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Texas

Outlook: Solid Republican


November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Republican Rick Perry won re-election over Democrat Chris Bell with 39% of the vote.

September 25, 2006 Update:

Kinky Friedman is not a joke…at least not entirely. A recent article in the Dallas Morning News hints that gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman may stand a chance. Texas has a large population of eligible young voters and that is exactly who county-and-western performer and mystery novelist Kinky Friedman appeals to. While his outlandish comments upset some conservative Texans, they certainly seem to rouse much of the Texas youth. Friedman has even posted an amusing “top ten reasons he should be elected” list on his website. Is there a chance the Lone Star State is beginning to behave more like its eclectic capital? Friedman is a good match for the Austin scene, but we’re not sure he fits into the Texas big picture yet.

Erin Levin, Crystal Ball Southern Regional Correspondent

July 1, 2006 Update:

A recent trip to Texas convinced the Crystal Ball that if the opposition to Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t split, it might actually prevail. Few voters we encountered had a good word for Perry, with most saying he had overstayed his welcome–he’s been governor since 2000. But these voters were all over the map when asked their preference for Perry’s successor, and that’s the salvation for Perry. Public and private polls show that Perry has perhaps 40 percent support, a miserable showing for an incumbent governor. But his three foes, Democrat Chris Bell and Independents Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman all hover just below 20 percent. Combined they get 60 percent, so were there a single Perry opponent named Kinky Carole Bell (sounds like a porn star, doesn’t it?), he or she might win. But there isn’t, and Perry is very lucky.

March 27, 2006 Update:

Former Congressmen Chris Bell has won the Democratic nomination, and it will be his last victory this year. Republican Gov. Rick Perry is probably destined for reelection, though from what we can tell, Texans are not terribly enthusiastic about the prospect. The two strong independents, Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman, are terrific entertainment and we would pay to see them win if we thought they had any shot this year.


Background

Texas lost a great race when U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison decided against challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Rick “Good Hair” Perry for re-nomination in 2006. Perry has had the keys to the Governor’s Mansion since succeeding President-elect George W. Bush in late 2000, but he has never been close to Bush people or some other Republican powers in Texas. Still, Hutchison realized Perry had significant advantages as the incumbent, and she decided in mid-2005 to let Perry most likely win another term. Perry is still opposed by Republican state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, but she is a substantial underdog. Perry has probably secured his second full term. He has also scored big in his handling of the evacuee crisis after Hurricane Katrina.

The Democrats will most likely nominate either former one-term Democratic Congressmen Chris Bell, who lost his seat in a 2004 primary, or former state Supreme Court judge Bob Gammage. But in Texas, the Democratic Party has become an embarrassing, pale shadow of its once dominant self, and neither is a threat to Perry in November. One wonders if the Democratic nominee can hold his own in the general election against sassy, brassy independent Kinky Friedman–who is a hoot, and cleaning up on national TV.

Candidates

Rick Perry (I) – Republican – current Governor and former Lt. Governor
Website

Chris Bell – Democrat – former U.S. Congressman
Website

Carole Keeton Strayhorn – Independent – current state comptroller
Website

Richard “Kinky” Friedman – Independent – humorist, musician, columnist and novelist
Website