Thursday, October 22, 2009

Washington Times covers the Rick and Kay race, calls it messy...

The Washington Times did a profile on this race (link). Excerpt follows...

Republican infighting is getting nasty early in Texas' gubernatorial primary race - a bellwether indicating whether the party will enhance its electoral fortunes by tacking center or right, or devour itself and raise the prospects for Democrats in the reddest of red states.

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a conservative stalwart and a leader of anti-spending "tea party" protests, ironically has fired an opening salvo by casting his lot with moderate Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's bid to unseat Gov. Rick Perry.

"Rick Perry has had 10 years as governor to get done what he wanted to get done - and he has got nothing done, which is a perfect indication of what he wanted to get done," Mr. Armey told The Washington Times in a phone interview from a tea party rally in Miami.

"The governor has taken a lot of colorful and entertaining political positions, but I don't recall his ever being truly excited about any policy matters or positions."

Mr. Armey said he doesn't always agree with Mrs. Hutchison but that she is a doer and not just a talker.

Incensed by Mr. Armey's blasts, Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner snapped, "Done nothing? Under Gov. Perry's leadership, Texas has implemented the most sweeping tort reform in the nation, cut taxes, protected private property rights and cut general revenue spending twice."

The governor's chief campaign consultant, Dave Carney, said Mr. Armey's stance appears to be fallout from an earlier spat. Mr. Perry canceled a state contract with the lobbying firm Mr. Armey represented after it signed on to offer similar advice on military base closings for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. In a March 21, 2004, report in the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Perry cited a conflict-of-interest clause in the contract with Mr. Armey's firm.

"The two candidates seem not to care for each other, and the race seems quite likely to get bitter and personal," said Andrew Karch, a University of Texas professor on government.

Critics say Mr. Perry - the lieutenant governor who took over when George W. Bush moved to the White House in 2001 - failed to lead the charge for mandatory voter identification to prevent fraud, and has turned down only a small fraction of his state's share of President Obama's economic stimulus spending while making it sound as if he were championing conservatism's aversion to all liberal economic pump-priming.

Nevertheless, Mr. Armey's support of Mrs. Hutchison shocks conservatives who regard her as being more center than right and who note she is the self-acknowledged Earmarks Queen of the Hill. She has brought back billions of federal taxpayer dollars to Texas since she entered the Senate in 1983 ($8.7 billion according to her own estimate - which she proudly says demonstrates that she is "effective" for Texas).

In contrast, Mr. Perry, 59, has long held a place deep in the heart of conservatives of all stripe for his reputation as a tight-fisted, tax-cutting foe of abortion and gay marriage.

When informed that Mr. Armey is supporting Mrs. Hutchison instead of Mr. Perry, American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene delivered an incredulous one-word response: "Why?"

Mr. Miner asks the same question, while insisting that Mr. Perry "has positioned Texas to be better off economically than almost any other state in the country and Perry is the only true conservative in this race."


The race is for the base in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, both sides think, even though Texas campaign law opens it to Democrats and independents. But just to be sure, the Perry side wants to frame it as Texas vs. Washington as well as right versus center.

Mrs. Hutchison's biggest problem may be in getting the Texas GOP base, in the age of tea party rebellion, to applaud - or overlook - her for contributing to Washington's 20-year spending spree by bringing the bacon home to Texas.

"Earmarks will be a huge issue in this primary next year," said Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Dallas-based Institute for Policy Innovation.

A strange pissing match between Dick Armey and Rick's peeps. Rick's consultant injects an interesting angle into Armey's problem with Rick... Rick didn't give Armey what he wanted.

What a mess this race is.

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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.