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White, Perry Make Final Push


By Shelley Kofler & Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Early voting has begun and leading candidates for governor are making a final push for support. Both Bill White and Rick Perry have fine-tuned their sales pitches. We have reports from both campaigns beginning with Shelley Kofler covering Bill White.

On the first day of early voting the former Houston mayor worked to reignite the spark that produced a record Democratic turnout two years ago.

White: "We need someone who is in touch with reality."

At a Dallas rally, Bill White tried to turn the tables on Rick Perry's key message, of a strong Texas economy.

White: He says things are just fine with the Texas economy. The facts are our unemployment rate is double than when he became governor. The jobs he talks about in his commercial, thousands of jobs, most of them are government jobs in the public sector or they're minimum wage jobs. I don't know about you but I think Texas ought to be leading in high wage jobs not minimum wage jobs in the future.

In these final weeks, White is also hammering home another theme: that Perry as Governor has used his office to reward himself and political friends.

White: We saw it in the most recent financial reports, almost $800,000 raised within the last few months from people appointed to boards and commissions. It's a sad situation when state government, a governor, appoints people to regulatory boards who then go around and solicit campaign contributions from the very people they are supposed to regulate.

White also returns to the issue he's calls the most critical in Texas: educating the future workforce.

White: You know and I know we'll never be as great as we can be if we're 49th out of 50 states in the percentage of adults without high school diplomas. We need to expand opportunities for pre-kindergarten education, for four year olds, for those cannot afford it. Rick Perry vetoed that bill I would sign that bill that's why we need a new governor isn't it.

As a democrat in a republican-leaning state Bill White is trying to carve his own niche as a problem-solving public servant and a businessman. And though he welcomes all support, White knows he needs to really light a fire under democrats if he wants a shot at unseating Rick Perry.


I'm Bill Zeeble covering the Rick Perry campaign. At a recent stop in Dallas, reporters challenged Perry to explain how a business run by one of his wealthy campaign donors received Texas Emerging Technology money. That's even after the technology fund's committee rejected the request.

Perry: At the end of the day, there are a lot of people who look at this. And then the Lt. Governor, the Speaker and the Governor's office all have to sign off on it. So I'm quite comfortable that the oversight is there.

Governor Rick Perry also says there have been two legislative sessions since the creation of his Emerging Technology Fund, and lawmakers passed on the chance to change it.

Perry: If they want to change that, and they want to put a set of rules in that are more restrictive, I'm open to having that conversation.

In fact, Perry boasts of both the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise fund he helped create. He says both have benefited the state with jobs and tax money. He then attacked Washington DC after sympathizing with Texas businesses.

Perry: Their biggest challenge in Texas will be outdoing their market competitors, not fending off government that wants to take them out at the knees. Washington pretty much has that covered anyway.

When Perry's not attacking Washington, he confidently boasts of the state's better-than-average economy in these tough times. At the Dallas Chamber lunch, he said Texas is strong, unlike much of the nation.

Perry: We're not immune to the global economic crisis but we are much better off than most states. After leading the nation in job creation during the last decade, Texas has added more jobs this year than any other state in the nation.

Opponent Bill White points out however many of the new positions are low paying, and that Texas leads the nation in the number of minimum wage jobs. But Perry believes that by talking up the Texas economy and talking down to Washington he's got a winning message.

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Email Bill Zeeble