While some Hutchison fans like Houston beer distributor John Nau, a former Perry supporter, didn't appear quite ready to throw in the towel as he picked up the tab for $10,000 worth of campaign air travel this week, the candidate herself was spending time that was running out on her talking about how she might stay in the U.S. Senate several months longer than she's been saying she'd do and theorizing on what went wrong instead of scrambling to plug the holes in a sinking ship that she'd have a whole month to repair if she could force the incumbent into a runoff that still appears to be well within her reach.
Hutchison, who'd predicted at the outset of the race that Perry would go for the jugular, seemed to be expressing surprise this week as she acknowledged how the incumbent had torpedoed her campaign by effectively portraying her as a symbol of Washington politics that frustrated voters find more disgusting than ever. At a time when Apollo Creed would have been reminding Rocky about the eye of the tiger, Hutchison has displayed all the enthusiasm of a tired old dog that's ready to roll over and play dead in the past few days rather than showing the heart that it takes to hurl the Hail Mary like the one she referred to in an appearance last week with Roger Staubach, whose famous desperation heave was as much or more a product of sheer will and a never-say-die attitude than athletic talent and clever play calling.
Hutchinson (R), TX
But the reality is that Hutchison’s Washington-insider status does not resonate in Texas. She badly underestimated the backlash against her and all those associated with Washington spending and largesse, and as noted by a post by Chris Cilliza at The Fix titled, “What Happened to Kay Bailey Hutchison?”, she cannot even clearly explain why she’s running. And even the Senator herself admits that the stigma of being associated with Washington has negatively influenced voters.
* What's the "Why"?: From the start of her campaign, Hutchison struggled to explain -- in clear, concise language -- both why she was running and why voters should fire Perry.[SNIP]* A Panoply of Process: Reporters -- the Fix most of all -- love process stories. How much money candidates raise, what their television ads say, how they are doing in the polls etc. Voters could care less -- particularly in a political environment like this one where economic anxiety is running high. Given that reality, a number of party operatives expressed shock/amazement/befuddlement at Hutchison's relentless focus on process on the stump.[SNIP]* Mixed Messages: Hutchison spent a good deal of the campaign talking about education, high speed rail, ports and her desire to grow the Republican party. Perry talked exclusively about his record of job-creation in the state and his opposition to federal intrusion in state matters. It's not hard when you compare those two issue palettes to understand why Hutchison has fallen behind.[SNIP]* Perry's Political Skill: Even those who loathe Perry -- and there are many in that category -- acknowledge that he is a consummate politician. Perry effectively framed the race as a referendum not on his time in office but on Washington.[SNIP]* Environmental hazards: Hutchison simply picked an awful year -- from a political environment perspective -- to return to the Lone Star State. Republican voters were mad as hell at Washington's profligate spending while Hutchison had spent years as a member of the Appropriations Committee steering cash back to the state.