Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Gilbert as Governor would allow the Legislature to act to reform TxDOT without fear of reprisal from the Governor's Office."

Democrat Hank Gilbert announces for Governor's race

Hank Gilbert, Tyler-area rancher and TURF Board Member.


David Smith
Dallas County Republican Examiner
Copyright 2009

I have to admit that this is the first time that I have met a person, worked with them (albeit indirectly) and then they announced they were seeking elected office. Hank Gilbert, a Tyler-area rancher, has announced that he is seeking the office of Governor for the State of Texas in 2010. Now, he will be running as a Democrat, but hear me out first.

Mr. Gilbert has worked with Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom and served on their Board of Directors alongside Founder and President Terri Hall. Those who know the transportation issue know Mrs. Hall's name is synonymous with doing away with CDA's, PPP's, turning free access highways into toll roads and pretty much the entire anti-TxDOT movement. And Mr. Gilbert has been right there, resplendent in his 10-gallon hat and Texas flag-themed button up shirt.

Quite frankly, Republicans have been the goats on the issue of transportation in Texas, and Democrats have been the rare heroes. Rep's David McQuade Leibowitz and Ruth Jones McClendon are two Democrats who have particularly impressed me in the Legislature. Leibowitz introduced legislation calling for a 14-member Transportation Commission which, although a bit too large, would finally allow for Texans to elect the leaders of the transportation agency in Texas. And McClendon has been an enthusiastic advocate of transportation issues and was on the Sunset Commission last summer when I testified before the Commission on TxDOT.

I wish that we had more Republicans who were bold enough to oppose their Governor on transportation like Democrats have done. Maybe the key there is to put a Democrat in the Governor's Mansion?

Gilbert said that he heard Tom Schieffer, former Texas Rangers Baseball Club General Manager, speak at a Democrat Convention recently and left desiring more. Hence his entering the Governor's race.

Gov. Rick Perry has worn out his welcome and needs to be, um, "retired." U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has obviously earned herself the new title of "Most Recognized Texas Republican." But given her present standing in the Governor's race, I seriously doubt she is the most popular Republican in the State any longer. So she promises to put up very little fight in the Governor's race.

That leaves Deborah Medina, who, as one friend of mine puts it, "Has to prove she can win 6% of the vote!" Which, actually, means another term as Governor for Perry, which is completely unacceptable.

Gilbert has little name recognition when compared to the State's two senior Republicans and a professional sports team's former GM. And being a champion of transportation issues isn't exactly like leading the national pro-choice movement, but we don't need such a person as Governor. Those issues are largely either decided or the Governor has little control over them. And Gilbert promises to bridge the gap between conservatives and liberals by running as a moderate. And as a Democratic candidate he would emerge largely unscathed from the primary season with Republicans totally beaten down by the "Kay vs Rick" "Thrilla in Vanilla" that the Republican Primary is sure to be.

At this point, I question if the best strategy to unseat Perry and kick Hutchison to the curb might not be to vote a moderate Democrat into the Governor's Mansion. For if it gave us the necessary reforms to the transportation industry and agency that we need, that alone would make the choice worth it! And it would get rid of the two senior bungling, bobble heads in the Republican Party, allowing us to regroup for 2014 with a qualified candidate. They all appear willing to sit this one out on the sidelines, unwilling to challenge the incumbents and risk a career-ending defeat.

Gilbert as Governor would allow the Legislature to act to reform TxDOT without fear of reprisal from the Governor's Office. And that alone would be worth a one-term Democrat! Most of the usual issues are irrelevant in the Governor's race. So I welcome Hank's entry into what is becoming an interesting election indeed! Now all we need is for Roger Staubach to heed my call to enter the race and we'd have ourselves a right nice Texas hoe-down.

I have already emailed Terri Hall at TURF, also the San Antonio Transportation Policy Examiner, seeking a referral to Mr. Gilbert for a sit-down discussion for a series of articles. Hopefully that can happen soon. So come back often to meet the newest candidate for Governor!

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