The Texas Goober-natorial Race

From The Dallas Morning News:

The Republican primary for governor has been caustic and personal. A six-week runoff campaign, if it comes to that, could get even worse.

So it won’t be easy for the eventual winner to put Humpty Dumpty together again after today’s votes are cast. And even if Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison can set aside the savage attacks and divisiveness, Democrats are lying in wait armed with all the mud they’ve slung at each other for more than a year.

Original DVD cover

Political history suggests a number of steps combatants can take to heal a party after such a contentious fight. If they don’t, donors and die-hards may sit it out or even migrate to the other party.

Foremost, the loser must absolve the winner – publicly – for all the nasty but true, nasty but half-true, and nasty but unprovable things said during the campaign.

Likewise, the winner must renounce his or her attacks and forgive those from the other side, while emphasizing what a great and honorable person the vanquished candidate is.

Because this particular contest pits Texas’ two politicians already at the top of the political food chain, it’s hard to cite exact parallels outside the animal kingdom. There’s only one alpha dog. The rest must submit or go into exile.

But there’s a lot to make up for. Perry has labeled Hutchison “Washington Kay” and the “Queen of Earmarks.” He has called her “out of touch with Texas” and accused her of having a “checkered ethical past.”


Hutchison has called him arrogant, and a “Republican of convenience,” not conviction.


One model might be the Barack Obama-Hillary Rodham Clinton rivalry in 2008, pitting two Democratic stars in that party’s most prolonged primary. Once Clinton conceded, and with the White House in reach, they traveled together to Unity, N.H. – a gesture that sent a strong signal to die-hards in both camps.

Of course, the Texas governor has no prize akin to a Cabinet post with which to entice a rival. It may be harder for Perry and Hutchison to find common ground.

“With Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, it has all been about personal ambition. They have nothing to come together around,” said longtime Democratic strategist Ed Martin.

Aides to Perry and Hutchison said Monday that their bosses will support the GOP ticket no matter who is on it. But it’s hard to imagine the two joining for a victory handclasp, or either traveling the state to turn out votes for the other. (The third candidate, Wharton County [Tea] party activist Debra Medina, has made no pledge to support either rival.)


Even with the fracture, Texas Republicans head into the general election with plenty of advantages. The party hasn’t lost a statewide election in 16 years, and on much of the statewide ballot, well-funded incumbents are taking on underdog Democrats.

But Democrats have been watching the GOP titans tear each other apart for over a year, with a certain detached glee.

All the attacks Hutchison has leveled at Perry over cronyism, mismanagement of the state budget and highway department, the dropout rate and more can easily be recycled for the fall campaign.

The primary has also exposed Hutchison’s weaknesses – her struggle to shake off the “Washington Kay” image that Perry painted, in an anti-incumbent year.

“If Texans are frustrated with things not getting done in Austin then the bums they need to throw out are Republicans. They’ve been running everything,” Martin said. “That leaves the battleground wide open” for likely Democratic nominee [former Houston mayor] Bill White.


Many voters perceive […] fundamental differences – on style and policy – between Perry and Hutchison.

Some Republicans argued that a spirited primary produces a nominee who has been vetted, tested and tempered like steel, and who is therefore less vulnerable.

Others who’ve watched the mudfest with some concern aren’t sure what to expect if there’s a runoff.

“You kind of want to yell down to the torpedo room: You got anything left?” said Dallas County Republican chairman Jonathan Neerman. Still, he said, “I do not think it has been as nasty as it could have been.”

He noted that various polls show that many GOP voters like both Perry and Hutchison. Once the choice is made, many won’t find it so hard to redirect their support, especially if the loser pitches in.


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17 responses to “The Texas Goober-natorial Race

  1. Perry vs. Hutchison is sort of like Sarah Palin vs. Ann Coulter. You kind of hope they get in a GOP bus together and it runs off a cliff. Into the ocean. Where there are sharks.
    Hungry sharks.
    With rabies.
    And guns.

    • “And guns.”

      You mean laser beams, don’t you?

      • writechic

        Snickering. Perry’s such a sad an easy target.

        If KBH paid me, I’d write this ad in answer to Washington Kay with a voice over and pitchfork shot with anyone from Hee-Haw still living:

        Take still shot, zoom in on Goodhair.
        VO: Rick Perry has probably inhaled a little too much AquaNet.
        fade to Kay looking as good as she can
        VO: Maybe that’s why he doesn’t understand that the people of Texas elected Kay Bailey Hutchinson to represent the Lone Star State in the nation’s capital….and earmarks, that’s money that came to Texas providing this much infrastructure and this many jobs.
        take Nonnie’s “My Skools Don’t Need Munny” image
        If Perry spent less time in front of the mirror and more time paying attention to Texas, he’d have that figured out.
        take KBH again.
        VO: Elect Kay Bailey Hutchison. She’s not retarded.
        take: HeeHaw shot
        VO: paid for by the anybody but Perry campaign for governor.

        (Please, don’t think I like KBH, I just loathe Perry!)

    • i don’t think kbh can win, so it might be more entertaining to see a runoff between gov. little ricky goodhair and funky shrew medina. the nutwingery will be flying! they’ll have to keep trying to outwingnut the other. funky shrew medina will have plenty of dirt to fling at little ricky goodhair, but what will he fling back at her? she doesn’t have a voting record or anything for him to attack. i doubt funky shrew medina can win, but the exercise will weaken little ricky goodhair.

  2. Debra Medina as Leatherface. I like it.

  3. Last results had Perry at 52% so no runoff. That tea pot in pic is so funny! It’s a wonder as nasty as the ads got that neither of the two losers went for the ultimate put down that would rile up the rednecks. Something that happened five years ago and never get talked about. When the tradgedy of Katrina became a national disgrace our Governor said he would take refugees and offer shelter and help for those poor people. I was impressed at the time he would take such a politcal risk. Houston got around 200,000, D/FW about 70,000, other cities lesser amounts. I’m no fan of his party or running of Austin but he will get one large brownie point for the humanitarian gesture.

    • i’m so disappointed, jerry. i was looking forward to 6 more weeks of them slashing each other to bits, sort of like a horror groundhog day. 😥

      do you like that teapot? it’s actually a pin.

      i doubt gov. little ricky goodhair allowed those katrina people to come to texas out of the goodness of his heart. i’m sure that it was a political decision. maybe he figured he’d get some minority votes, even if he lost the vote of babs bush.

  4. my favorite part – the vomitorium of pundits (especially tweety – who is getting back on the i cannot stand list) keep calling KBH – a “moderate” republican.

    a moderate when compared to Joseph Stalin

  5. jeb

    The irony of all of this is that the Governor of Texas is one of the weakest chief executive positions there is. All of the power rests with the lege (as Molly Ivins called it). That’s why I cringed when Bu$h first ran and boasted how being Gov of Texas had prepared him to be President.

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