The Big Question: What does Hutchison's loss mean for Washington?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their frank insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.


Today's question:


Does Sen.  Kay Bailey Hutchison's loss in the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary spell trouble for incumbents in Congress?



Peter Navarro, professor of Economics and Public Policy at U.C. Irvine, said:

It spells trouble for any candidate that tries to walk even a middle line.  Counter-revolution is in the air and any incumbent in a marginal seat that votes for Obama care will put themselves in jeopardy.


Damon N. Spiegel, entrepreneur and writer, said:

Living in our nation’s largest state, Texas, and watching this primary closely, I’d have to say that this isn’t ominous for Congressional incumbents. While the rest of the country is economically being held under water, Houston and Texas are quite buoyant. When the slowdown of the markets and economic growth slammed into the rest of the American economy with oil hitting $150 a barrel, the Oil and Gas industries in Houston were brilliantly thriving. And, when oil dropped back down, Texas had healthcare to stabilize the economy.  Between the Oil & Gas industry and the various Medical Centers throughout Texas (the largest in the country being in Houston) the economy has maintained an unbelievable course during this downturn.  While all this occurred, Governor Perry was at the helm and thus voters are not all that concerned today.  Of course, had Texas fallen into the pits that California, Nevada, and Arizona had, I think we would have a very different outcome of this primary.

The only trouble Congress is going to have is if they jam healthcare down the throats of the American Public through a reconciliation process.


Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Yes, indeed. And Jim Bunnings resonating NO should be seen as a state sovereignty initiative following in the rising spirit of Kentucky. Perry is an enormously competent and appealing governor. He brings status, character and competence to the issue of states defending themselves against federal government overreach. This theme has awakened and it will not go away.


Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

One of the big issues in the Texas race was the bank bailout, which
Hutchinson supported and Perry opposed. And this issue -- the fat-cat
Establishment versus the populist opposition to crony capitalism  --
will continue to play out all across the country.


John Feehery, Pundits Blog Contributor, said:

The idea that somehow kay was somehow going to knock perry off in a gop primary from the middle was pure fantasy.  Sure, incumbents are in trouble, but that has nothing to do with what happened down in texas.  The bigger lesson is that if you are running in a gop primary, you better not lose your right flank.


John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:

Sen. Hutchison didn't just lose; she was trounced. Because Gov. Perry tied her to Washington's increasingly poor performance, the message is clear that voters are angry about what the federal government is doing, and not doing.
 
Gov. Perry made himself popular with a single reference to his state possibly seceding, something he surely never intended to pursue.  Meanwhile, voters seem to have forgotten his leanings toward the Trans-Texas ("NAFTA") highway and his willingness to lend credibility to the merger of the U.S. with Mexico and Canada, ideas almost universally abhorred throughout Texas.
 
The message from the Texas primary, however, is that voters who care (such as the few who vote in a primary) have become increasingly antagonistic toward the federal government's performance and the role that Congress plays in it. This development should scare all incumbents, except those who realistically battle the federal government's poor performance from within Congress. 
 
What should not be ignored in the results just registered in Texas is that Rep. Ron Paul, now recognized everywhere as the leader of "less government" forces in elected office, easily defeated two opponents in his primary. Obviously, his kind of incumbent will not face voter antipathy while those who want more government and more unconscionable spending will have rough sledding in subsequent primaries and in the November election.    


Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

The Rick Perry win was not a danger sign for incumbents. Rick Perry was the incumbent governor. He beat the challenger. The message of Perry’s big win was that if you govern as a Reagan Republican you will be rewarded at the polls — despite the carping from the unions and the establishment press about your failure to “spend enough” on anything and everything.
 
Sen. Hutchison would win any reelection campaign for the Senate she chooses to run. She did not make the case as to why Rick Perry should be replaced.

For Texans the real eye-opener was the impotence of the “Bush machine.” Cheney, Bush 41 and many of the Bush 43 White House operatives piled on for Kay Bailey Hutchison. A page has turned in the Lone Star State.



Alan Abramowitz, professor of political science at Emory University, said:

No, Hutchison was taking on an incumbent governor in her own party and she failed to convince Republican primary voters why they should fire him and hire her. Note that incumbents in House primaries cruised to easy victories — no signs of an anti-incumbent mood here, which is overblown anyway. Voters don't just throw out incumbents when they're dissatisfied — they throw out incumbents of the governing party which means, right now, Democrats. 
 
But the most disappointing result last night was Kinky Friedman's defeat in the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner.  Apparently Texas is not ready for a Jewish Agriculture Commissioner. 
 


Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

It spells trouble for those who think the purpose of government is to protect Goldman Sachs's profits and bonuses. That might be most incumbents. Incumbents who support financial speculation taxes, and other measures to rein in Wall Street, will do fine with voters. However, they may have trouble paying for their campaigns.



Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, said:

Sen. Hutchison's resounding defeat only spells trouble for incumbents facing opponents combining the stature, conservative credentials and "outside-the-Beltway" status of Rick Perry — a rare combination for congressional primaries. Two big states have held congressional primaries, and we've yet to see a wave of voter rebellion against incumbents.

The result does underscore Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's troubles in the U.S. Senate primary against Marco Rubio, however, and potentially should worry Sen. John McCain in his Arizona primary if J.D. Hayworth can pass the stature test.