by Bruce Davidson
Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison have been in office a long time.
Both started their political careers in the Texas House. Both were elected to statewide office for the first time in 1990.
Hutchison was elected as state treasurer and then in 1993 won a special election to the U.S. Senate. She still holds that job today but plans to run for governor in 2010.
After two terms as Texas agriculture commissioner, Perry was elected as lieutenant governor in 1998 and then stepped up to governor when George W. Bush was elected president. He is expected to run for governor again in 2010.
Considering their long records as Republican officeholders, you might assume a Republican activist would be torn between supporting one of the other next year.
But in Debra Medina’s case, that assumption would be wrong. And she hopes a majority of rank-and-file GOP voters agree with her.
The former Wharton County Republican chairman is presenting a third option in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
Medina is a Ron Paul-style Republican.
“I certainly have grown up politically under his tutelage,” she said of Paul, noting that she lives in the former presidential candidate’s congressional district and worked in his 2008 re-election campaign.
She left her post as Wharton County GOP chairman to join the gubernatorial race.
“I looked closely at the race and knew that I didn’t like the options,” Medina said.
Medina said she has a problem with Republican politicians who espouse conservative values but don’t follow through with public policy.
She views Perry and Hutchison as that type of politician. In her eyes, they are part of a political aristocracy that doesn’t respond to the wishes and needs of average people.
“I’m tired of being lied to,” said Medina, a 47-year-old Beeville native who home-schooled both of her children.
Medina, a registered nurse and businesswoman, says the time has arrived for new leadership to challenge the oligarchy.
In addition to running for governor, she is trying to encourage a new wave of outsider conservatives to challenge GOP incumbents in the Texas House and Senate.
Medina wants elected officials that will fight for the goals of the GOP platform. Her key issue is eliminating the property tax in Texas and replacing with a broader sales tax. She wants to reduce spending and cut what she views as an alarming state debt.
Medina probably won’t raise a lot of money compared to her opponents, but she is striving to tap into the deep unrest marked by the “tea party” movement.
In fact, she organized campaign teams to spread the word about her candidacy at 45 tea parties around the state on April 15.
And she is campaigning across the state full time as the schedule on her Web site indicates.
Of course, the odds that either Perry or Hutchison will be the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2010 are overwhelming. They have money and long-entrenched political machinery.
But Medina’s candidacy will provide valuable information about the modern Texas GOP.
How many GOP voters are fed up with veteran politicians in general? How deep is the overall discontent among grass-roots conservatives?
Does the maverick network that supported Paul have real muscle in Texas? If Medina were to crack double-digits, what would that say about party leadership?
Medina may have trouble breaking into the headlines, but her candidacy is well worth watching.