Skip to comments.Texas Deathmatch - Two GOP heavyweights in a fight to the finish.
Posted on 02/13/2010 6:02:14 PM PST by smoothsailing
Texas governor Rick Perry and Sarah Palin are friends from her years as governor of Alaska. In April 2008, a very pregnant Palin joined Perry and other Republican governors in Dallas at a conference on energy. While addressing the group, Palin suddenly turned to Perry and asked him to take the microphone. She had gone into labor. Palin rushed to the airport and flew back to Alaska, where her son Trig was born.
Last week, Palin returned to Texas to speak at a rally for Perry outside Houston. (She noted Trig was almost a Texan.) Perry is facing a primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Palin took up the theme of his campaign: Hes the Texas candidate, Hutchison belongs to the alien world of Washington. Whats it going to be, Palin said, the way they operate in D.C. or the way yall get things done in Texas?
Perry, 59, made the most of Palins appearance. It was hours before the Super Bowl. Think about it, he said. In ten years, you may not remember whether the Colts or Saints won, but youll never forget the time you got to see one of Americas superstar conservative leaders and joined with thousands of your fellow conservatives standing tall for conservatism.
Palins entry into the Texas campaign wasnt quite that historic. But it did reflect the thrust of Perrys pitch for a third full term as governor. The answer, he declared at the rally, is less Washington and more Texas. And Palins embrace of Perry targeted the conservative grassroots of the Republican party in Texas in a way that Hutchison cant match.
Hutchison, 66, first elected to the Senate in 1993, is the preferred candidate of the partys upper crust, which has soured on Perry. Shes been endorsed by George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, James Baker, Phil Gramm, and a host of Texans identified with the two Bush administrations. (The only prominent Bushie to back Perry is Joe Allbaugh, a campaign aide to George W. Bush in 2000 and later the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.)
The Perry-Hutchison race is a battle of Texas titans. They are the states biggest names, the leading political heavyweights, and (along with Senator John Cornyn) its top elected officials.
Sharply contested primaries are often defended as invigorating for political parties. But this one is more likely to be harmful to whoever wins. Perry and Hutchison have portrayed each other in harsh termsPerry as a patron of cronyism that borders on corruption; Hutchison as an aloof, Washington big spenderthat practically write the TV ads for the Democratic candidate, probably former Houston mayor Bill White. Perry is regarded as the stronger primary candidate, Hutchison the better vote-getter in the general election because of her appeal to moderates. At the moment, Perry leads Hutchison by double digits in primary polls. Against White, both run about 5 percentage points ahead.
The trepidation of Republicans is twofold. Should White win the governorship, he might sweep Democrats into office at the state and local level, particularly in Houston and Dallas. Even if Republicans retain control of the state legislature, White as governor could force reapportionment of congressional districts into the federal courts just as Texas is gaining as many as four or five House seats thanks to population growth. That could cost Republicans seats.
At a time when the party is just recovering from heavy defeats in 2006 and 2008, the loss of Texas would be a major setbackand awfully embarrassing. For the past two decades, Texas has been one of the biggest arenas of Republican success.
But the anxiety, while not un-founded, is overblown. I suspect one reason for the angst is that the Perry-Hutchison battle has become a blood feud. Another is that it was unnecessary. Hutchison is the most successful Republican office seeker in Texas history. She has never received less than 60 percent of the vote in her four Senate races. She wanted to run for governor in 2006 and tried to force Perry to withdraw without a primary contest.
He didnt flinch. As lieutenant governor, he succeeded George W. Bush when he resigned in 2000 after his election as president. Perry was then elected in 2002. In 2006, he rounded up impressive support across Texas and refused to surrender to Hutchison.
A truce of sorts was reached when Perry sent word through emissaries that 2006 would be his last race for governor, and 2010 would be Hutchisons turn. Karl Rove, then White House political chief, was among those who prompted her to drop plans to run in 2006.
Whatever was settled four years ago was blown up in April 2008 when Perry announced for reelection. After getting only 39 percent in a four-way race in 2006, his prospects looked bleak. In early 2009, he trailed Hutchison by 20 percentage points in polls. He was already set to become the longest serving governor ever in Texas. Reelection in 2010 and extending his tenure to 14 years seemed a stretch.
But Perrys army of critics underestimated him. He fashioned himself as the guardian of Texas against the encroachments of Washington. He embraced the tea party movement. On April 15, Tax Day, Perry spoke at tea party rallies in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin. He really regained his footing, says Terry Sullivan, Hutchisons campaign manager. She focused on being a United States senator. He ran around the state talking about secession.
In truth, Perry never uttered the word secession, but he alluded to it. After the tea party event in Austin, he was questioned by reporters about the murmurs of secession. Theres a lot of different scenarios, the governor said. Weve got a great union. Theres absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place and were a pretty independent lot to boot. With opposition to President Obama sweeping Texas, Perrys words crystallized his role as a leading foe of the Obama administrations policies.
As Perry soared, Hutchison sagged. She had a rough summer, says Sullivan. She wanted to run for governor in the worst way, a sympathetic Republican official says, and she has run in the worst way. She promised to quit the Senate, then postponed the date for resignation several times. For months, she was peppered with questions about when she would step down. Even Perry got in the act, asking her during a televised debate in January when she intended to resign.
While extolling Texas, Perry accuses Hutchison of tearing down the state. He insisted, in another debate last month, that nobody gets confused that this is the best state in the nation to be living in today. We lead the nation in development of jobs. This wouldnt be the case if Texas followed Hutchisons spend-it-all-spend-it-now approach, he said.
