"I've never been elected to anything. So I thought I'd start with governor," says prominent Houston investor Andrew White on his just-launched campaign website for his potential run for governor — on the Democratic ticket.
White, son of former Texas Governor Mark White, who died this year, told Texas Monthly in an interview this week that he is exploring the (what seemed to be very real) possibility of running for governor against Republican Governor Greg Abbott — but says isn't concerned with "labeling" himself politically, apparently casting himself as the candidate for Texans sick of partisan bickering and ideological pandering.
As he told Texas Monthly, “I’ve spent my career in business. I’m a very conservative Democrat, or I’m a moderate Republican or I don’t care what you call me,” he says. “It’s time to move beyond these simple labels. The issues are too complicated to limit to that just one team believes this and the other team believes that.”
White called attention to many conservative lawmakers' "bizarre" choice to make the bathroom bill a top priority in the Legislature this year, saying that, instead, if he were the one in charge, he would oppose legislation that pandered to extremists even if it meant alienating a large portion of the voter base. He said he would follow his father's governing philosophy, which boils down to a quote from Sam Houston: "Do right and risk the consequences" — displayed prominently beneath the bio on his new website. The problem, White said, was that it appears few Texas politicians are willing to lose their jobs to stand up for what's right.
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“The moderate Republicans are looking at their leaders and finding out they don’t represent their beliefs,” White told TM. “The old Republican party was pro-business and pro-jobs and ‘keep the government off my back.’ So what’s the bathroom bill? It’s an over-reaching government program to tell you that you need to bring your birth certificate into the bathroom. It might cause us to lose every Super Bowl, every national championship game—not to mention, how could Amazon consider a second headquarters in Texas if we’re having this argument right now? How many jobs do you lose? The sacrifice we would have to make over something that has zero data to support it is bizarre.”
White said on his website that if he were governor he would be giving all the credit to legislators who are willing to do what's right and risk the consequences and would be taking all the blame for any failures. He gave Texas Monthly an example of the time his father put this philosophy in action in 1986, when Texas was amid a financial crises. To avoid deep cuts to education and other social services, White pushed the Legislature to raise taxes —a move that may have helped public education and social services but that got Mark White booted out of office, his son, then a teenager, recalled.
Quick reminder: As apolitical or "I'm not a real, full-fledged Democrat"-sounding that White's appeals may be, a candidate on the Democratic ticket has not won a statewide office in now 20 years. So, once he officially puts his name in the hat, to say the least, White has his work cut out for him.
Wendy Davis, the de facto leader of the "Don't Mess with Texas Women"/"get government out of my uterus" movement in 2013, had the national spotlight as she filibustered Texas's anti-abortion laws that year before challenging Abbott for the 2014 race. But as it turns out, being the leader of a pro-choice movement apparently just wasn't the way to get elected in Texas. Prior to that, in 2010, former mayor of Houston Bill White (no relation to Mark White) also tried to run for governor, but lost to Rick Perry.