Democrat could give Texas governor a run for his money

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about Tuesday's party primaries, the races for governor in Texas and the chances for Democrats in the fall.

From Peter Hamby
CNN Political Producer

Dallas, Texas (CNN) -- Bill White, the former Houston mayor, isn't just Rick Perry's Democratic opponent in the Texas governor's race.

He's Perry's polar opposite.

Bald, diminutive and soft-spoken, White offers a stark contrast to the swaggering, movie-star-handsome governor. If Rick Perry is a modern-day conservative cowboy, White is a practical-minded accountant, eager to chat about education funding, balancing budgets and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. . .

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, agreed with Democrats who say White gives the party its best shot in years at taking back the governor's mansion. He noted that demographic trends in the state, particularly the growing Hispanic population, have Democrats feeling giddy about their chances.

"Bill White is formidable in that he is in that Lloyd Bentsen mold of a business-friendly Democrat," Jillson said, referring to the long-time Texas senator who later served as President Clinton's treasury secretary. But Jillson was quick to dampen Democratic hopes for the Lone Star State.

"White is going to lose because Texas is still a Republican state," he said. "This is not a good year for Democrats. In a different year he might have an outside chance, but I think he probably loses by five to 10 points."

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