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El Paso Elite to Hutchison: Don't Spoil Our Party with Perry!

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... http://www.borderlandnews.com/stories/borderland/20041211-205241.shtml
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 11, 2004
      --- Ann Carr <jakcarr@...> wrote:

      > To: utepprogressives@yahoogroups.com
      > From: "Ann Carr" <jakcarr@...>
      > Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 20:17:29 -0000
      > Subject: [utepprogressives] EP Elite to Hutchison:
      > Don't Spoil Our Party with Perry!
      > El Paso meeting sparks barbs between Hutchison,
      > Perry
      > Gary Scharrer
      > Austin Bureau
      > A meeting between U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and
      > prominent El
      > Paso businessmen turned testy this week and
      > triggered the most heated
      > exchange yet between her and Gov. Rick Perry, the
      > fellow Republican
      > she may challenge in 2006.
      > Several El Paso businessmen who support Perry asked
      > Hutchison to run
      > for re-election to the Senate rather than challenge
      > the governor,
      > according to those at Tuesday's meeting at the Bank
      > of the West in El
      > Paso. The El Paso Perry supporters -- who so far
      > have given a
      > combined $800,000 to the governor and plan to donate
      > hundreds of
      > thousands more -- said their large campaign
      > contributions to state
      > leaders have increased El Paso's influence in
      > Austin.
      > Hutchison then gave a lecture-like response,
      > denouncing the role big-
      > money contributions play in state government,
      > several of those
      > attending said.
      > "We didn't expect that reaction," El Paso
      > businessman Ted Houghton
      > said. "That's when the meeting fell apart,
      > unfortunately. Our point
      > was, we like what we have for El Paso and we like
      > what we have for
      > the state of Texas.
      > "We're not going to get into a (shouting) contest
      > with her, but it
      > fell all apart," Houghton said. "We did not expect
      > that."
      > After word of Hutchison's comments in the private
      > luncheon began
      > circulating, her spokesman confirmed that the
      > senator condemned the
      > role of large donations in the Texas political
      > system.
      > "Senator Hutchison is appalled that people are being
      > strong-armed,
      > feel they have to hand over huge contributions in
      > order to be heard
      > in the state's political process," spokesman Dave
      > Beckwith said
      > Friday. "What she's been hearing around the state is
      > encouragement --
      > to provide the leadership to clean up that system."
      > That statement -- perhaps the harshest yet from the
      > Hutchison camp as
      > she considers a 2006 Republican primary showdown
      > with Perry --
      > brought a swift response from the governor's
      > campaign.
      > "Others can deal in the Washington-style politics of
      > personal
      > destruction and blind ambition to do what is best
      > for themselves, but
      > Governor Perry will continue to be a strong, ethical
      > and effective
      > leader for El Paso and Texas as a whole," said Luis
      > Saenz, Perry's
      > campaign director.
      > The opening salvos in what could be a bitter
      > gubernatorial campaign
      > between Texas' most prominent Republican leaders
      > were prompted by
      > Hutchison's remarks at a private meeting with 14 El
      > Paso business
      > leaders Tuesday. The meeting was organized by former
      > El Paso Mayor
      > Jonathan Rogers as a briefing by the senator on
      > various issues, but
      > several Perry supporters eventually turned the
      > conversation to the
      > coming gubernatorial election and tried to persuade
      > Hutchison not to
      > challenge the governor, witnesses said.
      > El Paso businessman Woody Hunt said he reminded the
      > senator that El
      > Paso had not fully participated in state politics in
      > the past and has
      > long been neglected. He and others decided to open
      > up their
      > checkbooks and become players.
      > "We need to be better connected to the state. We
      > need to be able to
      > have access. We need to be able to communicate,"
      > said Hunt, who's
      > donated almost $200,000 to Perry in the past four
      > years, campaign
      > finance records show. "And we endeavored to do that,
      > and we thought
      > we were succeeding."
      > He and others told Hutchison that she and Perry are
      > both doing good
      > jobs for El Paso.
      > Different perspectives emerged about what happened
      > during the closed-
      > door luncheon, but those who spoke about the event
      > generally agreed
      > the discussion got severely strained after some of
      > the business
      > leaders mentioned their large contributions to
      > Perry.
