"Gov. Rick Perry's re-election campaign has been asking Dallas City Hall for information concerning rival Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and her husband, a signal that the campaign could turn personal." That from an article by the AP on the Houston Chronicle's website.
Senator Hutchinson's husband, Ray, is a successful Dallas bond attorney. Perry's campaign has filed open records requests all across the state, according to the article, on a fishing expedition into his business dealings. They claim the campaign is interested in determining if he has benefited from his wife's work in the Senate.
Ray Hutchinson's response was to label the search as "stupid". "I don't know what she does. I don't communicate with her staff," he said.
Perry's spokesperson, Mark Miner, is fond of using a nickname popular with the Perry campaign for Senator Hutchinson - "Senator Bailout". Hutchinson's campaign manager, Rick Wiley, credits Perry's low poll numbers as the reason for the nasty turn.
Recently, in Texas Monthly, Paul Burka wrote a detailed comparison between Perry and Hutchinson as they will be competing for the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas. He likened it to the match between former Governor Ann Richards and George W. Bush in 1994.
Burka writes, "Who votes in a Republican primary? Texas does not require registration by party, so anyone can vote in either party's primary. In practice, however, primary voters tend to be the party faithful - the ideologues and the activists who seldom miss an election. From the fifties through the seventies, when the Democratic party dominated Texas and the Republican party was small and ineffective, Republicans frequently voted in the Democratic primary rather than their own to ensure that the state's leaders would be conservative. In a Perry -Hutchinson primary, without a serious Democratic race for governor, both Perry and Hutchinson would likely reach out to Democrats to cross party lines: rural conservatives for Perry and urban and suburban moderates for Hutchinson."
"Two members of the same party could hardly have more divergent views. Perry began his political career as a Democratic state legislator and became a Republican in 1989 t run for agriculture commissioner. He is the kind of convert who, as the saying goes, is more Catholic than the pope. His support for a bill that would authorize "Choose Life" license plates will help him amass political capital during the current legislative session. Hutchinson supports a woman's right to choose in select circumstances, but she doesn't call herself pro-choice."
"Hutchinson takes a more traditional approach to public policy." On spending, Hutchinson thinks of it as investment in the future. Her focus would be "funding for public schools, more flagship universities to stop 'brain drain' and improvements in public health."
From the time Senator Hutchinson voiced the formation of her exploration committee, she has polled comfortably ahead of Governor Perry. This is why the Perry campaign will ratchet up the negative attacks. By going after the Senator and her husband in personal terms, Perry reinforces all that voters are looking to change. Senator Hutchinson is known for her calm and warm personal approach to voters.
If Rick Perry were to win re-election, he would set a record for longest serving Governor for the state of Texas. His campaign intends to paint Hutchinson as less than conservative in politics. Perry's strongest negative is his extreme partisanship. His low poll numbers reflect that, too.
Senator Hutchinson has some of the strongest ratings from conservative alliances in Washington, D.C. She consistently ranks high in her conservative voting record.
Governor Perry may want to re-think his strategy.