Hank Gilbert, the 2006 Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner who had been up till recently running for that office again, is now thinking about running for Governor.
[A]ccording to multiple sources that have confirmed this to Burnt Orange Report, Hank Gilbert, our 2006 Agriculture Commissioner candidate is gearing up to run statewide in the Governor’s race. Gilbert was one of the first three TexRoots endorsed candidates, which included soon to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia.
This is an exciting development. Not only would such a move shake up interest for activists who have long appreciated Gilbert’s true Texas style, it has the potential to set up a productive and active primary to keep Democrats from straying over into the Republican fold for Kay Bailey Hutchison. From conversations with those close to Gilbert, he’s secured commitments and support to take his campaign to the top of the ticket should he choose to and start a campaign with more online infrastructure than anyone else in the 2006, 2008, or 2010 Democratic fields.
While our statewide ticket isn’t dependent on our Gubernatorial nominee, it has an influence in providing support for the downballot races, including freshman members and rural Democrats in the Texas House. Compared to some of the current gubernatorial candidates, Gilbert could be an asset for Democrats’ downballot efforts. From what I’ve been told, Gilbert is interested in helping to proactively fill out other spots on the statewide ticket and is interested in working with other candidates to minimize unnecessary conflict.
Hank’s a charismatic guy, and he’s popular among the activists, which may give him a leg up in the primaries. As Molly Ivins would have put it, he’s got a lot of Elvis in him. While the BOR report sounds promising, I confess I’m skeptical about this. I think Hank makes for a very good Ag Commissioner candidate, but I’m not sure how all of his qualities will translate to the top of the ticket. I’d need to hear more about this. Has Ronnie Earle made a decision yet?
Here’s the Chron story on Gilbert’s announcement.
[Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom] Schieffer said he had hoped that Gilbert would run for agriculture commissioner again on a ticket with him.
“Ten days ago, Hank Gilbert talked to me about being part of the team and running the ag race. His exact words to me were: ‘You need to cover me in the urban areas, and I’ll cover your back in the rural areas,’ ” Schieffer said.
Gilbert said he had told Schieffer that at a Democratic summit in Tyler, but he said he changed his mind and decided to run for governor after listening to Schieffer speak.
“The man is very intelligent,” Gilbert said. “But he just didn’t inspire me. I was looking for that spark.”
As it happens, today I got an email from the Tom Schieffer campaign touting some endorsements from Democratic leaders like State Reps. Garnet Coleman, Jessica Farrar, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego. I’ve reproduced the press release beneath the fold. I’ll be honest, while I think a competitive primary between credible candidates will be beneficial, all told I’d rather have both Schieffer and Gilbert on the ticket in November. But we’ll see how this plays out.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Schieffer today won key endorsements from four Democratic leaders of the Texas House – Representatives Garnet Coleman of Houston, Jim Dunnam of Waco, Jessica Farrar of Houston and Pete Gallego of Alpine.
“I am gratified by this broad base of Democratic support,” Schieffer said. “These leaders have long been in the forefront – often fighting against strong Republican opposition – of efforts to improve education, make quality health care available to more Texans, improve our transportation system and lower insurance rates and utility bills. Together, we can reverse this race to the bottom and improve the quality of life for Texas families.”
The veteran lawmakers represent a wide range of expertise on critical issues, including education, health care, appropriations, criminal justice and economic development, and all have received numerous awards for their public service.
“We are proud to endorse Ambassador Tom Schieffer to serve as the next governor of Texas because he is addressing issues and concerns that are important to Texas families – public education, jobs, children’s health insurance, rising college tuition, energy, protecting the environment and transportation,” Coleman said. “Tom Schieffer is going to be the next governor of Texas because he cares about solving real problems for Texas families.”
Coleman chairs the Legislative Study Group, a nonpartisan caucus dedicated to the development of sound public policy for Texas families. He is the immediate past chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and co-authored legislation creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Texas and making it easier for low-income children to enroll in Medicaid.
“Democrats across Texas can be proud to support Tom Schieffer – a fellow, lifelong Democrat who has never missed voting in a Democratic primary since he was old enough to vote in 1968,” said Dunnam, the House Democratic Leader.
“Tom’s service to our country during the previous administration doesn’t change that,” Dunnam added. “Texans deserve better than one Republican who wants to be governor for life and another who thinks the governor’s mansion is a retirement home. That is why Democrats across the state will unite behind Tom Schieffer.”
Dunnam chairs the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, which played a key role in allocating federal stimulus dollars during the recent legislative session. He has sponsored numerous laws during his legislative career, including bills improving 911 service to rural areas, ensuring smaller class sizes for elementary students and cracking down on drunk driving.
Farrar, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said Democratic legislators “are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work “ electing Schieffer governor. “We will knock on doors, raise money and help spread his positive message of real solutions for Texas families,” she said.
Farrar also is vice chair of the House Committee on Land and Resource Management, founder and vice chair of the Women’s Health Caucus and founder and secretary of the House Environmental Caucus. She co-founded the Texas Women’s Health Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit group aimed at depoliticizing women’s health issues, and founded Latinas on the Rise, a non-profit mentoring program for Latina college students.
She has worked extensively on legislation related to women’s and children’s health, the environment, domestic violence, sexual assault and reproductive rights.
“Tom Schieffer will be the next governor of Texas because he is a proven leader, not an ideologue,” Gallego said. “His successful record as a lawyer, businessman and diplomat proves he will bring people together from across the political spectrum and put the needs of Texas and Texans ahead of narrow partisan and ideological interests.”
Gallego, chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, added: “Tom is the kind of Democrat who can win statewide office. He is the kind of leader our state needs — someone who can appeal to Democrats, independents and thoughtful Republicans.”
Gallego is a former chair of the House Democratic Caucus and former chair of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. He is the first Hispanic elected to represent his 39,000-square-mile West Texas district along the Mexican border.