Crazy: In the year of the tea party, Texas governor’s race a toss-up

The New York Times reports this morning on the unthinkable—that’s right, Texans may elect a Democratic governor.

Republican incumbent Rick Perry argues that his pro-business, anti-tax policies have kept Texas from suffering the worst of the recession. But former two-term Houston Mayor Bill White is looking away from ideology toward the numbers and capitalizing on the fact that the state faces an $18 billion shortage in the coming two-year budget.

Perry has a small lead at this point, but analysts say the real punching has yet to begin in a state where politics is known as a contact sport.

Perry made national news this year leading the charge among GOP governors to reject federal stimulus money meant to boost state economies in the recession. Perry said it was a big government program that would mortgage the future. In the end, Perry accepted $17 billion of the federal Recovery Act funds but he included a rebuke to the president with the letter he wrote accepting the cash.

“I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe [the stimulus bill] will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt,” he wrote.

White is now successfully making the case that it is Perry’s Bush-style economic leadership in part that is burdening Texas with unprecedented levels of debt.

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Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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