Texans for Thompson!

Well, Thompson has BIG support in the Texas legislature…

GOP lawmakers favor Fred Thompson for president
Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — Don’t underestimate the political power of stardom, even in the state Capitol.

Fred Thompson, the actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, officially is only mulling a race for the White House, but he already has snagged support from at least 58 Texas Republican lawmakers.

No other presidential hopeful from either party is close.

Much of the credit goes to state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, who have been promoting a Thompson candidacy and securing lawmakers’ signatures encouraging him to run.

They like him, they say, because he’s conservative, independent, well-spoken and comfortable before the camera. And, yes, some backers, including Talton, admit to watching Law and Order, the NBC series on which Thompson plays a district attorney, following several movie roles.

Comparison to Reagan
Patterson, who claims the only television he watches are the History Channel and cable news, said 54 House members and four senators — Kyle Janek and Dan Patrick of Houston, Chris Harris of Arlington and Jane Nelson of Lewisville — are on the pro-Thompson list.

“I think he is the only true conservative in the race,” said Patrick, perhaps only slightly prematurely.

“From a presentation standpoint, I think he will be Reagan-esque,” he added, evoking memories of another actor elevated to a much bigger stage.

The House members represent two-thirds of the chamber’s GOP members, including House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and 21 other committee chairmen.

The list includes Joe Crabb, John Davis, Jim Murphy, Debbie Riddle and Corbin Van Arsdale of Houston; Wayne Smith of Baytown; John Zerwas of Richmond; Rob Eissler of The Woodlands; Brandon Creighton of Conroe; Larry Taylor of Friendswood, and Dennis Bonnen of Angleton.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth and Rep. Joe Straus of San Antonio are backing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president, and a handful of Republican lawmakers are believed to be supporting Arizona Sen. John McCain.

But McCain still has trouble with conservatives, who dominate Texas Republican primaries. And some Texas Republicans may still be smarting from McCain’s campaign against President Bush in 2000.

Giuliani, with 24 percent, led a recent independent poll of likely Texas Republican primary voters conducted by Baselice & Associates. Thompson and McCain had 19 percent each.

Thompson’s name wasn’t included on a similar survey in January, while McCain’s and Giuliani’s support had fallen since then. Giuliani had 28 percent support in January and McCain, 26 percent.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001