AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is back on the stump and on a mission.
She's rounding up support for a 2010 run for the Republican nomination as governor against longtime incumbent Rick Perry. But Perry's an aggressive campaigner who's never lost an election, and he's taking her challenge seriously. He's using his bully pulpit while the Texas Legislature is in session to push new proposals, showcase his record and shore up support among his social conservative base.
So the race for governor is on, a full year before the GOP primary. That's even though Hutchison says she won't formally declare her candidacy until next summer. Hutchison says she thinks Perry's a negative campaigner, so that's why she thinks "we need new leadership.'' She thinks" people are looking for positive, happy warriors.''
The hard-charging Perry seems to revel in the re-election fight, although he won't talk much himself about Hutchison and keeps suggesting she may not run at all. He says he wants to keep concentrating on the legislative session. But he likes to leave campaign attacks to his aides. His spokesman dubbed Hutchison "Kay Bailout'' for her support of the first federal bailout package of the financial industry.