Hutchison's 'Kick-Off' Announcement Draws <em>Dozens</em>

Matt Lewis
|
Posted: Aug 19, 2009 9:33 AM
http://images.chron.com/blogs/txpotomac/kbh%20225.jpg

This is like watching a train wreck ....

The battle for governor between the two titans of the Texas Republican Party, incumbent Rick Perry and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, officially kicked off this week with a formal announcement tour by Texas' senior senator.

For Hutchison, who has been struggling in recent polls, it was vitally important that the kick-off tour exceed expectations -- and allow her to dominate the news cycle.  It did neither.
 
According to Harvey Kronberg of the quorumreport.com, the Senator who has been in Washington DC for sixteen years failed on both counts: 
“The sparsely attended first announcement at Hutchison’s high school in La Marque [Monday] broke every rule of political campaign theater.  It drew maybe five or six dozen folks and the empty hall was amply recorded by the Austin American Statesman's Ken Herman which has been virally distributed all day [Tuesday]. 
 
Memo to the Hutchison campaign:  Announcements are made in small hotel venues where six dozen people look like they were crammed into the event.

Senator Hutchison began the race with a double-digit lead over her Republican rival only to see Governor Rick Perry pass her by double-digits in every most recent poll.  This has led to staff shakeups and the bringing in of DC insiders to run the campaign. But as The Dallas Morning News reported:
“The preseason [for Senator Hutchison] has been rife with shakeouts in key staff positions, snipes at incumbent Rick Perry – over such topics as who was against Cash for Clunkers first – and garbled messages lacking a coherent framework…now that the game counts, it's time for crisp execution."
Early Hutchison campaign speeches have focused on a steady drumbeat of Perry criticism, but the Perry campaign seems to have managed to outmaneuver Hutchison at every turn:
Newspaper coverage of yesterday's events was ample. But in the Austin and Dallas TV markets, the lead in the Hutchison announcement stories we saw was the truck parked outside the event with a sign that said “Kay Bailout Express.”
 
It’s early and Hutchison has just formally joined the fray.  But any remaining illusions about controlling the conversation in this slugfest should by now be dispelled.
 
Even in her announcement week, Perry is dominating earned media, social networking and the blogosphere.  The Perry folks have the advantage of having run high profile campaigns since 1998 and it is evident in their multi-faceted, high saturation approach. [end of indent]
 
... As I have written here before, this is going to be a race to watch.