Former Legislator Ray Hutchison Dies at 81

Ray Hutchison
Ray Hutchison

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include some remarks on Hutchison's death.

Dallas attorney Ray Hutchison, a former legislator, gubernatorial candidate and husband of former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, died Sunday afternoon, friends of the family said Monday morning. He was 81.

Elton Ray Hutchison was a state representative from Dallas from 1973 to 1977, a time when Republicans were rare birds in that body. He became chairman of the Republican Party of Texas in 1976, a job he left to run for governor in 1978.

The Republicans elected a governor that year, but it was Bill Clements, who had defeated Hutchison in the primary.

Hutchison met his second wife, then known as Kay Bailey, in the House, where both were Republican legislators. After ending his own political career with that 1978 race for governor, he concentrated on his legal work and served as political consigliere to his wife, who ran successfully for state treasurer in 1990 and then won a special election to the U.S. Senate in 1993, when Lloyd Bentsen resigned to become U.S. Treasury secretary. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 Republican primary, retired from the Senate in 2013.

 

He was senior counsel in the Dallas office of Bracewell Giuliani, well-known as a specialist in government bonding. His client list included the DFW International Airport and DART. He worked on the deal to build what is now the Ballpark at Arlington and on various bond issues for school districts and other governments across North Texas.

* * * * *

His law firm issued this statement: 

It is with profound sadness that Bracewell & Giuliani LLP confirms the passing of our friend and partner Ray Hutchison on March 30, 2014.

For more than 50 years Hutchison served as counsel to state and local governments and was regarded as a leading bond lawyer in the state of Texas, who worked on many of the most significant development projects in North Texas during this period.

“Ray was involved in virtually every major government development project in North Texas over the past five decades,” said Ben Brooks, head of Bracewell’s public finance practice and longtime friend of Hutchison.

Hutchison was key to the development of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the Upper Trinity Regional Water District, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, as well as numerous professional sports facilities built in North Texas during his career. He also led the negotiations to move the Washington Senators to Arlington to become the Texas Rangers and worked on the complex issues faced with building their stadium.

From Attorney General Greg Abbott:

 

“Ray Hutchison was a tremendous champion and defender of conservative values. From serving our great state in the Texas House of Representatives to his work as a chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Ray impressed upon so many others what it means to be a leader. I have been honored to know and work with Ray throughout my career, and greatly mourn his loss. Cecilia and I send our deepest condolences to the Hutchison family.”

From Gov. Rick Perry:

“This weekend, we lost an extraordinary Texan in Ray Hutchison. From his commitment to developing the North Dallas community, to his service in the U.S. Navy and Texas Legislature, to his instrumental role in the creation of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Ray was a leader in every aspect of his life, and his contributions to the state of Texas will positively impact countless Texans for generations to come. Ray was a true public servant, a devoted husband and a loving father. Anita joins me in sending our prayers and deepest condolences to his wife, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, his children, and the rest of Ray’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

From U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands:

“Today, Texas and I have lost a good friend. Ray Hutchison put Texas first and for all the right reasons. Our hearts and prayers are with our dear friend Kay and their family. Dallas, and in many ways our state, have been shaped by Ray Hutchison’s hard work. He and Kay have been wonderful parents to their children, Houston Taylor and Kathryn Bailey Hutchison. Our hearts also go out to Ray’s daughters, Julie and Brenda. Texas was blessed by Ray Hutchison’s public service and I was blessed to call him friend.”

From House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio: 

“Through his public service and his work in the private sector, Ray Hutchison made a remarkable contribution to the state of Texas. He led our party at a critical time of growth and transition while helping position Republicans for decades of electoral success. In addition, Ray’s work as a lawyer will make a difference in the lives of Texans for many years to come, whether they are flying in and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, commuting to work via Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or taking in a game at the Ballpark at Arlington. Julie and I extend our deepest sympathies to Senator Hutchison, their children and all of Ray’s family.”

State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas: 

"Texas lost an accomplished lawyer and dedicated public servant Sunday with the passing of Ray Hutchison. Stacey and I lost a good friend and loyal supporter who will be deeply missed. Ray was an influential leader who worked tirelessly to develop and improve North Texas. His efforts brought the region improved public transit, a world class airport, and a professional baseball team. As Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Hutchison helped lay the ground work for the ascendance of the GOP in Texas. Moreover, Ray Hutchison left his fingerprints on the success of our state with his outstanding service in the Texas House of Representatives. Ray’s legacy of service will endure for generations to come. Stacey and I extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, their children Houston and Bailey, and to the entire Hutchison family."

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

“Ray Hutchison spent the majority of his life serving the people of Texas and working to advance our great State. His contributions and distinguished service will always be remembered. From his time in the Texas Legislature, to leading the Texas Republican Party, to the countless good projects he spearheaded, his tireless work made our State a better place. Heidi and I send our prayers and condolences to Kay, Houston, Bailey, and all of Ray's loved ones as Texas joins in mourning their loss of a committed husband, father, and friend.”