When it comes to campaigning, Rick Perry seldom makes a mistake, but he may have made a big one with his hamhanded and ill-timed fundraising tactics. Perry has been aggressively seeking contributions for his 2010 reelection bid at the same time that Republican candidates and strategists are trying to raise money for the 2008 campaign. Donors in Dallas and Houston, where Republican candidates face some crucial races, are said to be particularly unhappy that Perry is more concerned about himself than with the good of the party, especially since he isn’t even on the ballot and his primary race–if he runs–is still 20 months away. This may explain why Perry’s July fundraising report was unimpressive. Now he wants to raise $8 million by November. Why? Because that is reportedly the amount that Hutchison has on hand. Meanwhile, Hutchison has been contributing money to Republicans in local races. I am hesitant to write Perry’s political obituary prematurely — he has been counted out before only to survive — but I think his fundraising efforts smack either of an inflated ego (maybe he really does think his 2010 race is more important than the upcoming election) or of desperation. I think it is more the latter. He must know by now that he can’t scare Hutchison out of this race. (Note to self: You may regret writing this line.) He must know by now that his transportation, education, environmental, and health policies are unpopular. He must know by now that he can’t beat Hutchison in a Republican primary unless she makes a major mistake. Money is his best hope, and he has done harm to his ability to raise it. So, what should Hutchison do? I wrote in my post about Hutchison telling congressional Republicans that she is definitely running: Nor do I understand why Hutchison won’t make her intentions public. Every day that goes by gives Rick Perry the chance to raise money for his reelection. Isn’t it in her interest to announce that she definitely intends to file for governor? That would make donors think twice before they contribute to Perry. There is no reason to make this into a soap opera. After 2002 and 2006, there are a lot of folks who want to see proof that she is serious about running. What is the upside of playing coy? I can’t find any. A senior Republican strategist disagrees: The legislative session is going to be a train wreck. If she is a declared candidate, she will be called upon to comment on what is happening in Austin and what Perry is doing. She needs to spend time with thoughtful people learning about state issues. A shorter campaign is to her advantage. The best time for her to announce is after the session.
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