What Is Ronnie Earle Up To?

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Hilary Hylton, our reporter in Austin, passes along the following:

Famous/infamous (depending on your point of view) Travis County DA
Ronnie Earle, now retired, has filed papers with the Texas Ethics
Commission as the first step to running for as a yet-to-be-announced
statewide office. Supporters have been urging him to run for the
Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2010. While most followers of
the political scene outside Texas remember him as the man who helped
bring down Tom DeLay (and those cases are still ongoing!), in Texas he
is remembered also for prosecuting then State Treasurer now US Senator
Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has suggested she may run for the Republican
nomination against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. It is thought Hutchison
would attract moderates to the primary and perhaps some Democrats
anxious to defeat the conservative Perry . (No party affiliation
necessary to vote in Texas primaries.)

Earle’s case against Hutchison fell apart, and he announced an
embarrassing courtroom withdrawal on the first day of trial that led
to an immediate acquittal and helped catapult Hutchison to the
Senate. But his entry could be payback, as Harvey Kronberg, editor of
the Quorum report, an Austin political newsletter, writes this
afternoon:

“If Earle does run for Governor, the prospect of Democrats and
independents crossing into the Republican primary diminishes by some
unknown order of magnitude…Sparks on the Democratic side probably
helps Perry. It would be one of life’s great ironies if Earle did in
the Republican primary what he could not do in the court room – beat
Hutchison.”

The prospect of Ronnie Earle on the ballot would supercharge
Republicans inside Texas and beyond with maybe Tom DeLay leading the
fundraising fight?

UPDATE: Commenter Yutsano wonders what this might mean for the prospects of Houston Mayor Bill White. Hilary replies:

Bill White is running for US Senate. Only announced Democrats so far
are Kinky Friedman (yep, Kinky’s is a Democrat this time around).
Plus, Tom Scheiffer, brother of Bob and former ambassador to Japan and
a former business partner of George W. Bush. People are urging former
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, now a state senator, to seek the Democratic
nomination, also — national political junkies will remember Watson
for his tongue-tied appearance on Hardball when Chris Matthews asked
him to cite a single legislative accomplishment by then presidential
candidate Barack Obama.

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