Is Texas Ready for a Moderate Governor?

As the 2010 gubernatorial race unfolds in Texas, battle lines are clearly drawn between two candidates — Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: both of whom are Republicans, but only one of whom is a conservative.

Perry is known as being pro-gun, pro-life, pro-traditional family, and the longest serving governor in the state’s history, while Hutchison is pro-gun (most of the time), pro-choice, and one of the Republican senators who went against the Bush Administration and the CIA in supporting Sen. John McCain’s 2005 Anti-Torture Amendment — the amendment Rush Limbaugh correctly described as “the terrorists’ bill of rights.”

As for guns, under Perry, Texans have enjoyed the promulgation of the gun culture they love. During his last term alone, the jewel in his gun-rights crown was his signing of the “Castle Doctrine” into law; a law which not only recognizes the right of Texans to kill in self-defense but which also removes any civil recourse on the part of the criminal and his or her family.

Reuters news service reacted to this law by warning: “Criminals in Texas beware: if you threaten someone in their car or office, the citizens of this state where guns are ubiquitous have the right to shoot you dead.” Reuters may not know it, but Texans like the idea of killing criminals before criminals can kill innocent people.

Hutchison’s respectable gun record carries with it the caveat that she opposed the Bush Administration’s ban on “lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence.” Because gun enthusiasts in Texas understand that Hutchison’s vote against ending such lawsuits is tantamount to giving liberal lawyers the ability to sue gun makers out of existence, she will have some explaining to do on this point.

Perry is pro-life, period, which is why former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Perry earlier this year. Hutchison, on the other hand, is not only pro-choice but was a member of the political action committee “WISH List” until she got serious about running for governor of Texas. Through WISH List, pro-choice Republicans like Hutchison raised money for other pro-choice Republican candidates.

While many Hutchison supporters in the state are trying to downplay the importance of whether a governor is pro-life or pro-choice, they overlook the fact that the parental notification laws Perry signed in June 2005 limit abortions by making it harder for underage girls to turn to abortion as a quick fix for an unwanted pregnancy.

Those who downplay the importance of whether a governor is pro-life or pro-choice also fail to recognize that a politician’s view on the sanctity of life effects many other decisions he or she makes.

For instance, in July 2006, Hutchison’s pro-choice convictions translated into her being one of only a handful of Republicans who voted to override Bush’s opposition to expanded stem cell research. Speaking of her then-pending run for governor, she even said, “[S]tate leaders should develop a stem-cell research policy that keeps Texas from being “left in the dust by California.” Perry responded matter-of-factly: “As long as I am the governor of this great state, I will oppose any taxpayer dollars being used and spent on research that ends a human life.”

In Texas, where sayings like “God, Guts, and Glory” are still in vogue, it will be interesting to see how Hutchison’s support of McCain’s “terrorists’ bill of rights” plays out. This legislation, which began the move to narrow the Bush administration’s options on detainee interrogation, called for techniques to be limited to those contained in the Army Field Manual: a manual any literate human, including would-be terrorists, can download and read in order to learn what our CIA operatives are or aren’t allowed to do them to obtain information.

It’s also going to be interesting to see how Hutchison’s September 14 absence from the vote to withhold federal funds from ACORN plays out in this race. With so many questions arising about how a federally-funded ACORN may have gathered untold numbers of invalid voters to help Democrats win big in 2008, it seems like a strange time for a sitting senator with gubernatorial aspirations to avoid taking a position on the issue.

Hutchison’s absence on such an important issue for conservatives supports Perry Campaign Spokesman Mark Miner’s emphasis on the “contrast between what’s happening in D.C. and what’s happening in Texas.” In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Miner said: “While the federal government [of which Hutchison is a part] is not only ignoring conservative principles but running the country deeper and deeper in debt, Perry is present when decisions have to be made for Texas and the decisions he makes are fiscally conservative.” As a result, “while other state’s are raising taxes, Governor Perry just cut taxes for 40,000 small businesses and pushed the state’s emergency fund to $9 billion, all with a balanced budget.”

With such stark differences between Hutchison and Perry, Texans need to understand that the 2010 state primary will decide the future of the state’s Republican Party for years to come. Texans ready to move toward a McCain-like moderation will find Hutchison to be the perfect candidate, but those determined to hold to the truest form of conservatism this race offers will flock to Perry’s side.

Either way, things are fixin’ to heat up in Texas.


View All