Texas Gov. Rick Perry has his work cut out for him in his bid to win another term in office. He faces a mounting charge by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the primary election that will be held in March.
Perry, Hutchison and a third Republican on the primary ticket – Wharton County Republican Party Chairwoman Debra Medina – have made transportation issues a strong part of their campaigns.
“Texans are tired of the traffic and congestion in our cities,” said Hutchison during a recent campaign stop. “They are frustrated with the arrogance and inefficiencies of the leadership at the Texas Department of Transportation that have failed to produce results.”
Perry became governor in 2000 and was re-elected in 2002 and 2006, making him the longest consecutively serving governor in state history. The state does not have a gubernatorial term limit.
Perry has drawn repeated fire from Texas landowners and truckers everywhere for proposing a 4,000-mile network of toll roads known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. Many say this proposed network would lay the groundwork for a NAFTA superhighway from Mexico through mid-America to Canada.
Public outcry forced Perry and TxDOT to tone down their original TTC proposal and even put the name to rest. Despite this change in strategy, smaller segments of privately built toll roads remain on the agenda.
Still, Perry remains a frontrunner in many polls.
Hutchison, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1993, has concentrated her recent effort on campaigning against Perry’s tolling plan. She accuses Perry of hiding behind rhetoric about the TTC and tolling.
“He said it’s dead. It’s in the books and the strategy is still there,” Hutchison said during a campaign stop in Tyler.
“Their strategy in TxDOT is to toll everything they can in Texas, and that’s their idea of good maintenance of our tax dollars. I disagree 100 percent.”
The Perry campaign responded by accusing Hutchison of bringing forward expensive and unfunded proposals. Among those is a high-speed rail plan that would link major cities.
The primary election is March 2, 2010, to decide the Republican nominee. The election to decide the next governor is Nov. 2.
– By David Tanner, staff writer