Shake-up in Texas Governor's Race

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Tuesday's Texas primary features one of the most high profile races for governor this election year.

Two GOP heavyweights are squaring off against each other, but anger at Washington and a third party candidate, are shaking things up.

A year ago, Texas senior Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison had a 24-point lead on her high profile rival, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.

"As governor, I will unite our party. Our message will be lower taxes, improved education, protection of private property, a transportation system that works, integrity in our leaders," Sen. Hutchison said.

But a year of voter outrage against Washington, from health care to stimulus spending, has made Texans particularly wary of anyone who's spent much time in the nation's capitol.

Perry caught on early to the tea party anger and surged to a lead in the polls. He also won the endorsement and a visit last month from former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

"I look forward to Texas sending Washington a message on how things can be done right, because you're doing it right in Texas," Palin said.

Last week, Perry campaigned at the site of a new mattress factory in north Texas, stressing how his low tax, business-friendly policies attract jobs.

"Those principles continue to attract employers to the state, because they know they will have the opportunity to succeed. I tell people, 'there is a land of opportunity in America today: it's called Texas,'" Perry said.

But tea party activists have one of their own in challenger Debra Medina, who quadrupled her standing in the polls to 20 percent between November and February.

Medina took a hit last month when she told radio host Glenn Beck there are still questions about the government's role in 9/11.

But with almost no money, she's billing herself as a David against two Goliaths.

"I am here to fight for the principles of freedom and prosperity for our nation, and you can swing all you want and you can kick all you want. I'm gonna get up again, and we're gonna take back the state of texas, we're gonna turn our nation," Medina said.

Perry hopes to win more than 50 percent on Tuesday, which would give him the nomination outright.

The winner will face the likely Democratic nominee, former Houston mayor Bill White.

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent in Tuesday, the Republicans who finish first and second will have a runoff on April 13.

That is expected to help the Democrats, who will have less infighting and more campaign cash on hand for the general election.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.