Team Kay takes aim at one of Governor Perry’s many vulnerabilities.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has seized on [the Trans-Texas Corridor] as she seeks to take his job, saying the project and Perry’s transportation policies smack of arrogance.
“It’s part of the overall argument — he’s been there too long and look at the things he’s failed at,” Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said in describing Hutchison’s strategy.
Toll roads and transportation alone may not be enough to turn an election, but Hutchison seems to be using them as a way to raise questions about Perry’s competence, Henson said.
Hutchison has yet to present her own plan but she says she wants to reform and expand a state transportation commission. Her campaign says she opposes toll roads unless local officials and voters agree to them, and they say she worked in the Senate to halt federally funded toll roads.
“It is time to return to our tradition of free, quality highways and roads,” Hutchison said in kicking off her campaign last month. She calls the Trans-Texas Corridor “the biggest land grab in the history of Texas.”
I suppose we should be glad to know that somewhere in there KBH actually has a message and a strategy that goes beyond “Be my lovable self”. Two things, though. One, I’m not sure this issue is really going to move anyone who isn’t already in “anybody-but-Perry mode”, as Terri Hall puts it. I do agree that the TTC has turned people off from Rick Perry, and has created a constituency against him out of thin air, to borrow Paul Burka’s terminology. I just don’t think that constituency is growing any more, and I don’t think the toll road issue is going to be all that relevant in today’s political environment. I thought toll roads were going to be a game-changer in 2006, but in the end they were a dud. After all this time, and with the TTC being essentially dead, I just don’t see how this draws any new voters away from Rick Perry. It does energize some people, and that does matter, but until those people are energized for Kay and not merely against Perry, it doesn’t do much for her.
And two, not to be tacky about it, but where’s KBH been on this all this time? I certainly don’t remember her having much to say about the TTC before now, when it’s politically useful for her. Being against the TTC is easy, but having an alternative plan, which she doesn’t, is where it gets complicated. The anti-tollers already have a champion running for Governor, so if KBH really wants their support she’s going to have to do better than this.