      > The senator's neck turned red, according to one of
      > the participants.
      > "It was obvious by the way she was inching up in her
      > seat that she
      > was fixing to let everybody have it," one of the
      > business leaders
      > said. He did not want to be identified because he
      > has supported both
      > Perry and Hutchison and doesn't want to stay in the
      > crossfire.
      > "She did lambaste the idea of large contributions of
      > the nature that
      > we had been encouraged to make. She said she would
      > never be a party
      > to that," he said.
      > Contributors
      > Eleven of the 14 El Pasoans attending the meeting
      > have given to
      > Perry's campaign since 2000, with their combined
      > contributions
      > totaling more than $800,000 as of June 30, according
      > to Texas Ethics
      > Commission records. Rogers was the only one in the
      > meeting who gave
      > to Hutchison in that period, with his contributions
      > totaling $7,000
      > to her campaign and political action committee,
      > Federal Election
      > Commission reports show.
      > Eight El Pasoans have pledged an additional $100,000
      > each for Perry
      > between this year and the 2006 election.
      > The meeting with Hutchison was not designed to start
      > the political
      > debate, its organizer said.
      > "I told her, 'The next time you're in town, give me
      > a holler, so I
      > called some of my friends,'" said Rogers, who was El
      > Paso's mayor
      > during 1981-89 and has been the senator's friend for
      > 30 years.
      > "I felt that she was here talking to us to see
      > what's going on and to
      > give us some good news, which I'm not privy to talk
      > about because it
      > was supposed to be a closed meeting," Rogers said.
      > Houghton and Hunt led the opening discussion about
      > El Paso's emerging
      > role in state politics.
      > "What we did tell her was, 'Senator, we love you.
      > We've been working
      > in this community for 50, 60 years and, finally, the
      > moon and the
      > stars have all lined up,' " Houghton said.
      > Houghton, Hunt and others fear that a bruising
      > primary battle between
      > Perry and Hutchison would turn incendiary and
      > threaten the Texas
      > Republican Party.
      > "We don't want to go through a process where the
      > Republican Party
      > devours itself in internal conflict, which, in this
      > case, is
      > unnecessary," Hunt said. "We have two people doing a
      > very good job
      > where they are.
      > "They are benefiting the state and benefiting our
      > community," Hunt
      > said. "I think we have good access to both of them."
      > The money issue
      > Some of the participants dispute whether Perry's El
      > Paso supporters
      > brought up their specific contribution amounts, or
      > whether the
      > senator did.
      > "The monetary issues never came up from our
      > perspective. She brought
      > it up," Houghton said. "We said we have made an
      > investment in the
      > leadership of the state. That's as far as we went."
      > The senator's spokesman said Hutchison reacted to
      > Perry supporters
      > specifically touting the accomplishments produced
      > after significantly
      > stepping up their political contributions.
      > Houghton and several others in the room agreed that
      > the senator took
      > a swipe at Perry's leadership record, particularly
      > about the state's
      > failure to solve the school finance crisis and its
      > accompanying high
      > property taxes.
      > Houghton said he told her: "Nothing's perfect. You
      > can't have
      > everything, but you strive to achieve."
      > Perry last year made Houghton the first El Paso
      > member of the state's
      > powerful Texas Department of Transportation
      > Commission. Hunt was
      > appointed by Perry as the first El Pasoan in more
      > than 40 years to
      > serve on the University of Texas System Board of
      > Regents.
      > Other El Pasoans attending the meeting with
      > high-ranking Perry
      > appointments included Robert Brown (Texas Parks and
      > Wildlife
      > Commission), Rick Francis (Texas Tech Board of
      > Regents) and Paul
      > Foster (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board).
      > "We have made an investment in the leadership of the
      > state, and we're
      > playing at the highest levels of the state,"
      > Houghton said.
      > Several attending the meeting agreed that Hutchison
      > told them she had
      > not made up her mind about running for governor.
      > "As far as I know, right now she's a senator. If she
      > decides to run
      > for governor, it will be a different story. I will
      > certainly be on
      > her side," Rogers said.
      > "There is plenty of support for her in this city,
      > lots of support,"
      > Rogers said.
      > More on pay-to-play Gary Scharrer's column, 1B
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