Rick Perry's Risky Business

Unless you're living under a rock -- or relying on this site for news -- you are likely well aware that today is gubernatorial primary election day in Texas.

Incumbent Rick Perry has had a tough time dealing with his chief primary challenger, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. So much so that Perry has wholeheartedly embraced the Tea Party movement. Politico's Jonathan Martin has an interesting piece up today:
Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry has embraced the cause of state sovereignty, suggested his famously independent state could secede from the union, deemed the president a socialist and, last month in Houston, happily stood by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s side to receive her endorsement.

As Texas Republicans go to the polls for the state’s gubernatorial primary, Perry’s approach seems to be paying dividends. He enjoys a wide lead in polls over his chief primary opponent, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and the only real question that remains is whether he can crest the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off in his quest for a third full term.

Unlike the trio of recently successful statewide Republicans [Bob McConnell in Virginia, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Brown in Massachusetts], Perry’s positioning has, notably, taken place within a GOP primary in a deep-red state where conservatives make up much of the electorate.

But if McDonnell, Christie and Brown harnessed tea party energy while mostly sticking to safe scripts, Perry has become the first prominent Republican to make the movement’s fears about a Washington leviathan central to his candidacy.
...and therein we see the risk that Perry is taking. By embracing the Tea Partyers and the supreme anti-government movement, will Perry be alienating the more moderate Republicans in the Lone Star State (are there moderate Republicans in Texas?)? If he wins the primary, will we see him tack back to the middle after leaning so far to the right?

I suppose we'll get some answers tomorrow...