DENTON — Debra Medina will be the fresh face in the GOP gubernatorial debate Friday night.
While Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have held office for years, Medina hasn't. However, Medina's Tea Party-based campaign may make up for her lack of experience in office.
Medina packs a pistol in her car as she travels from one campaign stop to another. Her stance on gun rights and her libertarian message have started to pack a bit of punch, as well.
"She's ridden that up and understands that in her blood — whereas someone like Kay Bailey Hutchison is having a very difficult time getting her mind around this insurgency," said Cal Jillson, an SMU political science professor.
A nurse who founded a medical billing firm and home-schooled her two children, Medina said she entered politics because of her strong anti-abortion views. Life starts at conception and ends at natural death, she said.
Her campaign for governor sprang to life after she served as Wharton County Republican chair and worked in Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign.
But, like Paul, her campaign lacked traction until the first televised debate.
"She was very calm and very focused in that first debate," Jillson said. "And she articulated very conservative views, pretty much straight Tea Party views."
Since then, Medina's campaign has received more money. There has also been more news coverage scrutinizing her positions, like ending property taxes and broadening the sales tax to include real estate.
"It galvanizes people," Jillson said. "They want to think about that. But, as they begin to tear this thing apart and ask, 'Can this work?' I think there will be lots of questions."
Medina said she intends to win. For those who predict she's just a spoiler, she said, "Watch me."