Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheerleader vs. Cheerleader In 2010

If you've been keeping up with Texas politics lately, this should come as no surprise to you. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she's definitely going to run against Rick Perry for governor in 2010. She met with around 300 supporters in Austin yesterday, calling them the "people who are going to help me in my quest to be governor of Texas."

Those 300 supporters include some real heavyweights among Texas Republicans. Among them are former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, former Rangers pitcher and current president Nolan Ryan, U.S. Representatives Mac Thornberry, Kenny Marchant, Kay Granger, Michael Burgess, Ted Poe, former Representatives Henry Bonilla and Richard Armey, and former Senator Phil Gramm.

This sets up what I like to call the "race of the cheerleaders". Perry was a yell leader while in college at Texas A&M, and Hutchison was a cheerleader while in school at the University of Texas.

This could be a bloody primary for the Republicans. Perry is playing directly to his natural base -- the social and religious nut-wing of the Party. He is already trying to paint his opponent as not being a "real conservative". Perry told an anti-abortion crowd Saturday, "We're going to tell the truth - there's only one conservative in this race. She's not going to be able to hide behind her policies, whether it's bailouts, abortion or out-of-control spending."

Hutchison is fighting back by lining up support from well-known Republicans, and accusing Perry of name-calling and dirty campaigning. She said, "I think that we have seen negative campaigns run by Gov. Perry in the past. Am I concerned? It's not going to dissuade me. I think that's why we need new leadership. I think people are looking for positive, happy warriors. And I'm a positive, happy warrior."

Both are also well-financed. Hutchison starts out with $7.9 million, while Perry has $6.6 million in his campaign fund. And there's plenty of time for both to raise a lot more money. I'll bet the people of Texas will get sick of seeing campaign ads for both candidates, because I expect them to start early and seem to last forever. They both can certainly afford a long and sustained effort.

There still has been no Democrat who has entered the race. Kinky Friedman is considering a run as a Democrat, and some of Henry Cisneros' supporters have been tossing his name about, but neither has tossed his name in the hat yet. While both men have state-wide name recognition, their only real hope in this red state is for the two cheerleaders to damage each other so much that the people of Texas are sick of both of them, and opt for a real change.

It should at least be an interesting race for us political junkies.

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