Friday, October 16, 2009

Texas Chooses a Governor (Sort Of)

Fall is my favorite season in Texas for a number of reasons. We like to say that we only have two seasons, Summer and Winter, separated by thunderstorms. That's not entirely true. Fall is different from both Summer and Winter. It's God's way of saying He's sorry for the soul-destroying fury of the Summer sun. Once the thunderstorms are out of the way, the weather is simply marvelous. The sky is a pristine dome the color of fine Toledo steel, there's warm sun and cool breeze in perfect measure, and the plant life begins to take a well-earned rest from the labors of Spring and Summer. But those aren't the only reasons I look forward to Fall. For one, that's when football season starts again. And for another, in odd years, it's when the primary season gets underway. Every even year, we're either electing a President, or a Governor.

The office of Governor in Texas is, by design, fairly weak as most states go. The executive powers that some states vest in a strong Governorship, we split up between the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. They're elected separately, and have occasionally been from different parties. That makes for interesting news, when the Governor has one set of ideas and the LG has something completely different in mind. This tends to confuse recent arrivals from other states. Well, at least other non-Southern states; I think most Southern states have a similar set-up. I say jokingly that Texas' Constitution was written with the primary purpose of infuriating Yankees, but that's not too terribly far from the truth. That it kind-of, sort-of works is an unexpected benefit.

So, I'm always interested to see who lines up to pay a very steep price to win a job with less authority than your average Wal-Mart manager. This year's race looks very interesting indeed, at least on the Republican side.

The two leading challengers on the Republican side are the incumbent Governor, Rick Perry, and the current senior Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison. This is a very interesting contest. Not from a policy standpoint ... from a social standpoint. You see, Perry is a Texas A&M alum, while Hutchison went to the University of Texas. If you know anything at all about the rivalry between those two schools, you know this is gonna be a good one. It's old-money versus blue-collar, patrician versus plebeian. The University of Texas has always seen itself as Texas' premier, flagship University, while Texas A&M has always resented that status. Given that Hutchison was a cheerleader while she was at Austin, and Perry was a yell leader down at College Station ... the alumni networks may well have an effect on the outcome of this primary. Plus, you just know this race is going to start at least one fistfight at a sports bar.

With that out of the way, here are capsule reviews of each candidate:

Rick Perry: What I said about him last time still stands, more or less. Except that he appears to be busying himself by quashing an investigation into a case where it looks like we might have executed an innocent man. This is certainly not going to look good on his resume, to the extent that Republican voters actually care about this sort of thing, which is not much.

Kay Bailey Hutchison: Mostly harmless, as Republicans go. I have to say, I do like her notion of limiting Governors to two terms. Usually it's not necessary, since we get tired of the bums after a while, but Perry has hung on for an unconscionably long time. If she turfs him, I won't cry.

Larry Kilgore: He served in the U.S. Air Force, and was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain. The confinement evidently drove him stark raving mad, which explains his fervent support for secession. Dude, please. The legality of secession was decided in the famous case Davis v. Lincoln by Judge Ares Slayer-of-Men at Appomattox Court House in 1865. Have you really forgotten how it worked out for us last time? Did you think that it somehow magically became easier now that the Union has atomic weapons? Do you really want the garrison at Fort Hood to roll out and explain the finer points of the consequences of secession to you via 120-mm smoothbore? Dumbass.

Debra Medina: Dunno. But, being CEO of a medical consulting firm, I think she's got a bee in her bonnet about health care reform. God alone knows how she thinks that being Governor of Texas is going to help with that.

And now, the Democrats:

Kinky Friedman: Ah, my main man, back for another try, this time as a major-party candidate. The question is, will the Democrats of Texas take him seriously? They ought to. Aside from Friedman, the field looks pretty sad and pitiful. And you have to admit, a campaign for Governor of Texas can't have many slogans better than "How Hard Can It Be?" and "Why The Hell Not?" Unless I get an outstanding reason not to, he's who I'm liable to vote for.

Hank Gilbert: He's a rancher, and ran for Agriculture Commissioner back in 2006. One may assume that was a post he was eminently suited for. But I wonder how that expertise is supposed to translate to Gubernatorial excellence. For one, managing the Legislature is less like herding cattle than it is like herding cats; and for another, that's the Lieutenant Governor's job anyway.

Tom Schieffer: Now, he looks like a fairly capable ... Oh dear God, no! Look, we already had one Governor who used to own the Texas Rangers. The thing is, the Rangers stink on ice. Sure, they start the season strong, but come August, the funk of failure begins to loom over Arlington like a storm cloud, and that train's never late. Anyone whose main claim to fame is owning that particular goat-rope is someone you don't want to elect as dog-catcher, much less any post of significant authority. Oh wait, we're not talking about a post of significant authority, are we? Well, he might just do in a pinch.

The primaries are on March 2, 2010. Remember, vote early, and vote often!



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Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Tim:

Enjoyed your blog post on the gubernatorial mess.

We seem to travel in somewhat the same circles. Wanted to know, upfront: Would you like to exchange links?

Tim McGaha said...

Sounds like a good idea to me. I'll get one set up shortly on this end.