Can’t they both lose?

In her campaign to unseat Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who sent an innocent man to his death (and is still trying to cover it up), who suggested that Texas might secede from the Union, and who gets his political support from “evangelicals, social conservatives and members of anti-tax groups,”  Kay Bailey Hutchison has attracted the support of Dick Cheney,  Karl Rove, Karen Hughes,  and Dick Armey.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

19 thoughts on “Can’t they both lose?”

  1. I think Hutchison is welcoming the support of Cheney and Armey so that she can siphon off Perry's far-right supporters. What I don't get is Rove. Who does he bring to the polling booth?

  2. I get ragged on it by a friend who spend part of his childhood in Texas, but F*ck Texas! Just when you think that Texas can't be more loathesome, it reached deep down inside and pull up new depths.

  3. The Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!

    Down with the traitor, up with the star!

    While we rally 'round the flag, boys,

    Rally once again

    Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

  4. I'm curious why you think the simple fact that she's endorsed by Dick Cheney and Karl Rove will make her a bad governor. Frankly, I don't see how any knowledgeable person, particularly a liberal, could see Hutchison as anything but an improvement over Perry.

  5. Larsmacomb asked:

    > Are the Democrats going to attempt to make a contest of

    > this in the general election?

    It's going to be difficult. There are only two declared Dem candidates, Kinky Friedman and Tom Schieffer, neither of whom seem (a year out from the election) likely to energize the campaign. There hasn't been a real fight for the governor's office since Ann Richards lost in 1994.

    Important to understand that just because both GOP candidates, Pick Perry and Kay Baily Hutchison, are both hideously unpopular, that doesn't necessarily translate into votes for the Dem candidate.

    David C said:

    > Frankly, I don’t see how any knowledgeable person, particularly a liberal,

    > could see Hutchison as anything but an improvement over Perry.

    Hutchison's only a modest improvement over Perry. Her actual positions on real-world issues aren't much different; she just doesn't usually dive headlong into crazy, fantasy-world issues like secession. (Which, naturally, gets her routinely labeled in teabagger circles as a RINO, "traitor," etc.) Hutchison's not really better, just marginally saner.

    The Texas governor, in fact, doesn't have a whole lot of actual power besides the bully pulpit of the office. The real action is in the Legislature, where the Dems were just two seats down from holding a majority this past session.

  6. Quiddity asked:

    > Who does [Karl Rove] bring to the polling booth?

    I'd bet medium-sized money that was not an endorsement KBH asked for. I suppose there are some who still think of Turdblossom as some sort of political genius, and might quietly put him on the payroll, but I cannot imagine anyone who'd want a high-profile endorsement from him.

  7. As Snarky says, one can be an improvement on Rick "GoodHair" Perry and still be an awful governor.

    One of the little-known secrets of Texas politics is that the Governor is (at most) the fifth most powerful office in the state. Ahead of the Governor are:

    (1) The Speaker of the (State) House of Representatives, who controls the House Agenda and thus, legislation getting out of the House.

    (2) The Lieutenant Governor, who is President of the (State) Senate, and controls the Senate Agenda.

    (3) The Railroad Commissioner, an elective office in Texas. Illogically, the RR Commissioner has oversight rights on the petroleum industry in Texas and derives tons of political clout from that.

    (4) The Agriculture Commissioner, also an elective office in Texas. Ag is still a big bidness in Texas and the Ag Commissioner has oversight of the whole shebang.

    Depending on personal dynamics and clout the Speaker and Light Gov can swap around 1 and 2, but both carry more weight than the commissioners. What political influence the Governor has derives from appointment powers to the various unelected Boards and Commissions and the veto power.

  8. Thank, Dennis, good post. You wrote:

    > What political influence the Governor has derives from appointment powers to the various unelected Boards and Commissions. . . .

    Exactly so. That, in large measure, is how the governor leaves his or her fingerprints all over the place, through both direct appointments and those requiring State Senate confirmation. By January 2011, when Perry leaves office, we will have had sixteen straight years of appointments by him or George W. Bush. They may be gone, but their legacy will live on in dozens of state agencies, boards, commissions and panels for another decade or more.

  9. "Hutchison’s only a modest improvement over Perry. Her actual positions on real-world issues aren’t much different; she just doesn’t usually dive headlong into crazy, fantasy-world issues like secession. (Which, naturally, gets her routinely labeled in teabagger circles as a RINO, “traitor,” etc.) Hutchison’s not really better, just marginally saner.

    The Texas governor, in fact, doesn’t have a whole lot of actual power besides the bully pulpit of the office. The real action is in the Legislature, where the Dems were just two seats down from holding a majority this past session."

    "Exactly so. That, in large measure, is how the governor leaves his or her fingerprints all over the place, through both direct appointments and those requiring State Senate confirmation. By January 2011, when Perry leaves office, we will have had sixteen straight years of appointments by him or George W. Bush. They may be gone, but their legacy will live on in dozens of state agencies, boards, commissions and panels for another decade or more."

    I think you've pretty much nailed why I think Hutchison will be large improvement over Perry even though you believe she'll be only a small improvement. Since she doesn't really control legislation, her positions on the issues don't matter too much. She may not know much about setting policy, but she is good at dealing with people, and working well with others. Perry isn't. What matters is I believe she'll be a lot more open to appointing people of different political beliefs than her to various positions, and that she won't be likely to appoint campaign contributors to positions that they have no ability in.

    By the way, I didn't know that Kinky Friedman was planning on running as a Democrat. If he hadn't split the liberal vote in the last election, there might be a Democrat in the governor's office right now.

  10. My first experience of Texas was living east of Houston. Texas City I think. Took me about three weeks to realize that there were only two types of paint. Fresh and pealing off of the building. I asked a neighbor about the stink in the neighborhood. He said, "That is the smell of prosperity." I walked off my job, forfeited my apartment deposit, and just got the hell out of there. When the stink is peeling the paint off of houses, it is not sane to live there. That has been my impression of Texas ever since.

  11. As a 30+ year (!!!!!!!!) resident of Texas (it's a long story), I agree with Dennis and Snarky. The Dems are proposing a candidate, but the Democrats haven't had real clout here since LBJ. (Ann Richards was fabulous, but sort of a fluke, politically).

  12. David C, you're right that if Friedman hadn't run in 06 and nearly all his voters still showed up and voted Dem, the Dem would have won; but a fourth candidate (of the right iirc) also took about 10%.

  13. A wonderful argument for either "None of the Above" or Cthulhu. As far as I'm concerned, it isn't democracy if it isn't possible for all the candidates to lose (or be eaten).

  14. I seem to recall that once upon a time, in the early days of Russian democracy, there actually was a "none of the above" ballot line, and if "none of the above" won then there was a new election.

    Now, obviously Russian democracy hasn't been an awe-inspiring success, and even in theory I'm not sure "none of the above" would work well, but it has been tried …

  15. David C wrote:

    > I think Hutchison will be large improvement over Perry

    Yes, in the same way that the flu is an improvement over pneumonia. 😉

    But I follow your point.

    I honestly don't know why Kinky's running again. Yeah, he realizes he hurt the Dems in 2006, so he's running AS one now, but his shtick is tired. Slightly-unhinged celebrities-as-governor are lots of fun, but they wear pretty thin, pretty fast (See also: Ventura, Governor Jesse).

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