The November outlook for Democratic candidates may be bleak, but New York Times reporter James McKinley Jr. shook his pom-poms for Bill White, former mayor of Houston and a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, against "rightwing politician" Gov. Rick Perry, in Sunday's label-soaked "Texas Democrat Is Striving to Make His Name Known."
On the same day Newsweek magazine anointed Gov. Rick Perry on its cover as a conservative icon, his Democratic opponent, Bill White, was slogging through small-scale campaign stops here in a Republican stronghold, needling the governor, saying he paid more attention to his career than to bread-and-butter issues like schools.
The match-up between Mr. Perry and Mr. White this fall promises not only to test the depth of the conservative backlash against President Obama, but also to shed light on just how Republican the state has become and whether the slim signs of a Democratic resurgence in the 2008 election were chimerical.
Conventional wisdom holds that this is a bad year to run as a Democrat in a state like Texas. Since the mid-1990s, Republican candidates have started off with a 10-point advantage just for being Republican. What's more, most political scientists and strategists say the pendulum is swinging back against the Democrats after Mr. Obama's victory in 2008.
The backlash among staunch conservatives, who are angry about the bailout of banks and deficit spending to create jobs, has given rightwing politicians like Mr. Perry a wind at their backs. Indeed, Mr. Perry has actively courted disaffected voters angry with Washington, appearing with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and building Mr. Perry's national profile.