It's with that backdrop that the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary is heating up in the Lone Star State, a tight race between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison that has all the trappings of a national showdown between the two rival factions of a party at a crossroads. "It's inevitable that this race will become a critical turning point in the battle for the soul of the Republican Party," said Adam Schiffer, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "Everyone's going to weigh in, if they haven't already."
In one corner stands Perry, the two-term incumbent who has sought to rally conservatives and anti-Washington, populist types with a solid diet of red-meat bravado. One day, he's headlining a tax day "Tea Party" and threatening to secede. Next, his campaign adviser is warning that if the GOP broadens its tent too much it risks becoming a "whorehouse." He's already been endorsed by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), among others.
"God bless Rush Limbaugh!" Perry exclaimed Friday at an Austin fundraiser, beaming as he presented the radio talk-show host with an "honorary Texan" certificate. (If you missed all the fun, don't worry. You can watch the video on Perry's campaign Web site.)
In the other corner stands Hutchison, who recently has become less restrained in criticizing the man she's abandoning a Senate seat to challenge. For her, the race is as much about the future of the GOP as it is about the future of Texas. "Republican voters have to decide whether they want to have a [gubernatorial] nominee who is going to rejuvenate our party and provide the leadership for Texas, or a nominee who will continue on this harsh rhetoric course of narrowing our base and acting like if you don't agree on every issue, you aren't conservative and should not be Republican," Hutchison said last week in an interview. "That's not me. I reject that."
For your eyes, here is the video of Rick with Rush...
As far as Rick being a true conservative and Kay being a moderate, there is definitely a lot of truth to that. I was thinking about it earlier, and can you imagine Kay buddying up to Rush Limbaugh this way? I can't really.
If you look at traffic on twitter about Rick and Kay, Rick dominates because he is always doing something. Kay's events no offense to her are boring. This week her big event was a press conference in Dallas about the Trinity River project (link). BO-RING. Rick was at sine die parties, going on radio shows, doing runs with the National Guard, and all kinds of other public things.
The pace at which Rick is now going will almost certain exhaust him. He seems to be just constantly doing conservative talk radio, constantly appearing on Fox News, constantly at big rallies and events where conservatives are to be found. Kay's side just seems quieter, which may mean they have more energy at the end.
This also makes Rick far more of a target for the msm. Because Rick is far more visible, Rick gets bashed a lot more by liberal blogs and the msm. Kay doesn't take that kind of fire because she doesn't really do or say as much. In a primary, I think this helps Rick. Olbermann bashing Rick only helps Rick in the Republican Primary. Olbermann saying nothing about Kay doesn't do a whole lot for anyone.
More and more, I am seeing conservative Republicans side up with Rick simply because of his activity. Even the ones that disagree with Rick on toll roads or HPV are willing to forgive him if it means avoiding a pro choice Governor who voted for the bailout and is the top earmarking Texas legislator in the Congress... which is in Washington (Kay).