Perry wins Texas GOP primary over Hutchison

| Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The showdown for the Texas governor’s seat is set. Gov. Rick Perry will face former Houston Mayor Bill White in the race for the state’s top position.

Gov. Perry won the right to face White after defeating U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Tuesday, March 2, Republican gubernatorial primary. Perry received 51 percent of the vote while Hutchison collected 30 percent. GOP activist Debra Medina finished third with 19 percent.

White claimed 76 percent of the vote on the Democratic ballot.

The three Republican candidates made transportation a significant issue in their campaigns. Hutchison noted the frustration of residents with traffic and congestion in cities throughout the state. She cited problems with the leadership at the Texas Department of Transportation.

Perry is most noted amongst truckers and Texans, too, for his pet project – the Trans-Texas Corridor. The proposed 4,000-mile network of toll roads drew the ire of many. The TTC would set the path for a NAFTA superhighway stretching from the U.S. southern border to its northern border.

Since the proposal was unveiled seven years ago, public anger has forced Perry and TxDOT to tone down the original plans. Despite the backtracking and assurances from the governor during the campaign that the plan is dead, portions of privately built roadways are still being considered.

Hutchison talked along the campaign trail about her opposition to tolling much of Texas’ roadways. Instead, she pushed for allowing communities to decide whether they want toll roads. Hutchison also called for developing a high-speed rail plan.

Already the state’s longest serving governor, Perry will be vying this November to serve a total of 14 years in Texas’ top seat. Perry has served two full terms as governor. He also filled a partial term in 2000 after George W. Bush resigned to seek the presidency.

If White is elected, he will become the first Democrat to hold the governor’s seat since Ann Richards 20 years ago.

Hutchison’s term in the U.S. Senate expires in 2012, but she has said she will resign her seat in the U.S. Senate after the primary election, regardless of who won. It is expected that she will hold onto the seat until the health care battle in Washington, DC, is settled.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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