Four super-compelling intra-state fights that could define the 2016 GOP race

In Texas, you have a sitting governor and a sitting U.S. senator — both of whom seem incredibly likely to run. As a source close to Cruz told National Journal recently, “At this point it’s 90/10 he’s in. And honestly, 90 is lowballing it.” Similarly, Perry sure looks like he’s going to run, and based on early performances, he will do a lot better than he did during 2012’s sputtering flameout. (Most people don’t know this, but on the day Rick Perry announced for president in 2011, Ted Cruz endorsed him for president — in a short interview with yours truly.)

Now, the Lone Star state is a big state, but is it big enough for these two gun-slingers? Perry, as a three-term governor, is sure to do a better job of rounding up Texas money and support, and building an infrastructure. A lot of Texas businessmen are surely surprised and maybe even disappointed by how Cruz has behaved in D.C.

Perry’s 2012 candidacy may have harmed his national reputation and bruised his ego, but it also made him a shrewder candidate. Like a playoff team that makes it to the postseason and falls short, then returns the next year only to triumph (think about the Miami Heat losing in the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks only to crush the Oklahoma City Thunder the following year), there’s a learning advantage to having been to the “show” before.

Cruz, by the force of his rhetoric, will dominate amongst a national audience of Tea Party conservatives. In this way, Cruz can live off the land, garnering attention and support by throwing red meat to his party’s right wing, and raising money via the internet and mail.

This could be an epic clash. It could get ugly.