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The CW on KBH

As Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison gets set to launch her listening announcement tour of Texas, Gardner Selby brings us a conventional wisdom roundup of the state of her campaign.

To win, Hutchison faces a daunting task — making a case against Gov. Rick Perry that attracts both conservatives accustomed to leaning his way and voters who typically sit out party primaries. Her supporters might even cast the March 2 Republican primary as tantamount to the November election since no Democratic gubernatorial candidate has won since 1990.

Hutchison’s campaign manager, however, dismissed the notion that Hutchison must lure non-Republicans to vote.

Terry Sullivan, noting that Perry has never had a serious primary challenger, predicted that Hutchison will prevail by exciting traditional GOP voters.

“The premise that Democrats are turning out in a Republican primary is absurd,” he said.

Dude, KBH has never had a serious primary challenger, either. For that matter, she hasn’t had a well-funded challenger of any kind since 1994, while Rick Perry has had them in every election since 1998. It’s not Rick Perry that has to show he’s up to the task.

As for the bit about Democrats not turning out in the Republican primary, I think that’s probably true, and so does the Lone Star Project. But I also think that six or twelve months ago, the prevailing opinion was precisely that KBH was going to try to lure non-traditional GOP voters into the primary to support her. Maybe that was wrong then, and maybe it’s just become clear that this strategy is a non-starter for her, but this isn’t how it always was.

Mari Woodlief, president of Dallas-based Allyn Media, said Hutchison can build momentum by quitting her Senate seat and demonstrating a full-hearted commitment to becoming governor.

“Every day that she is in Texas campaigning, her campaign will move forward,” Woodlief said.

Hutchison, who passed up gubernatorial runs in 2002 and 2006, has said she plans to resign in October or November. She doesn’t plan to specify a resignation date in her kickoff tour. Doing so, Sullivan said, would step on the rest of her opening message.

KBH has stepped on her message before, so I suppose it’s a good sign that her team recognizes the potential pitfall. Now I’m just wondering if she’ll have a separate tour of Texas to announce her resignation from the Senate. Assuming she does resign, of course.

Thomas Graham, president of Crosswinds Communications in Austin, said, “Her message will be results, not politics, but the voters are likely to look at the results and say, ‘You know, things are pretty good right here in Texas, especially when you look around at the rest of the country.’ ”

I’m sorry, but I find it tedious and pretentious when politicians run on a message that they’re not really politicians and what they do isn’t about politics. I realize that I’m an exception in that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a politician, or with being good at politics, which is generally the way one gets results in office, but because of that I find such messages to be lame. Especially when coming from someone who’s been an elected officeholder for 20 years or more.

A veteran GOP operative, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that Perry and Hutchison ignore each other and focus on individual “leadership” messages.

“Obviously, Hutchison’s attacks on Perry have only helped Perry gain attention, credibility and the lead,” he said. “And if Perry attacks her, it will seesaw back her way. Both are well-liked and well-known (among Republicans). In short, if both camps launch holy wars against each other, it will turn off voters and lower turnout. Whichever camp figures this out will win.”

Anybody think either camp is going to take the suggestion to ignore the other candidate? Me neither.

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4 Comments

  1. Baby Snooks says:

    The ONLY way she will beat Perry in the primary is with DEMOCRATIC votes. Who is everybody kidding? Strayhorn split some votes in 2006 but for the most part that 39% in the general election pretty much sums up the majority of the Republican Party in Texas. Rick Perry didn’t just get 39% of the Republican vote. He got 39% of the general vote. Something a lot of people don’t think about.

    The problem with Kay Bailey Hutchison is no one really knows where she stands on anything. At least with Rick Perry everyone does. That in the end will work in his favor. At least among Republicans.

    As for those Democratics who will vote for her in the primary and if she manages to pull it off then vote for her in the general election out of his desire to be rid of Rick Perry no matter what, be careful what you wish for. Nothing could be worse than Rick Perry? Just wait and watch Kay Bailey Hutchison in the governor’s mansion. She will turn Texas into California overnight with her flip-flopping pom-pom waving liberal/moderate/conservative fiscal policies based solely on what those who bought her a long time ago need or want.

    And keep in mind that this is the woman who said perjury was just a technicality. As in Democrats commit crimes, Republicans commmit technicalities. She probably would know better than anyone.

  2. houtopia says:

    I actually don’t think KBH has to lure Democrats into the GOP primary to win, which I agree she’s very unlikely to do. Rather she needs November Republicans and right-leaning independents who normally don’t show up in March to vote. She needs to get the March turnout number north of 800K, rather than the usual 600-650K. If she can’t do that, and she’s off to a lousy start, she’s toast.

  3. Baby Snooks says:

    I think she’s already toast and she hasn’t even jumped in the toaster.

  4. […] just not what Perry and KBH are about. EoW, the DMN, BOR (and again), and Greg, who goes after the KBH needs Democratic votes meme, have […]