April 23, 2009
Everyone has an opinion on Kay and Rick

Former Congressman Martin Frost thinks Rick Perry has a good shot at winning his primary against Sen. Hutchison.

Perry, who won with less than 40 percent in a four-way general election field in 2006, is not popular with the general voting public in Texas. He is, however, the darling of the far-right wing that dominates the Republican primary electorate. Chances are that he may defeat Hutchison in a mean, ugly, down-and-dirty primary next March.

Most of the piece is a 10,000-foot overview of the race and an intro to Tom Schieffer, and Frost never gives a reason why he thinks Perry might win, so take this for what it's worth. For a Republican view of that primary as it stands now, here's PoliTex:

In response to our earlier post, Matt Mackowiak, a former spokesman for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sent us his thoughts on his old boss's chances against Gov. Rick Perry next year. Mackowiak argues that Perry's unlikely to beat Hutchison and his secession remarks have only hurt him.

"No one in Austin who is not employed by Gov. Perry thinks that he will beat Sen. Hutchison and there is a very large and growing number of skeptics who doubt that Perry will actually run for a third full term after ten years in office," Mackowiak said. "Sen. Hutchison has higher approval ratings, higher name ID, will have more money raised, and she has an ability to bring new voters into an open primary in Texas that Perry will not have by appealing to a narrow sliver of the base with his recent 'secession' comments."

Meanwhile, James Bernson, who was Hutchison's campaign press secretary in 2006, says in a recent online column that, via his Tea Party appearances and secession remarks, "Perry has seized the momentum and is on fire with a large section of the Republican Party base, not just in Texas, but nationally. And it will be the wing of the party most important in the primary."

Obviously, I'm a bystander to this fight. They're not competing for my vote, and they don't have any particular reason to care how I view them. So with that noted, let me say that this is looking a lot like a one-sided battle so far. Perry has been on the offensive, and has thrown all of the punches. I find it fascinating how little KBH has had to say about things like Perry's rejection of the UI stimulus funds and more recently his whole bizarre secession obsession. I can understand the former - she did vote against the stimulus package, after all - but the latter just confounds me. Is that really what the GOP base is about these days? Is she really not capable of drawing a distinction between herself and Perry on stuff like this? Or does she perhaps think that it's better to give Perry as much rope as he needs to hang himself. Staying quiet for now, not just on stupid things like secession but on just about everything - sending out tough-sounding fundraising letters doesn't really count - may be the smart thing to do, but it sure strikes me as a deep position to take. Just seems like a risky strategy to let your opponent define the terms of the debate.

That's my outsider's view, anyway. I'll add that while Perry is clearly taking the initiative, and is spending a bunch of time talking to his natural allies, it's not clear to me that he's reaching out beyond the base he already has. We know a substantial number of Republicans refused to vote for him in 2006. Have any of his antics brought them back into his camp, or have they reinforced the reasons why they abandoned him in the first place? I have no idea, and I doubt that publicly-available polling data will give us any insight.

And I still think KBH is going to do whatever it is she's going to do for her campaign without resigning from the Senate. I think she's boxed in on that, from her junior colleague Sen. Cornyn as well as from Perry, who I continue to believe would bash her relentlessly for putting the Senate in play for a filibuster-proof Dem majority. That, unlike the secession crap, is something that I think would play for a much wider audience.

Finally, I do think all this has the potential to be a real opportunity for the Democrats. That will require a candidate who can rally the troops, who can look good in comparison to the Kay 'n' Rick Show, and who can raise enough money to get that message out. Quite the tall order, but doable, at least this far out from November. Maybe that's Tom Schieffer, as Frost wants you to believe - I'm keeping an open mind, but he's got to prove it to a wider audience than me - and maybe that's not. Maybe Sen. Van de Putte will run, and if so maybe she'll have the fundraising chops to really compete. All I know is the sooner a Democratic candidate can start affecting the terms of the debate, the better. BOR has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 23, 2009 to Election 2010

The problem with Kay Bailey Hutchison is she has been sitting on the fence too long. Waving her pom-poms and dangling her legs on one side of the fence, then the other. And both sides have finally begun to notice it.

The real problem with Kay Bailey Hutchison is she has become Kay Bailout Hutchison.

She did finally fall off the fence. Supporting the bailout of Wall Street while opposing the bailout of Main Street.

She forgot that not all Republicans live on Wall Street. And many are having problems living on Main Street.

That is not to say Republicans are completely supportive of Rick Perry. They just have begun to realize that the only thing worse than Rick Perry at this point would be Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Unless a whole lot of Democratic women turn out at the polls to vote in the Republican primary, most expect Rick Perry will win.

He simply is the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on April 23, 2009 11:00 AM

Kuff, I wonder if Frost is trying to shake up the Dems. I think there are a lot of people--even Democrats--that first and foremost want Perry gone even if it is KBH. The real test for Kay is going to be whether she can compel indy and Dem crossovers ("Hope & Change Working Moms") to vote in the GOP primary.

Posted by: JJB on April 23, 2009 10:26 PM
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