Roy SpenceHave you ever heard of Chris Bell? Probably not. How about Kinky Friedman? Probably so. Chris is a 46-year old Houston lawyer, former Houston City Councilman, Congressman and Democratic running for Governor of Texas. Kinky Friedman is a hell-raising, profane, cigar chomping country singer and erstwhile Republican who is also running for Governor of Texas but as an independent. Who would draw the most votes if the election were held today? Kinky by a landslide. That is why Texas Democrats continue to look for more viable candidate like Houston Mayor Bill White.
However, there is another name circulating in Democratic political circles that combines many of the best qualities of Friedman, White and Bell: Austin ad man Roy Spence.
While still in college Spence founded with a group of friends the Texas super-firm of GSD&M. Spence is a born pitch-man who quarterbacked the Brownwood High school football team to a state championship. A life-long Democrat Spence has Friedman's outsize wild-west charisma, White's business acumen and leadership skills, and Bell's Eagle Scout persona. Also like White he can write his own check. Unlike White he would not have just been elected to one job when he announced for a second.
Spence has long been active in Democratic affairs having done advertising for Walter Mondale and Ann Richards among others. Yet his business ability and creative skills are clear from his firm's client roster: Brinker International, Charles Schwab, Country Music Association, Dial, Lennox, Master Card, SBC, Southwest Airlines, and Wal-Mart among others.
Still Spence has never held public office and has mainly a University of Texas ex-students network to rely on in a campaign. Traditionally Democrats have risen through the elective ranks to challenge for top jobs. But the Democrat's bench is thin and they might be willing to follow the GOP play-book that won breakthrough elections with College Professor John Tower and businessman Bill Clements.