Driftwood, Texas (CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry won his state's Republican gubernatorial primary outright on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially costly runoff election against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Hutchison called Perry to concede the race after returns indicated that the governor was cruising toward a resounding victory in the closely-watched primary.
Addressing supporters at her election night headquarters in Dallas, she asked Republicans to come together behind Perry as he runs for his third full term against the Democratic nominee, former Houston Mayor Bill White.
"Now we must unite," Hutchison said. "We must win Texas for Republicans."
Perry's triumph ended a year-long intra-party fight that was billed from the start as a clash of Texas political titans but ended with a whimper as Hutchison struggled to fight a tide of anti-Washington sentiment among conservatives.
The governor cast his victory as a warning shot to Washington in the mold of recent GOP wins in the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races and the Massachusetts special Senate election.
"I think the message is pretty clear," Perry told supporters at his election night party near Austin. "Conservatism has never been stronger than it is today."