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The post-primary reconciliation

The Republican primary for Governor has been long and nasty. It will likely go to a runoff, where we’ll get five more weeks of concentrated nastiness and attack ads. Any time this kind of high-level primary occurs, people wonder if supporters of the losing candidate or candidates will come home and rally around the nominee in November. As such, you should expect to see more stories like this in the near future.

Regardless of the outcome, the contest has already distinguished itself as the most divisive GOP primary since the party became the dominant force in Texas politics, generating hard feelings that may not be repaired in time for the general election.

“I can assure you that I will not be a financial supporter of Rick Perry, and I can assure you that most of the people I talk to are not going to support him either,” said Fort Worth oilman Dick Moncrief, Hutchison’s financial chairman in North Texas, predicting that Republicans who are “fed up with Perry” may wind up supporting White if Hutchison fails to get the nomination.

“There is absolutely no assurance that Perry can beat White in November,” Moncrief said.


“There will be some people who feel that their candidate has been abused by the other side and may not come back in the general election,” said Steve Hollern, former Tarrant County Republican chairman.

“When you have this harsh a race that goes on between two people, there probably is going to be some hangover or hard feelings,” said Dick Armey, a former U.S. House majority leader from Denton County who is one of Hutchison’s leading Texas supporters.

“My guess is once the primary is settled, most people will get behind the candidate.”


Fort Worth Tea Party activist Deborah TeSelle says she is unsure where she will ultimately place her loyalty if Medina, who was hurt by a gaffe in a radio interview with conservative commentator Glenn Beck, doesn’t survive Tuesday.

“There are reasons why we’re not supporting Gov. Perry,” said TeSelle, who founded the Fort Worth 912 Project, a grassroots conservative organization.

“We’re just going to look to see who’s on the ballot in the fall and consider [which candidate is] most likely to stand up for our constitutional liberties.”

She said she will take a closer look at White but added, “It’s hard to imagine that any Democrat would qualify.” Supporting the yet-to-be-chosen Libertarian nominee might be another possibility, she said.

We Dems lived through this in 2008, and as I repeatedly said then, I do expect most Republicans to return to their fold, as Armey speculates. Affinity matters, and most committed partisans don’t suddenly vote against their own beliefs and values because their feelings were hurt. There’s a lot of time between the primary and November for folks to put such things behind them and remember why they play for one team and not the other.

Having said that, some people do hold on to it. It’s no secret that Bill White and KBH have campaign donors in common, and it’s not unreasonable to think that some of them, like Dick Moncrief, will prefer White as their candidate in the likely event of a Perry victory. I don’t expect many Medina-ites to support a Democrat, but skipping the race and voting for the Libertarian are plausible possibilities. It’s way too early to say right now, and what ultimately happens is dependent on a lot of things, not the least of which are the campaigns that Perry and White run from here on out.

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  1. Kenneth D. Franks says:

    I was at the Democratic state convention in 2008 and yes, there was some tension between the supporters of our two major Democratic Presidential Candidates. As you remember it was the right at the end of the campaign. I believe there is much more tension in this race for governor. I feel many Republican voters will not come back to the fold to vote for Perry. Some will hopefully vote for White in the fall.

  2. […] concession speech, gritting her teeth the whole time, I’m sure. We’ll have to see what her supporters and Medina’s do now. I for one can’t wait to see the next round of […]