Republican Gov. Rick Perry's bid to extend his reign to 14 years in the governor's office is at stake for the very first time, according to a new Texas survey by Public Policy Polling. The poll indicates a dead 43-43 tie between Perry and the Democratic candidate, former Houston mayor Bill White.
"Bill White has the potential to give Democrats their biggest bright spot on what will probably overall be a bad election night in November," says Public Policy Polling president Dean Debnam. "A win in the Texas Governor race would be huge for the party and instantaneously make White one of the most prominent Democrats in the country."
The new results arrive just a week after Rasmussen Reports indicated Perry leading 48-40. Debnam suggests that White bridged the gap by taking the lead among independent voters 42 percent to 36 percent. Either way, with the margin of error of both polls at around 4.5 percent, both polls could be accurate.
Currently, the incumbent Perry remains under the 50 percent-plus-one necessary to win this November's election in both polls.
Earlier this month, Perry called for White to drop out of the race after White disclosed tax documents that revealed he made more than $500,000 by investing in BTEC, a Houston company that the city selected (and paid) to provide emergency power during Hurricane Rita when White was mayor. (The White campaign pointed out that the mayor had no financial interest in BTEC at the time of Hurricane Rita. White did serve on the BTEC board before being elected mayor.)
White's campaign has put Perry's expenditures and leadership style under close scrutiny. Last month, it was revealed that the governor spends $10,000 a month on a temporary west Travis County mansion.
White's campaign obtained Perry's official schedule and highlighted that it showed no state business on 38 business days during the first five months of the year, amounting to over a month-long campaign vacation for the governor. While in office, the governor has also devoted time to writing a book compiling his complaints with the Obama administration.
"It's no wonder the state was unprepared for an $18 billion shortfall," White says.
Perry is so far refusing to engage White in a publicly held debate — despite White's frequent challenges to do so.
Tuesday's announcement of the Public Policy survey was shortly preceded by news of government watchdog group Texans for Public Justice filing a complaint against Perry's campaign for failing to disclose how it spends money at the governor's mansion and at his interim residence. Since 2001, Perry's campaign has spent more than $800,000 on "mansion expenditures." The complaint also details the Perry campaign's violation of disclosure laws by failing to itemize the spending.
Texans for Public Justice previously called the release of White's tax returns, "long overdue."
Now, Perry and White can get to their own battle, knowing the race is closer than ever.