September 22, 2009
By Jason Embry
The Republican race for governor tightened in the past two months, leaving U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry in a dead heat with plenty of voters yet to make up their minds, according to a poll released Thursday.
Hutchison has the support of 40 percent of likely Republican voters, according to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports, while 38 percent of them back Perry. Nineteen percent of respondents are not sure whom they support, and 3 percent favor Debra Medina, a business owner and rancher.
The poll indicates that Hutchison has managed to interrupt months' worth of momentum for the Perry campaign. Just two months ago, Rasmussen found a 10-point lead for Perry.
Hutchison began the year with a healthy lead, until a May Rasmussen poll showed a tight race, indicating that Perry's blistering spring attacks on the federal government had worked. As Hutchison remained relatively quiet, Perry used the same message to build his lead in the first half of the summer.
With Congress out of session for most of August, Hutchison took a lengthy tour around the state to formally announce her candidacy. Though some of her crowds were modest, she hit all of the state's media markets with a tough critique of Perry's record.
"She was back in the state full time and moving systematically throughout the state and giving voters a reason to think about her again," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. "If the announcement tour gave her an advantage, I would recommend more of it — more active campaigning in the state."
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