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Monday Fix: Showdown in Texas Governor's Race Has Begun

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says Kay Bailey Hutchison would do better to stay in the Senate instead of challenging him in the 2010 election. Hutchison's spokesman says the state needs someone who is not
Texas Gov. Rick Perry says Kay Bailey Hutchison would do better to stay in the Senate instead of challenging him in the 2010 election. Hutchison's spokesman says the state needs someone who is not "playing politics like Rick Perry." (Harry Cabluck - AP)
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By Chris Cillizza
Monday, September 21, 2009

"Come and Take It" reads the white-on-black lettering across the top of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's boots, a slogan ostensibly about the 1835 Texas War of Independence but one that could easily apply to his 2010 Republican primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Perry, during a sit-down with a dozen or so Washington-based reporters late last week, said that although Hutchison has already announced her candidacy, he is still skeptical that she will run. "There are still opportunities for her to stay here in Washington and do the job she was elected to do," said Perry, adding that Texas voters regularly ask him why Hutchison is running.

Perry said a run by Hutchison would be detrimental to the party's prospects, as the two would probably spend upwards of $50 million -- money better spent electing candidates to the state House in advance of the 2011 redistricting. "It is beyond me how anybody thinks [a primary] is good for the Republican Party," he said.

For all his bluster, Perry appears to be, at the root, engaging in a bit of wishful thinking as it relates to Hutchison. The senator has already embarked on a statewide tour and has hired a fleet of campaign operatives.

Polling suggests a close race, although Perry insists he puts no stock in surveys. "You can go out and find polls that show almost anything you want," he said.

Perry appears set to run on his strong conservative principles -- particularly his pet subject of state's rights -- and the strides the Texas economy has made since he took office nine years ago. He touted the decision by Caterpillar, the heavy-equipment manufacturer, to move one of its assembly plants to the Lone Star State as evidence that "businesses continue to move to Texas."

On the same day Perry made that statement, however, Hutchison's campaign sent out a release hitting the governor for the 62,000 jobs the state lost in August. "It's time for a governor who is focused on getting results by helping create jobs in Texas instead of playing politics like Rick Perry," said Joe Pounder, a Hutchison spokesman.

Perry, who was in town to address the Value Voters Summit and to raise campaign cash, said he is focused on winning reelection and that he has no interest in a presidential run in 2012. (He went so far as to ask that his name be removed from the 2012 straw vote being conducted at the summit.)

Perry's political goal? "I hope to be able to be an influential governor in creating a 10th Amendment movement that makes Washington less impactful on the states," he said.

Senate Races, 2010

With just over a year left before the 2010 midterm elections, the Senate playing field is coming into sharper focus.

In recent weeks, Democrats have landed their top recruit in Louisiana -- Rep. Charlie Melancon -- and credible Republican challengers have emerged in Arkansas and Colorado.

By our count, only four states that one (or both) parties view as competitive have open recruiting processes: Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina and North Dakota.


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