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Opinion: New Texas gov poll shows Tea Party candidate Debra Medina would defeat Democrat; Perry still leads

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Quick update on the unfolding Republican primary race for Texas governor:

As The Ticket previously reported, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry is being challenged by GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and by Debra Medina, a businesswoman and Tea Party supporter who’s become a wild-card third wheel in what was supposed to be a slugging match between two Establishment heavyweights who’ve never really liked each other anyway.

Last month they had their initial debate for the March 2 primary and everyone avoided any major gaffes, which is a major point of these confrontations. The lesser-known Medina, however, got valuable statewide TV exposure.

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In another place at these perilous economic times the votes might become a referendum on the incumbent, Republican Perry, who is seeking an unprecedented third four-year term in a term-limit-free state.

But Texas has become Republican country, so the blame is aimed at the incumbent you-know-who in the White House who’s spending all that taxpayer money.

In November of 2008 it wasn’t even close for Democrat Obama, who lost Texas to John McCain, 55-44. Currently, only 41% of Texans approve of the Democrat’s job, roughly 8-0 points below Obama’s national approval.

A previous Rasmussen survey of likely Republican voters found Perry leading Hutchison 44-29 with Medina trailing at 16.

Now comes word, via a new Rasmussen Reports Poll, that Medina is gaining some traction and today all three of the Republicans lead the likely Democratic challenger, Houston Mayor Bill White.

Hutchison still performs the best, beating White by 13 points, 49-36. Perry is second-best in that hypothetical matchup, defeating White by nine, 48-39.

But now, Rasmussen’s telephone poll finds, Medina would defeat White 41-38. That’s a reversal from last month when White’s totals put him ahead of her, 44-38. Medina has gone from 4% in November to 12% in January and now 16%, apparently by cutting into Hutchison’s support.

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The new results showing growth in support for the Tea Party candidate come as the party holds a national convention in Nashville, where Sarah Palin is the keynote speaker Saturday night. On Sunday, she campaigns in Houston with Perry.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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