2006 Governor Candidate
Notes from Evan Smith
"Earlier this year, a certain statewide magazine compared Chris Bell to Sisyphus, the mythic king sentenced to push a rock up a hill for all eternity. Not a bad analogy, if we do say so ourselves, because in his quest to be elected governor of Texas as a Democrat in 2006, the 46-year-old is undeniably on the business end of an extraordinarily difficult task. The math, one might quickly and logically conclude, works against him in two ways: First, in a state in which the number of Democrats is at or near a historic low, any standard-bearer for that once-dominant party has to get not only 100 percent of his base vote to turn out and support him but also a fair number of independents and cross-over Republicans. Second, in a race with five candidates on the ballot -- Bell, Republican Rick Perry, independents Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman, and Libertarian James Werner -- getting enough votes to win even a plurality will be tough for anyone trying to oust the incumbent, considering that their are multiple such someones splitting the anti-incumbent vote. Bell, an Abilene-born lawyer who worked as a TV reporter, sat on the Houston city council, and served one term in the U.S. Congress, appears outwardly, at least, to be undaunted by the specter of both the hill and the rock. Smart, charming, funny, and wonkish, he presents to crowds big and small as a plausible alternative to an existing order that has, if the polls are to be believed, disappointed voters of both parties. But can he really pull an upset? Or, as seems more likely, will his tombstone one day wistfully read: 'Right Guy, Wrong Time'? "
- Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 10.19.06