Over the weekend, I heard a troubling rumor: Sarah Palin is reportedly considering an endorsement (see update below) of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his GOP primary race against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Hutchison’s challenge to Perry — who succeeded George W. Bush in 2001 and is seeking an unprecedented third term as governor — is trouble enough for Texas, which has one of the nation’s strongest state Republican parties.
A Palin endorsement for Perry might be decisive for the incumbent — who leads Hutchison 46%-35% in the most recent Rasmussen poll — but at the expense of Palin being viewed by some Texas Republicans as an outsider interfering in their state’s own feud. Unlike the New York 23rd District race, when nearly all conservatives cheered Palin’s endorsement of Doug Hoffman, the GOP gubernatorial primary in Texas is not a cut-and-dried match-up between a conservative and a RINO.
Palin’s political affinity for Perry are obvious. Like Perry, Palin was governor of a major oil-producing state. Yet Hutchison is strongly supported by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texan whose FreedomWorks organization has been directly involved with the Tea Party movement. Armey actively campaigned for Hoffman in the NY23, and a Palin endorsement of Perry would in effect divide an emerging conservative alliance.
It is also rumored that Palin will endorse former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio in that state’s GOP primary. A Rubio endorsement would be a much safer move for Palin, putting her on the side of grassroots conservatives angered by National Republican Senatorial Committee’s premature endorsement of GOP Gov. Charlie Crist.
If she gets involved in the GOP feud over the governorship of the Lone Star State, however, Palin could be courting Texas-size trouble.
UPDATE: To clarify, Palin actually endorsed Perry in February. The question is whether Palin will actually campaign in Texas for the governor’s re-election.