U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is quietly exploring a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican sources told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday. McCaul is telling potential supporters that he's prepared to spend $4 million to $6 million of his own money.

In a statement emailed to the Tribune, McCaul didn’t say he was getting in the race but also didn’t deny that he was. "My goal remains to ensure that the most qualified person represents Texas in the United States Senate," the statement said.

He'd be entering a crowded Republican primary field that already includes Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz and undertaker Glenn Addison. Retired Lt. Gen. Ric Sanchez is the only Democrat in the race so far.

McCaul's current federal campaign balance, at $143,256, isn't impressive, especially since he also has outstanding debts of $209,384, according to the Federal Election Commission. But he's also the richest member of Congress, according to a recent report from Roll Call, and could easily finance his own campaign if he so desired.

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McCaul, 49, was first elected in 2004 to an eight-county House district that stretches from Austin to Houston.

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