Race for Texas governor taking shape

Posted Saturday, Oct. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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With 13 months to go before the Nov. 4, 2014, general elections, Texans have a pretty good idea of the personalities they’ll be looking at in the race to be their next governor.

There’s time and room for more candidates to enter, and surprises do happen in Texas politics. But the people who have announced their plans already are formidable.

What voters in the Lone Star State don’t quite know yet is the specific policy goals of the gubernatorial contenders or how they plan to steer the state toward those goals.

There’s time to learn about that, too.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is the heavyweight in the fight, if for no other reason than he had $20 million in campaign contributions stacked in his corner the day he stepped into the ring in July.

His party has held every statewide elected office for 16 years, and he’s held one himself since late 2002.

Still, it must be fresh in Abbott’s mind that Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was the front-runner in the U.S. Senate race last year, only to be whipped by upstart Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz.

Tom Pauken, former head of the Texas Workforce Commission, says he’s the real conservative in the March Republican primary race for governor. If drive counts (and Cruz proved that it does), Pauken could make a go of it.

On the Democratic side is Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, former member of the City Council and the winner of an upset 2008 victory over entrenched Republican Kim Brimer for the District 10 state Senate seat. She’s the Democrats’ darling, and she’s likely to get the party’s nomination.

Abbott’s issue stands lean heavily on national politics. He wants to end Obamacare, protect the Second Amendment (gun ownership), rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, defend the 10th Amendment (states’ rights) and stop human trafficking.

Voters need to know more about how Abbott wants to improve public schools and clear up traffic congestion.

Pauken says he wants to boost education through local control, improve vocational education and change the state’s method of school finance. He needs to say exactly how that’s going to happen.

He also wants to put in place a “pay-as-you-go” transportation funding strategy, but voters deserve details. It’s the same story for developing natural resources “in an environmentally responsible way.”

Davis has a long way to go in defining her key policies. Both Abbott and Pauken define them as “California values.”

Davis is known for her Senate filibusters, one in 2011 against cuts in school funding and one earlier this year against stronger abortion restrictions.

Being in favor of school funding is good; what’s needed is a source of money that Texas voters can agree on. As the campaign proceeds, Davis also will have to say where she draws the line on abortion.

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