The swirling force of Texas politics

Houston Mayor Expected to Replace Schieffer on Gov. Ballot

Schieffer campaign had trouble raising money

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    TK
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    Texas businessman Tom Schieffer, left, is dropping out the governor's race, and Houston mayor Bill White, right, is expected to run. Both are Democrats.

    North Texas businessman Tom Schieffer announced Monday afternoon that he is dropping out of the race for governor of Texas.

    Schieffer said he is urging Houston Mayor Bill White, who is planning a run for U.S. Senate, to join the race.

    But White said Monday that he would consider jumping into the governor's race and will decide which office he will run for by Dec. 4. He said he first wanted to hear from Texas voters.

    "I've had a lot of people bending my ear about what I ought to do next, and I ought to listen," White said.

    Schieffer and White discussed the governor's race over the weekend in Houston, and that's when Schieffer said he decided to get out of the race. Schieffer said White, a wealthy Houston businessman who has donated over $1 million to his own Senate campaign, would be a "credible alternative" against the Republicans and he publicly urged other Democrats running for governor to get behind him.

    "I am announcing today that I will no longer be a candidate for governor," Schieffer said. "I hope my actions will be a catalyst for others to reassess their intentions and to join me in supporting Mayor White for governor."

    Democratic activists questioned Schieffer's ties to Bush, and as of July, he had less than a half million dollars in the bank, state records show.

    "I frankly found it difficult to raise money," Schieffer said. "I just couldn't convince enough people that I could win."

    He said he had no plans to run for any other state office, nor many worries about how dispose of what remains in his campaign fund.

    "I've pretty well spent it," he said.

    Schieffer once served as president of the Texas Rangers baseball team when George W. Bush owned the team and as an ambassador to Japan.

    Experts suspect his close ties to the former president may have hurt his chances among Texas Democrats. Schieffer acknowledged that some Democrats had heartburn over his tight relationship with the Republican former president, but he downplayed the importance of it.

    "I know there are a lot of people, or some people, that really have a visceral hatred for George Bush, and I'm sorry that they do," Schieffer said. "I didn't find it in the end a great impediment."

    With Schieffer out, the field of Democrats includes humorist Kinky Friedman, Houston businessman Farouk Shami, teacher Felix Alvarado and rancher Hank Gilbert.