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Endorsement watch: All for Bill White

We don’t have another sweep yet, as the Star-Telegram hasn’t weighed in quite yet, but all the endorsements so far have gone Bill White‘s way as expected. A sample:

The DMN is particularly pointed.

Perry, 60, has done relatively little during a decade at the helm of state government. He can lay claim to few signature achievements. He lacks allies in the Legislature, and whether the issue is school finance, transportation or juvenile justice, he has not managed to see needed reforms through to conclusion.

The Republican governor is counting on the state’s relatively strong economy to secure his third full term in office. But Texas’ business-friendly environment predates Perry and will extend beyond his time in office. And now, with a deficit of up to $21 billion looming, more than budget bravado and a “taxes bad” mantra will be required to keep Texas on solid financial footing.

The state needs a solutions-oriented leader who is focused on bolstering Texas – not on doing battle with Washington.

Democrat Bill White is better-suited to steer this ship of state through the challenges ahead.

The former mayor of Houston is a fiscal conservative with a progressive bent. He’s more pragmatic than partisan. He’s proven himself competent in business and in public office. Indeed, he’s a bit of a throwback – in the best Texas tradition of the businessman governor.

We don’t make this recommendation lightly. This newspaper has a long history of recommending Rick Perry for office against Democrats from agriculture commissioner to the governor’s office. But Texas requires a different kind of leadership at this important juncture.

The Express News, which notes it recommended Perry in 2002 and 2006, is equally blunt.

Perry’s pattern of patronage in making appointments to the state’s oversight boards and commissions gets to the heart of what has become an abusive manipulation of state government. The most glaring example is the Texas Forensic Science Commission’s unconscionable delay in reviewing the flawed evidence that sent a Texas resident to the death chamber under Perry’s watch.

Given this record over the past four years, it’s no surprise that Perry is reluctant to take questions from the media or public. That is what allows him to campaign as a budget balancer, while neglecting to address a historic budget shortfall that may be as large as $21 billion for the next biennium.

Perry’s boycott of newspaper editorial boards — including those with long records of endorsing him — as well as his refusal to participate in debates with his opponents is incompatible with the power entrusted to him. An official who believes himself to be above accountability is beneath the qualifications of the state’s highest office.

Democrat Bill White, a native of San Antonio, offers a fresh start for Texas. As mayor of Houston, White brought a keen sense of the bottom line to the management of the state’s largest city. He worked across partisan lines and pushed for reforms that curbed the influence of lobbyists at city hall. White would bring the same business sense, spirit of cooperation and ethics reforms to Austin.

The Galveston County Daily News chimes in.

There’s a contrast between what is practiced and what is preached. While touting his strong, conservative values, [Perry] rented a house for $9,000 a month while the governor’s mansion was under repairs.

More than any other governor, he has tied the state’s business to personal support, particularly campaign contributions. It’s understood that certain appointments go to people who contribute. He’s collected an extraordinary amount from his appointees and their spouses. A report by Texans for Public Justice puts the number at $17.1 million since 2001. In that time, contributors have given him $83.2 million.

A lot of the otherwise incomprehensible decisions that have been made in Austin — remember the HPV vaccination and the Trans-Texas Corridor? — are understandable if you grasp Perry’s formula for staying in office. It’s a formula that involves money and influence, and it smells. Texans need to clear the air.

White was a deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and was mayor of Houston for six years. He has experience in government, as well as the business. He’s up to this job.

Sensing a theme yet? Here’s the Amarillo Globe-News.

White promises transparency in government and vows to “hit the road” when the Legislature is not in session, listening to Texans’ concerns about their state.

For his part, Gov. Rick Perry, already the longest-serving governor in state history, has demonstrated a strangely stubborn streak in his refusal to debate the issues of the day.

He declines repeatedly to take questions from the media – including his refusal to meet with editorial boards. Perry has been needlessly combative. He has refused to debate White head to head over allegations that the challenger has refused to release all his income tax records; that refusal has denied Texans a chance to size these two men up side by side.

His petulance is unbecoming and counterprodutive.

Rick Perry has been governor long enough and many around the state are beginning to grow weary of what’s being called Perry Fatigue.

And if symbolism matters, White has vowed to move into a double-wide trailer with his wife, Andrea, while the Governor’s Mansion is being repaired. He will forgo the type of pricey rental mansion that has been the Perrys’ home for the past two years.

It’s instructive that White has collected support in the Panhandle from key Republican movers and shakers. Imagine that. This solidly Republican region of a solidly Republican state has several key leaders expressing their support for the Democratic nominee for governor.

And the Bryan-College Station Eagle:

In recent years, Perry has divorced himself from the people of Texas, refusing to appear before any but the most adulatory audiences. If you aren’t a Perry fanatic, you don’t get in to his events. Perry no longer meets with editorial boards at newspapers across the state. That is his prerogative, of course, but his refusal to answer questions from the media or from the people of Texas has left him ignorant of the concerns, the wants and the needs of the state he hopes to lead for another four years. It is an arrogance unseen in Texas governors of the past.

