Republican candidates in review

The candidates for the gubernatorial race.  Courtesy of Ellen Anne Burtner.

The candidates for the gubernatorial race. Courtesy of Ellen Anne Burtner.

With the Republican gubernatorial primary on March 2, the race is beginning to heat up. Currently, there are three contenders – Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Debra Medina.

Perry, the governor of Texas since 2000 when he took over from George W. Bush, is running for re-election, and is currently in the lead with roughly 40 percent in the polls. Hutchinson, a U.S. Senator since 1993, has decided to challenge him, and currently stands at about 30 percent in the polls. Medina, who is the founder and CEO of Prudentia, Inc., a medical consulting firm, is also the Texas state coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty (a political organization founded by Ron Paul, which works to educate both elected officials and the public on constitutional issues). Medina stands at a bit less than 20 percent, with the remaining 10 percent of the Texas electorate being polled as undecided.

Perry, now the longest serving governor in Texas history, was elected with a plurality of 39 percent of the votes in 2006. Although he campaigns as a fiscal conservative, he has allowed tax increases in some areas and has also cut taxes in several areas. His tax policies are credited as being reasonably good for business.

However, Perry has been criticized for weakening government programs with these cuts. For example, Texas is currently ranked 48 out of 50 states (49 out of 51, if you include District of Columbia) in percentage of residents having completed high school. However, he has balanced the state budget and managed to preserve an $8 billion “rainy day fund” in cases of emergency, and passed tort reform which has lowered malpractice insurance cost for doctors. Perry is a social conservative, being opposed to abortion and gay marriage, as well as supporting gun rights.

Controversy has surrounded his executive order that all sixth grade girls must get the HPV vaccine, due to moral objections and safety

concerns, as well as the fact that Gardasil, the vaccine, is manufactured exclusively by Merck, who has contributed to Perry’s campaigns. He has also been criticized for “cronyism” in his appointments; this especially came to light in the recent scandal at Texas A&M in Bryan/College Station (my hometown). In the words of the Bryan/College Station Eagle, “Perry’s meddling has left the university wounded and floundering. Its reputation in the academic community is in free-fall and it likely will take years to return to the stature it once enjoyed.”

Prominent endorsements for Perry include Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and the NRA.

Hutchinson has been a popular senator in Texas, winning re-election three times with 2-1 majorities. Hutchinson considers herself pro-

A scene at the debates.  Courtesy of AP.

A scene at the debates. Courtesy of AP.

choice, but votes the majority of the time for restricting abortions. She also is in favor of gun rights, having proposed legislation that would lift the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns (D.C. currently bans all firearms).

She supports term limits, having proposed limits for U.S. Senate terms as well as term limits for Texas governors. She is against gay marriage and is a fiscal conservative, having voted for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, and has a pro-business voting record according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (who gave her a rating of 100 percent). She has campaigned on “putting an end to the cronyism that has creeped into Austin and the Perry Administration.”
Prominent endorsements for Hutchinson include Barbara and George H. W. Bush, Dick Cheney and numerous newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, The Bryan/College Station Eagle, The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

Medina is a registered nurse who has founded a medical billing company (Prudentia Inc.) and managed it since its inception in 2002. Medina is farther to the right than both Perry and Hutchinson. She is campaigning on eliminating property tax, gun rights, a pro-life stance and nullification of any and all federal laws which she considers unconstitutional. She is also pro-life.

Medina’s performance at the two debates with Hutchinson and Perry boosted her in the polls from under five percent up to the mid-

20s; however, her number dropped back into the teens after some statements made on Glenn Beck’s show as to how the US government was potentially involved in 9/11, and some later statements questioning whether Obama was born in the US. “The 9/11 Commission report, you know, great sections of that are redacted and they’re top secret. That makes us all wonder, well what’s happening back there? The same is true with the birth certificate thing. I think it’s healthy that people are asking questions,” Medina said in a TV interview.

Prominent endorsements for Medina include Ron Paul and Larry Kilgore (a former gubernatorial candidate and advocate for Texas secession). She has also garnered significant support in the Tea Party.

My endorsement goes to Hutchinson, not necessarily because of her outstanding qualities, but because I don’t want to see either Perry or Medina in office. Being from Bryan/College Station, and having both of my parents as professors at A&M, I have had a close-up view of Perry’s “cronyism” in action. As for Medina, I don’t want a “9/11 truther” or “birther” who is supported by secessionists as my governor.

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