Friday, July 31, 2009

Texas Heat

It gets hot here in Texas in the summer.

I grew up in Arkansas, but my parents were born and raised in Texas so we always came here for holidays and summer vacations when I was growing up. And, for as long as I can remember, I've liked Phil Sheridan's observation — "If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell."

The man clearly knew what he was talking about. (Of course, he also said, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Not exactly politically correct, but you have to remember that he lived in the 19th century.)

Fast forward to the 21st century, where it is still hot in Texas.

We've been enjoying a bit of a break from the typically oppressive Texas temperatures in recent days, but the forecasts call for the return of daytime highs in triple digits in the next few days. And even the most optimistic of us has to concede that we aren't likely to see hot weather disappear until sometime in October — if then.

Once the hot weather goes away, it probably won't return until late April or May. But the political climate in Texas seems likely to get progressively warmer between now and March, which is when the Republicans will hold their gubernatorial primary.

I assume the Democrats will have a primary as well, but there are no big names in the Texas Democratic Party anymore. So all the attention will be on the GOP.

The Republican primary apparently will match incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, who succeeded George W. Bush when he left to take the oath of office as president in 2001, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who recently announced her intention to leave the office she has held since 1993 in a few months so she can devote all her time and attention to the governor's race.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't expect a senator to relinquish his/her seat to run for another office unless it was up for election during the same election cycle. But Texas is so big that I guess Hutchison feels she has no choice. Maybe she has grown tired of Washington and wants to return to Texas, win or lose.

Leslie Eaton anticipates the "Texas–Size Brawl" in the Wall Street Journal, noting that the Hutchison–Perry contest is expected to "pit moderates against social conservatives."

If the heat in Texas is an appropriate analogy, I think the image of the rattlesnake, which is often the object of a "roundup" in rural Texas communities, could be fitting as well.

It should be interesting albeit bewildering.

The two Republicans have appeared to be allies in the past, but Eaton's article observes that they already are "sniping" at each other.

Hutchison didn't vote for the stimulus package back in February, but she has, nonetheless, criticized Perry for refusing the stimulus money that was intended to help Texas' unemployed, as Eaton points out. I criticized Perry for that myself.

And Perry has been making transparent bids for the support of conservatives. As Eaton writes, these conservatives "are most likely to vote in the primary," according to the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

The general assumption is that the winner of the primary will be the next governor of the state. It's been relatively quiet up until now, but that should change.

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