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‘ti\\m -rmer “SLAVE”? DOEStr 1511-L.1411.M. MO* ROW 11100061. X715T’ MAIM FOLKS OF Stiff ukt 31.401VW lH Al’FitAN Cairlii1W7 The No-Show Governor IVEN ENOUGH OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN the most disciplined politician will eventually say something stupid. So it’s common for incumbents with a comfortable lead in the polls to limit debates, press conferences, and unscripted moments to reduce the chances of an election-altering gaffe. It’s called running out the clock. But Gov. Rick Perry is taking it to unacceptable levels. He seems intent on running a general election campaign without communicating with anyone who doesn’t follow his Twitter feed. He’s refused to schedule a single debate with his Democratic opponent, Bill White. He’s announced he won’t meet with newspaper editorial boards during the campaign. Those decisions break not only with Texas political tradition, but with his own track record. Perry has met with newspaper editorial boards in previous campaigns, and he debated his Democratic opponents in 2002 and 2006. In fact, the 2010 campaign could be the first Texas governor’s race in 20 years without a single debate. It’s come to the point that anyone who wants to ask Perry an unscripted question has one option: Ambush the governor at a campaign event. That’s becoming increasingly difficult. Most of Perry’s events \(in fairAustin, where many of the state’s political reporters are based. Most of them have a better chance of landing an interview with Thomas Pynchon than sitting down with this state’s highest public servant. While avoiding public scrutiny may be good politics in the short term, ultimately it will be self-defeating if Perry ever runs for higher office. In a national campaign, he won’t be able to sidestep reporters and debates. There is a larger concern here than politics: the public’s right to know. There’s no shortage of major issues facing this state, and voters deserve to hear how the incumbent governor will deal with those problems before returning him to office. How does he plan to address the state’s looming budget deficit, now estimated at perhaps $18 billion? Would he cut the education budget or lay off teachers? How would he reduce Texans’ home insurance rates, among the highest in the country? Perry seems intent on coasting through the campaign without addressing any of these issues. That’s a shockracy. At the very least, Perry should change his stance and agree to debate. A politician who walls himself off from the public is not worthy of elected office. LI Perry seems intent on running a campaign without communicating with anyone who doesn’t follow his Twitter feed. LOON STAR STA Ben Sargent SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 THE TEXAS TEXAS OBSERVER ! 5