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North Texas Crucial in GOP Governor's Race


By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Back home in Dallas last night, Kay Bailey Hutchison revved up a Republican crowd. North Texas will be vital to her stealing the Republican nomination for Governor away from Rick Perry. KERA's Shelley Kofler has more on a battle that includes assaults from all directions.
North Texas supporters entering Hutchison's campaign rally heard a buzzing overhead. It belonged to a circling plane pulling a banner that read: "Kay Come Clean Release Your Taxes." In the lot, Perry campaigners parked the "Kay Bailout Hutchison" billboard they've been hauling to her events.

Becky Miller: I just can't believe it. I don't think Kay would every do anything like that. She's got way too much class.

Becky Miller of Carrollton was irate.

Hutchison has said she'll release her taxes next week. She simply made the aerial assault part of her message:

Hutchison: The airplane overhead tells me the Governor is very worried. If I had his record I'd be worried too.

Hutchison's Dallas rally was so far the biggest of 8 in the past two days. Her supporters responded as she launched into a stock speech blaming Perry for high drop out rates; uninsured children; a road building program dependent on tolls. So far she hasn't offered her solutions.

Doing that and lighting a fire under North Texas Republicans will be important. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says Hutchison can't win the nomination without a strong win here.

Jillson: This is her home ground. She absolutely has to be in good shape here because it's the base of her campaign.

Jim Francis agrees. Francis is a Hutchison advisor and Republican fundraiser. He says his candidate is in good shape.

Francis: North Texas will be about a third of the primary vote and so accordingly it's very important. And its' an area Kay is going to run exceptionally strong in. This is of course her roots.

While a majority in Dallas County tends to vote Democrat, Collin is a growing, urban county that's solidly Republican. Tarrant is the state's largest county that still votes Republican.

Perry also knows the importance of North Texas to the GOP nomination, hence the air plane. Wednesday Perry will he'll try a more conventional approach to gain North Texas attention. He'll come to Dallas for the ceremonial signing of bills.