Texas secessionist drops out of governor's race (no, not Rick Perry)

AUSTIN — The Republican primary battle for governor shrank Tuesday with the exit of secessionist candidate Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, while wealthy Houston businessman Farouk Shami celebrated his 67th birthday by officially jumping into the Democratic gubernatorial contest.

Kilgore, a conservative activist who espouses Texas' withdrawal from the union, threw his support behind former Wharton County Republican Party Chairwoman Debra Medina in what is now a three-way race dominated by Gov. Rick Perry and his leading challenger, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Although the March 2 Republican primary has been billed as a showdown between Perry and Hutchison, Kilgore said that he hopes to send enough supporters Medina's way to help the Houston-area candidate get into an April runoff.

"It looked like there was more support going her way, and I wanted to go her way too," Kilgore said in explaining his reasons for pulling out of the race.

Medina has recently made an issue of being excluded from a Jan. 14 debate to be aired in North Texas by public TV station KERA/Channel 13.

Kilgore, a 45-year-old telecommunications consultant, focused much of his campaign on his belief that Texas should secede because of what he says is widespread popular resentment over federal policies.

He said Medina espouses similar views by endorsing nullification of unpopular federal regulations, thus appealing to many of his supporters.

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