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In Big Oil Texas, Democrat looks to sun and wind

By Chris Baltimore
Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:01am EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) – As a former oil entrepreneur, Bill White is by no means a foe of Big Oil, the engine at the heart of the Texas economy.

But if the Democrat wins the state governor’s race next month, he will be spending lots of time working with two other resources in abundance in Texas — sun and wind — and trying to make the whole state much more energy efficient.

If successful, White could help turn oil-happy Texas into the de facto U.S. leader in alternative energy while Washington’s push toward a low-carbon economy drags on in Congress.

As Houston’s mayor for three terms, White burnished his clean energy credentials by championing efficiency and making the “Petro Metro” the biggest municipal clean energy purchaser in the state.

He also proved his mettle as a cool-headed, straight-talking administrator who focused on the bottom line and proved a steely crisis manager after Hurricane Ike barreled through Houston in 2008.

But White, 56, has yet to prove he can win this tough election. Most polls have him trailing Republican Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in the history of the second most populous U.S. state.

“The guy is darn near a deity in the Houston area,” said Jason Stanford, a political consultant with Stanford Research in Austin, the state capital. “The challenge for him is to make his case to the rest of the state in the time that’s left.”

To his credit, White is already the best Democratic bet in 15 years…. READ MORE.