Texas Governor's Race

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Chris Bell will square off on the November ballot for governor, but the gubernatorial picture is not yet complete because of the possibility of independent candidates entering the race. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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Carol Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman have 60-days to get the required number of signatures to get on the November ballot. Whether or not they are successful, it looks, at this point as if the race is Rick Perry's to lose. That's the belief of Jon Taylor, a Political Science Professor at the University of St. Thomas. He says in a normal election year an incumbent with less than 50% approval is in trouble. Perry hasn't topped 50% since last fall.

"But this is not obviously a normal year where you've got the potential for four candidates in the race. Where the Democrats might potentially end up in fourth place in November, and you've got a former Democrat and a former Republican who has launched, in many respects, a very intriguing campaign the governor. And she's attracted a lot of Democratic money."

She being Carol Keeton Strayhorn. Taylor says Perry should be able to set the agenda through the summer and into the fall.

"The one wildcard however is the school finance reform measure before the state legislature and the special session that will be called, rumor has it some time in mid April. If that fails, I'd say again going back to the betting idea; all bets are off at that point. The governor at that point could be viewed as being weak, as being ineffective. His opponents could say "we've now gone through three special sessions and the governor has still not gotten anything accomplished."

Taylor believes Bell will get support from traditional Democrats and even some who have flirted with Strayhorn and Friedman will return to the party fold in November. But Bell will have a hard time competing because of money. Taylor says Perry, at this point, has raised more money than Bell by a 30 to one factor. Strayhorn by a nine to one factor.

"For Bell to actually win this thing in November would be an upset of biblical proportions."

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