled under Perry. Not only is that true, but also it’s Perry and the GOP’s neglect of transportation that has increased the debt so much under Perry.
It turns out that transportation is responsible for most of the added debt load under Perry, increasing from basically nothing in 2000 to $11.8 billion outstanding as of Aug. 31 2009. That’s because before 2001, the Texas Department of Transportation lacked the authority to borrow money to pay for road projects. Voters gave it that power in 2001 when they approved a constitutional amendment that Perry supported.
Addressing transportation in his 2001 state of the state speech, Perry said, “I would like for both chambers to pass a bonding program to jump-start construction across our state.”
And that doesn’t take into account the added burden of his failed tax scheme from 2006 is putting on our state’s budget.
But Perry is also doing little to combat the other issues that are hitting Texas families hard. The stagnant employment situation, Texas lost an extra 50,000 jobs, Dallas Fed finds, and the huge increases in college tuition since his deregulation scheme went into effect, UT System Regents Hike Tuition (again).
I suspect we’ll be seeing more of this in the coming weeks. Democrats have suffered their nadir well in advance of November’s elections. Republicans like Jim Bunning have reminded voters of the GOP agenda. Health care reform is just weeks away from passing (yes, I’m an optimist), giving Democrats an epic and hard-fought victory, and Republicans continue to face severe funding gaps at all levels.
Their one advantage, the intensity gap, is in jeopardy as the teabaggers splinter and begin supporting either fringe or third-party challengers, and Democrats are starting to wake up (thanks Blanche!).
At this point, Democrats are still poised to suffer setbacks in November, but no chamber will change hands. Yet Republicans have so convinced themselves of their epic victory against “socialism,” that even incremental gains will shatter them. Their expectations have been set so high, aided by Cook and other analysts like him jumping the gun, that meeting them is an impossibility.
And therein lies our own motivation: We help build the firewall, protect our most valuable members, lose some of our (Blue Doggy) deadweight, play offense in some key places, and deny Republicans their triumph, and we’ve won the cycle.
Playing defense isn’t as glamorous as playing offense, but if we come out of it a more cohesive party, we’ve won, and if we shatter the GOP’s will in the process, so much the better.
Hopefully the message Democrats in Texas will carry is that the GOP in Texas is running the exact same ineffective leaders they did four years ago. The top of the GOP ticket is the same. We know what they did the last four years, they’ll govern just as bad the next four years. Nothing will change as long as they stay in office.
EOW highly recommends listening to Bill White’s post primary press conference from Wednesday.