“I don’t ever learn my lessons,” I recently told an old friend, the only thing thicker than my sardonicism being my accent. It was in regard to commiseration of the past, but could just as easily be applied to the forthcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary.
My vote will go to Andrew White. Many will understandably disagree; and after all, I found such an endorsement infeasible just two months ago. But since then, two developments have occurred. First, White running a better campaign than expected. Second, his main rival, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, is running a worse one than anticipated.
White has angered many on the left with his comments endorsing right-wing viewpoints. Just last year, he frustratingly referred to himself as a “conservative Democrat,” evoking shameful memories of Dixiecrats. Despite this, White’s political views place him comfortably within the Democratic mainstream. He supports a woman’s right to an abortion, sensible regulations on guns and opposes the racist “show me your papers” law. Valdez does as well. White also opposes the death penalty as currently administered.
What distinguishes White, the son of the late Gov. Mark White and a first-time candidate for public office, from the veteran politician Valdez, is his grasp of less partisan, more pragmatic issues.
White has an erudite knowledge of tax policy, school funding and flood abatement. Valdez does not. This same Achilles’ heel applied to Wendy Davis in 2014, her platform and grasp of state issues was woefully inadequate. In an statewide election where any Democrat faces an enormously uphill battle, it was disastrous. The Daily Texan Editorial Board, on which I then sat, even declined to endorse her.
When it comes to issues specifically of import to UT students, White is the best candidate to have our backs. He opposes guns on campus and respects the constitutionality of affirmative action. White also believes the top 10 percent rule should be reformed.
Also pressing to student interests, White told me he supports the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and believes those convicted of such crimes should see their “records cleared.” Such a position puts White well on the vanguard of the issue. Changing the law is not enough; White pushes to offer a clean slate to those already harmed by the unjust law.
He supports a freeze on college tuition for individual students. Under White’s plan, the tuition one is charged senior year would not be able to exceed freshman year tuition. With UT’s tuition skyrocketing every year since the legislature deregulated its cost, this is a common sense solution we should support.
Valdez’s backers laud her identity as a Latina and LGBTQ person, not her political experience. Proponents allege she is most likely to boost Democratic turnout. They claim such candidates are the only way for Democrats to prevail in Texas, and point to the shellacking of recent candidates like White — moderate and ostensibly appealing to moderate Republicans — such as Chris Bell and Bill White (no relation with Andrew). There is no real basis for this thinking. Historically, more liberal, identity-minded candidates, namely Davis and Leticia Van de Putte in 2014, were also defeated by huge margins, specifically larger margins than either Bell or Bill White.
I do not know which of White or Valdez would do better against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, and if the past couple years have taught us anything, it’s that such prognostications are a fool’s errand. Either would face an extremely uphill challenge, and honestly a random name picked out of a phone book would be a better governor than Abbott.
But White has a very good grasp on the issues. He argues in good faith and looks forward to compromise and pragmatism. He wants to represent all of Texas, not just his cronies or the tiny sliver of the electorate that participates in Republican primaries. That’s what I have been looking for, and that is the gubernatorial candidate for whom I will be voting in March’s Democratic primary.
Vote for Andrew White.
Horwitz is a second-year law student from Houston.