Perry Trounces Hutchison in Texas Republican Primary

Kay Bailey Hutchison’s bizarre campaign to beat incumbent Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Republican primary has ended in embarrassing defeat.

rick-perry-winsGov. Rick Perry won a decisive victory over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Texas GOP primary for governor Tuesday night, bringing a bruising fight between two of the state’s most popular Republicans to an anticlimactic conclusion.

Perry said his win should send a message to Washington.  “Quit spending all the money, stop trying to take over our lives and our businesses,” he said in a speech that seemed aimed as much as the Obama White House as his Democratic opponent Bill White.

Hutchison acknowledged that it was natural to have some lingering hard feelings after a tough fought primary in the trenches, but asked all of her supporters to unite behind Perry.   “That is what will be best for all of us and for Texas. Our party must come together,” she said at her election night watch party in Dallas.  “We have fought valiantly for our principles, but we did not win,” she said.

With 73 percent of all precincts reporting, Perry had a 51 percent to 31 percent lead over the three-term senior senator. Debra Medina, a favorite of Tea Party activists, was holding steady at 18 percent.  A Hutchison aide conceded that in the unlikely event Perry’s vote share dropped below the 50 percent threshold necessary to avoid a runoff, there was “no realistic path to victory.”

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. R. Alex says:

    Perry was a popular incumbent.

    That’s not really the case. His elections have primarily been the result of weak (2002) or fractured (2006) opposition. In 2006 he got less than 40% of the vote, in 2008 (when KBH decided to run) he had a 42% approval rating and a couple months ago it was at 33% and barely above 50% for Republicans. He’s not popular, but he’s (a) really lucky and (b) has great campaign instincts and strategists.

  2. kth says:

    It’s an uphill fight for White. But it would have been far worse for him if Hutchison had won the primary: ideologically at least, KBH is right in the sweet spot for TX, though her candidacy admittedly had all the urgency and relevance of Martha Coakley’s failed effort in MA.

    Also, if the calculus is between a 60% chance at the whole loaf, and a 100% chance at 60% of the loaf, red-state Republicans are definitely in the mood to go all in.