Rich Galen

Yesterday was primary election day in Texas.

The biggest race of the night was between incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry and Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Perry won. By a lot.

Long-time Mullsters know that I worked for Sen. Hutchison (who is known by friend and foe alike as KBH) for three months during the summer of 2008 and I remain a huge fan.

It has been clear for a number of weeks that Governor Perry would hold easily off Hutchison's challenge, but I came down to Dallas anyway. As I told one of Hutchison's advisors: "You need to show up even when the news might be bad; you can't just show up for the balloon drop."

The polls closed at seven. The early returns had Perry leading Hutchison about 52 percent to 32 percent. A couple of hours later, at about 9:30 Central, Sen. Hutchison addressed a small crowd made up of loyalists who hung around even when defeat was foretold, and conceded the race to Gov. Perry.

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Under Texas law, if no candidate gets over 50 percent then there is a runoff. But it was clear even two hours into the counting, that Perry was going to be some 20 percentage points ahead of Hutchison, so she did the honorable thing and conceded outright. Even if the final tally shows Perry under the magic 50 percent; Hutchison was too far behind to be able to make up the ground in a run-off.

A young man stopped me and suggested that the vote totals might change and she should not concede. I said that in my experience, when the basic split between the candidates is static through a significant part of the counting; that split is likely to maintain.

With 89 percent of the precincts reporting - at about midnight Central - Perry still had 51 percent of the vote to KBH's 30 percent.

I have been doing this for a long time.

The NY Times wrote, in an early edition, that Perry "had courted the Tea Party movement" from the get go, but Debra Medina was the Tea Party candidate and got about 18 percent of the votes.

That surprised me because very often people will say they are planning to vote for a third-party or protest candidate, but when it comes to actually punching out the chad, pulling the lever, or filling in the box; people decide that throwing their vote away on a candidate who cannot possibly win is not a good idea.

There are a lot of Republicans in Texas and about one in five of them who went to the polls yesterday voted for the Tea Party candidate.

I may have to rethink my position.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.