There are many factors and issues that go into winning a political campaign, and the ones swirling about the Texas Republican Primary were numerous. Incumbent governor Rick Perry cruised to an easy victory over sitting U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and activist Debra Medina on Tuesday to set up a general election showdown with former Houston mayor Bill White, a Democrat.
It’s worth recalling that last year Perry distinguished himself as the anti-Smart Growth governor, bucking a trend in which political leaders at all levels embrace this command-and-control planning doctrine. In June 2009, Governor Perry vetoed SB 2169 - a bill relating to “the establishment of a smart growth policy work group and the development of a smart growth policy for this state.”
In his veto message, Governor Perry said:
Senate Bill No. 2169 would create a new governmental body that would centralize the decision-making process in Austin for the planning of communities through an interagency work group on “smart growth” policy…. This legislation would promote a one-size-fits-all approach to land use and planning that would not work across a state as large and diverse as Texas.
I’m not sure if this was on many minds as voters headed to the polls, but there does seem to be a strong sentiment among Texans against top-down centralized planning. The recent mayor’s race in Houston grabbed national attention because of the winner’s sexual orientation. But earlier Annise Parker had soundly defeated über-Smart Growth advocate Peter Brown, setting up her run-off with Gene Locke. Brown had made zoning and central planning a centerpiece of his campaign.
Texas has out-performed most other states in terms of economic vitality, housing affordability and other quality of life indicators, and its cities crowd Business Week’s top ten list of metros least touched by the recession.
When it comes to Smart Growth and centralized planning, political leaders at all levels and in all states should embrace the Lone Star attitude: Don’t Mess With Texas!