The conventional wisdom surrounding Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court is that elected Republicans will tread lightly in their critiques, lest they burn their already weak bridges to the Hispanic community.
Along these lines, comments from Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich (who has since recanted his remarks) and others calling Sotomayor a racist were deemed the GOP establishment as counterproductive, especially for GOPers in states with large Hispanic populations.
But maybe not.
This past Friday, at the apex of the conservative movement's anti-Sotomayor rhetoric, Limbaugh was bestowed the title of "honorary Texan" by the state's governor, Rick Perry, during an event in Houston.
"You said something on your radio station that you thought you ought to pack up and move to Texas," said Perry. "Well when you get here brother you're an honorary Texan... God bless Rush Limbaugh!"
Perry, of course, is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who has built his political career by appealing to his party's most ideological elements. Hence his recent talk of secession. But the governor is also facing an incredibly difficult primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. The Hispanic population in his state -- one of the largest in the countries -- could play a major role in who gets the nod. And the extent to which Limbaugh can serve as a political prop or foil (even within the Republican Party) could be put to an early test.