What GOP Showdown Reveals About Texas

Let's keep Washington, D.C. out of it

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Tuesday's Republican gubernatorial primary in Texas is a three-way contest between Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, sitting Governor Rick Perry, and Tea Party favorite Debra Medina, who suggested to Glenn Beck that the government may have been behind the attacks on September 11, 2001. The polls clearly favor Perry, who badly lagged Hutchison until this summer. Beyond the nitty-gritty of this primary, what does the race say about Texas and the politics of the Lone Star State?

  • Wide Variation Within Party  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy hoots, "Ron Paul libertarians already dominate some Tarrant County Republican precincts and elected a state committeewoman last year. Mix in the various flavors of Tea Parties -- from sensationalist to secessionist -- plus some Glenn Beck activists, and you have the makings of a Republican rumble." What do they all agree on? "State sovereignty."
  • Latinos Gaining Some Influence  Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza examines Latinos' role in the campaign of former Houston Mayor Bill White. "Hispanics continue to exercise more and more influence in Texas politics but remain far less powerful than their population numbers suggest they should be. For White, who hails from east Texas, to have a chance he needs an energized Hispanic base -- particularly in the Rio Grande Valley."
  • Texans Really Dislike Washington  Even more so than you might already suspect. Politics Daily's Melinda Henneberger writes that Hutchison "just can't believe that Gov. Rick Perry managed to get so many Republican primary voters in Texas to see her as this creature of Washington." Perry tells Henneberger that, among Texans, "there's great concern about what's coming out of Washington, D.C."
  • 'The Right, The Far Right, And The Really Far Right'  So apprises Talking Points Memo's Eric Kleefeld. That would be Hutchison, Perry, and Medina--but it also describes Texans. Kleefeld writes that Perry got ahead by cutting hard to the right. "Perry built up his following with a full-hearted embrace of the Tea Party movement -- going so far as to publicly flirt with secession, which polling data showed was approved of by Texas Republican voters."
  • GOP Establishment Not Popular  This one may extend beyond Texas. Salon's Alex Koppelman writes, "Perry exposed a divide that the Republican Party is going to have to deal with in years to come. On one side, there's Tea Parties, conservative activists and politicians like Perry and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed the incumbent. On the other, there's the establishment GOP -- to counter Palin, Hutchison had former Vice President Dick Cheney on her side."
  • Texans Reject Auto-Tune How do we know? This auto-tuned campaign video for Farouk Shami's has done little to bolster Shami's floundering polls.
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