Schieffer’s First Poll Numbers in Governor’s Race Better Than John Connally’s Decades Ago

June 25, 2009

Former Texas Rangers honcho and  U.S. Ambassador to Australia and Japan Tom Schieffer declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor yesterday.  And he enters the race as a decidedly darkhorse for that post in the field with Republicans Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. A poll released the same day by Texas Lyceum confirmed that his is not a household name, with only 6 percent of Democrats choosing him at ths point, second even to iconic personality Kinky Friedman.

But long-memory observers will note that more than 47 year ago, another darkhorse of that time–hometown  neighbor John B. Connally–garnered only 4 percent of the vote in the first poll of that season, running against incumbents Governor Price Daniel, Attorney Will Wilson and  three other better known opponents.  As PR consultant to Connally’s campaign, I recall vividly how we memorialized that humble beginning by founding a “4 Percenter Club”, complete with lapel buttons for those who were early day supporters.

Connally went on to sweep the field in 1962, first by leading the Democratic Primary vote,  then barely edging by a young liberal Don Yarborough in the runoff, and finally defeating Republican nominee Jack Cox in the  general election to become Governor of Texas, where he served for three full terms (then 2 years each) before retiring undefeated. As noted in an earlier post, Schieffer worked in the Governor’s mailroom while a student at the University of Texas in Austin. In his fledgling candidacy, he is sounding notes regarding the importance of education that echo those of  Connally almost half a century ago.

–Julian Read

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