White, on the other hand, has met with editorial boards — including this one — with reporters and with Texans of all political persuasions. He has listened to what the people are saying and is prepared to address their concerns if elected governor. He isn’t particularly dynamic or bombastic, but we have had a governor for show for the past decade and now it is time to have one who actually can lead and get things done.

[...]

Perry for the most part has ignored other Texas universities, preferring to focus — harmfully — on his alma mater, Texas A&M. He has packed the administration and the Board of Regents with political cronies to the detriment of the university. His meddling has brought faculty and staff morale to a low unseen in decades. Because of the governor’s interference, A&M’s reputation as a first-class university is eroding and there is grave danger that the school will be unable to attract the best faculty in the future. Why any Brazos County voter, why any loyal Aggie would vote for Rick Perry is beyond us.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Four years ago, the A-J strongly endorsed incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. Why not this time?

He’s been in office too long.

He’s appointed so many public officials at all levels for so long, they’re beholden to him. It’s time to get someone in the governor’s office who won’t use the appointment process as of way of building a political support network. A good example played out in front of our noses in the disappointing way the situation with Texas Tech Regents Mark Griffin and Windy Sitton was handled.

For all the governor’s talk about limited government, how did Texas end up with a $20 billion-plus deficit? Shouldn’t something have been done about this earlier — especially when our state constitution mandates it?

His lack of openness is disconcerting. The governor should debate Mr. White. His reasons are not acceptable.

The San Angelo Standard-Times.

It’s that extraordinary level of competence that could set White apart as a governor. Part of his dilemma, though, is that he comes across as anything but extraordinary.

White tries to turn his wonkish, low-key visage to his advantage by describing himself as “a workhorse, not a show horse.”

That may be so, but the state has a history of electing governors with big personalities that exude Texan-ness. That includes Perry, who elevated himself on the Lone Star scale even as he embarrassed many with his sly hints at secession.

Not a bad showing in West Texas, which isn’t exactly a Democratic hotbed. Finally, here are a couple of earlier endorsements, from the Beaumont Enterprise:

White wants a Texas where our kids learn the three R’s instead of being “taught the test” or told that their textbooks are riddled with Muslim propaganda. He wants a state government filled with the best and brightest, not cronies who know how to write large checks. He wants a legislative session that balances the budget in a logical way instead of relying on accounting tricks or issuing more bonds. He wants to get all the aid he can from the federal government instead of turning down tens of millions for wacky political reasons.

Rick Perry?

He won’t debate his opponent. He endorsed secession at a Tea Party rally. He grumbles about border security even though he’s been governor for 10 years. He repeatedly embarrasses Texas before the rest of the country instead of promoting this great state.

Worse, he’s out of touch with regular voters. His scornful attitude toward them is, “Here I am; take it or leave it.” He is the opposite of a politician who holds sincere views but you might respect even if you disagree with him.

Texas can do better. With Bill White as governor, we will.

And the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

White is the better choice for any truly conservative voter (he’s the only choice for liberal voters). He understands how to run a business, generate jobs and make a profit. He displayed a savant’s insight into the energy industry. This expertise, which Perry does not possess, should be highly useful to this state.

A Dallas Morning News profile describes White as a demanding boss and relentless workaholic who lives well below his considerable means. Perry in contrast has drawn considerable attention for living in luxury quarters for $9,000 a month at state expense while the Governor’s Mansion undergoes renovation.

Perry in daily news releases refers to his opponent as “liberal trial lawyer Bill White.” In White we perceive more resemblance to the late Lloyd Bentsen, who was flamingly non-liberal, than to President Barack Obama, with whom the Perry machine seeks desperately to associate White.

White did indeed distinguish himself in a law career before his more recent successes in the oil and gas field. But Perry has been making much more use of the court system of late. The state under Perry has filed two lawsuits against the federal government, first the EPA for halting Texas’ air permitting process, and more recently the Education Department for refusing to turn loose $830 million until Perry guarantees that Texas won’t cut education funding.

These are issues White would solve diplomatically with the goals of keeping Texas industries operating efficiently and helping the education system. Perry instead chooses confrontation to attract attention and to define Washington as the enemy. He does so at the expense of needlessly delaying solutions. By that measure if not on legal grounds, those lawsuits are best described as frivolous.

How much newspaper endorsements are worth is open to debate. My way of looking at it is that all of this can only help White with independents and soft-R voters, both of which he needs in significant amounts to win. It’s been interesting to see Perry’s TV ads lately, with their combination of soft-focus “morning in Texas” optimism and copycat “he’s in it for himself” attacks, neither of which bear any resemblance to his message from the primary. What they suggest to me is that maybe, just maybe, Perry is starting to think that he can’t win with his hardcore base alone, and that despite his utter lack of attention to or interest in the non-teabagger public he’s hoping he can prevent White from making too much inroad with folks who will likely vote for a lot of Republicans in other races.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jordanv, Tim Trentham. Tim Trentham said: Early voting in Travis Co. until 10/29. Most Texas newspapers are going for White. Just sayin'. http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=32013 [...]

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