Perry has in many ways dispelled the notion that governor of Texas is an inherently weak office, Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman wrote last week. He has demanded loyalty from the many aides hes appointed to top state jobs. But he has suffered two significant defeats as governor, and accusations of cronyism and slipshod ethics have grown in recent months.
He proposed building the Trans-Texas Corridor, a toll road along I-35, the north-south interstate. The plan, which would have included seizing large amounts of private land, was killed by the Republican-led legislature. So was his proposed mandate to vaccinate every sixth-grade girl against a virus that causes cervical cancer. On both issues, former Perry aides were lobbyists for the private companies poised to benefit the most. In other cases, he has installed allies in positions over which the governor has historically had no direct control.
Hutchison has seized on the cronyism. There are two ways to get things done in Austin, one of her TV ads says. Hire a lobbyist and donate to this governor [a picture of Perry is shown] or elect a new one. In a televised debate sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, she said: You might ask why did we have a plan for the Trans-Texas Corridor? Why did the governor mandate vaccines for our young daughters? It was because there were lobbyists that were first, not the people of Texas. Perry, who has defended both proposals, didnt respond.
That debate was a mixed blessing for Hutchison. She was crossexamined on her pro-choice position on abortion, as she had been in the first debate. Hutchison refused to say if she favors overturning Roe v. Wade. (She voted for a resolution in 2003 affirming it.) In a confusing answer, she suggested repealing Roe v. Wade would lead to abortion havens in some states.
Hutchisons few deviations from conservatism arent her biggest problem. Her record is four times more conservative than her rhetoric, says Sullivan, the campaign manager. Her biggest failure has been an inability to spell out a compelling rationale for her candidacy.
Texas voters, especially Republicans, are happy with her in Washington. Shes the most popular political figure in the state. Yet, assuming Perry wins the primary, hell be the favorite to win another four years as governor.
One more thing. The agony of a bitter primary for Republicans may extend past March 2. If the third Republican candidate, Debra Medinaa Ron Paul followerattracts enough votes she could deny Perry or Hutchison a majority and force a runoff on April 13.
Given that Perry voters are the most likely to vote, his chances in a runoff look good. But unexpected things can happen in politics. Hutchison, should she lose to Perry, may make the perfectly sensible decision to stay in the Senate. If that happens, Republicans may get what theyve wanted all along: to keep Governor Perry and Senator Hutchison. No doubt Palin would be pleased, too.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
I don’t understand why KBH does not stay in the Senate.
The (D), Bill White, should not be underestimated, he is a strong candidate.
Hutch is a Fed loving Washington insider. Perry is EXACTLY what the Hutch calls him. A corrupt political crony, using his power to line his own pockets.
I’m sorry but I haven’t read anything like that. Can you cite some sources?
If you’re that naive, I’m not wasting my time with you. If you think Perry is on the up and up, then you truly are clueless.
They are both former cheerleaders; so were Trent Lott and Thad Cochran. In 1984, Perry was leading the Mondale forces in TX, and Hutchison I suppose was voting for Reagan with the first Bush.
I believe that Hutchison and Cornyn have nearly identical Senate voting records. He is not one to rock the boat either.
Put your tail on the spot? I can see you are a real intellectual giant.
You’re wasting your time, with Onerom99.
S/he is sore about Medina outing herself recently.
I don’t think the poster lives in TX anyway.
I don’t either, for that matter, but if I did, I would be proudly casting my vote for RICK PERRY.
Thank you. I’ve read others slamming him as well and for the life of me cannot find out what the specific problem is. He’s had a stellar career, served the country in the AF, is for lower taxes, been endorsed by the Texas Home Schooling Association and the NRA-PVF. He’s pro-life and a 10th Amendment advocate. His stance on border security may be a weak point but he’s requested and received drones. Someone mentioned that ‘he’ stopped the building of the fence when in fact it was our very own DHS...I do not live in TX either but certainly wish that I did.
Palin/Perry 2012 Both have actual experience in running things.
PS Medina.........know nothing about her as I found out all I needed to know: she’s a kook who believes the U.S. Gov is behind 9/11.
I was mildly disappointed in Medina. I was hoping she represented a rationale alternative to the two-faced phony, Al Gore-supporting Rick Perry and Big Gov Hutch. Those hopes didn’t come to fruition.
Rick Perry is an opportunistic, corrupt political crony who latched onto the Tea Party to save his career. He doesn’t give a flying f-ck about you. Someday you’ll realize you were duped.
I can’t find disagreement in your post and KBH is a porker in the US Senate. Rick Perry looks fine to me and I also wish I lived in Texas!!!
I am thrilled that Debra Medina outed herself for the kook she is. I already knew she was a Ron Paul type, and I found that unacceptable.
You've mistaken me for a Texas resident, despite the fact that I clearly posted that I am not. All you've done is cast unsourced and rather vicious slams at Governor Rick Perry, but I see that's your stock-in-trade. You don't like Sarah Palin either, so I'm content to dismiss your hissy-fit opinions.
Nice comeback onyx.
Actually, s/he owed you the reply, right?
I think it might be the part where I asked for sources that caused s/he to go to you. You just seemed more friendly at that point ........maybe? lol
Freepmail me or ping me from the original thread to get on/off the 2010 Texas Governor's Race ping list.
The way I put it is this: So what if Perry is a panderer, most politicians are ... but at least he is pandering to ME, a concerned taxpayer who sees the Fed Govt as way too big and out-of-control.
Excellent and you’re a Texas voter!!!