Former Gov. Bill Clements knows a thing or two about how a divisive primary can affect a party's fortunes in November. In 1978, Clements became the first Republican elected Texas Governor since 1869 when he defeated Democratic nominee John Hill.
Hill had defeated incumbent Gov. Dolph Briscoe earlier that year in the Democratic Primary. As Clements tells Wayne Slater, had the majority party not “turned its guns on itself” he would have faced a much tougher road in the general election.
More than thirty years later, we could be looking at a similar situation here in Texas although with a different majority party.
The long anticipated Perry vs Hutchison primary could be the most expensive, divisive and negative Texas has ever seen. Clements recognizes the danger that the primary presents to his party.
From the Dallas Morning News:
“Make no mistake, if Texas Republicans have a blood bath in a primary battle between Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchsion and Gov. Rick Perry, we are providing the Democrats an opening to make a speedy comeback to political prominence. We risk dividing our party for decades to come. This is serious business, and Republicans should take heed.“'
The question that remains, however, is whether Democrats will have a candidate who is able to take advantage of that “opening” that Clements speaks of.