HOUSTON CITY HALL -- Houston Mayor Bill White says he is considering dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate and instead making a bid for the governor's office, he said in a news conference Monday.
"Since Friday a week ago, Texans from all backgrounds have asked me to consider running for governor of Texas," White said. "I agree to consider running for that office and will make a decision by Friday, December 4."
White said he believes he could beat Perry in a head-to-head match up next fall, reminding reporters that the governor won re-election with 39 percent of the vote in 2006.
"I'm disappointed in Gov. Perry's failure to make tangible progress in addressing the dropout race, fighting polluters, and I could go on and on," he said. "If I don't step up and do this, Texas faces several more years of highly-charged wedge politics and a lack of leadership, and Texas cannot afford that."
White's announcement will come just an hour after Democrat Tom Schieffer announced that he is dropping out of the race. In an announcement Monday afternoon in Austin, Schieffer said he is endorsing White in the race for mayor, although he cautioned that his endorsement should not be taken as a signal that White has actually entered the race.
Schieffer told reporters that he called White's staff on Friday, and met with the Houston mayor at White's home on Sunday.
Texas Democratic Party leaders have been hastily arranging a new slate of candidates for the November, 2010 election, assuming White makes a run for the top of the ticket. Other Democratic candidates for governor are reportedly meeting with party leadership at a meeting in Dallas this afternoon. According to 11 News partner WFAA-TV in Dallas, TDP leadership said it will not back any specific candidate for governor in the primary, and other candidates remain in the race.
White had originally planned to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchcison (R-Texas), who is running against Perry in the Republican primary. Last week, she announced that she would not resign her senate seat this fall -- as she had originally promised -- because she wants to focus on the health care debate under way in Washington.
State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) is not waiting for White's decision. According to KHOU news partner the Texas Tribune, Shapleigh has already endorsed White for governor.
Speaking outside an event in Dallas Monday, Gov. Rick Perry said he is not concerned with shifts in the Democratic party slate. "When they get their primary over with, then we will have more to say about it, but that is a premature question to be asking this far out."