Education, transportation are pillars of White's platform

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about former Houston Mayor Bill White's difficult battle to win the Texas governor's race.

By Jaime Powell  

CORPUS CHRISTI — On the campaign trail, which already has wound through South Texas several times this year, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White talks about what he learned during his years in business and politics and how he will turn that knowledge into action.

Almost any conversation with White starts with his take on the importance of education and its role in creating a skilled workforce in Texas.

He cites Texas education statistics such as dropout and illiteracy rates by heart and says that if the state does not find a better way to educate, it will face a downward spiral in quality of life and economic competitiveness. . .

Despite White's business and political acumen, he is facing an uphill battle in Texas, which is controlled by Republicans, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson.

To win, White must take a large percentage of the vote in Houston, win voters in conservative suburban areas and draw high turnout in typically Democratic areas such as the Rio Grande Valley, Jillson said.

While White is a familiar face in Houston, the rest of the state doesn't know him. He will have to spend millions getting his face and name out to voters, Jillson said.

White started the race against Perry as many as 12 points down, Jillson said. But two recent polls handicapping the Perry-White race say White is closing the gap. . .

Jillson doesn't believe there will be enough slide for White to close the gaps because a majority of Texans are against the Obama administration, which is considered detrimental to Democratic candidates.

"I think it is Perry's to lose," Jillson said. "It's a Republican state in a bad Democratic year."

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