AUSTIN, Texas — Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison conceded the Republican nomination for governor to incumbent Rick Perry on Tuesday after a heated primary battle that highlighted the growing anti-Washington mood among voters in midterm elections.
Hutchison, who was first elected to the Senate in 1993, was once seen as the candidate who could deliver Perry's first election loss in a lifetime of public office, but the governor, a darling of the social conservatives, forcefully painted her as too entrenched in Washington politics.
Hutchison, 66, told supporters in Dallas that she called Perry just before 10:30 p.m. EST.
"We have fought valiantly for our principles, but we did not win," she said.
Speaking at his election night party in Driftwood, Perry, who turns 60 on Thursday, said he would unite a fractured Texas Republican Party in the November general election and stressed that Washington politics had no place in the Lone Star state.
"From Driftwood, Texas, to Washington, D.C. we are sending you a message tonight: Stop messing with Texas!" he said.
Perry, Texas' longest-serving governor, had 51 percent of the vote compared to Hutchinson's 31 percent, with nearly three-fourths of precincts reporting Tuesday night. About one in five voters cast ballots for a third candidate, Debra Medina, a GOP party activist who was backed by some in the state's tea party movement.
The GOP nominee will face former Houston Mayor Bill White, who defeated Houston hair care magnate Farouk Shami and five others on Tuesday to win the Democratic nomination for governor.
Also on the ballot were some key Republican races for the influential state Board of Education, which adopts curriculum standards that wield significant influence over the content of textbooks nationwide.
The conservative Christian bloc that controls the 15-member board won a key early victory when incumbent Ken Mercer defeated Austin lawyer Tim Tuggey to stay on the panel, which has unusual clout because textbook publishers have few clients bigger than Texas.