Perry’s Money Cannon


Gov. Rick Perry’s “money cannon” shot quite a wad on Wednesday. The campaign claimed it raised $1.3 million with a marketing scheme based on Ron Paul’s moneybombs. The concept was beautifully simple: Get a ton of people to send the governor a lot of money in just 24 hours—it’ll be fun, folks!—and voila.

It was an impressive haul for a campaign that already had more than $2 million cash on hand—but which is spending liberally (as any Olympics viewer can wearily attest) to try and get Perry over the top next Tuesday without a costly runoff. (See the good story on Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s spending spree, and Democrat Bill White’s fundraising successes, on the Dallas Morning News.)

What worries me, more than the repulsive amounts of money being shoveled into Texas media by the “fiscally conservative” Perry and Hutchison, is the arms race we’re seeing. We’ve already gone from moneybombs to cannons. What’s next? Will Bill White be announcing his “Money Torpedo”? Can we look forward to a Greg Abbott “Money Missile,” or perhaps a Barbara Ann Radnofsky “Cash Strafe”?

But seriously. The artillery is firing hard and fast, if not quite accurately, in the final stretch of the Hutchison-Perry Primary for the Ages. Both of the candidates are engaged in their obligatory, symbolic “begging for every last vote” tours of the state. In town after town, people are being enlightened as to Sen. Hutchison’s “Washington ways,” if Perry is there, and to Perry’s monarchical excesses, if Hutchison’s the one holding forth in your local joint.

There was a story I enjoyed about Hutchison’s stop in Boerne (northwest of San Antonio) last week:

“Kay Bailey blitzes Boerne

“By Judith Pannebaker

“Hitting the trail in her gubernatorial bid against incumbent Texas Gov. Rick Perry and a surprisingly strong Debra Medina, United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison blew into Boerne on Thursday, Feb. 18. Madame Senator played to a packed house at a local restaurant.”

The identity of this restaurant, apparently, must remain a secret. But let’s pass over that and continue:

“Fresh off her bus, she pressed myriad flesh in the crowded eatery and launched into her stump speech with ‘there are warning signs on the horizon that must be addressed.’ However, a limited amount of time prevented Hutchison from addresses any of her platforms in depth.”

Goodness knows what she would have done with more time. Pressed even more myriad flesh, no doubt. But in the regrettably few short moments available to her, Hutchison poked and prodded Perry—which is, come to think of it, her only “platform” in this campaign.

We pick back up with the Bandera County Courier, already in progress:

“Another hot button was Perry’s penchant for cronyism. As governor, Hutchison would prohibit political appointees from soliciting campaign contributions from the people they regulate – even in their personal capacity.

“‘March 2 is not only the Republican Primary, it’s also Texas Independence Day that we celebrate each year,’ Hutchison said. ‘If you will help me, we can declare our independence again in 2020. If we leave the status quo, we won’t address the warning signs on the horizon. This race will be decided in local elections with people like you.'”

Let’s address the warning signs on the horizon. That’s a campaign slogan? It’s more like a speech your heart specialist gives you as a stern warning to start eating right and exercising or else.

Meanwhile, Hutchison has supposedly eased up on the ad buys. In turn, this is supposed to mean that she’s banking on finishing second and either calling a runoff or slinking back to Washington in defeat, if Perry’s victory margin is too large to overcome.

But that is rational people talking. God only knows what the Hutchison campaign is actually doing or thinking. No mortal could possibly comprehend.

Perry’s strategy is the precise opposite of Hutchison’s reported stall-and-save-the-money tactic: He’s making a push to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff. Or maybe, by getting really close to 50 percent, shaming either Hutchson or Debra Medina into shying away from a runoff challenge. Some polls show him getting close to 50 percent, and insurgent challenger Medina’s momentum has stalled—in part because of her Glenn Beck “truther” episode, but also because she lacks her opponents’ ad-buying millions.

Perry’s people clearly think they can roll some of Medina’s supporters, partly by regaining through the magic of advertising that “anti-Washington rebel” image that Perry honed during the early tea parties—and thereby avoid a runoff that would give Democrat Bill White, who’s outraised both the top Republicans, another six weeks of clear sailing.

But wait—this just in! “Texas Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons PAC Endorses Gov. Rick Perry.”

It’s a press release from the governor’s campaign, as you might have gathered. Which means that, sadly, we didn’t get to hear Perry speak the words he is reported to have uttered: “I am honored to have the support of the Texas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. These dedicated surgeons are vital to upholding and strengthening the health and quality of life in Texas.”

The press release from the Perry campaign went on to say: “Maxillofacial Money! Ka-ching!”

I made that last part up. It’s a shame that you might have imagined otherwise. But, given the wretched excesses of this campaign, it would be completely understandable.