Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bell Shows His Desperation

It looks like Chris Bell is beginning to realize what most people already knew - he cannot win this five-way race for governor. Now, he's shown his desperation by asking one of his opponents to quit the race. Yesterday, Bell placed a call to the Kinky Friedman campaign, asking Kinky to quit the race and throw his support to Chris Bell.

In a prepared statement, Bell said:

"Kinky and I both want what's best for the state, and Rick Perry and Carole Strayhorn are not what's best for Texas. They are the problem. Kinky and I agree on some very important issues, and our supporters all have a lot in common; they want change. And now is the time for us all to unite and elect a new governor."

Kinky was quick to reply to this absurd request:

"We're in this race to win this race. He knows he can't win the race with us in it, but I'm not getting out. I'm ahead of him. Why would I be the one surrendering?"

There are a couple of things wrong with the request from Bell. First, after a week in which many thought Bell had won the debate, and after picking up a huge new donor, it looked like things might be looking up for Bell. The call to Kinky erases all that and gives the perception that he is getting desperate, and knows he cannot win.

Also, he seems to presume that if Kinky were not running, he would have Kinky's votes. This is just not true. While Kinky is picking up Democrats, he is picking up even more Republicans. If he were to drop out, it would help Grandma and Perry as much or more than it would help Bell. Especially since many Kinky supporters are angry with the Democrats for their attacks on Kinky.

This was a ridiculous move by Bell, and probably destroys any momentum he picked up last week.


  1. I think Bell is trying to capitalize on Kinky's popularity with some liberals (esp. the younger generations) by choosing this time to say, "Okay, it's been a fun game but let's get serious now." The thing is, whether or not it's warranted it has recently become apparent that people are having a hard time taking Kinky seriously as a politician. This is Kinky's goal in fact - wanting to be seen as an outsider - but Bell is calculating on a "come to Jesus" moment at the polls where people vote with their gut on who can truly run our state best. Who that person is of course is still up for discussion, but Bell thinks it's him and is hoping that people will flake on Kinky despite his sustained poll numbers.

    I think what this message shows is that Bell thinks now is a good time to siphon voters who have tuned into the race, plan on voting, but may have a last-minute change of heart. There's no way Bell could bring out the vote alone. So this move of his, while manipulative and typical of a seasoned politician, is not a sign of desperation but a sign of calculation.

    What I find most odd is that Bell is essentially riding on Kinky's coattails to reach normally apathetic voters, and that a Dem is the "gut choice" instead of the brain choice. Kinky may tickle the brain with his refreshing political incorrectness, but Bell is such a boring policy wonk that you can't help but feel in your gut that he's got an answer for any of our state's current/potential problems - and answers are something which Kinky has had trouble with (or no interest in) delivering.

  2. Bell knows time is running out for anyone to break out of the pack of challengers.

    Kinky knows this, too, but he's on board to ride this out to the inevitable conclusion. God bless Kinky!

  3. Jobsanger:

    I hope we agree about the following 10 points concerning the governor's race:

    1. Don't we agree that Perry is not likely to get less than 35% of the vote (give or take a percent)?

    2. Don't we agree that Werner will get 3% of the vote (give or take a percent)?

    3. Don't we agree that Strayhorn is a political opportunist?

    4. Don't we agree that Strayhorn has PR firm on retainer who can make TV ads that would sell even the most useless product?

    5. Don't we agree that Strayhorn has a sufficiently large bundle of cash on hand to run TV ads from now through November 7?

    6. Don't we agree that Strayhorn's ads will keep her sufficiently in the public's eye that it would be naive to expect that she will get less than 10% of the vote (give or take a percent)?

    7. Don't we agree that, even under an optimistic scenario, Bell's vote combined with Kinky's vote is unlikely to be more than 52% of the electorate (give or take a percent)?

    8. Don't we agree that if either Kinky or Bell gets 18% of the vote, the other one will not get enough of the vote to beat Perry?

    9. Don't we agree that the number of new voters registered for this election was an increase of less than one percent of Texans already registered to vote?

    10. Don't we agree that, when Kinky says Bell "knows he can't win the race with us in it," that Kinky may as well be saying "Chris Bell knows that 65 divided by three is less than 35"?

  4. "10. Don't we agree that, when Kinky says Bell "knows he can't win the race with us in it," that Kinky may as well be saying "Chris Bell knows that 65 divided by three is less than 35"?"

    Yes, Kinky knows that vote-splitting will occur. That's why he believes Chris Bell should withdraw.

    If there's one thing Kinky can accomplish with this race it's to demonstrate that people equate pragmatism and political machinations with poor leadership skills, because 'a leader shouldn't have to capitulate or compromise' This seems to fit with the notable trend that governors make for more appealing presidential candidates than do Senators. Again, it's the difference between leading and collaborating. People have the impression that collaboration in this state is ineffective, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are eager to change some of the basic structure that brought them to power (campaign finance reform, etc.).

    So when people compare Kinky to Nader, it's not so much a reflection of vote-splitting as it is of a candidate who stands by his ideology - even if none of us really knows what that ideology is.

  5. Regarding: "9. Don't we agree that the number of new voters registered for this election was an increase of less than one percent of Texans already registered to vote?"

