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Gizzi on Politics: Perry Primary; Nebraska Factions; Sullivan Surge

Friday, 22 Mar 2013 04:42 PM

By John Gizzi

No one doubts that Republicans will win the governorship of Texas next year, as they have without interruption since George W. Bush won his first term in 1994.

But as the Republican primary increasingly becomes tantamount to election in the Lone Star State, the odds are growing that Gov. Rick Perry will be challenged in his own party for renomination next year if he chooses to run again.

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Among those mentioned for a challenge are state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who would become only the third governor in the last century to use a wheelchair. The others were Franklin Roosevelt as governor of New York from 1928 to 1932, and Alabama Gov. George Wallace, after a shooting in 1972 left him paralyzed from the waist down. Wallace served four terms as governor in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Abbott was partially paralyzed by a falling tree while jogging as a young man, shortly after receiving a law degree from Vanderbilt University.

Perry, briefly a candidate for president in 2012, has held the governorship longer than anyone — since the then-lieutenant governor succeeded to the office back in 2001 when Bush assumed the presidency.

Smooth Transition in Nebraska
The Nebraska Republican Party had a surprisingly smooth transition in its leadership ranks, coming at a time when both the governorship and the seat of Republican Sen. Mike Johanns are open and vulnerable to Democratic assault.

Even with state Republicans rocked by clashes between the “establishment” faction and adherents of Ron Paul, Lincoln attorney J.L. Spray was elected without opposition to succeed retiring State GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson.

Both are considered strong conservatives with close ties to both the major donors of the party and the tea party factions.

Sullivan Surges in Straw Poll
A month before the Republican primary to choose the nominee for U.S. senate from Massachusetts to succeed Secretary of State John Kerry, signs are increasingly strong the GOP candidate will be ex-U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.

Recently, Sullivan won a straw vote of North Andover Republicans with 58 percent of the vote over state Rep. Daniel Winslow, who had won the same poll a month ago.

The third contender, venture capitalist Gabriel Gomez, is floundering amid revelations he contributed to Barack Obama in 2008. Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch are vying in the Democratic primary to compete in the special election for Kerry’s seat, scheduled for June 25.

California GOP Looks to Brulte
A decade ago, when he was Republican leader of the California state Assembly and later the state Senate, Jim Brulte was distrusted by conservative activists within the state party, such as then-state GOP Chairman Shawn Steel.

But two weeks ago, all that became history as Brulte was elected state party chairman without opposition. Among those backing him was Steel, now GOP national committeeman from the Golden State.

“Jim may be closer to the establishment than the grass-roots,” one conservative activist from Orange County told me, “but he might be able to raise the money.”

In the last two election cycles, Democrats have won every statewide office, and there is no Republican on the horizon to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014.

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John Gizzi is the former political editor for Human Events, working for the conservative weekly from 1979 to 2013. Gizzi is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence, was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV talk shows.

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