Rick Perry, the Texas Obama

Breaking news: Texas Watch has just released a new poll in the governor's race showing that former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) has fought his way to a dead heat with incumbent Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). In the poll, from the widely respected Hill Research, Perry is supported by 42 percent of voters, White by 41.

The poll tracks a June poll by PPP that found the race tied at 43-43. While Rasmussen's polling shows Perry with a single-digit lead, there are now two significant polls showing White has caught Perry.


Meanwhile, the latest quarterly campaign fundraising report showed White raising more money than Perry, and having more cash on hand than Perry at that time.

Whoa, Nellie! What's happening here?

Texas is shaping up as a mirror image of national politics. Democrats could learn from what Bill White is doing right. Rick Perry may have Obama'd himself with his flashy focus on his personality and his sometimes appearing to be running as the Tea Party candidate for president while losing focus on the Lone Star state.

Regarding Bill White, he is the no-nonsense man who knows how to run a business, create jobs in the public and private sectors and get things done in the real world. White was a hugely successful mayor of Houston, winning widespread support from political independents and a surprising number of business leaders, Texas entrepreneurs, small-business people and moderate Republicans. White was reelected by landslides in the 80 percent to 90 percent range for a reason.

White campaigns the way the great Texas Longhorn teams play football. Well-executed game plans, smart running plays, careful pass plays, and only after the game plan is set in motion, the surprise long bomb into the end zone.

Today White moves naturally from pushing hard for improved education for Texas students to winning standing ovations before the American Legion convention because of his long and strong support for veterans, and what he delivered for them as mayor of Houston.

Bill White talks the talk about jobs, but much more important, he has walked the walk by creating jobs in business and government.

White is the ultimate independent Democrat in an election where independence, hard work and measurable results are at a premium for an unhappy electorate.

Rick Perry's problem in 2010 is that while White plays politics with the precision, game plan and focus of the Longhorns, Perry by contrast does the razzle-dazzle with flashy moves and trendy hype that do not resonate in this anti-incumbent election.

It did not help Perry when Newsweek ran a cover story that read more like a fan tribute in Cosmopolitan magazine than a Longhorn playbook. In Newsweek, Perry was the Marlboro Man with the flowing hair. He was the would-be darling of the Tea Party movement from sea to shining sea, while the Texas Watch poll showed that 50 percent of Texans believe the state is on the wrong track, a very high number for Texas.

What's happening here? The independence, can-do experience and focus of Bill White is perfectly in tune with our times with an uncertain economy and an unhappy electorate. The fancy footwork, razzle-dazzle and national ambitions have led Perry to inherit the mantle of the qualities voters do not want in 2010.

In a strange, perverse way, Perry is starting to look like the Texas Obama, and whether one likes or dislikes the president, that is not the way to be elected governor of Texas in 2010.

The man with the plan has caught up with the man with the flowing hair. It is now High Noon and even money in the great Texas shootout for governor.

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