The ups and downs of the Texas media cycle: Strayhorn 2006 edition
Awhile back, I wrote about how Carole Strayhorn was solidifying a poor reputation among the state's political cognoscenti. When a candidate gets a bad reputation, favorable media coverage becomes difficult to obtain.
This weekend, R.G. Ratcliffe writes a Sunday Houston Chronicle piece on Strayhorn's shifts over her career:
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an independent candidate for governor, has politically reinvented herself time and again during the past three decades — repeatedly leading to questions of whether her actions are sincere or expedient.
Strayhorn is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent. She has given up three elected positions and one appointed state job to run for a higher office. And her positions on issues have transformed more than once.
Political party switches
• 1985: "I have been a lifelong Democrat, but I'm going to spend the rest of my life vigorously and wholeheartedly in the GOP."
• Now: "I am a Republican. But I know I must set partisan politics aside and do what's right for Texas. That is why I am running for governor as an independent."
Toll roads• 2000: Strayhorn in a review of the Texas Department of Transportation recommended toll roads: "Building highways through toll financing rather than pay-as-you-go financing dramatically speeds the time it takes to complete a given project."
• Now: "I am adamantly opposed to this massive toll plan," Strayhorn said. "Rick Perry calls it Trans-Texas Corridor. I call it Trans-Texas Catastrophe, and as governor, I will blast it off the bureaucratic books."
Private school vouchers• Before: Won election as comptroller in 1998 with the help of a $950,000 loan from voucher advocate James Leininger. Strayhorn said she supported vouchers as a means of giving parents a choice when their children were trapped in failing schools.
• January: "When I've talked about vouchers; philosophically I wouldn't have a problem with that for disadvantaged kids. But let me tell you what, that was before we had five years of this administration that is absolutely totally dismantling our public school system day by day."
• Early February: "I will veto any type of legislation that puts a single dollar into any voucher program, period."
• Late February: "I'm not saying I would never support them. I'm saying that I would take vouchers off the table for discussion. No more talk until we address the needs of public schools."
• 1985: "She refused to discuss her position on abortion." — Austin American-Statesman
"She has been pro-choice on abortion, although she now says she opposes abortion personally and would rule out tax dollars for its practice, except in cases of rape incest or where the mother's life is threatened." — Christian Science Monitor
• 1990s: Signed pledges for the Republican National Coalition for Life to oppose abortion and told Greater Austin Right to Life that she supported overturning the Supreme Court decision allowing abortions.
• Now: "I have made my position very clear. As a mama and a grandmama, I believe in the sanctity of life, but I understand that there are those heartbreaking situations where heartbreaking decisions have to be made."
Meanwhile, the Statesman editorial page has Arnold Garcia:
When I read Strayhorn's outsider lament, I rolled my eyes. On reflection, though, the comptroller has a point. She was the first woman to run for mayor when she declared her candidacy in 1977. As progressive as Austin claims to be, a woman running for mayor caused a great deal of consternation in some tight little circles. She might win, after all, they speculated between harrumphs. Two business guys called a press conference to declare that a woman had no business being Austin mayor.Way back when it was beginning to become evident that Strayhorn would challenge Perry in 2006, Strayhorn was getting favorable media coverage while Perry was getting lambasted in the state's editorial and news pages. Somehow, Strayhorn has managed to lose her favorable media coverage. Her only chance now is the $8M she's sitting on for TV ads in the next 80 days. But unfavorable free media certainly complicates the paid media campaign.
They even got coverage. Her victory prompted each of them to send tongue-in-cheek telegrams to her blaming the other one for saying it.
Anyway, she was an outsider no longer and really hasn't been since.
Even though she may not have been the most popular Democrat or Republican, the Legislature can't write a budget she doesn't approve.
And if that weren't enough, she commands a respectable amount of time, money and attention from enough insiders to be taken seriously as a gubernatorial candidate. That rarely happens with independent candidates, but this isn't your normal election year.
Strayhorn wearing an outsider uniform is a fashion statement — just not a very credible one. Sure, it has a grain of truth to it. For that matter, so did Mauro's claim to being an outsider. It takes more than one grain of sand to make a beach, though.
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