September 26, 2008
By PEGGY FIKAC
The Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — There's a buzz every time U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison inches toward her expected 2010 governor's race, but some say the real question is whether Gov. Rick Perry will run for re-election as he insists he will.
"Everyone understands that Kay Bailey Hutchison would like to come home and would like to end her political career as governor of Texas. She's moving systematically in that direction. The question is whether or not Rick Perry is actually serious about running for a third full term," said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson. "He would go into this race knowing it was a very tough fight."
No need to wonder, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said Friday: "Gov. Perry will run for re-election. It really doesn't matter who else may or may not be in the race."
One facet of politics is the game of probing for motives — whether it's Perry saying he will run for re-election or Hutchison refusing to announce that she'll seek the spot even as she signals that's where she's headed.
"Perry wouldn't want to be in the position that George W. Bush, for example, is very obviously in, in Washington — where you can no longer manage your own party, let alone the opposition," Jillson said. . .
The political world has shifted before: A Hutchison-Perry matchup seemed to be looming for 2006 before Hutchison pulled the plug.
This time, Jillson said, he doesn't think she'll swerve in this game of political chicken.
"The imagery is two people driving straight at each other. Who's going to chicken out and swerve? To signal to the other driver you're not going to swerve — and he'd better if he doesn't want to crash into you — you throw a whiskey bottle out the window," Jillson said. "The other guy goes, 'Oh he's coming straight at me, and he's drunk.'
"That's what Rick Perry did to her last time: 'I'm running, I'm running hard. There'll be blood in the streets.' She said, 'On second thought, I don't really want in,'" Jillson said. This time, he predicted, "What she does is squint, grab the steering wheel with both hands, and continue down the course."
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