Perry and White Gear Up for a Fight

Primary election results

Going into March 2, the smart money was all on Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Demo­cratic former Houston Mayor Bill White winning their respective primaries. The real question was whether they could reach the magic 50%-plus-one vote required to avoid a run-off.

Neither had an easy path: Perry faced two aggressive challengers – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Wharton County GOP Chair Debra Medina – while White faced the sheer numbers battle of a seven-way primary. Ultimately, both made the target, but the results will undoubtedly keep party number-crunchers busy for weeks. White got 76%, while Perry barely scored 51% in his party's primary. But there were almost 1.5 million votes cast in the GOP primary, compared to only 680,000 for the Dems.

Many Democrats had seen White's nomination as a done deal. The challenge from hair-care magnate Farouk Shami, who limped in with 13%, and five other marginal contenders did little to spark voter interest. Perry's high-profile race, which fascinated much of the media, had seemed bound for a run-off in a fractured party. But as Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said on election night, "In the last few days, it really seemed like all the momentum went Perry's way."

The GOP statewide slate returns almost untouched, save for Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo (the party's sole Hispanic officeholder), who was knocked out by gas and oil accountant David Porter. They now must run on their records. As for Democrats, in a swing through Austin just before beating his agriculture commissioner opponent, Kinky Friedman, 52% to 48%, Hank Gilbert said he didn't expect to share the stump too often with White. While the rancher backed White after initially endorsing Shami, he described their strategies as interlocking rather than overlapping: White will work the cities while Gilbert will target swing rural counties. As for lieutenant governor nominee Linda Chavez-Thompson, she swept past former Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle 53% to 35%. Democratic activists hope her energetic campaigning will galvanize Demo­cratic areas with traditionally low voter turnout, such as the Valley.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Governor's race
Get in the Ring
Get in the Ring
Perry's refusal to debate is all swagger, no sweat

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 29, 2010

More by Richard Whittaker
Rooster Teeth Announces <i>RWBY Justice League</i> Film
Rooster Teeth Announces RWBY Justice League Film
DC crossover one big surprise of many from the RTX panel

July 1, 2022

Five Good Times at RTX
Five Good Times at RTX
The best animation, podcasts, games, and cosplay at Rooster Teeth’s annual gathering

July 1, 2022


Governor's race, election, election 2010, Bill White, Rick Perry, Farouk Shami

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle