Statesman's Selby talks to Bryan Eppstein

Gardner Selby talked up the state's political consultants, and filed this state of the race:

Republican operative Bryan Eppstein, who is not part of Perry's inner circle, cites voter turnouts and election results since 1988 as indicators that the gubernatorial election is over: Perry wins.

History says that GOP voters solidly outnumber Democrats and that more voters align with the parties than with independents. Barring a seismic surge in turnout (which reached a piddling 36 percent four years ago), the Dept. of Conventional Expectations advises Perry to plan his inauguration.

Eppstein skipped one stone toward Perry's challengers: "Don't spend any of your personal money" on the campaign.

I had asked eight pols not working for the hopefuls to speculate how Friedman, Chris Bell or Carole Keeton Strayhorn might surprise.

They hem-hawed:

-Bell wins by staying the tortoise in the race, keeping his shell up and head down. The Democratic nominee and former U.S. House member hopes fireworks set off by other candidates explode in their faces. If Democratic voters stick with him and if fiscal conservatives desert Perry over the new business tax, maybe he edges ahead. The general election is won by whoever leads, regardless of hurdling 50 percent. Like other challengers, though, Bell hunts a wake-up issue reminding voters that he's running.

-Strayhorn, the state comptroller running as an independent, suffers from not having a party behind her to reinforce her message. But she could topple Perry if drifting conservatives and tired-of-losing Democrats warm to her zeal, especially if she remains the best-funded challenger (think TV ads). Maybe she vexes Perry in debate or benefits from a scandal not foreseen by Los Pundits. Perry has a record open to critique. But she does, too.

-Friedman cannot win, most pundits aver, because voters will tire of/grow squeamish at his parade o' jokes marinated in venom. Yet if he hammers three memorable issues (like George W. Bush, 1994), who knows? The humorist, who draws the attention of the national media simply for cracking wise with a cigar in hand, promises a lively finish, surely fueling a post-election book.

Eppstein sees Perry winning, with Bell probably placing second as most voters stick with the major parties . . .

I wish Selby had given us more of what Epstein said, as I think that would have been more informative.

I don't often update what I think will happen, because my analysis hasn't really changed. The macro-situation is the same as it was since Strayhorn first announced she'd run as an independent. Perry is an overwhelming favorite to be re-elected. Bell is still the most likely to finish second. Perry managed to get out of school-finance alive, and he still has his base. Bell is having a hard time keeping his base together, and even if he did, it still might not be enough to pass Perry. Moreover, he flat-out just won't have the resources to compete, but he does have the ballot line which will deliver enough of the vote to be 2nd. Friedman is running a turnout campaign, and we have a name for turnout campaigns: losers. Besides, Friedman just doesn't seem to have the discipline to grow beyond a certain segment of the electorate (although he could prove me wrong.) Strayhorn hasn't found the silver bullet issue that will give her a shot.

Posted by Evan @ 07/12/06 10:30 PM


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