The Texas Republican governor's race

Craig Hines:

Oh, Kay! What have you gotten yourself into?

The simple answer is that Kathryn Ann "Kay" Bailey Hutchison, a Republican and senior U.S. senator from Texas, has entered the race for governor back home, a job she long has yearned to hold. But that's where the simple part ends.

A more realistic answer, at the moment, is that Hutchison has gotten herself into a mess that imperils her long, largely productive political career.

Until, say, six months ago, Hutchison was, as she had been for many years, arguably the most popular politician in the Lone Star State. In one Senate re-election race she picked up more than 4 million votes, the state's record for a nonpresidential candidate.

Now, however, Hutchison is at the center of an intra-GOP Armageddon that has the national Republican Party holding its head in its hands and ambulances down home lining up to haul the wounded off the internecine battlefields of a state that the party needs to keep reliably red.

In formally announcing earlier this month a primary challenge to the incumbent Republican governor, James Richard "Rick" Perry, Hutchison finally pulled the trigger on a long-delayed, mano-a-mano contest that could cost $50 million. And that's just to get to the party primary on March 2.

Anyone hungering for great, grass-roots political theater over the next six months need look no further. The Hutchison-Perry campaign has quickly become a Bloggers Full-Employment Act, and national political reporters are looking for short-term lets in Austin.


Hines quotes several Texas bloggers, but he somehow overlooked the best one PrairiePundit. It will be an interesting contest, but Sen. Hutchison is starting from behind and I have yet to see anything indicated she has gotten any bounce out of her opening arguments that followed her announcement.

Hines trots out some of the issues that many think will turn the election such as who is more anti abortion (Perry). I don't think this will be a race about social issues over which the governor has little sway. Texas's governor has no ability to appoint US Supreme Court Justices or even vote on their nominations.

I think executive experience will be an issue as well as the results of Perry's tenure in office. At this point those issues tend to favor Perry, though he has not pushed them that much and people like Hines and the liberal bloggers he quotes ignore them.

In terms of jobs, Texas created 80 percent of all jobs in the US over the last two years. It is the number one exporting state. It has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other state. Toyota just announced it is closing its California plant and moving production of Tacoma pickups to San Antonio where it also makes Tundra pickups.

On the downside, Texas also seems to be a leader in the number of uninsured. Texas is also getting some spillover from the Mexican criminal insurgency. Texas property taxes for school funding are still too high. Sen. Hutchison seems to oppose toll roads for reasons that are not clear to me at this point. I think toll roads have significantly enhanced transportation in Houston and Dallas. Perhaps she has some other projects in mind.

These are all issues that will be argued about in the next few months.


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