The SBOE, the media, and Bill White

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010 at 2:12 pm by wcnews

There appears to be something about the recent actions of the State Board of Education (SBOE) that have sent some in the Texas media into a bit of a tizzy, (see here, here, and here). They’re either urging Bill White to, or questioning why he hasn’t, attacked Rick Perry hard enough over the changes the right wing SBOE made to Social Studies/History curriculum for Texas public schools. It’s as if they finally realized that the state of Texas has been take over by right wing zealots.

But it brings to mind a couple of other topics about the Governor’s race in Texas so far. Many, myself included sometimes, tend to wonder what kind of a race Bill White is running, or intends to run, against Perry. The best explanation so far is that’s he is running the kind of campaign he won with before. This from Jason Embry’s First Reading from last Thursday:

In this space yesterday, I wrote that one consequence of White’s recent television advertising is that money spent now is money that’s not available in the fall, when voters are paying more attention.

Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey, who has been following White much longer than I have, wrote to point out that, when he first ran for mayor, few gave White much chance for winning. And so he went up on television in February, nine months before the election, with about $2 million in his own money, and he stayed on television. By summer, polls showed he had a good shot. That early ad buy helped raise his profile and helped him raise $9.7 million. “To be a

And this from today’s HChron:

Some of GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s supporters are puzzling over Democratic challenger Bill White’s decision to advertise on television so early — not only in Houston, but in select markets in Central, East and West Texas. One estimates that White’s spent over $1 million already. While White must introduce himself to voters statewide, they say if he doesn’t have the kind of big money needed to stay up consistently through November, he’s wasting his dollars because people will forget about this early round of ads. White spokeswoman Katy Bacon doesn’t sound worried: “We have a plan to win. We’re following that plan.”

I’m sure Whites’ not going to worry much about the fake concern of Perry’s wing nut supporters. What that really says is that White is not running, generally speaking, the kind of campaign that the media, and most consultants in Texas have become accustomed to, therefore he must be doing something wrong.

Another point is the governor’s role in the SBOE and Perry’s silence on the issue. This from a comment made by Paul Burka in the comment string to post above. It brings up some other interesting points for the governor’s race.

I think the SBOE’s rewriting of history has a chance to catch on with independents. It is reminiscent of some of the excesses of Republicans in the Bush years (presidency, not governor), like the Terry Schiavo case. This involves what our children are learning. That makes it the kind of issue independents care about, or so I would suggest. It’s pretty hard to shock me, but what the SBOE did shocks me. Perry could have signaled the board through his chair that he didn’t want this fight, but he let it happen.

The SBOE vote is not a something Perry wants tied to him. As we all know, when the governor likes, or dislikes, an issue he won’t shut up about it. In this case his silence means he’s scared of this issue, not wanting to say one way or another where he stands. He doesn’t want to irritate the religious fanatics on the right, or alienate the moderate Republicans and Independents, by embracing this fiasco. While some may want to remove Perry from the SBOE it’s not possible, his silence, more than likely, means he’s on board with Friday’s vote.

White’s not running around, jumping into every fray, and trying to score political points and “win each day” as has become the norm in politics. He’s picked specific issues like education and the Texas Enterprise Fund, and stuck to them. That’s weird to the media and many that watch politics closely. White is running a tortoise vs. hare (or hair) kind of race, and hoping the finish first in the end, slowly laying the groundwork that he hopes will pay off in the Fall. White and his campaign are making their case, going around the state, talking to Texans and putting out policy statements on what the White do differently, if elected, from what Perry has subjected our state to over the last 10 years. From this it seems clear the plan is that by November the voters in Texas will see that Bill White is the anti-Perry.

White, right now, is sticking to a plan he’s won with before, believes in, and is comfortable with - and so is Perry. It’s best that a candidate campaign in the way they know best, instead of trying to run in a way that’s unnatural to them. This will give the voters a clear choice in November. If they’re happy with the way Texas is going they should vote for Perry, if they’re unhappy with the current state of affairs in Texas then they should vote for White.

The media in Texas, for their part, should stop focusing on the daily press releases, the horse race, and coyote tales, that are an attempt to shape their reporting, and focus on the issues that Texans are facing in their everyday lives - health care, education, transpiration, to name a few. Maybe that will be the best thing, in the short term, to come out of the recent debacle at the SBOE. It may get those in the media to focus on what’s important in this election year.

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