Strayhorn receives raucous welcome
By Leigh Jones
Published April 27, 2006
Scooter Store employees gave one big welcome to one tough gubernatorial hopeful Wednesday.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn seemed genuinely surprised when her entrance into the mobility giant’s New Braunfels headquarters was greeted by a chorus of cheers accompanied by a cacophony of clappers, horns and cowbells.
The independent candidate, who bills herself as “One Tough Grandma,” raised her hands in response and bowed with a short flourish before walking around the periphery of the crowd, shaking hands and offering hugs to what appeared to be very excited supporters.
“You all are the most enthusiastic employees I’ve seen anywhere in Texas,” she said when she finally made it back to the microphone. “I just want to pack y’all up and take you on the road with me.”
After thanking The Scooter Store for its warm welcome and congratulating the company on the recent celebration of its 250,000th delivery, Strayhorn told the group of prospective voters they would find her name on the ballot when they went to the polls later this year.
“We are blowing the doors off this petition drive, let me tell you,” she said. “We’re already ahead of where we need to be, and we will be on the ballot in November.”
A number of Scooter Store employees already have assisted Strayhorn in her quest to gather 45,000 signatures before the May 11 deadline so that the independent candidate can get on the ballot. The company began circulating petitions for both Strayhorn and fellow independent candidate Kinky Friedman last week. Company officials did not know how many signatures had already been forwarded to each candidate’s campaign office.
Strayhorn encouraged the audience to vote for her to return Texas to its independent and unified roots.
“(Republican Gov. Rick Perry) has politically fractured this state. We are divided, not united. That’s not the Texas way, and it cannot continue,” she said. “The only way to get anything done is to set aside partisan politics. I will remain an independent to get things done.”
If elected, Strayhorn, who is also a Republican, promised to improve the state’s education and economic performance through what she has dubbed the “Texas Next Step” program.
“Every high school graduate needs to have the opportunity go to a two-year technical or community college to learn a trade, with the state picking up the tab for tuition and books,” she said. “Texas needs to have the most educated workforce to stay on top.”
Describing herself as a common-sense conservative, Strayhorn proposed to pay for the program by eliminating what she called Perry’s “corporate welfare slush fund.”
She also promised state government under her watch would re-invigorate the children’s medical program that was recently scaled back to save money.
While she has big plans for her time in office, Strayhorn admitted the road to the statehouse would not be easy.
“Perry has said he plans to wage an ugly campaign,” she said. “I say, bring it on. I will continue to be one tough grandma.”
Although she would not say for sure, Strayhorn might soon have some experienced help from her son, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. The youngest of Strayhorn’s four sons turned over his Washington job to radio and television commentator Tony Snow roughly four hours before his mother’s appearance in New Braunfels.
“We’ll just have to see,” Strayhorn told the Herald-Zeitung when asked if McClellan would be helping her campaign in the months leading up to the election. “He has lots of opportunities, but I sure would love to see him back in Texas.”