TV Tradition, Prize Patrol in the Race for Texas Governor

August 3rd, 2010 at 10:09 pm by under Politics

From down-home TV ads begging your vote to a prize patrol urging your support, Texas gubernatorial candidates are pushing forward in the final 13 weeks before the election with their favored ways of grabbing attention.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White, the Democrat in this race, most recently talks for 60 seconds on your TV screen… well, if you live in the Dallas area. He boasts about his family’s strong values growing up in San Antonio, how he’s reaching out to the real Texas, localizing this moment on the air.

Bill White on YouTube

While his video never directly mentions Republican opponent Gov. Rick Perry, White does subtly suggest he stands for the opposite of rewarding friends and making a national name for himself – a jab at Perry perhaps. I think so.

When it comes to rewards, Perry’s campaign is actually raffling them off on its website. Three steps will enter your name into a pool to win prizes:

  1. Create a Perry Home Headquarters account
  2. Sign up 11 of your friends, colleagues, or family members (all must be registered voters)
  3. “Like” Governor Perry on Facebook

That raffle is part of a program called Home Headquarters. It started August 1 and continues through October 15. With prizes like these, it’s no wonder more than 3,000 Perry supporters registered on the program’s first day (from Perry website):

  • Red McCombs: 30 mins to privately pitch business idea (Business mogul and former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, and the Minnesota Vikings)
  • Mike Leach: Bring 13 friends to a Football clinic (Former head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team. Leach had a winning season every year during his tenure at Tech)
  • Ben Crenshaw: Lunch for 4 plus 4 Ben Crenshaw books (Nineteen time PGA tour winner and two time Masters Tournament champion)
  • Lt. Governor David Dewhurst: One hour roping lesson (Currently serves as Texas’s Lt. Governor, also is an avid cattle breeder and horse cutter)
  • Karl Rove: Lunch (Currently works as a Political Analyst and contributor for Fox News and was Senior Advisor to former President George W. Bush)
  • David Barton: Tour of the United States Capitol (Founder and President of WallBuilders. His exhaustive research has rendered him an expert in historical and constitutional issues and he serves as a consultant to state and federal legislators earning him the nickname as “America’s Historian”)
  • Becker Vineyards: Winery tour and overnight stay (Becker Vineyards is located in the Texas Hill Country between Fredericksburg and Stonewall. The Winery also has an original homestead log cabin built in 1890)
  • Scott O’Grady: Shooting lesson and lunch for four (United States Air force fighter pilot shot down in Bosnia in 1995. He survived for six days avoiding Serb patrols while trying to contact Magic, NATO’s airborne command center. He evaded capture and was rescued on June 8, by U.S. Marines. The film Behind Enemy Lines is based off of his story)
  • Paul Carrozza: Running clinic (Founder of RunTex University and served on The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports)
  • LaRue Tactical: Shooting at LaRue Tactical (High-end rifle manufacturing facility in Leander, TX. A well-known name to America’s Snipers, also designs and manufactures highly-accurate and dependable weapon systems for law enforcement and militaries around the world including our U.S. Special Forces. The facility includes a 100-yard, wind and mirage free, underground shooting and testing range, along-side a 100-yard general-purpose training range)

Catherine Frazier, a Perry campaign spokesperson, told KXAN, “It’s a concept I don’t believe any campaign has used before, and we’re very excited by the amount of people that it’s bring to our campaign.”

White’s campaign said that “exclusive” mention above seems odd, considering its own campaign used a similar tactic recently.

“We did a successful contest with Jerry Jeff Walker, but raffles and grassroots support aren’t the same thing. Perry has to pay people or give them prizes to attract support,” Katy Bacon, a White campaign spokesperson, told KXAN.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time Perry’s campaign has executed this tactic. The program was used in the primary and brought problems exposed by the Dallas Morning News.

The newspaper said the campaign paid cash to at least 300 recruiters, who, like those with the raffle idea, garnered other supporters. DMN found some of those recruiters had criminal records. Some might not have even been Republican voters.

“This idea is simply an incentive to make sure they show up to the polls and cast their vote for the Governor,” Frazier added.

Coaxing through social media is a new, attention-grabbing idea in this state, for sure. But White’s more traditional approach seems to make the defensive point more apparent, when sending Perry into that “national” arena.

“I would use state offices for the public,” White said in the ad.

Perry’s campaign said it hasn’t utilized TV ads this summer, but White’s national-name-seeking suggestion for his opponent comes to mind when you watch the latest Republican Governor’s Association video.

13 Weeks from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Perry is front and center, even urging Republicans to “take our country back.” A national approach, certainly.

But when it comes to his campaign’s efforts to prove White is more entrenched with a national entity – President Obama – we see the most mudslinging in this race so far.

Bacon said, “Rick Perry would love to run against Washington, because it’s harder for him to run against Bill White and Bill White’s successful record as a businessman and a mayor.”

Obama’s upcoming visit to Texas next Monday to raise money for the Democratic Party will prove how powerful each campaign’s maneuvers have been. White doesn’t plan to attend the fundraisers, citing a scheduling conflict. He does have plans to visit Midland, Abilene, and Johnson County. Smaller Texas cities – that local approach.

Perry’s campaign, however, will tell you it’s White attempt to distance himself from Obama and his negative press, a possible ploy for Texans to believe White has the best interest of the state in mind.

Monday will make for an interesting outcome.

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