Peter Morrison has a nifty little newsletter that comes out every-so-often that has neatly encapsulated my feelings on the Texas Gubernatorial Race upcoming next year. If you like what you read here, you can subscribe to his newletter
The race for Governor of Texas is starting to heat up, and conservatives will soon have to decide whom we’re going to support in the GOP primary. We’ll look at the pros and cons of the major candidates in this week’s report.
Next year’s Republican primary is fast approaching, and the gubernatorial candidates are making it clear that this is going to
be no ordinary GOP primary battle. Governor Rick Perry is up against Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has been a US Senator for sixteen years. Primary battles between two political powerhouses don’t happen very often; obviously both camps understand just how important the office of Texas governor will be in 2012. Besides the two big names, there’s also two other candidates in the GOP race, Debra Medina and Larry Kilgore.
Which candidate should conservative Texans get behind? Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer. Neither Perry nor Hutchinson is someone conservatives can wholeheartedly support, for various reasons I’ll discuss below. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each candidate.
Rick Perry is a mixed bag. In some areas he’s a conservative who sides with us on our fundamental values. On the other hand, in his ten years in office he has deviated from some of our core issues on many occasions. Right now, he’s sounding pretty conservative, but that’s to be expected during a campaign, when he knows he needs to say the right things to get out the conservative vote.
One of his most outrageous actions was using his executive power to order mandatory vaccinations against a sexually transmitted disease for sixth grade girls in 2007. Parents all across Texas were enraged, and rightfully so, at the idea their 12 year old girls should have to get vaccinated against venereal disease, and that they should have no say in the matter. There’s nothing conservative about ordering 12 year old girls to be injected with a vaccine whose risks and effectiveness are unknown, especially one for venereal disease.
The Trans Texas Corridor was another huge disappointment from Perry. We fought tooth and nail for years to prevent it from becoming a reality, and we finally won at least this round, but he opposed us the entire time.
He has also worked against conservative principles when it comes to the Texas Supreme Court. Early on, he appointed a moderate (i.e. squishy Republican), Xavier Rodriguez, to the court. In 2002, conservative Steve Smith ran against Rodriguez in the primary, beat him, and won the general election. However, the governor never forgave Smith for defeating his appointee. He not only refused to meet with him, he also encouraged others to run against him in the
next election, and Smith lost the election. What makes this betrayal even worse is that Steve Smith is a real hero – he was one of the lawyers who argued the famous Hopwood case that led to a ruling that affirmative action was illegal. He was a true defender of conservative principles on Texas’ highest court, and Rick Perry stabbed him in the back.
Many conservatives were shocked in late 2007 when Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. Notorious for appearing in makeup and female clothing on national television, Giuliani was by far the most liberal GOP candidate, supporting gun control, abortion and homosexual civil unions. The early endorsement cost Perry even more credibility because Giuliani’s candidacy went nowhere, as most GOP voters have no use for left wing liberals in the White House. He got nothing in return for betraying us.
On illegal immigration, Governor Perry has been straddling the fence, which pleases no one. He sent Texas Rangers to the border, but opposes a border fence. He says he’s in favor of penalties for hiring illegal aliens, yet he has also denounced what he calls “mean rhetoric” about illegal immigration, saying “we need to look at ways to be bringing people together, rather than driving wedges between them.” He also opposes any efforts to pass laws preventing children born to illegal aliens from automatically becoming citizens.
On the positive side, Governor Perry has done a lot to make the Texas economy the strongest in the nation, where more jobs were created in 2008 than the 49 other states combined. He rejected the Obama stimulus money, and ignored liberals who wanted him to raise taxes and increase spending. He has also made some positive statements about the need for states to take power back from the federal government. Finally, his opposition to gay marriage and abortion are strong points in his favor.
That brings us to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. It’s highly unusual for a sitting Senator to challenge a sitting governor for his office, which has led to a lot of speculation that KBH is positioning herself for a possible presidential run in 2012. Let me be clear; I think this is exactly what’s happening. It looks like Sen. Hutchison has looked at the massive revolt against Obama and decided that he’s extremely vulnerable next election, and that the governor of the largest solidly GOP state will be in an excellent position to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Frankly, her run for governor looks like rank opportunism. It’s nearly November, and she still hasn’t resigned her Senate seat. Her failure to do so has led some to question if she actually intends to resign before the primary, which makes it look like she’s hedging her bets.
Kay Bailey Hutchison has never been known as a strong conservative in her sixteen years in the US Senate. She generally votes the party line, but she has certainly never made a name for herself as an outspoken defender of conservative principles or family values. Lately she has been attacking Rick Perry for his opposition to the border fence, but she herself has hardly been out in front on this issue, and she comes off as if she’s merely pandering to the millions of Texans concerned about the invasion of illegal aliens.
On fiscal issues, Senator Hutchison has been a huge disappointment over the years. For starters, last year she voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. When she first ran for Senate, she promised to get tough on the growing federal budget, and oppose pork barrel politics. Not only has she not done that, she now brags about being the biggest pork barrel spender in the Senate. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, since 2005, of the billions spent on what are called earmarks, KBH has been responsible for an incredible one out of twelve dollars. This gross fiscal irresponsibility is inexcusable, but Sen. Hutchison seems to regard it as her job, and is quite proud of her record: “Why wouldn’t I fight for Texas?” Hutchison said to the Dallas Morning News. “I’m proud of my effectiveness. To be hit for being effective for Texas is puzzling.” It’s hard to believe she would suddenly turn into a fiscally responsible governor if she gets the nomination.
Finally, on social issues, KBH is a disaster. She has voted in the past for some restrictions on abortion, but has stated clearly and repeatedly that she supports Roe vs. Wade and does not want to see it overturned. Several years ago she opposed President Bush’s nomination of devout Catholic Leon Holmes to the federal bench because of his pro-life views. For this reason alone, I personally cannot endorse Kay Bailey Hutchison. I regard abortion as the taking of an innocent life, and can never endorse a politician who supports Roe vs. Wade. Kay Bailey Hutchison appointing judges to the Texas Supreme Court (in the case of a vacancy) would be a terrible blow to traditional family values in the Lone Star State.
Debra Medina is a little known, dark horse candidate for the GOP nomination. It’s always exciting to see new faces and fresh ideas coming into politics, and there’s certainly a lot about Debra Medina for conservatives to like. She’s a Christian who’s been married for 26 years; she and her husband homeschooled their children. She owns her own medical consulting business. She is also Texas state coordinator for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, which speaks volumes about her, and Ron Paul has endorsed her. Medina’s stands on many of the issues are right in line with our own values.
She’s a strong fiscal conservative, as you might expect from her support of Ron Paul. Her position on illegal immigration is also quite sound – she says it has a negative impact on many areas of American life, and should be stopped. I’d like to hear more specifics from her on this, but that’s encouraging. She wants to take back state sovereignty from Washington, and make schools truly local again. On health care, she’s one of those rare persons who says free markets are best.
She’s unapologetically pro-life, and says she will never compromise on our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. The list goes on and on – if you go to her website, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a candidate boldly speaking up for the issues we care so much about.
However, she wrote an article after the Sotomayor hearings that is quite troubling, which you can read on her Facebook page. Here’s an excerpt:
“The GOP really need look no further than George Lopez’s tear into KBH’s vote against Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor to see an example of the seriousness of potential Hispanic voter back lash. Indeed if Republicans here in Texas expect to win this next election, no longer can the GOP not see the disparity between its future and its rhetoric. No longer can the GOP wait until the fourth quarter to include Latino voters. No longer can the GOP be sideways or indecisive on immigration and border security and other Latino interests as both KBH and Gov. Perry have been.”
It’s not exactly clear what she’s driving at overall, but parts of it are cause for grave concern. She seems to be criticizing Sen. Hutchison for voting against confirming Sotomayor because that will make it harder to bring Hispanics into the GOP. She refers to immigration and border security as “Latino interests”, and says the GOP must take stands on these issues that won’t anger Hispanics. This kind of talk is extremely hard to square with her views on immigration and liberty as expressed on her official website. Usually this kind of rhetoric means someone supports amnesty and open borders because they think that’s what Latino voters want.
Larry Kilgore is probably the least well known candidate. He’s a Christian who’s been married for 20 years. He formerly served in the Air Force. He’s never been elected to office, but has run several times before, including in the 2006 gubernatorial Republican primary, in which he got 50,000 votes. I don’t know much about him, but his website is listed below for those interested.
In conclusion, right now I’m not endorsing anyone. Kay Bailey Hutchison is personally out for me because of her views on abortion. Rick Perry has done some great things for Texas, but seems to be a lot more conservative during campaigns than after he’s elected. His propensity to discard his conservative principles is disconcerting. Both Debra Medina and Larry Kilgore are long shots that have never held a major office; Medina, however, has been elected to her GOP county chair. That is always a two edged sword. Career politicians aren’t to be desired, but they do have a voting record and so you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get. New faces can sometimes shine brighter at first than they really are, but someone’s potential will never be realized if they aren’t given a chance.
Whatever happens, the 2010 Texas gubernatorial election will be an interesting race to keep an eye on.
Last minute update:
Hutchinson’s campaign has just released a new website called SlickRickPerry.com. On it she documents that Perry also supported the Wall Street bailout and joined with a Democratic governor to encourage it to pass last September.
It’s funny watching these two tear at each other for not being true conservatives. Both sides have lots of ammunition. Perry has his own snipe site at WashingtonKay.com.
The Peter Morrison Report