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The Brief: February 2, 2010

Q: What do you get when you cross Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina? A: A run-off.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Q: What do you get when you cross Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina?

A: A run-off.

Even at least one of the candidates seems to think so. During a campaign event yesterday, according to the Associated Press,  Hutchison “alluded to an election day in April” — something that would only happen in the event that no candidate got above 50 percent in the March 2 primary.

Speaking to a friendly Texas Farm Bureau audience in San Marcos, Hutchison asked for help to prevent that situation. "I know that without you I would not be here, that you are sticking with me in a very tough race," she said. "I need to ask you to reach out beyond farm bureau members and help bring people in to the polls that don't usually vote in Republican primaries."

The Perry camp jumped on the remarks, claiming Hutchison had “conceded that after being in Washington for more than 17 years, her record of supporting bailouts, record debt, and out-of-control spending is not attractive to Republican primary voters.”

It’s more likely that Hutchison was simply doing an accurate reading of poll numbers.  The most recent Rasmussen poll had Perry at 43 percent, Hutchison at 33, and Medina at 12.  It's not hard to interpret — that’s run-off territory.

Hutchison also continued hitting Perry on his Trans-Texas Corridor proposal— a plan Perry has repeatedly said is dead.

The back-and-forth will likely continue today.  Hutchison will be delivering the keynote at the Dallas County Republican Women’s monthly meeting.  Perry will be discussing education, job creation and fiscal responsibility in Dallas and Amarillo.

CULLED:

• Here’s the sad news first: Rick Martin, a Republican running in the primary for Austin Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul’s seat, died over the weekend.  He was 53 years old.  His name will stay on the ballot.

• Goodnight Moon.  The budget released by President Barack Obama on Monday included a $6 billion boost for NASA over the next five years, but it also killed the Constellation program — the next generation of manned space flight to the moon.  However, NASA officials said Houston’s Johnson Space Center will remain the leader in manned space flight moving forward.

• Bill White joins the club.  By releasing his first TV ad, the Democrat becomes the fifth gubernatorial candidate to take to the airwaves statewide.  The three Republican candidates and White’s primary challenger, Farouk Shami, preceded him.

“I’m looking for someone to come and defend to me that a privately built toll road is less expensive than a free road ‘cause it just ain’t so,” state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, during Monday’s joint Transportation Committee hearing

MUST READ:

Hutchison blasts Perry as arrogant, out of touchSan Antonio Express-News

• Shami overcame personal, professional obstacles early in lifeAustin American-Statesman

A Matter of Degrees — The Texas Tribune

Census chief tries easing immigrant fearsAssociated Press

Houston a key player in race for governorHouston Chronicle

Obama, Hensarling spar over national debtThe Dallas Morning News

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