A future streetscaping project in Tuscaloosa became fodder in the Texas governor's race last week in the wake of college football's title game between the universities of Alabama and Texas.
Pitched in a tight primary race with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Gov. Rick Perry all but accused Hutchison of bailing out the Crimson Tide by voting for a $2 million federal earmark for a downtown streetscaping project.
“Sen. Hutchison voted to spend $2,000,000 of your tax dollars on a pork barrel streetscape project for the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” read an online ad by the Perry campaign.
The ad then scrolls to reveal that Tuscaloosa is the home of the Crimson Tide, using a UA Athletics logo.
“When it comes to Washington's wasteful spending, Sen. Hutchison has put Texas taxpayers on the hook,” read the ad while showing a longhorn, the University of Texas' mascot.
The ad references a Federal Highway Administration appropriation of $2 million, designated for road and infrastructure work along with beautification, included in a massive federal spending bill passed by Congress a month ago. The money should pay for work on the streets surrounding a new federal courthouse off University Boulevard, and was requested by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the Dallas Morning News, said Perry's spot was funny and a good, quick return volley in the campaign, but isn't getting much traction in the public outside of a few political blogs and short newspaper articles.
On the mark. Very few people ultimately saw this ad in the big scheme of things... unless you read Rick vs. Kay.
“I think Texans got a kick out of the Rick Perry spot because of the Alabama connection, but I think the average Texan understands this (earmark) process,” Slater said. “Nobody in Texas is against your street project. Well, maybe Perry.”
The earmark was one of thousands in a $1.1 trillion spending bill that increased budgets for vast areas of the federal government, including health, education, law enforcement and veterans' programs. Hutchison voted for the Senate version of the bill before voting against the combined Senate and House bill.
Not even a week after the dueling campaign ads, Slaters said most Texans have likely forgotten about it.
“I think most people in Texas are trying to forget the whole game,” he joked.
On target. Most people even many non Longhorn have forgotten about the ad and would like to forget the game too...