By Manifesto Joe
Texas has a weak governor, strong lieutenant governor system. The No. 2 executive in the state, presiding over the Senate, is often thought to have at least marginally more power. But the governor does wield a veto pen and is at least symbolically the state's leader.
The 2014 race for governor seems to be taking shape, now that Rick "El Pendejo" Perry has, after 14 long years, decided that he doesn't want to be governor for life and hasn't ruled out another embarrassing bid for the presidency. Here's how things are looking now:
State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, Democratic frontrunner
Like many who have somehow had greatness thrust upon them, Wendy isn't a highly remarkable person, as far as I can tell. One of her best assets is that she had the good fortune to come out of the womb looking pretty good, although she's not exactly my type. But to her credit, she's hardworking, and was in the School of Hard Knocks long enough to know, unlike many hotshot lawyers, what life is like for most ordinary hardworking folks.
A lot of people around Tarrant County knew Wendy WHEN, and know that she's "in touch" with blue-collar concerns. Problem is, I think she's running at least four years too soon. The last time the Democrats had a fair year in Texas was 1990, the year Ann Richards was elected to one term as governor. The demographics here are changing, but I don't think they've changed enough at this point to make this into a "purple" state. But if Wendy at least does reasonably well in a loss, the name recognition may help in 2018. Thanks to her ultimately unsuccessful Senate filibuster against Texas' unconstitutional abortion law, she had already scored big in that department. Stay tuned.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican frontrunner
Never mind that he's a hypocrite. That never lost anybody in Texas an election.
What I refer to is that Abbott, a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, was hit by a tree in 1984 while running after a storm. He sued the homeowner and won a $10 million settlement. Now, as AG, he's all for tort reform, opposing settlements of this very kind.
Polls show him as the clear GOP frontrunner, and this is a state in which the next governor is likely to be the Republican nominee. His wife is Hispanic, and you can expect to see him trotting her out in hopes of winning Hispanic votes. He's very anti-abortion, so he and Wendy Davis would most certainly clash on that issue. One of his big personal victories is winning Texas the right to display the Ten Commandments in front of the Capitol building in Austin.
At this point, I'd say Abbott is the betting favorite. He promises to carry on the legacy of El Pendejo with pride and verve.
Tom Pauken, former Texas Republican Party chairman and ex-Fagin of the "Workforce Commission"
I cannot fathom what this man's qualifications ever were to be chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. He attended a Jesuit school in Dallas as a youth, then went on to Georgetown University in Washington. As far as I can tell, he's a professional right-winger who was never unemployed a day in his privileged life.
He was pretty clearly a political appointee to the job. Perhaps that's fitting, since anyone who's been jobless in this state for very long knows that the Texas Workforce Commission's main purpose appears to be to rob the unemployed of money and hope. During his tenure at the TWC, the agency appears to have been packed with Republican bureaucrats who, like him, have zero experience with joblessness and seem intent on denying benefits to poor people for any conceivable reason.
Nor does his time as GOP state chairman lend him any credibility. If you've ever read the Texas Republican Party's state platform, it can't be distinguished from a similar document from the John Birch Society. This party was dominated by kooks back when kooks weren't cool.
He appears to be Abbott's only serious challenger for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Well, that's the field right now. Sigh. Looks like Texans are in for at least four more years of silliness. But then, as Adlai Stevenson once said, people generally get the government they deserve.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.