Today, I decided which candidate for Governor of Texas will get my vote in the primary.
In what has been a very ugly primary race on the Republican side, Governor Perry and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson have been slinging mud at each other for nearly a year. Perry lays out stellar claims about the accomplishments of his administration which Hutchinson factually picks apart. Between the two of them, both well funded and well established candidates, they’ve exposed so many of their weaknesses, they’ve handed the Democrats their entire campaign strategy and they’ve garnered a less than enthusiastic response from Republican voters. Debra Medina, a South Texas rancher’s wife and businesswoman, seen as a minor candidate just weeks ago, has capitalized on the negativity of the two major candidates, and has surged forward in the polls.
Fear that Medina might pull off a major upset in the primary must be running pretty high. It was no surprise that Chris Matthews of MSNBC accused her of being a racist, as he does most conservative candidates. The clincher, however, was pulled by Glenn Beck on his program this morning. During a phone interview with Medina, Beck alluded to response he allegedly received from voters in Texas upon announcing that he would be interviewing Medina, and asked an off the wall question with the obvious intention of making her out to be a “9-11 Truther,” someone who believes in a conspiracy theory that the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were planned and carried out by the U.S. government, for the purpose of gathering public support for the war in Iraq. Medina appeared to be taken somewhat by surprise by the question. Why not? Whether or not she is a “9-11 Truther” is completely irrelevant to the issues related to the governor’s race in Texas. But Beck, a master of such diversion, pressed ahead, cut the phone conversation off before Medina could get in a word about the real issues in the race, and then took several minutes to spin her response into an admission that she was, indeed, a 9-11 Truther. That’s not exactly what Medina said, but truth and accuracy are not obstacles that get in Beck’s way when he has an agenda.
Beck’s attempt to bring Medina down, or at least, to stop her momentum, appears directed at benefitting Perry. Hutchinson has been trailing in the polls all along, and Medina has gained at her expense. But recently, she’s been chipping away at Perry’s support, too, especially since Sarah Palin’s endorsement and as a result of the continued negative tone of the campaign. Where did Beck get the alleged “information” that led to his obscure, off beat question about criticism of Medina related to her beliefs about 9-11? Do you suppose that it came from, oh, say, the Perry campaign?
Beck obviously thinks that a lot of Texas voters are hicks and rubes, considering the comments he made after he got Medina off the phone. Medina was obviously taken by surprise and her response to the question wasn’t great, but she did state that she was not aware of any advisors who were “9-11 Truthers” and that she didn’t know enough about the issue to comment on it. That’s far from admitting she is one, though Beck tried hard to make it appear that she did. If Glenn Beck doesn’t want Debra Medina to be governor of Texas, which essentially means that the corporate hacks who benefit from Perry being in office are afraid she might have a chance to win the primary, then I’ve got to give a lot of consideration to voting for her. I already like what she has to say, and the freshness she’s brought to the campaign.
If Beck’s shenanigans weren’t enough, the clincher came this evening when Michael Berry, a Beck wannabe on a local talk program here in Houston, pre-empted his planned topic in order to give his full attention to continuing the war on Debra Medina. Berry was livid over the fact that the Medina campaign spurned his offer of having her on his show this evening to straighten all this out on the grounds that he’s host of the “highest rated afternoon talk show on radio in Texas.” Perhaps he is, though comparatively, with the vast majority of the Houston drive time radio audience listening to the music stations, his audience is a fraction of the size of even the lowest rated local television news program. Medina’s campaign wisely avoided addressing his slanted audience with carefully screened phone calls and edited text messages and emails. Even with the slant, Berry’s listeners didn’t indicate that there was any evaporation of support for Medina, and in fact, many of the callers clearly supported the way she responded on Beck’s program. It was during Berry’s show tonight, however, when I made up my mind to cast my ballot for Debra Medina for Governor of Texas.
It remains to be seen what will happen over the coming days, but I think the publicity Medina will receive from those four minutes on the Glenn Beck show will benefit her, and push her forward in the polls. It’s pretty clear that she’s not a “9-11 Truther” and I think most Texas voters, contrary to Beck’s belief, are smart enough to figure out that she didn’t say what he tried to make her say, and that this whole thing is a thinly veiled attempt to push support to the established party candidates. The corporate interests that firmly control the state through the governor’s office are sensing that support for their lackey is waning, and that Medina may be looming as the larger threat.
Berry is just a hanger-on wannabe. I don’t think enough people in Texas listen to his program, or value his opinion, enough to make a difference.