By KELLEY SHANNON
AP Political Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested Tuesday that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison may not run against him in the 2010 Republican primary, even though Hutchison said this week that she has $12.5 million in the bank and plans to challenge him.
“My goal is to not have a primary,” Perry told reporters after he chaired a state cash flow committee meeting. Asked whether he thinks Hutchison may decide not to enter the GOP primary, he said, “It’s always a possibility.”
Perry has questioned before whether Hutchison will end up running for governor, and she has shied away from the contest against Perry in previous election years after considering it. This time she has put together a large state campaign organization and has raised millions of dollars for a state election.
Hutchison’s spokesman dismissed Perry’s suggestion and took at jab at the governor’s record in office.
“Wishful thinking is not a successful campaign strategy, but neither is Perry’s support for seizing private property or the highest property taxes in the nation,” said Hutchison spokesman Hans Klingler.
On Monday, Hutchison told supporters in Dallas that she raised $6.7 million the first six months of the year, giving her $12.5 million toward the March 2010 GOP primary. Perry has $9.3 million. Hutchison said she would make her formal campaign announcement in August, although she has stated that she is running.
Hutchison also alleged Perry got fundraising commitments during the 140-day spring legislative session. But Perry has said he raised his $4.2 million in the last nine days of June, the only period he was legally allowed to raise campaign cash this year.
Perry’s spokesman, Mark Miner, said Hutchison is lying when she says Perry raised money during the session.
“The governor did not raise money or seek commitments during the legislative session,” Miner said. He said Perry held meetings on state policy and legislative issues statewide during the session.
“To say that they were fundraising meetings is a complete lie,” Miner said.
Perry wouldn’t comment himself on Hutchison’s accusation, saying he was leaving that to Miner.
One reason the Perry campaign doubts Hutchison will make the run, Miner said, is her political operation is “fairly lackluster.”
Perry, who took over as governor in 2000 when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected president, has never lost an election. If he succeeds in his re-election bid it would give him an unprecedented third term as Texas’ chief executive.
Perry has been laying the groundwork for a race against Hutchison by setting himself up as an anti-Washington candidate and trying to cast her as a big-spending Washington insider. Hutchison describes herself as a conservative, though she is seen as the moderate alternative to the socially conservative Perry. Their campaign clash may be a barometer for the GOP’s leanings nationally.
“At the end of the day hopefully Texans will think that it’s best to leave things as they are in this state,” Perry said.
Hutchison has served in the U.S. Senate since 1993. Politicians from both parties are already lining up to run for her seat whenever she leaves the Senate. She hasn’t said when that will be.
The winner of the Republican primary will be the heavy favorite in the November 2010 general election.
Among Democrats, former ambassador Tom Schieffer is running and announced Tuesday that he raised nearly $800,000 through contributions and loans for the six-month reporting period. Humorist Kinky Friedman, who ran as an independent in 2006, is raising money for a possible run as a Democrat. Therapist Mark Thompson also is running.
By KELLEY SHANNON