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At some point we will be able to stop talking about who may run for Governor as a Democrat

That day is December 11. I am looking forward to it.

Andrew White

With less than a month before the filing deadline, the most prominent declared candidate for Texas governor is probably Andrew White, the son of former governor Mark White. White, a self-described “very conservative Democrat,” has never run for elected office and holds views on abortion likely to alienate some Democratic primary voters. (He says he wants to “increase access to healthcare and make abortion rare.”) In a November 2 Facebook post, Davis — a major figure in the state’s reproductive justice scene — called White “anti-choice” and summarized her reaction to his candidacy: “Uhh — no. Just no.”

For lieutenant governor, mild-mannered accountant Mike Collier — who lost a run for comptroller last cycle by 21 percentage points — is challenging Dan Patrick, one of the state’s most effective and well-funded conservative firebrands. Attorney General Ken Paxton, who will be fighting his securities fraud indictment during campaign season, drew a largely unheard-of Democratic opponent last week in attorney Justin Nelson, a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Candidate filing officially opened Saturday and ends December 11, but candidates who haven’t declared are missing opportunities for fundraising, building name recognition and organizing a campaign.

“Texas Democrats have quite clearly thrown in the towel for 2018,” said Mark P. Jones, a Rice University political scientist. “People truly committed to running would already be running; [the party] may be able to cajole, coerce or convince some higher-profile candidates to run, but with every passing day that’s less likely.”

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced last week that she’s considering a gubernatorial run, but her staff refused further comment and Valdez has yet to file. Whoever faces off with Governor Greg Abbott will be staring down a $41 million war chest.

Democratic party officials insist more candidates are forthcoming: “We’ve taken our punches for withholding the names of who we’re talking to,” said Manny Garcia, deputy director with the Texas Democratic Party. “It’s been personally frustrating to me because I know who we’re talking to and I know they’re exciting people.”

Castro agreed with Garcia: “I do believe that before the filing deadline you’re going to see people stepping up to run,” he told the Observer.

The lone bright spot on the statewide slate, said Jones, is Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman taking on Ted Cruz. Highlighting the value of announcing early, O’Rourke has raised an impressive $4 million since March off mostly individual donations.

“Like in Battlestar Galactica, O’Rourke is Battlestar Galactica and then there’s this ragtag fleet of garbage ships and transports accompanying him,” Jones said of the current Democratic lineup, noting that even O’Rourke was a second-string option to Congressman Joaquín Castro.

Look, either Manny Garcia is right and we’ll be pleasantly surprised come December 12, or he’s being irrationally exuberant and we’ll all enjoy some gallows humor at his expense. Yeah, it would be nice to have a brand-name candidate out there raising money and his or her profile right now, but how much does two or three months really matter? Bill White was still running for a Senate seat that turned out not to be available at this time in 2009; he didn’t officially shift to Governor until the first week of December. If there is a candidate out there that will broadly satisfy people we’ll know soon enough; if not, we’ll need to get to work for the candidates we do have. Such is life.

In other filing news, you can see the 2018 Harris County GOP lineup to date here. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the HCDP has no such publicly available list at this time. You can see some pictures of candidates who have filed on the HCDP Facebook page, but most of those pictures have no captions and I have no idea who some of those people are. The SOS primary filings page is useless, and the TDP webpage has nothing, too. As for the Harris County GOP, a few notes:

– State Rep. Kevin Roberts is indeed in for CD02. He’s alone in that so far, and there isn’t a candidate for HD126 yet.

– Marc Cowart is their candidate for HCDE Trustee Position 3 At Large, the seat being vacated by Diane Trautman.

– So far, Sarah Davis is the only incumbent lucky enough to have drawn a primary challenger, but I expect that will change.

That’s about it for anything interesting. There really aren’t any good targets for them beyond that At Large HCDE seat, as the second edge of the redistricting sword is really safe seats for the other party, since you have to pack them in somewhere. Feel free to leave any good speculation or innuendo in the comments.

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5 Comments

  1. neither here nor there says:

    He has the right thoughts, go to the right on the economy and other such matters, go to the right on social issues, so say the studies.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Expectations are that Gail Stanart, spouse of County Clerk Stan Stanart, and a member of the state Republican Executive Committee and Sam Harless, spouse of former Rep. Harless will be leading contenders in HD 126.

    Briscoe Cain is expected to have significant primary opposition from a Baytown city council member.

    Dan Huberty is expected to have opposition, including a Kingwood area precinct chair.

    There are rumblings of an opponent to Jim Murphy, but no one has committed.

  3. General Grant says:

    Is that the extent of White’s remarks about abortion?

    If it is, the attacks from Davis etc. are a prime example of why Dems needlessly repel people. Saying I want to make abortion rare should not be controversial. Heck, Bill Clinton said it. I think the vast majority of people wish abortion was rare or nonexistent, and would support measures to reduce or eliminate situations where it becomes an option. I’ve always felt that this is where there should be common ground across the spectrum to create positive consensus policies.

    Now, none of that relates to reasonable ACCESS to abortion. If White opposes access to a legal abortion, I can get the criticism of him. It is perfectly reasonable to say that I want to ensure access to abortion for all women for those unfortunate situations where they invoke their legal right to choose to have one, but that I want to do everything I can to keep people out of the situations that drive people to consider it. Not only is that position reasonable, but it is liberal and generally won’t offend all but the hard core anti-abortion people who are lost causes to the Democrats anyway. Also, this can be and should be articulated in a way not to “sha,e” or otherwise denigrate women who have considered or had abortions.

    But to attack somebody just for saying they want to make abortion rare is problematic. Not only does it offend otherwise potentially Dem voters who are anti-abortion, but it makes people like Davis seem like they actively favor abortion. Not only is this poor political messaging, I think it paints a false picture of pro-choice activists and their allies.

  4. General Grant,

    The genesis of this was a Facebook discussion in which a past VP with Planned Parenthood said “He declined a meeting with Planned Parenthood political staff and laid out his anti-choice position in a meeting with another staffer who asked specifically about this”. So there is more to this than that, and he’s starting out in a position of not being trusted.

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