December 21, 2004
Perry endorsement update
Clay Robison follows up on his thin story from last week on Governor Perry's efforts to line up endorsements now ahead of his purported primary challengers, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Carole Keeton Strayhorn. No actual politicians yet, but the usual assortment of conservative activists are putting themselves officially in Perry's corner.
Perry's endorsement list includes 18 leaders from a cross-section of conservative groups.
They include former Texas Republican Chairwoman Susan Weddington; Kelly Shackelford of the Free Market Foundation; Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition; Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum; and leaders of the Texas Christian Coalition and anti-abortion groups.
"They know I have governed as a conservative by fighting to eliminate a $10 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes and signing into law sweeping lawsuit reforms that are protecting Texas patients and Texas employers," Perry said.
Those of you who might welcome KBH's presence in the GOP primary as a moderating influence should take note of this:
Spokesman Dave Beckwith said Hutchison is "one of the most conservative senators in Washington" and has strong voting records with the American Conservative Union and the National Right to Life anti-abortion group.
She knows who votes in primaries. If that campaign ever gets beyond a who's-more-conservative chest-thump fest, I'll be impressed.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 21, 2004 to Election 2006
I'm pretty sure KBH would govern to the left of Perry. That's not necessarily an endorsement if you're a lefty, but I don't think she could do anything but. Abortion is only one issue.
The problem is that the primary system will, as usual, leave us with two unpalatable choices instead of a moderate candidate which could get a lot of cross-over and independent votes, IF they could get past the primary.
Abortion is only one issue but most of the middle-aged women I know who are moderate Democrats think KBH is just great because she is"moderate" and proves it by calling herself "pro-choice" even though her voting patterns typically prove otherwise (sidebar: send her a letter identifying yourself as pro-choice and she'll send you a response talking about her dedication to preserving a woman's right to choose. I wish I'd kept the last one I received...).
My point is that unless the Dems either 1) undermine KBH's claims to being a moderate or 2) field an amazing candidate, a lot of that demographic group is going to assume the Democratic candidate is unelectable and vote for KBH out of a misinformed notion that she's a moderate. Sadly, she'll be busy courting the far right vote behind their backs.
Here's another variation on the sound bite Kuff quotes above:
"Houston lawyer Pat Oxford, a longtime friend and ally who has served as chairman of Hutchison's last two statewide runs, scoffed at the notion that Hutchison would be outflanked on her right if she jumps in the race, a decision he says she has not yet made.
"If there is a Republican primary, Kay will win it," Oxford said. "Kay Hutchison is one of the most conservative senators in the United States Senate. If they're going to try to beat Kay as being a liberal, they better bring their lunch with them."
Hutchison's allies note that of 37 "key votes" listed by the National Right to Life Committee, the senator voted against the group's recommendations only once since 1997 -- on a resolution affirming support of the court decision that legalized abortion. She also has a 91 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union."
I guess the decision to be made on the left, then, is: Should they take down KBH to face a candidate we think we have a better chance of beating -- and risk four more years of Perry -- or do they stay out of it?
In California -- obviously a more liberal state than Texas -- Democratic meddling in the 2002 California Republican primary worked, as the (now impeached) Gray Davis campaign spent huge amounts of money discrediting the electable Republican moderate candidate Richard Riordan -- who had an early lead in the polls both in his primary AND over Davis -- until relentless Democratic ad money skewered him as they were silent about his opponents on the right. Once they got the right wing extremist nominated by the GOP, it was easy sailing.
But that was California -- not Texas. A far right candidate can win in Texas whereas he is unlelectable in California. Do the Democrats roll the dice here? Do they try to take down KBH, who they almost certainly can't beat, in order to risk four more years of something probably worse for liberals?