Perry does not, however, have the nomination locked up. He faces challenge from a United States senator and a former county head of the Republican Party.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was initially coy about deciding to run for governor against the popular Perry. She considered running in 2006 but decided that Texas would be better served with her in Washington. The Perry forces state that she was scared off. Kay Bailey, as she is frequently known, is always at the very top of the list of popular political figures in Texas. She believes that this time she will be able to upset Perry. For his part, Perry has promised a battle for the nomination:
Mr. Perry casting her [Hutchinson] as part of the problem in Washington and Ms. Hutchinson labeling him a divisive, ineffective leader in Austin.
“As any person watching the last legislative session could see, it was very contentious and acrimonious,” she said. “Certainly Texas is looking for change in that office.”
Mr. Perry, who has repeatedly said he will seek re-election, fired back through a spokesman by suggesting that the Republican senator has spent too much time outside Texas.
“There hasn’t been much good coming out of Washington — record deficits, bailouts, spending,” said Mark Miner.
Hutchinson has also picked up some very strong endorsements from some rather heavy hitters in Texas Republican circles, including Mr. and Mrs. George H. W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Senator Phil Gramm, and former Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Roger Staubach. Kay Bailey fully intends to upset Rick Perry and consign him to the dust bin of former governors.
Last but by no means least is the most conservative of the bunch, Debra Medina. A Republican Party activist and the former Wharton County Republican Party chair, as well as the former state coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty, Medina is an admitted long shot, but she has seemingly pushed an awful lot of the right buttons with her share of likely voters:
“Medina, the owner of a medical consulting firm, is the only candidate who is gaining ground, up from four percent (4%) of the GOP vote in November and three percent (3%) in September,” said the Rasmussen Reports analysis of the poll. “Some political analysts have said Medina was the strongest performer.
Medina’s numbers are showing an upswing, but whether she can catch the two career politicians depends a lot on whether Perry or Hutchinson stumble in the debates or on the campaign trail. Another question is whether Medina can project the conservative values that attract the typically conservative Texas Republican primary voter. Medina believes that she can.
Regardless of how the race turns out, this year promises to be one of the most interesting Republican primary elections in Texas in a very long time.