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Good News Dallas
by Tom Pauken    Tue, Jan 3, 2006, 07:15 PM

Carole Strayhorn
She was a Democrat. Then, she was a Republican. Now, she’s an Independent. Carole Strayhorn announced Monday that she is a candidate for Governor of Texas in 2006 as an independent. By the time of the filing deadline, running as an independent was the only avenue for her to take to achieving her long standing ambition of becoming Governor of Texas.

In a December 8th article for DallasBlog, I laid out the reasons why it made sense for Mrs. Strayhorn to run as an independent. (Link here to read that story.) Clearly, she faced a very difficult task in overcoming Perry’s huge lead among likely Republican voters in a March primary. Her other alternative was to run on the Democratic ticket, but that meant persuading Chris Bell and Bob Gammage to drop out of the race. Strayhorn’s political guru, Mark Sanders, along with some of her trial lawyer supporters tried to persuade Bell and Gammage to get out of the race, so that she could run as a Democrat, but it was to no avail.

A source close to the Strayhorn camp tells DallasBlog that a principal concern of her campaign team about running as an independent was the difficulty of getting on the ballot in Texas. It takes more than 45,000 signatures to be certified as a statewide, independent candidate for office. While Kinky Friedman has been laying the groundwork to get on the ballot as an independent for much of 2005, Strayhorn does not have the grassroots organization in place to help get her on the ballot. Thus, it will be a more difficult task for her to put together a team of volunteers and paid workers to get signatures so that she can meet the Texas requirements.

It is no sure thing as Ralph Nader found out in the last Presidential election when he was unable to get enough signatures to qualify as an independent candidate for President. Only registered voters who do not vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries are eligible to sign a petition for either Strayhorn or Friedman.

The lack of professionalism exhibited by the Strayhorn campaign in their press conference announcing her candidacy yesterday was surprising given her reputation for detailed preparation for such event. That is not a good sign about the state of the organization of her campaign.

Assuming that Carole Strayhorn gets on the ballot, what is the political fallout from her decision to run as an independent? Notice how she called herself a Republican even while announcing her candidacy as an independent. Strayhorn will take Republican and independent votes in November that otherwise would have gone to Rick Perry were his only opponents the Democratic nominee (Gammage or Bell) and Kinky Friedman. While Friedman draws votes from likely Democratic voters, Strayhorn will take many or more Republican votes away from Perry. That’s why the Republican State Chairman was quick to bash Strayhorn. Here is what Tina Benkiser had to say about Strayhorn: "Carole Strayhorn has lied, deceived and now abandoned the very people who put her in office all for her own selfish ambition."

Pundits like Gromer Jeffers, Jr. shouldn’t be so quick to write off the Democrats prospects in the Governor’s race, as he does in his front page story Tuesday in the Dallas Morning News, particularly if Bob Gammage turns out to be the Democratic nominee.

Overnight, Carole Strayhorn has changed the dynamics of the race for Governor of Texas in 2006. The final outcome is much less certain than it was two days ago.

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