By 9:30 PM last night, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison conceded her primary race against sitting Texas governor, Rick Perry. Perry successfully defeated the senior senator from the state by a margin of more than twenty points.
So to say that this victory for the governorship is a surprise to those supporting Hutchison would not be honest. Hutchison went from being a sure winner when she first announced her intention to challenge Perry to an underdog by a sound margin. What started out as an exciting prospect for fresh faces and leadership in Austin for the state turned into just another nasty campaign led by a candidate not bashful about going negative to make a point.
Perry went negative from the first of the political ads, as he was worried about the low favorable numbers the polls showed of his job performance. The governor was at 34% favorable marks as the race began in earnest. Then the tide turned. The dissatisfaction with Washington spending and politics filtered down to Texas. For an experienced and savvy politician, Hutchison lost the race due to a very poorly run campaign and the public discontent with those in Washington, D.C. Perry successfully portrayed Hutchison as a big spending Washington politician and that is a shame. The Texas governor balanced the state budget on federal money as he bashed the money. He only refused federal stimulus money from that available for extended unemployment benefits. He claimed that money had strings attached.
Perry told the voters of Texas as he ran for his second term that he would not run for a third. He is currently the longest serving governor of Texas and it would appear that he has fallen into the trap of arrogance as such. Hutchison planned to challenge him as he ran for his second term but stayed out of the race as he said he would not run for a third term. Then he went back on his word and ran again. Hutchison remained in her senate seat as she ran against him and a third candidate entered the race.
Debra Medina captured the imagination of the Tea Party movement. Medina was a newcomer to such high profile politics and her lack of experience began to catch up with her in the final weeks of the race. She made some verbal gaffes on a national radio talk show and her numbers began to decline in the polls. At one time she was above 20% but ended much lower on election night.
Perry successfully portrayed Hutchison as a Washington insider. Then last night as he accepted the nomination, he wrapped his victory in the flag of those of Scott Brown, Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell. He hopes to continue to cash in on the support of those currently disgusted with Washington. He is, however, far from a Tea Party kind of guy when his record is honestly viewed.
Perry broke his word by running for an unprecedented third term. He is now an entrenched politician enjoying the trappings of power. That's arrogance. He is a former Democrat and long time politician. He showed a tendency to be beholding to lobbyist friends as he tried to mandate a new vaccine for young girls that hasn't had time to be tested extensively for side effects. Is that a Tea Party kind of idea? He allowed a tax to be put upon small businesses by not using the power of veto as it went into effect. Are higher taxes on the engine of economic development supported by the Tea Party movement.
Some who would have you believe they are the new leaders of the surging conservative movement are thrilled that Hutchison lost. They fell for the hype put out by the Perry campaign and now demand Hutchison resign immediately from her seat in the senate so that Perry can appoint her successor. They have their own style of arrogance as they bash others for the same. They are calling Perry the "true" conservative, the "true" Texan. Hutchison has a solidly conservative record from her time in Washington and she is a descendant of Sam Houston.
The social conservatives of the Republican party fell victim to misinformation of Hutchison's true record. They portray her as a pro-choice candidate, though she has a record showing she is well within the Republican platform with a pro-life voting record. She has served Texas well. From State Treasurer, as she fought for and was victorious in her fight to keep the state income tax free, to a solid voice in Washington, Hutchison did not deserve the attacks. Hutchison didn't deserve to be lumped with those who spend excessively. She did vote for TARP, at the request of then President Bush and Secretary Paulsen, but did not vote for the stimulus bill. Do those who voted against her know her true record? That is the fault of her campaign management. Politics is not bean bag and especially voices from outside Texas who would like to ascend into leadership in the conservative wing of politics took no prisoners. Some of it was sexist but that is not uncommon, even in the year 2010. Most of it was simply old style defining your opponent in a negative way and unfortunately Hutchison didn't get out in front of that. Her current job as senator took up time that Perry could devote to campaigning.
Perry is astute at winning elections. Texans are fond of electing him and then criticizing him for most of his term. He faces a tough opponent in November as former Houston mayor Bill White as lobbed the first of his upcoming negative campaigning, even as he accepted his party's nomination last night. Perry didn't mention White's name in his speech and he must prove he is up to the challenge. It will be an ugly race.
It will be interesting. Meanwhile, Texas has Hutchison in Washington fighting against the government takeover of health care and the agenda of the far left currently in control. For that we can be grateful.