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March 06, 2004

Perry Low in Polls, Strayhorn Goes on Attack

By Byron LaMasters

Well, one explaination for Rick Perry going on the offensive yesterday is that his poll numbers are at a record low, and he's being attacked by members within his own party. The Austin American Statesman reports:

Texans aren't as enamored with Gov. Rick Perry as they once were, according to a new poll in which half the respondents disapproved of his job performance.

In a Texas Poll released Friday, 50 percent of respondents said the governor was doing poorly, while 40 percent said they believed Perry was doing well. Ten percent either had no opinion or gave no answer.


The results of the poll came as Perry denied long-swirling rumors about his personal life and marriage, saying that leading Democrats were spreading lies and "uncorroborated filth."

Perry told the Austin American-Statesman in a copyright story Friday that a smear campaign was behind rumors that he and his wife, Anita, plan to divorce over his alleged infidelity and that he will resign.

Political observers, including those in his own party, said they believe the governor's poor poll numbers are based on a year of bitter, rancorous fights over redistricting and balancing a $9.9 billion deficit by cutting social services and teachers' benefits, raising fees and allowing large hikes in college tuition.

"Texans know that this governor has abdicated his responsibilities and created local crises in education and health care by signing laws that balanced the budget on the backs of schoolteachers and our most vulnerable Texans," said Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a fellow Republican who has fought the governor on policy issues.

She cited a number of new costs to Texans, including $2.7 billion in new fees and the loss of $1.6 billion in federal money because of state cuts in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

As Republican Comptroller Carole Keyton Strayhorn correctly states, Rick Perry has "abdicated his responsibilities and created local crises in education and health care". Rick Perry has failed to lead, and that's why he's lashing out when his poll numbers falter. Rick Perry is trying to blame scandals that were dying in the mainstream and alternative media on his falling poll numbers, when the real reason for his falling poll numbers are of his failure to unite his party and his failure to lead.

I'll be commenting further on yesterday's Austin American Statesman story sometime late tomorrow or early Monday. I've spent time to speak with various friends and others that I trust over the past two days on the story, and I've also reflected upon the story myself. I have yet to reach a conclusion, but I'm coming close to deciding the course of action in which I will take.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 6, 2004 09:30 PM | TrackBack


I've been following your story about Gov. Perry and I'm really interested in what you have to think about the recent goings on.

Also, congrats on being accepted into law school.

Posted by: Lisa at March 6, 2004 09:50 PM

Jim's the one that got accepted into law school. I, myself, have another year to go. A note to all of our readers... there's four of us that post on here, so read the "Posted by..." line to read which one posts what...

Posted by: Byron L at March 6, 2004 10:08 PM

This deal all goes back to my post from Friday: why is the Governor publicy responding (at his own request) to a rumor that was fizzling out?

The mainstream media most likely would not have mentioned the rumors in their analyses but for the Governor asking the mainstream media to cover it.

Once again I ask, what in the hell was he thinking??

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 7, 2004 01:16 AM

This state needs to ditch Perry.

I'll take anyone, preferably a Democrat, but a common sense repug would work.

Someone who doesn't have Delay on auto-dial.

Maybe Strayhorn, but i think Hutchison is in a much better position to win.

Posted by: Tek_XX at March 7, 2004 02:52 AM

Mr. Perry's hometown of Haskel knows all about this rumor. They always wondered why Perry would appoint such an openly gay man to office. Rumor is the man came clean to his parents the day before the story broke. This is no orchestrated plot or smear campaign. It is just people in gossiping about the guv. Perry should just keep his pants and his mouth shut.

Posted by: Belle Touray at March 7, 2004 12:44 PM

KBH as a "common sense repug" -- the Senator from TI herself??? I'm going to have to beg to differ on this one....

We need a Democrat back in the Statehouse 2 years from now. Not Kinky Friedman, not an "agreeable" GOPub, but one of our own. Seriously, one of our own: no more nominating billionaires from Laredo just because they happen to be Hispanic. We need a Democrat in Austin who lives and acts like ordinary working people in Texas.

Who? I have a few ideas of my own, but I'm sure others have better....

Posted by: Jeff at March 7, 2004 01:54 PM

I'm curious why, once the Guv decided to address the rumors, he didn't clearly and forcefully put them to bed.

Rick: "I have not, nor will I, break my marriage vows, because that would be wrong. Neither I nor any of my appointed co-workers are godless homosekshuls."

Anita: "I have not, nor do I intend to, hire a divorce attorney. I love Rick and want stay with him forever."

Just sayin...

PS: Carol K. R. S. M. is widely rumored to be making her own run at the Guv's job, so her comments should be seen in that light.

Posted by: melior at March 7, 2004 08:52 PM


I would hope that your post is just a bunch of satire, but the rumor spreader in that case is oblivious to the legal distinction between a private and public figure in defamation law.

Public figures must prove that the rumor spreader either knew the rumor was false or had reckless disregard for the truth. A difficult burden to prove and not possible in the case of BOA. A private figure does not. With private figures, it matters not whether the rumor spreader believed in good faith that the rumor was true - if it is false, it is libel. Therefore, Byron LaMasters (a private figure)has a very good libel case against such rumor spreaders, including YOU for repeating such gossip. Do you care to post where you could be served with a summons?

Posted by: WhoMe? at March 7, 2004 08:53 PM

Really? Was everybody at the state capitol talking about it? Did you talk to dozens of people who are close to Byron who acknowledge that Byron probably cheats on tests? If so, I guess it may very well be true and might qualify as a news story. Or, it would, if Byron was a public figure and had recently passed a Texas senate resolution denouncing cheating.

Posted by: Barrett Brown at March 7, 2004 09:01 PM

"Public figures must prove that the rumor spreader either knew the rumor was false or had reckless disregard for the truth. A difficult burden to prove and not possible in the case of BOA."

FWIW, I've had my suspicions about Perry for a while.

At the time, I would have given better than even odds that the rumors were true.

I'm still not 100% convinced they ain't, either, but since the man is threatening a caning, I guess I ought just shut up.

Posted by: Jim D at March 8, 2004 03:07 AM

"Do you care to post where you could be served with a summons?"

This is exactly why Phase 2 of the Burnt Orange Report is to build a top-secret moon base - so we can libel anybody we want without getting a summons.


The previous comment should say "some of the rumors;" e.g. I really did believe Perry was leaving his wife, and I really did think there might have been infidelity.

Again, that doesn't make up for the fact that the man is clearly hurt, but I surely didn't make anything up, or purposively lie just to hurt or damage the man. And I presume strongly that Byron is of the same mind as I am.

Posted by: Jim D at March 8, 2004 03:12 AM

How many people took offense at Strayhorn's comments? Is there enough democratic diversity in the Texas Republican Party to fire Perry for worrying more about his hair than the affairs of his state? That's hopeful, but even the good ones turn evil when they advance enough to be part of the cabal.

Looking forward to your commentary and analysis on the state of Perry and whether he is likely to be held accountable for how he has managed Texas.

Posted by: r. Houston Bridges at March 8, 2004 07:20 PM
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