Will there be any more hotly-contested and no-holds-barred GOP primary next year than down in Texas?
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison yesterday announced an impressive crew of operatives who are already in Austin running her primary challenge against Gov. Rick Perry.
KBH’s team will be led by Terry Sullivan, a veteran GOP strategist from South Carolina who worked for her last Senate re-elect.
Sullivan is close with KBH’s aggressive media consultants, Scott Howell, Heath Thompson and Todd Harris. And given his Palmetto State Republican roots, he knows a thing or two about intra-party combat.
In fact, the release announcing the hires included this description of Sullivan: "He is known as a hardball strategist in heated campaigns."
Which is to say that the senior senator from Texas isn’t exactly expecting a campaign marked by civil exchanges on policy at League of Women Voters’ forums.
Sullivan is joined in Texas by veteran communications aides Jennifer Coxe-Baker, Jeff Sadosky and the press-shy Joe Pounder.
Perry, for his part, is also preparing for a tough race. The governor has a group of seasoned GOP hands advising him, including spokesman Mark Miner and consultant Dave Carney, and made a statement with his fundraising haul earlier this year. Perry raised $4.2 million in just nine days earlier this year (the period outside of the legislative session in which he could legally do so) and has $9.3 million on hand. KBH, thanks to federal cash she was able to transfer, is sitting on $12.5 million.
That’s a lot of cash to spend between now and March.