Politics & Government

Texas Democrat's Bush ties may be issue in governor's race

AUSTIN — Fort Worth attorney Tom Schieffer journeyed Monday to the back yard of two potential rivals in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and was asked to his explain his ties to former President George W. Bush, Schieffer's longtime friend and former partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Schieffer touted his candidacy in a speech before the Central Texas Democratic Forum in Austin, the home base of state Sen. Kirk Watson and former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, both of whom are considering a run for governor.

An entry into the Democratic race by either or both would substantially raise the stakes for Schieffer, who now faces only one announced opponent, Garland therapist Mark Thompson, the party’s 2008 nominee for the Railroad Commission. Author, humorist and musician Kinky Friedman, who ran for governor as an independent in 2006, is also exploring a bid but has not announced a decision.

In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Schieffer confronted what would likely become his biggest vulnerability in a competitive Democratic primary. An audience member described Schieffer’s association with Bush as "the elephant in the room" and asked Schieffer whether he has "any regrets about it."

"I think I served the country with distinction," Schieffer said of his duties as a Bush administration ambassador to Australia and Japan. "I think I did some good things while I was there."

But he described himself as a lifelong Democrat and said he told Bush, in accepting the appointment, that he would not become a Republican.

Read the full story at star-telegram.com.