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."
With returns showing the governor on pace for a resounding victory, Hutchison called Perry to concede the race shortly shortly after 9 p.m. Addressing supporters in Dallas, she asked Republicans to unite behind Perry.
"Now we must unite," she said. "We must win Texas for Republicans."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his supporters are ready to celebrate a victory in Tuesday's Republican primary against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and GOP activist Debra Medina. And what Texas party would be complete without a few cases of Shiner Bock, which are in ample supply at Perry's election night headquarters - the famed Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood. (Photo Credit: Peter Hamby/CNN)
Related: Perry turns the tables in Texas by tying Hutchison to Washington
Dallas, Texas (CNN) – When Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, began her campaign to unseat Gov. Rick Perry early last year, Perry was thought to be in deep trouble.
Hutchison had been elected statewide three times by solid margins. She had loads of cash, strong favorable ratings and a comfortable lead in the polls. Perry, seeking a third full term, had already been in Austin for more than a decade - longer than any Texas governor.
A lengthy feature in Texas Monthly described the looming fight as "the 'Thrilla in Manila' of Texas politics." National pundits billed the primary as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Perry, the narrative went, was the arch-conservative. Hutchison offered a more moderate approach.
Fast-forward to March 2010, and Hutchison is limping into Tuesday's primary hoping to scrape together enough votes to force Perry into a six-week runoff. Perry, meanwhile, is being floated as White House contender in 2012.
What changed? Unfortunately for Hutchison, a three-term senator, conservative grassroots anger directed at Washington exploded over the last year. Hutchison has been mostly helpless against the anti-establishment headwind, a fact acknowledged even by her supporters and campaign advisers.
Washington (CNN) - The countdown to the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary is well underway, and with only two days remaining, attention is being paid to an unusual source: ABBA.
On Friday, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign released a new Web video with an unusual twist. The spot is set to a modified version of the Sweedish pop group ABBA's 1976 hit "Dancing Queen."
The video targets challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and casts her as the "Earmark Queen." The original lyrics are gone – replaced with a new set performed by former American Idol contestant Stephanie Daulong.
"You are the Earmark Queen, Spend and spend wasting our money, Earmark Queen spend and spend, From the Treasury oh no!" Daulong croons.
The song is set to a series of visual reminders of what the Perry campaign refers to as "Hutchison's fiscally irresponsible 17 years in Washington."
Hutchison's campaign has launched their own set of Web videos leading up to the primary.
Washington (CNN) - With just over two weeks to go until the March 2 Republican primary in Texas, a new poll suggests that Gov. Rick Perry holds a commanding lead over his two challengers.
According to the survey, conducted by Blum and Weprin Associates for five Texas newspapers, 45 percent of likely GOP voters support Perry's bid for a third full term in Austin. Meanwhile, 29 percent are backing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and 17 percent favor former Wharton County GOP chairwoman Debra Medina. Also working in Perry's favor: only 8 percent of likely Republican voters are undecided.
But Perry does not have the race locked up. He must surpass the 50 percent threshold to avoid a six-week runoff against the second place finisher and his lead has slipped in recent weeks with the ascendance of the conservative Medina, a latecomer to the race. But Medina's controversial suggestion last week that the U.S. government may have been involved in the September 11 attacks could cause her to bleed support in the final weeks, allowing Perry to cross the 50 percent mark.
(CNN) – A candidate for the Texas gubernatorial nomination is taking heat from her rivals over controversial comments she made about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In a radio interview Thursday, Debra Medina, refused to take a position when directly asked whether she believed the government was involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina told host Glenn Beck on Beck's radio program, according to a transcript of the interview published on the radio program's Web site. "So I don't - I'm not in a place - I have not been out publicly questioning that. I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there. So I've not taken a position on that."
During the interview, Medina reiterated that she was not going to take a position on the governmental involvement theory whose adherents are often referred to as "9/11 truthers." But she added, "These questions have been raised and they are not answered."
In an effort to clarify her remarks, Medina's campaign issued a statement after the interview.
"I have never been involved with the 9-11 truth movement, and there is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11," she said. "I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way. No one can deny that the events on 9-11 were a tragedy for all Americans and especially those families who lost loved ones."
Medina's rivals for the GOP nod in the Texas gubernatorial race quickly pounced on her remarks.
(CNN) - Sarah Palin is criticizing a Rick Perry campaign adviser accused of using the word "retarded" - but she isn't demanding that the aide be fired.
The accusation - made against top Perry consultant David Carney on Wednesday by Kay Bailey Hutchison's gubernatorial campaign - is of note because Palin is heading to Texas this weekend to campaign for Perry as he seeks a third term as Texas governor.
On Monday, Palin called on President Obama to fire his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using the very same word in a closed door meeting about health care negotiations.
Hutchison's campaign manager Terry Sullivan told CNN Wednesday that Carney repeatedly said "retarded" during a recent conference call between the gubernatorial campaigns to plan logistics for their Jan. 14 debate in Denton.
Earlier: Top Perry aide used 'R' word, Hutchison campaign alleges
According to Sullivan, Carney became "bombastic and agitated" when he learned that one of the candidate holding rooms would be in a separate building from the debate venue.
"That's just retarded," Carney said when he learned about the room location, according to Sullivan. "That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard."
Perry's campaign did not respond to a request to comment on the conference call.
Palin spokesman Meg Stapleton condemned the language as "disrespectful," but did not say that Carney should lose his job.
Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin caused a stir this week when she demanded that President Obama fire his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using the word "retarded" to describe Democrats opposed to the administration's health care plans.
Now that Palin is headed to Texas to campaign for Gov. Rick Perry in his re-election bid, the campaign manager for Perry's rival Kay Bailey Hutchison is alleging that a top Perry aide used the very same term during a recent conference call.
Terry Sullivan, Hutchison's campaign manager, told CNN that Perry consultant Dave Carney dropped the "R" word repeatedly during a recent planning call between the three gubernatorial campaigns to walk through logistics for their Jan. 14 debate in Denton. The third candidate in the Republican primary is former Wharton County GOP chairwoman Debra Medina.
According to Sullivan, Carney became "bombastic and agitated" when he learned that one of the candidate holding rooms would be in a separate building from the debate venue. (Perry's team eventually got the holding room they wanted.)
"That's just retarded," Carney said when he learned about the holding room location, according to Sullivan. "That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard."
Sullivan said Carney used the word once again minutes later as the camps discussed how the debate footage would be used after the forum.
A spokesman for Perry did not respond to a request for comment on the call, nor did an aide to Palin, who is heading to Texas on Sunday to appear with the governor.