Hutchison to Keep Senate Seat During Race for Gov

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, appearing at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, appearing at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.

Kay Bailey Hutchison won't resign from the Senate to run for governor. Hutchison and her aides began calling other Republicans Friday afternoon to tell them to make other plans.

"She will resign the Senate when the cap-and-trade and health care debates are over," said spokesman Joe Pounder. He said she will resign at that point if she wins the Republican primary for governor - or not. Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate have said they think the debate on health care will come in January.

The filing deadline for next year's elections is January 4. Waiting until after that date effectively forces everyone else on the ballot to run as if the dominoes won't fall.

Hutchison has been running for governor for months — she moved millions from her federal account to her state account in December 2008. And she has been planning — and planning publicly — to resign from the Senate to focus her attention on the race against incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry. She's lately backed off of that, telling supporters in a recent letter that she plans to wait until after the health care debate in Congress is over.

Now she's telling colleagues that she'll stay for that fight and for the cap-and-trade debate while she continues in her race for governor.

 

That pushes more than a half dozen politicians back into their holes, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, state Rep. Dan Branch, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones, state Sen. Florence Shapiro, and former Secretary of State Roger Williams, all Republicans; and Houston Mayor Bill White and former Comptroller John Sharp, both Democrats.

Everyone on that list was in the race to replace Hutchison in the Senate, except for Abbott, who was looking at Dewhurst's seat, and Cruz and Branch, who were looking at Abbott's. Branch recently dropped out of the race and said he would seek reelection to his House seat. He got tired of waiting to see what would happen.

Sharp said he'll run whenever the seat opens up. "She has said she wasn't gonna run again so her term is up in 2012 so if it's up in 2012 that's when I'll run," he said. "Whenever it happens, that's when I'll do it. I'm gonna keep doing the same thing I've been doing."

Dewhurst has said he was interested, but never has said out loud — in a crowd — that he will definitely join the race to replace Hutchison. And that allowed his spokesman, Mike Wintemute, to say now that they'll stay the course.

"For several months, the lieutenant governor has been saying consistently that he is running for reelection. He made a formal announcement to that effect to on September 8 if you want to go back and look at the press release that was sent out. He is excited to be running for reelection based on his strong record over the last seven years as lieutenant governor. Bottom line is, it does not change the plans of the Lieutenant Governor or his re-electon campaign.

White wasn't available for comment, but his campaign's remarks mirror Sharp's. White's still running.

“Every day that Bill White campaigns he’s gaining support, and we’ve always thought this would be a special election after the March primaries. That hasn’t changed,” said spokeswoman Katy Bacon.

Perry had been needling Hutchison to decide, and saying she ought to remain in the Senate.

"We appreciate that Senator Hutchison has taken the governor's advice and finally decided to make a decision to stay in Washington. Hopefully this will allow her to be a full-time senator for the people of Texas." said Rick Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner.

Earlier in the day, Perry suggested his opponent stay in Washington.

"I hope the Senator will do the job we elected her to do, and that's pretty full time," said Perry. "Her not being there for votes... is not necessarily good for Texas at this time."

Branch pulled out a couple of weeks ago, thinking time was running out. "If you looked at this it looked like it was going to happen really late, if at all. With all the pushback on healthcare and the concerns in the Senate, we got out in late October because this thing was dragging on and even if the schedule permitted, it was going to be so late in the primary cycle that it just didn't make sense."

It didn't happen this time, but Branch thinks the wheel will come around again.

"One way to look at this is, we're all living longer than we were a few generations ago."

 

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