The Texas Republican gubernatorial primary race has just gotten more interesting. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Sarah Palin has endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for reelection. According to Wayne Slater, who wrote the Morning News story, Gov. Perry's campaign is using the Palin endorsement to try to peel away conservative support among women for Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison, Perry's main opponent in the GOP primary contest.
The Perry forces are circulating a letter written by Gov. Palin addressed to "Texas Republican women" in which Alaska's governor calls Perry the "true conservative" in the primary contest:
"He walks the walk of a true conservative. And he sticks by his guns – and you know how I feel about guns," she said.
Palin makes a point of praising Perry for his pro-life position:
"Not every child is born into ideal circumstances, but every life is sacred," Palin said in the mail appeal. "Rick Perry knows this – it is at the core of his being."
Though Hutchison supports some limitations on abortion, including parental notification and a ban on partial-birth procedures, she is generally considered to be pro-choice.
The Perry campaign says Gov. Palin's letter was sent to over 10,000 members of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, a shot aimed squarely at Sen. Hutchison's base.
As Republican governors of energy-producing states, Perry and Palin see eye to eye on domestic drilling and other energy issues. Perry, who was chairman of the Republican Governors Association last year, introduced Palin when she addressed the organization at its winter meeting in Florida.
The two, together with South Carolina's Mark Sanford, argued against increasing the country's $10.7 trillion federal debt at a meeting of governors with then President-elect Obama early in December. The three warned that doing so risked collaping the U.S. economy.
Governor Palin, who drew large, enthusiastic crowds as the GOP vice presidential candidate on the campaign trail in 2008, has strong support among the GOP base and is very popular with social conservatives. In Texas, the votes of women and values voters could determine the outcome of the Republican Primary. The winner will likely be favored in the general election, as the two strongest Democrats, Houston Mayor Bill White and former state comptroller John Sharp, will both running for Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat.