A lot of times these New York guys or the Washington set comes to Texas to write an article... and they totally miss the mark... but this one actually nails this race pretty well (link). Excerpt follows...
Never has a race for governor in Texas so clearly defined the difference between the country-club wing of the Republican Party, where elite business leaders sit astride the financial engines of Dallas and Houston, and the populist Reagan Republicans, talk-radio-fueled voters who are upset about issues like budget deficits, gun control and legalized abortion.
In a sense, Mr. Perry is the embodiment of white, conservative Democrats from the South who switched parties after Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The son of a West Texas rancher, he was an Air Force pilot before he won a Statehouse seat as a Democrat in 1984. He has never lost a race since.
Ms. Hutchison, who was first elected to the Senate in 1993, has rallied most of the Republican establishment behind her. Former President George Bush has endorsed her, as has former Vice President Dick Cheney. While President George W. Bush has not taken a public stand, several people close to him are working to elect her, among them Karen Hughes, his former political adviser.
But two weeks before the Republican primary on March 2, Mr. Perry has turned his fortunes around by promoting the Texas economy and railing against every decision in Washington, including the economic stimulus bill, the bank bailout legislation and the move to limit carbon emissions. On the stump, he often sounds as if he is running against the federal government.
Republican strategists and political scientists say Ms. Hutchison’s attacks have largely missed the mark.
“They keep going after Perry in ways that do not resonate with the general population, but only with insiders,” said Jim Henson, a political scientist at the University of Texas.
Ms. Hutchison acknowledges that a bigger-than-expected turnout is critical to her pulling off an upset. “I need for the November Republicans to turn out in the primary,” she said.
Texas has clearly done better than the other states over the last ten years and it is a mistake to try to denigrate that record. The better approach is a "we can do better" campaign which is what the Democrat Mayor White is using. But if Sen Hutchison is tainted by her ties to Washington and some of the votes she has had to make in recent years, White is being dragged down by being a Democrat in a state where only 20 percent of independents give President Obama a favorable rating.
Perry did tie himself to the Tea Party movement early on, but he has also been very smart in making himself available to the alternative media like bloggers. His attacks on Washington resonate with voters and make it difficult for Sen. Hutchison to get traction on the issues she has raised. While Sen. Hutchison has been good at attracting endorsements, they do not mean a lot in a race where both candidates are already well known.
I would not have any trouble supporting either of these candidates in the general election, but right now Perry is clearly the favorite of more likely voters and turning that around in two weeks will take a heroic effort.