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.
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.”