Texas politics is getting more complicated, but lots more interesting. Bill White, Democrat of Texas, is trying to unseat two term Republican Governor Rick Perry in November. Rick Perry has become infamous for calling for Texas secession from the union. Last year, he refused federal funds for education then accepted them, but none of the monies reached the children, because they were diverted into the general budget. The budget includes a giant slush fund called the “enterprise fund” that Governor Perry uses to encourage big businessmen.
Recently, while Congress debated the Jobs and Tax Loophole Reform Act, a letter was sent by numerous Texas educators and administrators asking that if the bill passed a specific clause be included demanding that funds for education sent to Texas not be allowed to be diverted anywhere but to the classrooms. The bill has passed in Congress. Perry plans to sue.
Perry has become infamous for supporting big oil. He said that the BP Gulf oil spill was an “act of God,” along with Hurricane Katrina.
Despite this, Bill White has a major challenge in trying to unseat him.
White is also a business and oil man with a strong interest to vastly improve Texas’s poor educational standing. He sees good education as a way out of poverty and a chance to have skilled workers for the skilled jobs he wants to bring to Texas. He is also clear that the state board of education was wrong to develop curricula based on political agendas…
Facing a difficult challenge, White feeling confident in the liberal vote, swung further to the center right and refused to come to the Obama state fundraiser in Austin. He did this to appeal more to undecided and “soft Republican” voters.
He feared Perry’s efforts to identify White with Washington “insiders” and “liberals.”
He did however, create much conflict with his base particularly in the African American community. There were some who felt he was being disrespectful to the president. The African American community worked hard for Obama’s election.
On the other hand, Perry, trying to appeal to undecided voters, took time to be sure to see President Obama at the airport and even attempted a meeting which was refused by Obama.
On a brighter note, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, Linda Chavez-Thompson, a strong labor candidate who grew up in the cotton fields attended the Obama fundraiser in Austin and said: “I didn’t shake his hand….I walked straight up to him and, stared him in the eye, and greeted him with a warm abrazo (hug)…because that’s the way you greet a fellow laborer!” She praised Obama for taking on the economy, Wall Street, and health care. She talked of the large number of minimum wage jobs in Texas, and the high drop out rate.
In order for Bill White to win they will need more than working-class liberal voters.
A victory for them both would mean a substantial improvement in Texas for the working class and poor over the present two-term governor, his lobbyists, and pro-oil money supporters.
White is honestly interested to develop the jobs that would result from new developing new forms of energy. He has also stood up strongly against the Arizona SB 1070 law and stated he would “veto a similar law in Texas if it was passed in the state legislature.”
Photo: Vivian Weinstein Bill White shaking hands with a union member.