Kay Enters The Fray

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It’s been a while since we had a good campaign ad on Swampland. You remember the type–macho comforting voice over, soaring music, stock footage of the national character, looking up with big eyes or flapping in the wind. So here goes, the kickoff online spot for Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who announced today her intention to take out her own state party’s standard-bearer, the sitting governor, Rick Perry. It looks like apple pie and amber waves of grain, except for the fiercely negative subtext. Note the attacks on Perry’s record, and the use of Perry’s own quotes to praise Hutchison.

Hutchison officially announced her candidacy Monday morning, in La Marque, Texas, a kickoff speech for a five-day, nineteen-stop tour of the state. One June poll shows Hutchison trailing Perry by 12 points, but such numbers are sure to shift in the many months of campaigning to come before the GOP primary next spring.

Hutchison’s decision to run against Perry, who has been governor since 2000 in a state without term limits, is sure to be both costly and exciting, a veritable battle for the Republican heart of Texas. (Already, Hutchison is attacking Perry for his decision to mandate HPV, a.k.a., genital wart, vaccines for Texas schoolgirls.) It will also open up an interesting battle to succeed Hutchison in the Senate, though it remains unclear how that battle will play out. For a rundown of the complex algebra of special elections and state emergencies that could be involved in the Hutchison succession battle, the Houston Chronicle offers a nice rundown here.

One other note of interest: The same poll, by the University of Texas, found that Perry’s anti-federal stimulus position–he has refused to take certain federal money for unemployment benefits–remains a political winner in Texas, by a margin of 43 to 36 percent. As for the Democratic candidate for governor, little is known at this point. Seventy percent of Democrats remain undecided, and the leading candidate within the party, as of June, was Kinky Friedman, the perennial comedian candidate, whose other claim to fame is a song called “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” He polls at 12 percent.