Texas was full of winners this year. Governor Rick Perry hasn't done anything amazing lately, but he looks set to win the gubernatorial primary in March, and his re-election, along with the state's relatively steady economic performance, would set him up to do whatever he wants in the next four years, and possibly in 2016. Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign has to be considered struggling; her new ad just seems like an ad for Mr Perry. But primary fights force a candidate to sharpen his or her message, and Ms Hutchison has been hitting Mr Perry on issues that have been neglected, like education and transportation. In that sense, her candidacy is a win for the people. Bill White, finishing a successful spell as mayor of Houston, faces a hard fight in the gubernatorial election. But either way, he will end the year as a statewide figure and the most important Democrat in Texas. John Cornyn, the junior senator, has been edging out of George W Bush's shadow and taking some leadership on issues like immigration. Mr Bush, for his part, seems to be happily suited to post-presidential life.
The part about Kay's new ad seeming like an ad for Rick is interesting and true... a few minor tweaks to that ad and Rick could cast himself as a transportation realist and even visionary... meeting the demands of the growth of Texas head on... choosing to privatize new road construction... being realistic about there being no such thing as an "asphalt fairy." I think how Kay hits Rick on transportation will be interesting... remember that Strayhorn's entire campaign was based on disaffection with the Trans Texas Corridor... she garnered third place... 21 points behind Rick in a really really bad year for anyone with a big R by their name on the ballot and a serious challenge on their hands...
As Kay's peeps are quick to point out... Kay won very big in 2006 but does anyone remember anything about the Kay versus whatever her name was race in 2006? All the free television attention was on the governor's race which probably helped Kinky and Strayhorn pull votes from Rick.
I think Kay risks marginalizing herself as just another Strayhorn if she devotes most of her attacks toward privatization of new roads. I think her campaign also needs to have an intervention with Kay... get her to stop saying she is fine with toll roads... she has no chance at getting the Strayhorn types if she is fine with toll roads... that just confuses the anti toll road factions and turns them toward Medina or even back toward Rick.