At stake is more than just the governor's mansion. It's a pitched battle for the soul of the Republican Party not only statewide but nationally as the GOP tries to figure out how to keep itself relevant in the age of Obama. Must it go to the hard right and maintain ideological purity by purging itself of moderates, as Perry suggests; must it cast its lot with newly elected Republican Party of Texas chair Cathie Adams, the former president of the socially conservative Texas Eagle Forum and a Perry supporter who feels there's a high moral cost to tempering ideology with moderation?
Or is there room underneath the tent for pro-choice Republicans, Log Cabin Republicans and "environmental wackos," as Adams describes them, who believe in limited government, lower taxes and a strong national defense? ...
The battle lines of the civil war are drawn: Hutchison vs. Perry, Longhorn vs. Aggie, party diversity vs. party purity, right of center vs. extreme right, a race that could energize the party or one that may tear it apart.
We already know which way the RPofT wants to go. Paul Burka posted the letter from George Strake imploring Kay Bailey to abandon the governor's race, and another post brutalizing her first television advertisement:
What can I say? This is what we have been waiting for? Everything about this spot is dreadful. I can’t even give it a positive grade. It is going to lose votes. She has no energy. Her body language radiates defeat. The fighting words have no defiance in them. The subject matter is wrong. The message is wrong. And where was an editor when somebody wrote a script that raised the red herring of a state takeover of health care? That’s from outer space. Anyone who is backing her and sees this spot is going to be not just disappointed, but dismayed. Even horrified.
Perhaps Hutchison is trying to follow the old rule of “hang a lantern on your problem.” But the problem that she is hanging a lantern on is not that she had a difficult time making a decision about leaving the Senate. The real problem is that she has never given a rationale for her candidacy. If she had spent half the energy she devoted to worrying about her resignation on developing a message, she would be in much better shape today. Are we supposed to vote for her for governor because she’s against Obama’s health care program? We already have a governor who is against it. Who is going to be persuaded to vote for Hutchison because she vows to do the job she was elected to do?
Why in the world would Hutchison choose to make her first spot one that focuses on a process issue? Nobody cares about process. People care about what she is going to do for the state. Why is she still talking about a decision that has been made? She can’t undo the past and all the dilly dallying and undisciplined talk about whether and when she would resign, September, October, November, December, January, never, whenever. It just highlights the lack of self-confidence that comes out in her body language.
...(She has become) is a creature of Washington — not in the way Perry means it, that her values have been infected by the cooties of the Capitol, but in the sense that she stayed too long. She originally said she would serve two terms, and that is what she should have done: quit in 06 and run for governor, and there is a good chance she would be running for reelection today. She has no feel for Texas politics any more, or what the Texas Republican party has become — otherwise she would never have undertaken the suicide mission of attacking Perry for refusing the unemployment insurance stimulus funds, when 70+% of Republican primary voters agreed with him. But she is determined to prove that she is as much of a conservative as he is, which is futile. She had months to do her homework on Texas issues, and that time is now gone, and she hasn’t done it. If she gets in a TV debate with Perry on Texas issues, she’d better have EMS on hand because she is going to get slaughtered.
And Burka is -- by my estimation -- the voice of Texas Republican moderation. (Mostly.)
Anyway, the purge in Deep-In-The-Hearta on the undercard of the Kay-Rick death match is well under way. Here is one of my occasionally unhinged right-wing-blog brethren attacking state Sen. Kip Averitt -- he represents ten southern D-FW metro suburban and rural counties -- suggesting he might switch parties. Believe me, Kip Averitt is no Chuck Hobson.
That New York Congressional race won by the Democrat when the Republican withdrew and endorsed him because of the insane TeaBagger Party challenge? Look for a lot more of that all over the country, and especially here in Texas. The extreme right will win a few more of these (primary challenges) than they will lose, and what the moderates do in November 2010 is anybody's guess. None of the internecine fighting strengthens the GOP brand, no matter what they think. Harvey Kronberg, from the Press article also linked at the top:
"We now have two reasonably popular Republicans in a bloodbath with each other. Everybody who is an active Republican understands the loser's supporters are going to be put into exile; they won't be able to play in politics anymore. So it's going to divide the fund-raising base, it's going to divide the supporter base and it's going to damage the party for years to come."
Tea partiers turn on each other
Beck stakes out activist role
Republicans eye the tiger of populism
Lou Dobbs: The Anti-Palin
Update: And more ... Beck unveils plan to save America