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.

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

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