Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World
Friday, March 25, 2005
Newsflash: Perry wants Hutchison to remain in Senate
Wayne Slater in the Dallas Morning News files a sympathetic report that many folks in the TexasGOP are asking Hutchison to stay in the Senate and not challenge Perry.
As Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison eyes a possible race against Gov. Rick Perry, a network of key Republican activists and power players is moving to send her a clear message: Don't do it.Well, I counted 30 out of 62. I don't quite understand the discrepancy.
In letters, e-mails and direct conversations, nervous Republicans have told Ms. Hutchison they want her to seek re-election and abandon thoughts of targeting the incumbent governor in what they expect would be a fractious GOP primary.
Aides to Ms. Hutchison, who will spend next week on a fund-raising tour of the state, dismiss the effort. They say that the opposition is being orchestrated by the Perry political camp and that Ms. Hutchison has widespread support.
But the prospects of an expensive, intra-party battle between the two has rattled many of the GOP faithful, according to interviews with top Republicans and supporters on both sides.
"It would be like throwing a hand grenade in a chicken yard," said former Texas Republican Party chairman George Strake, a Perry supporter.
In a March 12 letter, 34 members of the 62-person State Republican Executive Committee urged Ms. Hutchison "to stay the course as our United States senator from Texas." Some blue-chip GOP contributors have cautioned Ms. Hutchison in face-to-face meetings, allies of both candidates acknowledge.
Dallas lawyer Pat Oxford, co-chairman of the senator's statewide finance committee, said Ms. Hutchison is attractive to many in the party hierarchy and grass-roots Republicans -- but not everybody is free to talk about it.
"The truth is, Senator Hutchison is not in a position to muscle up on anybody. The governor is, because of appointments and legislative initiatives," he said.
In a bid to boost her campaign treasury and show off some support from some of the party's marquee names, Ms. Hutchison has scheduled four fund-raisers next week in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The events are for her Senate account, but under a recently enacted federal law, she could transfer the money for a governor's race.
Invitations boast a number of prominent Republicans as sponsors. The Dallas event on March 31, for example, includes Mr. Oxford, former Republican state chairman Fred Meyer, long-time GOP financier Charles Wyly, former Secretary of State George Bayoud and Dallas lawyer Mike Boone.
"I don't see a major pushback against Kay," Mr. Boone said.
"People believe she's a great leader. They believe we're lacking leadership in Austin and she can fill that void," he said. "While people are asking the question, 'Kay don't run,' isn't it more justified to ask the question, 'Rick, should you really be running?' "
While her fund-raising invitations suggest prominent Republican support, not everyone remained publicly committed if she decides to run for governor.
San Antonio construction executive Bartell Zachry said through a spokeswoman that his support is for a Senate race.
"She's not running for governor. This is a Senate re-election finance event, and that's why Bartell is on the host committee," said Vicky Waddy.
Dallas County Republican chairman Nate Crain, who backs Mr. Perry, said a contested primary would be destructive.
"If that primary battle occurs, we're going to lose a great senator or we're going to lose a great governor. Nobody wants this contest," he said.
Dallas energy executive and longtime Republican activist Jim Neal agreed.
"The grassroots supporters here in Dallas and across the state are totally against this," he said.
One such veteran activist Ms. Hutchison has personally visited in an unsuccessful bid for support is Annette Hopkins of San Angelo.
"I want her to stay a senator," she said. "I told her I'd work hard for her again as senator, but I've committed to Governor Perry for governor."
In December, a meeting between Ms. Hutchison and prominent El Paso business leaders turned testy when they served notice they intended to raise money for Mr. Perry's re-election.
"Loyalty is the issue," said El Paso businessman Ted Houghton, who confronted Ms. Hutchison at the meeting. "There's a lot of good things happening for us, and we really don't want to rock the boat."
The Hutchison camp sees the hand of the Perry political team in the Republican network pressing the senator to stay put. But Mr. Sullivan challenged the strength of Mr. Perry's support, noting that the governor mustered only a slim majority of the party's state executive committee.
"If the governor was doing an even halfway good job in the eyes of the Republican Party," he said, "every one of them would have signed."