Texas Democratic candidates distance themselves from Obama

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about Texas Democratic candidates distancing themselves from President Obama.

By Dave Montgomery

AUSTIN -- When President Barack Obama visits Texas on Aug. 9, the state's top-tier Democratic candidate, gubernatorial nominee Bill White, will likely be miles away, reaching out to voters in Johnson County near Fort Worth.

Another Democratic hopeful for statewide office, Austin attorney Hector Uribe, says he'll be focused on his bid to unseat Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Barbara Radnofsky, the Democrats' nominee for attorney general, says she too will be preoccupied with campaigning and has no plans to attend an Obama event.

In red-state Texas, many Democratic office-seekers don't seem inclined to cozy up to Obama when he makes his third presidential visit to the state -- and some, in fact, may feel more comfortable moving away from him.

Much of the state's conservative-oriented electorate opposes his policies, and Republican leaders from Gov. Rick Perry on down have made Obama-bashing a political sport. Moreover, the Democratic president is coming to Texas at a time when he is slumping in national polls and struggling over issues including the Gulf oil spill to the war in Afghanistan.

"In Texas, Obama, in terms of his favorability rating is no better than 40 [percent]," says Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Unfavorable would be in the mid-50s. So that's the background context against which Texas politicians decide whether to be seen with Obama in his upcoming fundraising trip."

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