I've always doubted that Hutchison would trounce Perry. And for one simple reason: When was the last time she won a competitive election?Campaigning is different than governing. The ability to create, manage and maintain a well-organized and lean campaign operation in the middle of a tough election is a rare, practiced skill. Many politicians, even the most popular and experienced, will falter in their first hotly contested race. The examples are numerous, from the national level (Bob Dole and Hillary Clinton) to the state level (Rick Noriega).Hutchison's recent reelection efforts have been relaxing affairs. In 2006, she barely had to campaign to double-up her Democratic opponent, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, who was so lacking in funds that she took to creating Web-only ads that featured the candidate conversing with a sock puppet. (BTW, I've been trying to track down those sock-puppet ads. If anyone has a link where I can find them, please, please send it to me.)We know Perry will run a lean, mean race. He knows who his voters are and how to excite them. It's his best skill.Can Hutchison do that? The early returns don't look promising for her.For his part, Burka clings to Kay's still-stratospheric favorability ratings (65 percent favorable; 17 percent unfavorable). But that seems like fool's gold to me. Hutchison's favorability numbers will come crashing down once Perry's campaign gets rolling and the race gets nastier.
I think this cuts right to the heart of this race. Kay is hoping her popularity will help her sail into victory, but the problem for her is that her popularity is based on facing weak candidates every 6 years. Kay has never won a difficult political race. Virtually every race Rick has been involved in has been difficult for one reason or another.
Just wait until the TV ads start up. I predict it will get very ugly very quickly, but Kay won't be able to throw anything new at Rick that he has not already batted down. Rick on the other hand has a lot of room to tear down Kay... especially in a Texas GOP primary.