State Journal

Political Relativism

Texas bid for governor brings loyalty clash to the White House.

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Former public school teacher Carole Keeton Strayhorn has gained a high profile on education issues as state comptroller in Texas, and she’ll likely try to build on that record as she runs for governor this year.

But the Republican-turned-Independent drew the national media spotlight this month for a reason having nothing to do with her advocacy of teacher pay raises or her close scrutiny of school district spending.

Among her other accomplishments, it seems, Ms. Strayhorn is the mother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. And her candidacy for governor, announced Jan. 2, put Mr. McClellan on the spot at his briefing for reporters the next day.

Given the choice between supporting his mother or the GOP incumbent backed by his boss, the record shows his chose his mother.

“God, that’s courageous,” Bill Plante, a reporter for CBS, joked after Mr. McClellan told the White House press corps. Mr. Plante’s comment caused the press secretary to chuckle and blush, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper said Mr. McClellan had discussed his statement with President Bush, who wants to see Gov. Rick Perry re-elected in November.

Ms. Strayhorn was elected comptroller as a Republican in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002. She said she’d run for governor as an Independent in an effort to promote a nonpartisan agenda.

As comptroller, Ms. Strayhorn has proposed across-the-board $3,000 raises for teachers, at a cost of about $1 billion a year.

Ms. Strayhorn, whose campaign Web site describes her as “one tough grandma watching out for Texas,” also has publicized school districts’ failures to properly account for their spending.

And she has been a persistent critic of Gov. Perry. After Mr. Perry’s 2005 State of the State Address, Ms. Strayhorn issued a statement saying: “We still have no clear idea of where the governor wants to go on public education, how he wants to get there, and what he thinks we’ll have when we arrive.”

Mr. Perry succeeded to the governorship when Mr. Bush became president. The governor won election to the office in 2002 and is seeking re-election this year.

Vol. 25, Issue 19, Page 18

Published in Print: January 18, 2006, as Political Relativism

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