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Texas Democrat campaigns far and wide
White wants voters to know Perry’s rival
Mr. White tells them about how he’s been “blessed in life that began with a modest background” to head companies, become deputy energy secretary and lead Houston.
In his standard speech, Mr. White touts that for five of the six years he was Houston mayor, he oversaw budgets that included property tax reductions.
That’s true. However, taxes increased because property values and appraisals went up.
“I’ve worked with Bill in public crisis operations and he’s very good at it,” said Republican Paul Bettencourt, a former Harris County tax assessor-collector. “But on public policy issues like tax rates … he’s nowhere.”
Mr. White grew up in San Antonio and recalls his first real job - thanks to a family connection with Sen. Joe Bernal of San Antonio - in 1967 as a legislative page in Austin. He became conversant in Spanish listening to Mr. Bernal’s car radio on trips between San Antonio and Austin.
After Harvard and University of Texas law school, Mr. White went into the oil and gas business, became undersecretary of energy in the Clinton administration and served a few years as chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. As Houston mayor, he gained national recognition for accepting Louisiana residents fleeing Hurricane Katrina. At home, the praise was tempered with criticism for a spike in crime blamed on Katrina evacuees and for a chaotic evacuation of the city weeks later as Hurricane Rita approached.
While Mr. Perry’s style can be much more effusive and passionate, Mr. White’s personality tends toward the low-key and soft-spoken, although recently he has sharpened his attacks on the governor, a formidable campaigner who easily saw off a Republican primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison this spring.
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