AUSTIN, Texas - Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison conceded the Republican nomination for Texas governor to Gov. Rick Perry last night following a heated, multimillion-dollar fight between the party heavyweights.
Hutchison told supporters in Dallas that she called Perry once she believed the election results were clear.
"We have fought valiantly for our principles, but we did not win," she said.
Perry, Texas' longest-serving governor, had 52 percent of the vote, compared with Hutchinson's 31 percent, with nearly half of precincts reporting. GOP party activist Debra Medina, a favorite among many tea party voters, had about 18 percent.
Perry, seeking a third full term in office, spent months battering Hutchison with an anti-Washington message and accused her of being part of a big-spending crowd in the nation's capital.
Hutchison countered by saying Perry was trying to stay in office too long, and had allowed arrogance and cronyism to creep into state government.
All three candidates cast themselves as the true conservative. But the contest became a bout between Perry and Hutchison in a clash unlike any GOP primary the state has seen since Republicans began taking over state government in the 1990s with the help of George W. Bush.
Perry, a darling of the social conservatives who reliably show up and vote in Texas Republican primaries, forcefully pushed the anti-Washington theme that Hutchison acknowledged worked against her.
Hutchison initially said she would step down from the Senate by the end of 2009 and focus full time on her run for governor. But she changed her mind and said she had to stay in Washington, to battle President Barack Obama and the Democrats on health care. Her continuing in Washington gave Perry more ammunition to cast her as a congressional insider.