Opinion: Texas Gov. Perry slams Kay Bailey Hutchison as a Washington insider -- are incumbents cooked?

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It’s a good thing Kay Bailey Hutchison didn’t give up her day job.

She almost did --originally, the Texas senator planned to resign in October or November to give her full attention to the race to unseat Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary for governor. Then she decided not to. Perhaps an early reading of the political winds?


In any event, Perry has been pounding her as a Washington politician who has lost touch with constituents in Texas. Check out this TV ad from his campaign.

With the election Tuesday and polls showing her trailing by double digits, Hutchison has been channeling her true Texan. Over the weekend, Hutchison rode horseback through downtown Houston, in black Wranglers, shiny black cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat, for the city’s annual Downtown Rodeo Parade. In fairness, she’s done this before, but somehow one of the most popular politicians in the state -- Hutchison got 4 million votes in 2000 -- looked a bit desperate.

The whole thing is a bit sad. Hutchison wanted to run for governor in 2006, but party insiders talked her out of a bruising inter-party battle. Now, the rift between them has exposed fissures within the GOP, with the first former President Bush and most of his allies backing Hutchison, making for strained relations with Perry.

And if that weren’t enough, a third candidate in the race -- Wharton County Republican Chair Debra Medina -- has become the darling of the ‘tea party’ movement, tripling her standing in the polls in recent weeks. Should she pull enough votes from Perry to rob him of a 50% majority, the top two candidates would face a runoff, which most see as Hutchison’s last chance to win the governor’s mansion.

If she loses, it’s a warning sign to other incumbents that, in the face of an angry electorate, even Republicans are vulnerable.

-- Johanna Neuman

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