    I thought Kinky's goal was to improve voter turnout? Since turnout is below 50%, and much lower for the age range 18 - 29, a candidate appealing to that demographic would be more effective at rallying registered voters to participate than attempting to get new voters to register *and* participate.

  6. TH:

    Actually, Chris Bell is winning (by far) among the "generation y" demographic (voters 27 years old and younger):

    35% - Bell
    26% - Friedman
    22% - Perry
    _3% - Strayhorn

    I think Kinky could ask Bell to withdraw or Bell could ask Kinky - it doesn't matter who makes the call or who recieves it because, either way, if one of those two gets 18%, the other one loses and Perry wins. It seems to make more sense for Kinky to withdraw because Kinky has such HUGE negative numbers that he wouod not likely be the main beneficiary of Bell's withdrawal (just like Kinky couldn't name any black campaign workers in Texas, I can't name any black people who support Kinky, and I know only one Latino who is supporting Kinky and he's waivering). On the other hand, I do think that Bell would be the main beneficiary of Kinky's withdrawal. It's not going to happen because it doesn't make financial sense for Kinky.

  7. pro-business liberal10/14/2006 1:54 AM

    I'm a "practical libertarian pro-business liberal".

    I say "practical libertarian" because I share a belief in governmental noninterference in social choices and small government libertarian values but I don't vote for libertarians because they never win so I generally look for a candidate with a chance to win but whose valuse are nearest to the libertarians.

    I say "pro-business" because I favor less regulation of business.

    I say "liberal" because I think the government should stay out of personal social decisions like gay or straight marriage, abortion, prayer in public school, etc.

    This election is tough for me.


    First, Perry fails the pro-business test because of Perry's small business income tax.

    Second, Bell fails the pro-business test because he strongly favors regulation; he wants to over-regulate renewable energy, energy pricing, mercury emissions, wildlife habitats, coal plants, minimum wage, development of public land, state parks, privatization of public lands, CO2 emissions, etc. Really the better question would be what DOESN'T Bell want to regulate.

    Kinky doesn't give many details, but his proposal to appoint Willie Nelson as energy czar gives me hope that Kinky understands that Texas should promote energy policy but not impose it by regulation. In interviews, Kinky expresses good pro-corporation views.

    Strayhorn is by far the best on this topic. She has laid out her agenda, which includes:

    "The General Land Office (GLO) should be ... required to target at least 5 percent of all underused lands for sale each year…."

    "Less confrontational methods of ... enforcing environmental laws often can be more effective than traditional, punitive approaches. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission should aggressively market its Regulatory Flexibility Program to reduce onerous restrictions on businesses...."

    "Create a Bill of Rights for business. Every business has the right to expect state agencies to provide ... a commitment to streamlining regulations...."

    On these pro-business issues, Strayhorn finishes number 1 and Kinky number 2.


    Having narrowed down to Strayhorn and Kinky, I looked at social issues.

    Kinky is surprisingly conservative on social issues. These Kinky statements cause me some concern:
    "I am going to see nondenominational prayer and the Ten Commandments put back in the schools."

    Discussing the reason why Kinky lost his last political election when he ran as a Republican "my inability to appeal to the religious right … torpedoed my candidacy."

    "I'm not a liberal, believe me. I'm a compassionate redneck, far more conservative than I am liberal."

    "I was for Bush in 2004. He's a good man trapped in a Republican's body."

    "Well, actually, I agree with most of political positions overseas, his foreign policy. … I basically think he played a poor hand well after September 11. What he’s been doing in the Near East and in the Middle East, he’s handling that well, I think."

    These statements do not inspire my confidence in Kinky.

    Strayhorn, on the other hand, has evolved from a candidate with some unfavorable views on social issues to a candidate who now shares my beliefs on many issues. For example:

    Strayhorn once said "I have been a lifelong Democrat, but I'm going to spend the rest of my life vigorously and wholeheartedly in the GOP." And as a Republican, she was the member of the Legislative Redistricting Board who cast the deciding vote to re-draw Texas House districts as part of TomDeLay's gerrymandering scheme which has been found to be illegal. But now Strayhorn has moved past that partisanship, and she says "I am a Republican. But I know I must set partisan politics aside and do what's right for Texas. That is why I am running for governor as an independent."

    On diverting funds from public schools for private school vouchers, Strayhorn said she supported vouchers after she won election as comptroller in 1998 with the help of a loan from voucher advocate James Leininger. But now she has developed a better understanding fo the issue and says she would "veto any type of legislation that puts a single dollar into any voucher program."

    On abortion, in the 1990s Strayhorn signed pledges for the Republican National Coalition for Life to oppose abortion and told Greater Austin Right to Life that she supported overturning the Supreme Court decision allowing abortions. Now she has shown growth as a candidate an she says, "I have made my position very clear. As a mama and a grandmama, I believe in the sanctity of life, but I understand that there are those heartbreaking situations where heartbreaking decisions have to be made."


    Strayhorn is best on pro-business small government issues and Kinky is second best. On social issues, Strayhorn has shown growth as a candidate and she better reflects a live-and-let-live attitude of non-governmental interference in social issues than Kinky.

    I am supporting Strayhorn.


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