"It is with pride and humility for history that I announce today that I am a candidate for governor of Texas," Hutchison told a small crowd gathered Monday at her former high school in La Marque, Texas.
"(Perry) is trying to stay too long -- 14 years, maybe longer. And after ten Perry years, where are we? Property taxes? Highest in the country. State debt? Doubled," Hutchison, a 16-year Senate veteran, told the crowd.
Rick Perry -- who has been governor since 2000 -- remains popular among anti-tax tea party groups and conservatives who vote in GOP primaries. Perry has ingratiated himself recently with core conservative voters, making controversial comments leaving open the possibility that Texas may wish to secede from the United States, and comparing violence on the Texas-Mexico border to Israel and the Palestinians.
On core social issues Gov. Perry is more conservative, as Hutchison supports keeping abortion legal - with restrictions. Perry wants Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade overturned.
Sen. Hutchison supports embryonic stem cell research, while Gov. Perry does not.
In Monday's speech, Hutchison painted Perry an extremist who, at times, is so far right that he undercuts GOP support from minority, independent and women voters.
"For the last decade, the Republican Party in Texas has been shrinking. We're losing elections we used to win easily," Hutchison said.
Gov. Perry, fresh off a trip to Israel, issued a blistering written counter-attack after Hutchison's announcement.
"She has violated, ignored and flip-flopped on virtually every promise she made to voters,
the governor's statement said.
"Sen. Hutchison's entire career has been characterized by perpetuating excessive pork-barrel spending and supporting irresponsible policies that are driving our nation's economy and the Republican Party's future into the ground."
Hutchison voted for the $700 billion federal bank bailout called TARP. Perry opposed it, using Hutchison's voting record to paint the senator as a big-spending Washington insider.
Perhaps trying to burnish her credentials with conservatives, Hutchison told FOX News today that she is prepared to filibuster health care reform when Congress returns to Washington in September.
Hutchison will leave the Senate this fall to campaign full time ahead of the March primary.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.