Monday, May 18, 2009

Rick and Kay profiled in the Los Angeles Times...

The Los Angeles Times paid a visit to Austin to see what all the fuss is about with this Rick guy (link). I think if Rick and Kay are keeping score, it's a positive article for Rick in general but not bad for Kay either...

Rick "Secession" Perry vs. Kay "Bailout" Hutchison. That's the snarky shorthand for the (insert Texas-size metaphor) shaping up in the Lone Star State for the GOP primary next March.

Perry is the two-term, 59-year-old Republican governor. He created quite the stir last month by seeming to encourage the notion of a breakaway Texas republic He's facing a rare intra-party challenge from U.S. Sen. Hutchison, who's 65 and has coveted the governor's chair for many of those years.

It's exceedingly rare for a sitting senator to challenge a governor of his or her own party.

But these two have never particularly liked each other and the word around Texas is that Hutchison agreed to hold off from challenging Perry in 2006 because he swore to Republican donors and other party bigs he would step down rather than seek an unprecedented third term in 2010.

No offense to our local media, but I learned a few things from this article. Why did a California newspaper outlet have to be the one to tell some of these stories...

One of the best things the governor has going for him, his strategists believe, is the fact he's survived a number of rough campaigns, weathering tens of millions of dollars in negative TV ads and, after switching parties in 1989, knocking off a Texas legend: the wisecracking agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower.

Hutchison, as even her supporters concede, has not faced a tough race since her first unsuccessful try for Congress, way back in 1982.

 “Most of his elections Perry is seen as the underdog, or in for the fight of his life,” said Ken Luce, who ran Perry’s campaign against Hightower, a historic upset that people still discuss nearly 20 years later. “He always wins because he outfights, outhustles and outworks everybody else.”

I think this is something people forget. According to some Rick insiders I speak with on occasion, Rick performs best when he has a tough opponent. In 2006, he had lots of opponents but no tough opponent, so he kind of coasted to victory. In 2002, he had about 50 or 80 million dollars spent against him, depending on who you talk to. In 1998, he took out a well funded and well liked John Sharp. Before that, he took out a famous and popular candidate Jim Hightower after being down in the polls by 20 or 30 points early in the race.

Sound familiar?

Kay was up by 20 or 30 points earlier this year. Rick has chipped away simply by getting his name out there and reminding Republicans that he is conservative. Kay has been out there some, but she avoided the tea parties and has seemingly done a lot more private events than public ones.

Rick's people are quick to say that they have not even fired a shot yet, which is true to some extent, but the small things they have done (Kay "Bailout") have caught on with people I talk to. Rick's people also like to talk about the disparity between attack ad money spent against Rick and attack ad money spent against Kay over the years. I can't remember the numbers, but it was a pretty stark difference over the past ten years. 6 figures spent against Kay. 9 figures spent against Rick. Huge difference, whatever the numbers are.

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Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.