Happy Texas Independence Day!
Today in Texas, it is primary election day. While those in the Senate are bashing Senator Bunning for being independent in thought, unfortunately rare, and standing up to the corrupt Democratic leadership machine by putting a hold on extending entitlement benefits after the Senate passed PAYGO legislation last week, we in Texas have a different sort of independence struggle going on.
In the race for the Republican nomination for Governor, incumbent Rick Perry is running against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina. To say this has been interesting is an understatement. While the state chairman for the Texas Democrat Party has described this contest as a 'blood bath' for the Texas Republican Party, it has proven otherwise. As I type this blog post, Hutchison is working hard to force Perry into a run-off. Medina's ascension in the polls was blunted by her performance during an interview with radio talk show personality Glenn Beck. She has proven she is not quite ready for prime time, though she is the darling of the Tea Party movement and the folks newly interested in politics due to the response to out of control nature of the elected class in Washington, D.C.
I have no bone to pick with those active in the Tea Party - I like to include some as new personal friends - and I applaud the awakening of folks not previously active in politics. The movement has been a pleasure to watch, as a political wonk, and more power to them. But, sometimes new movements bring forward candidates who are fine people, just not quite ready to lead. The Tea Party movement is doing a stellar job in educating voters but they simply have not been around long enough yet to produce those who will win over established incumbents. By 2012? It will probably be a whole different game. Kudos to them.
Governor Perry will break a record for longest serving Governor of Texas, should he win the general election in November. He said he would not run for a third term before he did. This is the problem with elected officials who don't know when to step aside. We see this in Washington with career politicians serving for decades and we see it in state politics, too.
Perry and S.C. Governor Mark Sanford tried to muscle in on the Tea Party wave last summer. Both appeared together on television interviews as they boasted of their support of the Tea Party rallies and town hall meetings. This, while Democrats entrenched in Washington dismissed them as racist, Nazis, and ignorant. Seems a bit odd when we know that Texas has a balanced budget thanks to Washington money and Sanford is asking for more federal dollars, too.
Perry has successfully cast Hutchison as a Washington insider. She is a long serving Senator yet is ready to leave the Senate and come back to Texas. Instead of welcoming that, many are ready to settle for the status quo in Texas. True, Texas is far better off than most states in this recession but Perry himself is only now exhibiting any humility over nationwide pain. He was speaking to a group of Houston business people and was caught on video making a joke saying, "what recession?" while bragging about Texas to the audience. That's fine to be proud of Texas, but not at the expense of those suffering from unemployment. And it was only extended unemployment benefits that Perry turned down from Washington, saying there were unacceptable strings attached. Plus the Tea Party stands for less taxes - Perry allowed a new tax to small businesses to go into effect.
Voters are angry with those serving in Washington. Kay Bailey Hutchison has fallen in the polls as Perry goes negative with his political ads, as he has from the beginning. Now we wait to find out if there will be a runoff.