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By W. Gardner Selby March 15, 2010

Independent activist Linda Curtis says Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison conceded with less than 20 percent of precincts reporting

Linda Curtis of Bastrop, who’s opposed Republican Gov. Rick Perry for two election seasons, says she saw a sign of GOP bigwigs running scared the night Perry bested U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and upstart Debra Medina for their party’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination.

Curtis helms Independent Texans, a group that has a Web site where visitors can "blow up" Perry’s head.

In a March 3 Web post headlined "Where Do Indies Go Now That Rick Perry’s Party is Over," Curtis writes: "Kay’s concession speech came with less than 20 percent of the precincts having been counted." Curtis saw meaning in the timing of Hutchison’s speech, which was televised statewide from her campaign party in Dallas.

"It was clear that regular Republicans, out of weakness in the face of the Medina insurgency, needed to circle the wagons," Curtis writes. "It was a very fractious (primary campaign) fight. They were risking bedlam breaking out if they didn’t patch things up quickly."

We wondered if Curtis accurately characterized the timing of the concession and if Hutchison and Perry were in cahoots to kiss and make up.

Perry's challengers combined for 49 percent of nearly 1.5 million votes cast. Hutchison got 30.3 percent and Medina won 18.6 percent, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. Perry drew 51 percent.

Curtis told us she suspects the Hutchison and Perry camps had been in touch before the results were known and knew they needed to showcase unity as soon as possible. "This is what I would do if I was just trying to maintain the status quo," Curtis said. "It’s not a conspiracy; it’s what they do, kind of a natural move."

First, did Curtis get her numbers right?

She was close. Hutchison conceded about 9:30 p.m. March 2. At 9:18 p.m., the AP had posted results from the primary based on 1,868 of 8,236 precincts, or nearly 23 percent, reporting.

It's not unheard of for candidates to give in before most votes are counted. In November 2006, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell conceded before the night was through. However, Bell spoke after the AP had declared Perry the winner, shortly before 9 p.m.

This year, the Associated Press declared Perry the victor of the GOP gubernatorial primary at 10:56 p.m., about 90 minutes after Hutchison conceded.

Second, was Hutchison's timing part of a joint Hutchison-Perry "unity" strategy?

Mark Miner, spokesman for Perry's campaign, said there was no coordination between the campaigns on primary night. "That's just ridiculous," Miner said of Curtis's Web post. "I'm sure she wrote it from a black helicopter."

Hutchison's campaign chairman, Jim Francis of Dallas, likewise disputed Curtis’s take on collaboration between the camps.

"To drag it out past 10 o’clock at night was sort of an unfair thing to do to Perry," Francis said. "It was clear what the situation was. Kay wanted to exit in a classy, dignified way. That’s what she decided. There wasn’t any strategy about it."

Besides, even if she'd squeaked into a runoff, Francis said, Hutchison had already decided to concede if she trailed Perry by 20 percentage points or so -- and she did.

So how does Curtis rate on the Truth-O-Meter?

Hutchison conceded after about 23 percent of precincts had reported -- not less than 20 percent as Curtis said, but close.

Neither the Hutchison nor Perry campaign confirmed Curtis's hunch that they strategized to hurry the senator's concession--and there's no independent way to prove or disprove her speculation. Regardless, it isn't part of her statement.

We rate Curtis's statement as Mostly True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

The Associated Press, "Excerpts, GOP Texas Gubernatorial Results," March 2, 2010

Independent Texans, Web post,  "Where Do Indies Go Now That Rick Perry’s Party is Over," accessed March 9, 2010

Cox News Service, "Perry wins, headed toward record time as governor," Nov. 7, 2006

Interview, Linda Curtis, acting director, Independent Texans, March 9, 2010

Interview, Jim Francis, chairman, Kay Bailey Hutchison gubernatorial campaign, March 11, 2010

Interview, Mark Miner, communications director, Rick Perry gubernatorial campaign, March 12, 2010

Texas Secretary of State, statewide election returns, "2010 Republican Primary Election," accessed March 10, 2010

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More by W. Gardner Selby

Independent activist Linda Curtis says Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison conceded with less than 20 percent of precincts reporting

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