Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rick Perry: "Untrustworthy when it comes to property rights."

Sen. Hutchison receives Texas Farm Bureau endorsement in primary battle with Gov. Perry


By Michael W. Shapiro
Waco Tribune-Herald
Copyright 2009

The Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau threw its weight behind U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, endorsing her Monday in the Republican primary for governor and snubbing Gov. Rick Perry, who won his previous two gubernatorial campaigns with the group’s backing.

At a morning announcement at Claude and Becky Lindsey’s horse farm in the Steinbeck Bend area, farm bureau officials praised Hutchison for her support of private property rights.

Farm bureau spokesman Gene Hall also criticized Perry, calling him untrustworthy when it comes to property rights.

Specifically, Hall said the farm bureau didn’t like Perry’s efforts to create the Trans-Texas Corridor, a combined highway, railway and utility easement paralleling Interstate 35.

“The corridor was just a monumental land grab in our view,” Hall said, adding that it would have led to the seizure of “half a million acres of property and some of the best farmland in the country.”

Hutchison stressed her commitment to limiting the use of eminent domain in Texas and also promised to put the corridor to rest.

“When I take the oath of office as governor of texas, Trans-Texas Corridor will really be dead,” she said.

Perry said in January that the Trans-Texas Corridor’s name was dead, though he said he still was open to entering public-private partnerships and building toll roads as a way to finance highway construction.

At Monday’s event, Hutchison said she would pay for the state’s transportation needs in light of revenue shortfalls by improving efficiency at the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Actually, the amount of federal dollars and state dollars that have come into our highways in the last 10 years has been enormous, but the producing (of) actual highway miles has been very low,” she said.

A history of support

The decision to endorse Hutchison wasn’t made lightly given the farm bureau’s long histories with both candidates, said McLennan County farm bureau president Mark Scott, who introduced Hutchison on Monday.

The farm bureau endorsed Perry in four statewide races, starting with his successful bid in 1990 to unseat Jim Hightower as agriculture commissioner.

Though the group got behind Democrat John Sharp in his losing effort against Perry for lieutenant governor in 1998, farm bureau leaders backed Perry in his most recent campaigns for governor in 2002 and 2006.

The farm bureau also has endorsed Hutchison numerous times.

Hutchison won the post of state treasurer in 1990 with the group’s backing. The farm bureau would go on to endorse her in her subsequent Senate races.

Impact on the race

The farm bureau endorsement has long been a prize for Texas politicians.

“As endorsements go, that’s a good one,” Baylor University political science professor Thomas Myers said.

Myers said the GOP primary will turn on the quality of the campaigns more than endorsements, but he said, “The farm bureau has lots of contacts and a reputable voice in Texas.”

With the group’s backing in 1994, George W. Bush defeated incumbent Democratic incumbent Ann Richards in the governor’s race.

The farm bureau also has regularly endorsed U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.

Hall said the farm bureau represents 430,000 member families.

Perry responds

Perry’s campaign played down the endorsement’s significance, saying it amounted to a thank-you from the farm bureau, which operates an insurance company, for Hutchison’s vote last year to bail out the country’s financial and insurance industries.

“It’s not a surprise at all that an insurance company that supported the bailout would support someone who voted for the bailout,” Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said.

Hall said that allegation is “nonsense.”

“The company owned by the farm bureau . . . didn’t get a dime from the bailout,” he said, adding that the endorsement is “about trust, it’s about eminent domain, and it’s about property rights.”

Hutchison and farm bureau officials spent the day drumming up press coverage for the endorsement. Events in Lubbock, Fort Worth and Austin followed the Waco announcement.



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