BOR interviews Tom Schieffer

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Good Stuff, Public Schools, Transportation, Uncategorized at 9:32 am by wcnews

Todd Hill did an interesting and wide ranging interview with Democrat Tom Scheiffer who is testing the waters to run for Governor of Texas, BOR Exclusive: Meet Tom Schieffer. Discussed were many of the topics facing Texas today: Public and higher education, Voter ID, transportation, energy and deregualtion, and unemployment insurance, (he would have taken the $555 million). He also discussed his relationship with former President George W. Bush (again), his previous experience getting the Ballpark in Arlington built, and his strategy to win in November 2010. Below we will post a few excerpts, but it’s highly recommended to read the whole thing.

First an interesting thing learned from the interview was that Shcieffer and his wife went on sort of a “walk about” around Texas after getting back to the state from Australia.

So you have commented that you have traveled around the state before making a decision to explore a run for governor. Where did you go? Who did you talk with? What were they telling you about Texas politics today?

I didn’t really go around for political purposes. I was coming back from Japan and wanted to see Texas again. When I was Ambassador to Australia, people who retired would drive around the perimeter of Australia. So Susanne and I thought that would be fun to do in Texas once we came back from Tokyo. We planned it a long time ago and we thought it would be a nice break from the high security, highly structured lifestyle I had in Tokyo. So we just wanted to get in the car and drive till we got tired, check into a motel without reservations, and that’s how it got started. It was 4208.3 miles and we literally drove around the perimeter of Texas and I think it was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done.

On how Texas has a crisis in leadership and the far right ruling our state’s politics:

I think the thing I realized when I talked to people was that they really feel there is a crisis in leadership in this state and that what has happened is that Texas politics has evolved over the last eight years into a debate on how it will play in the Republican Primary. The Republican primary is still a very narrow primary— it doesn’t have a lot of people voting in it. I think what the statewide candidates in particular have worried about, and House candidates too, is how their actions are going to be perceived in the Republican primary. As a result of that I think they come back with these hard Right answers so often. I think that our politics and the challenges that we face are much more difficult than the simplistic answers that are being offered.

On how he can win:

Ok, I’m a student, a hard working Texan, and activist in the Democratic Party, give me three reasons why Todd Hill should vote for Tom Schieffer in a Democratic Primary?

I can win. And winning the governor’s office is a game changer in Texas politics. I think that my politics and my profile can bring people back to the Democratic Party that hasn’t voted there in a while. I think I can raise money in places that other Democrats can’t. When you look at the last election and you analyze where Obama lost and won, he carried four out of the five largest urban areas, but he didn’t carry Tarrant County. Well I’m from Tarrant County, and the neighborhood education that I got and my brother got make us hometown boys made good. I think it gives me credibility to get votes here in Tarrant County that no other Democrat can get. In the next five largest counties - which are suburban counties compared to the big five - Obama did substantially better than Kerry did in the last election. He particularly did well with higher-educated, higher income voters in those suburban areas. I think that is a natural constituency for the kind of emphasis on education and general policies that I’m advocating. In the thirty counties that had a Hispanic majority Obama beat McCain 2 to1. I think I can do that well or better. In the last 214 counties he lost badly and while he won the Hispanic counties 2 to 1, he lost the rural counties 3 and 4 to 1. I think I can do substantially better than that.

He speaks to the need for a well-educated workforce.

So basically in your conversations with people you’re hearing, and through your background and experience you are seeing, that education is an area that needs focus, and that your campaign is centering on?

Absolutely. It’s a two-pronged thing. It is education and the effect that the lack of education will have in a global economy. A lot of times Governor Perry will talk about creating a “good business climate.” I believe in creating a good business climate. I have more business experience than Senator Hutchison and Governor Perry combined. I know what it is to borrow money and pay it back, I know what it is to create jobs and to meet payroll.

Your experience is obviously something you are bringing to this exploration for governor…

Yes, but let me say this about the business climate: it’s not one-sided. The second side of the same coin is our educational system. It is a global, knowledge based economy. If we don’t have a workforce that is capable of doing the jobs being created today then no business is going to want to move here. They are going to have to have educated citizens to do the work. If we don’t have that it doesn’t matter how low the business taxes are - they aren’t going to come here because they aren’t going to find anyone here to do the work. No one is speaking to that. I believe the more people I talk with the more people I believe are willing to listen to a political dialogue that is different. There is a constituency for the kind of candidacy I would have.

And says good answers to questions about transportation.

I believe in public-private-partnerships, but the public part of it has to be negotiated from the standpoint of what is best for the public. If there is no benefit to the public then there should be no partnership.

I don’t on the face of it say that toll roads are a bad thing, but toll roads ought to be a last resort and not a first choice. If you can’t get the road built any other way than you build it with a toll road. We did that right here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area…

With I-30 between Dallas and Fort Worth…

The point of the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike was to build a road between Dallas and Fort Worth, you issue bonds, and when the bonds are paid off it becomes a freeway. The thing that bothers me about these deals that have been put together lately is that they are not only talking about building toll roads they are talking about denying access to free roads in the future. We are making commitments that the state won’t do this and won’t do that if the private company will just build a toll road, but the person driving has no choice but to take the toll road.


I get back to the fact that toll roads should not be the first choice. They should be the last choice. Toll roads in effect can be a case of double taxation. You get taxed on the gasoline side of it and you get taxed for use of the road.

He’s also against the Voter ID legislation.

Mr. Schieffer, do you feel we have a widespread voter fraud issue in Texas?

No. I think that Republicans have spent all this money trying to uncover voter fraud and they haven’t. I worry that the Voter ID Bill that has been proposed in Austin is really just a sham to try and discourage people from voting. That’s not what we ought to be about. We ought to try and get people to vote and encourage people to vote. People say, well, you have to show ID when you board an airplane, you have to show ID when you cash a check, but there are a lot of people in Texas who don’t fly, and there are a lot of people in Texas who don’t have checking accounts. They have a right to vote. That is what democracy is all about. You don’t want to keep those people away. You don’t want when they come to the polling place for them to feel like they shouldn’t be there. We need to encourage people to be there. We need to encourage people to vote. We need to have campaigns that discuss things and let them decide the outcome. But let’s not have one side or the other put their thumb on the scale in order to predict the outcome based on discouraging people from voting.

While Shcieffer is not going to make the “yella dawg’s” jump up and down, his candidacy would definitely offer Democrats some advantages in 2010. His strategy would appear to be holding onto Obama’s support from 2008, and adding to it with more support from Tarrant County and rural voters. There’s still a long way to go and he hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet, but Shcieffer makes an case worth listening to and taking serious.

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