Known in Senate circles as the Senator who must have her way – even if it means a few tears in the leader’s office – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is the queen of wanting to have it both ways. She wants to run for Governor of Texas without giving up her Senate seat. She wanted to move up Senate leadership without taking a risk to run. She wants to be the “conservative” in the primary, and the candidate with “broad appeal” in the general election. She wants to be pro-choice and pro-life. This leaves one scratching his head a bit.
Everyone knows that Senator Hutchison is running for Governor of Texas – and challenging sitting Republican Governor Rick Perry in the process. But no one knows whether Senator Hutchison will actually step down from her Senate seat if she loses to Governor Perry.
Oh sure, she claims she will step down after the primary regardless of the result. But no one in Texas politics is willing to bet on it – and for good reason. Earlier this year, she was adamant that she would step down in the fall of 2009 to run for Governor, only to decide she needed to stick around to “fight Obamacare” and otherwise represent Texas.
Of course, that may be a difficult schedule to maintain, as was evident in this WFAA news story regarding her back-and-forth travel and somewhat unsuccessful efforts at taking on both just now, as well as a missed vote against a terrible Obama judicial nominee in November.
The Senior Senator from Texas has never been one to give up something she holds in order to get something she wants. Back in 2007, when she was the #4 Senate Republican, and the #2 Senator Lott retired, she could have moved up the chain – but didn’t want to give up her guaranteed spot to run for the #3 spot. That’s not “how she rolls,” as they say.
This, of course, leaves Republican candidates set up like a bunch of dominos sitting on their edge, holding their breath… and risks, should she lose and not step down, leaving great candidates like Michael Williams and Ted Cruz on the outside looking in. Is that good for Texas? Is that good for the Republican Party? Or, should the question really be, “is it good for Kay?”
She also likes claiming to be “the conservative” in the race, while also noting she is the candidate with “broad appeal” for the general election. Wayne Slater, with the Dallas Morning News, wrote a piece earlier this week entitled “Two Sides of Senator Hutchison As She Files to Run for Governor.” In it, Slater observed the following:
“Primary Kay and General Election Kay. Like hyperkinetic twins, they tended to talk over each other. Primary Kay is very conservative… General Election Kay promises to expand the party — save it, she says — by appealing to the broad Texas electorate in November.”
Of course, all of this has an effect. In a recent NY Times article, after she clarified her vision for Republicans by saying about her race against Perry, "[i]f we don’t see the losses in the House and Senate as meaning that we need to retool our party and our message and our governing strategy, then we’re going to keep losing,” she made the following interesting point: “Hutchison, for her part, acknowledges that her popularity is somewhat ephemeral. ‘When it comes to specifics, I haven’t had one thing that resonates with a whole focus group,’ she told me…”