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Texas Poll: Senator Hutchison > Governor Perry

With the 2006 primaries just around the corner, and Republican Governor Rick Perry seeking reelection, the race for Governor is getting interesting. No, there is no insurgent Democrat threatening Perry. In fact, it would take a miracle, or a major scandal, for any Democrat to win any state-wide race in Texas in 2006, let alone the race for President Bush's old gig.

Also adding to the equation is Rick Perry's relative popularity. 51% of Texans, including 73% of Republicans, approve of the way the Governor is handling his job (the Burnt Orange Report notes this is the highest mark for Perry in three years). Perry also has significant built-in, devoted Aggie support, because he was a Yell Leader at Texas A&M University more than 30 years ago.

Texas A&M Yell Leaders.

Perry, who served as Lt. Governor under then-Governor Bush, also has a powerful and effective fundraising network and has been a strong supporter of lower taxes.

So why on earth would Perry be vulnerable, even a little bit, in 2006?

Well, before 2002, Perry's approval rating was atmospheric. However, after Democrat Tony Sanchez poured $100 million of his own money into the uber-bitter 2002 gubernatorial race, the shine came off Rick Perry. The two, waging total war, lobbed nuclear bombs back and forth, both ending up more negative in the process.

But Perry survived, defeating Sanchez by 18%.

So what else could make Perry vulnerable?

This past year, Rick Perry declared, regarding the state's school finance system:

"We will fix Robin Hood, and it will be gone forever."

Unfortunately, a judge ruled the fix unconstitutional, and now the Governor must find a solution that keeps Robin Hood intact. In the meantime, the system is in crisis, and Perry is taking much of the blame in the court of public opinion (although his dispproval rating is only 33%).

The primary reason Rick Perry, an otherwise popular and (arguably) effective leader, is vulnerable: Kay Bailey Hutchison.

She's a juggernaut. Texans love her. And, similar to Perry's Aggie experience, she was a Texas Longhorn cheerleader. Orange and white cheerleaders simply beat maroon yell leaders, any day of the week.

Texas A&M Yell Leaders (click for larger version).

Texas Pom (click for larger version).

Texas Cheer (click for larger version).

It's not even fair to compare.

Kay Bailey Hutchison has had her eye on the Governor's mansion for some time, but she has yet to announce her intentions for 2006. If Hutchison decides she wants the job, it's hers.


The Houston Chronicle reports:


Throwing even more of a wrench into the equation is "one tough grandma," Carole Keeton Strayhorn (formerly Rylander, formerly McClellan). Strayhorn is far more open about her intentions, seizing every opportunity she can to criticize Rick Perry. If Hutchison opts out of the 2006 gubernatorial race, the potential primary matchup between Perry and Strayhorn could be messy, but Perry would likely emerge victorious.

It should be an interesting race to watch. Right now the top contender for the Democrats is former U.S. Representative Chris Bell, who lost his primary race to Al Green by more than 35 points. Bell, it should be noted, was cited for numerous ethics violations by the House ethics panel for his fanatical pursuit against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The panel determined that Bell's language in his complaint against DeLay was "excessive" and "inflammatory," and that he had made "exaggerated charges... in an attempt to attract publicity and, hence, a political advantage."

Thus, Bell (and any other Democrat for that matter) has essentially no chance at winning the Governor's race in 2006.

WILLisms.com will follow this story as events warrant coverage, so stay tuned.

Polipundit has more.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 February 2005 01:14 PM