And then there were three on the Republican side.
Saying her two high-profile rivals have dropped the ball for Texas, Wharton County GOP chairwoman Debra Medina on Saturday announced her campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.
“We’ve done little to move in the right direction. Some may even say we’ve lost yardage,” Medina said during a rally at the Westin Galleria Dallas. “I’m ready to take the field as quarterback, for a time, for Texas.”
Medina, a top volunteer in U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, joins powerhouse Republicans Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison as candidates in the March primary.
As with Paul, Medina has enthusiastic supporters, which was evident by the decent crowd that braved the wet weather to hear her speech.
“She’s an important voice for liberty,” said Randy Hilton, a precinct chairman in Tarrant County. “She understands that our elected officials should answer to the people.”
Randall Woodman, a 45-year-old software engineer from Allen, said Medina would run a strong campaign, despite the odds.
“People are taking notice,” he said. “She will be a factor in the race.”
But some political analysts doubt she’ll be able to break through — even with the growing tea party movement that helped spawn her candidacy.
“It’s a career builder for her,” said University of Texas Political Scientist Bruce Buchanan. “She’s aware that the odds are against her, but because of her tea party connections, she feels like she has a chance to make a larger statement than usual.”
Enrique Rangel thinks Medina’s candidacy hurts Perry more than Hutchison. Maybe, but it’s not clear to me that her likely voters would have voted for Perry under any conditions; I suspect they’d have either found another protest candidate, or sat it out. And I don’t know how she’s going to appeal to anyone outside her existing circle unless she raises a few million bucks. Anything can happen, especially if her BFF Ron Paul makes a few appeals on her behalf, but I wouldn’t count on it.
And however passionate Ron Paul Nation may be, let’s not lose perspective. In 2008, after raising millions of dollars and getting tons of free publicity, in a Republican primary where the ultimate winner was already known and not a whole lot of campaigning was done as a result, Ron Paul got 4.87% of the vote in Texas. Even if you could imagine all 66,000 Paul supporters coming out next March for Medina, that’s likely to be at most about ten percent of the vote. Which might be enough to force a runoff, and if that happens it would certainly be exciting, but I wouldn’t count on anything more than that.