Good old Time Magazine What a ragSubmitted by ladalang on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 06:28
How Rick Perry Turned Around the Battle for Texas
Washington has always been bad in eyes of Texas. But more so nowadays than ever. And so the Lone Star State's governor, Rick Perry, wrapped up his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination with an ad that played several times on the final night of the Olympics just to make that point. In front of a large Texas flag, he opened with the simple statement: "Washington is broken." And exhibit No. 1 of how bad Washington had become in his eyes? Fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison, the senior U.S. Senator who was once the prohibitive favorite to succeed Perry in Austin.
As Texas heads into the primary on Tuesday, polls show Perry with a double-digit lead over Hutchison, who a year ago was herself sitting on a double-digit lead over Perry. A week before the election, the Feb. 24 Rasmussen poll had Perry at 48%, Hutchison at 27% and Tea Party activist Debra Medina at 16%. Other polls echo those results. Rasmussen also polled voters who had already cast their ballots during the early-voting period and Perry led 49% to Hutchison's 24% and Medina's 20% — tantalizingly close to the 50% Perry will need to avoid a runoff. (See how the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary became a three-way race.)
What happened? "She misread the voters and the ground shifted under her feet," says Cal Jillson, political-science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In a recent New York Times story, the Senator mused that she had been hoping the "November Republicans" — a reference to the moderates she has relied on for support in the past in a state with no party registration — would turn out and vote in the primary. But her campaign appears to have misjudged the tectonic political shifts of the past year.
Hutchison has tried to emphasize her conservative credentials and to portray Perry as a governor flush with too much power and surrounded by cronies. But getting to the right of Perry, especially when her issues were stale, proved difficult, Jillson says, and her cause was not helped by the confusion last year over when she would quit her Senate seat to focus entirely on the governor's race. Even as the primary election approached, it was still not clear when Hutchison would step down. She had previously said she would leave Washington in October or November, no matter the outcome of the election, but her staff said last week she could stay until January to ensure the defeat of the Obama Administration's health care bill.