Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Texas: Update on Carole Strayhorn's hard-hitting independent bid for gov

Two lone stars ride into Texas state race

New independent candidates with a populist flair breathe new life into this year's governor's race, analysts say. By Kris Axtman Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor May 16, 2006 HOUSTON – The Texas governor's race just got a lot more interesting. That's because two independents - Carole "One Tough Grandma" Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky "How hard can it be?" Friedman - officially entered the race last week against Democrat Chris Bell and incumbent Republican Rick Perry.... Independent Jesse Ventura, for instance, never polled at more than 22 percent of the vote during his campaign but won the Minnesota governor's race in 1998 with 37 percent.
Each Texas candidate brings a distinct sense of mission. For Strayhorn, it's about ending Perry's "uninspired" time in office. For Friedman, it's about ending politics as usual.
"They will have very different effects on the campaign," says Calvin Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Kinky will provide tremendous entertainment value, but into the fall, people will say, 'I've heard that joke before. Show me what you've got.' And then Kinky begins to fade to the single digits."
Strayhorn, on the other hand, will be a substantial factor in the race. She has raised almost as much in campaign funds as Perry and has a long political history in Texas.....
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Texas Economy Surges on Gains From Katrina Rebuilding, Energy May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Texas's economy is surging nine months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast as rebuilding spurs job growth and oil and natural-gas production increase in response to higher energy prices. .... The economy and school-finance debate also may intersect in the Texas gubernatorial race this year.
Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is seeking re-election. Strayhorn bolted the party to run against him as an independent. Democrat Chris Bell and independent Kinky Friedman, an author and musician, are also candidates.
Perry, who says the state's recovery validates his push for business initiatives such as limiting liability lawsuits, has clashed repeatedly with Strayhorn, whose office gives her authority to say how much money Texas may spend.
As the campaign gets under way, some of the fallout from Katrina is still being tallied. Hurricane evacuees have been linked to additional costs as well as benefits.
Housing for people displaced by hurricanes cost the state $367 million and other services cost $251.3 million, according to Perry's office. In Houston, murders have climbed 30 percent since September and evacuees from New Orleans were suspects or victims in a fourth of those additional crimes, the city says. ...
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Across finish line, Perry defends plan Governor blasts Strayhorn's claim that tax trade-off is a 'hot check' By CLAY ROBISON and JANET ELLIOTT Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau May 15, 2006 AUSTIN - The Legislature adjourned a day early Monday with the House sending Gov. Rick Perry the last two bills — including a higher cigarette tax — in his property tax trade-off and the governor defending the plan against projections that it soon will be deficit-plagued.
The problem is not with the plan, he said, but with questionable figures prepared by his political rival, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
The comptroller, an independent candidate trying to unseat Perry in November, challenged him to veto the legislation, which she called the "largest hot check in Texas history."...
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Lawmakers head home feeling victorious Legislators send Perry final bills as they wrap up tax overhaul Tuesday, May 16, 2006 By TERRENCE STUTZThe Dallas Morning News ....Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is running for governor as an independent against Mr. Perry, urged the governor in a letter Monday to veto the business tax bill that is a centerpiece of the tax swap plan. Her office has estimated the tax swap legislation will leave a $5 billion deficit.
Mr. Perry dismissed the comptroller's prediction of a deficit Monday, implying that the projected hole is part of a political maneuver by his opponent.
"This comptroller's been off on the numbers the last four years," Mr. Perry said. "You ask legislators, and those numbers are suspect."...
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