I, like other election junkies, was somewhat disappointed in the results of last Tuesday’s primaries here in Texas. The election was billed as the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and was supposed to be the clash of the titans with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson taking on Governor Rick Perry. The ads featured on TV were blistering. Hutchinson labeled Perry as a hyper-partisan and Perry responded by calling her a Washington insider. In an election year that will be bad for incumbent Governors, Rick Perry was supposed to crash and burn in a fiery defeat. Polls from as recent as September of 2009 showed Hutchinson winning the election. Six months later and she ended up being the one who was destroyed.
On the other side of the isle, Bill White easily won the nomination to be the Democrats’ nominee for Governor. He is the best candidate the Democrats have fielded since Governor Ann Richards lost to Dubya in 1994. The national wave in 2010 is likely to favor Republicans, but should Rick Perry breath easy? I don’t think so.
While Perry won 51.1% of the votes in the primary, this also means that 48.9% of the votes were cast against him. After 10 years some Republicans are starting to get sick of him. Bill White was mayor of Houston for 6 years and won re-election with wide margins by appealing to both mainstream Democrats and business-oriented Republicans. The Democrats also nominated Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lieutenant Governor. While I highly doubt that Chavez-Thompson can take down incumbent David Dewhurst, she has the ability to turn out the vote. Regardless of any way you spin the numbers, Bill White will have to fight an uphill battle to take down Rick Perry. However, it is undeniable that the ingredients for a Perry defeat exist.
While it is impossible to predict elections this far out, pollsters and forecasters are already taking a look at the results here in Texas. Because of the uncertainty heading into the general election, Charlie Cook, a leading political analyst, changed his race rating for Texas from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.” When was the last time any state-wide election in Texas was a “toss-up?” 1994. It’s been 16 years since our last competitive election and I’m personally excited to see what happens. Regardless if Perry ends up serving till 2014 or we end up welcoming Governor White, this election promises to be exciting. (Or at least more exciting than the Republican primary.)