One candidate in the race for governor has a killer instinct. We should not be surprised that he's winning.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry is the best street fighter in Texas politics, as we were again reminded this week when he launched an ad linking Democratic challenger Bill White to the murder of a Houston police officer.
The officer, Rodney Johnson, was shot and killed by Juan Leonardo Quintero, an undocumented immigrant handcuffed in the back of Johnson's patrol car during a 2006 traffic stop. Johnson had not found the gun hidden in Quintero's waistband before putting him in the car. Sgt. Joslyn Johnson, herself a Houston police officer and Rodney Johnson's widow, says in Perry's ad that White failed to adopt immigration policies that protected police when he was Houston mayor.
White called the ad shameless, and then Perry did something even more extraordinary. According to The Associated Press, Perry told reporters in Houston that if White had problems with Joslyn Johnson's words, "he needs to have that conversation with her."
Classic Perry: You don't like how I used a grieving widow in a campaign ad? Your problem is with the widow. Don't like how I govern Texas? Your problem is with Texas.
Neither Perry nor White can claim to have run a positive campaign, and that's fine, because winning candidates in close races usually don't. But White has softened several of his anti-Perry commercials by using his own voice to talk about his vision for the state, and that's left some politicos wondering whether he has it in him to cut a truly negative ad. Perry, meanwhile, has hit as hard as ever.
I think a candidate delivering a personal attack against the other candidate in a paid ad is one of the worst things you can do... just a bad bad bad bad idea...
Bill White delivering an attack drove his own negatives sky high. The attacks didn't really stick because they were weak attacks... and not credible...