Thursday, May 09, 2002


Bush media advisor Mark McKinnon's campaign contributions to Democratic candidates in Texas got everybody's hackles up at the White House and at the Republican National Committee. The West Wingers were especially pissed and made sure that Dan Balz knew it.

But Mark McKinnon is not the problem in Texas. The problem in Texas is that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez is running roughly even with Governor Rick Perry (R) in general election trial heats and that Democratic US Senate candidate (and former Dallas Mayor) Ron Kirk, who supposedly can't win because he's black, is running not far behind the Republican nominee, state Attorney General John Cornyn. Kirk is getting strong support from the Dallas business community, which knows him well and likes him a lot. He's an easy guy to like, a fact that many GOP operatives don't fully appreciate.

Soon enough, there will be a poll published in one of the Texas newspapers that will show just how close these races are. And that, in turn, will draw national press attention to a possible double upset in the president's home state. (This is not all bad news for the White House, since it will make their fund-raising efforts for Perry and Cornyn easier).

Losing the gubernatorial seat is probably manageable, perception-wise, because Sanchez has been an outspoken Bush supporter in the past. But losing two in Texas is almost unthinkable and in the event would be deeply embarrassing. Watch that space.