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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stimulus Emerges as a Wedge Issue in TX Gubernatorial Primary

Although the match up hasn’t yet been made official – sparks have begun to fly in the Texas Gubernatorial Primary over Governor Perry’s decision to refuse some of the stimulus funds.

Republican Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison yesterday criticized Perry for refusing portions of the stimulus funds. The Dallas Morning News reports:
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, delivering her sharpest critique of the young campaign for governor, said Monday that Gov. Rick Perry is making a mistake turning down hundreds of millions of dollars in federal unemployment money.

Perry has actively labeled Hutchison part of a spendthrift culture in Washington, but until now, she has largely avoided directly engaging her rival.

On Monday, she fired back on two fronts: chiding him for taking undue credit for the state's business climate and warning that Perry's rejection of federal money will mean a tax increase on employers to replenish the state's unemployment fund.

"A leader would be taking time to look at all aspects and coming up with a better solution," she told reporters. "I would hope he is looking for innovative ways not to dock the taxpayers of Texas with $555 million turned down."

Perry defended his action and suggested the senator, a fellow Republican, stay out of state business.

"The last thing we want is Washington coming down here to Texas and telling us how to run our state," he said.
Hutchison’s campaign is still in the “exploratory” phase, however recent polls show her leading Governor Perry among likely primary voters. How or if those numbers will shift based on the candidates' stimulus views remains to be seen.

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