If Texas is emblematic of America’s proclivity for bombast and superlatives, then its 2010 governor’s race will be no exception. Expect things to be big and bloody, as national ideological struggles play out, Texas-style. In one corner, the state’s longest-serving governor and occasional secessionist, Rick Perry, is battling it out with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a moderate by Texas Republican standards who’s more appealing to a general audience. The colorful insults hurled over the past few months will only intensify as Perry, who’s favored by ultraconservatives, tries to escape Hutchinson’s charges that he’s marginalized and sullied the party. Our money’s on Perry as the victor in the March primary, if only for the anti-Washington sentiment swirling around the state. But he won’t emerge unscathed. As the primary takes its toll on his public image, doors open for the likely Democratic candidate, well-liked Houston Mayor Bill White, whose energy and planning initiatives, along with his economic management, have won him broad favor. By building a coalition of Hispanics, independents, and moderate Republicans from Texas’s growing, more Democrat-friendly urban centers, White will waltz into the governor’s mansion. But just barely.