White House reaction
Julie Mason has the White House's reaction to Strayhorn's decision to run for governor as an independent:
The Texas governor's race is just getting started and already White House loyalties are divided, with President Bush backing Gov. Rick Perry and White House spokesman Scott McClellan supporting his mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.Given that Strayhorn left the GOP primary to run as an independent, this made it much easier for the White House.
"The president will support the Republican nominee, and it's pretty clear the Republican nominee will be his friend, Rick Perry," McClellan said today.
Strayhorn, the Texas comptroller elected as a Republican, announced Monday that she will run as an independent in the governor's race.
The White House spokesman is the youngest of her four sons.
"My mother cares deeply about Texas, and she has my full support," McClellan said.
By running as an independent, Strayhorn avoids facing the incumbent in a GOP primary battle that tends to favor the more conservative candidate.
Strayhorn, campaigning as "one tough grandma," said she is still a Republican and understands Bush's decision to support Perry.
Perry, who like Strayhorn was once a Democrat, served as lieutenant governor when Bush was governor.
"I respect what he's got to do, he is still my good friend," Strayhorn said of Bush during a campaign swing around the state. "He's got to do what he's got to do. My focus is Texas."
The president generally refrains from making endorsements in contested Republican primary races, but Perry did not draw a primary opponent this year. So Strayhorn's decision to run as an independent saves Bush from having to answer a lot of awkward questions about his choice in the primary.
"The president considers my mother a friend," McClellan said.
I doubt the White House has made firm decisions yet on how involved to be in the race. If the race shaped up where Strayhorn wasn't garnering much of the vote, but there was a Democratic nominee who looked capable of winning, then I think you might see some involvement. On the other hand, if it's a blowout like in 2002, then they will keep their powder dry. In between is where the interesting decisions would happen.
Also, Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee issued this statement:
Rick Perry is a strong leader who has championed the conservative principles that have made Texas a beacon of opportunity for the whole nation. The Republican Party wholeheartedly and strongly supports his campaign and will work for his re-election.
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