Gubernatorial race becomes two-man showdown

HOUSTON This will be a contest between two very experienced, very well disciplined politicians, who've never lost an election. Style-wise, they couldn't be more different. But it's unlikely either will make big mistakes.

They will have time to hone their issue positions before November, but they've already figured out their opponents' weak points.

Perry knows what got him here. To defeat Kay Bailey Hutchison, he ran against Washington, channeling Republican rage against the federal government and championing Texas' right to go it alone.

"This election was about hard working Texans sending a simple compelling message to Washington," he told supporters Tuesday night. "Quit spending all the money."

You can expect to hear more of the anti-Washington rhetoric in the months to come. Washington's financial woes will likely be linked to Houston's financial troubles and former Mayor Bill White. It may be tougher to call White a creature of Washington, but the lines certainly energize Perry supporters.

And White is ready.

"Texas is ready for a new governor," he told supporters Tuesday.

White admits it will not be easy for a Democrat, even a well-funded one, to beat an incumbent Republican governor. White will have to answer for Houston's financial troubles and the national Democratic record, but intends to make Perry confront his own.

"If Texans believe that our best days are in front of us, that we deserve a governor who is more interested in Texans' jobs than preserving his own job and work harder to bring dropouts back to school rather than work hard to stay in office, then I think I will be the next governor," he said.

Hear the start of a campaign? Election day is less than 8 months away and the campaigning's already begun. It's not likely it will get incredibly heated for a few more months.

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