The Big Conversation:
Weeks away from leaving office, a candid Kay Bailey Hutchison on Wednesday opened up about some of the lingering regrets of her political career.
In an interview with WFAA-TV, Hutchison, who will retire at the end of the year after almost two decades in the U.S. Senate, spoke of her accomplishments throughout her tenure, including a homemaker retirement fund bill that she referenced yesterday in an emotional speech on the Senate floor.
But in the interview, Hutchison also reflected on some of the disappointments of her career, offering perhaps her most forthcoming remarks yet on her loss to Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary.
"I love the Senate, but I always wanted to be governor," she said. "And I know that I would have been a governor for all Texans."
She called the race — in which Perry cruised to victory by repeatedly and ruthlessly painting her as a spendthrift — a "horrible experience."
"I wasn't really able to run my campaign the way I would have like to have run as me," she said. "And I had a different approach, and it wasn't right."
Asked whether her timing was off in challenging Perry, Hutchison said she may have fared better against him in 2006, when he won the general election with only 39 percent of the vote in a crowded race. Or, she said, she may have been able to win in 2002, shortly after Perry took office.
"Maybe I should have run right away after the lieutenant governor took over as governor, maybe I should have just run right then. But I thought, for the unity of the party," she said, her voice trailing off.
Hutchison has opened up in recent months about the race, which she lost by 21 points, but has generally remained cautious in her criticism of Perry.
She will deliver her farewell speech next week before settling back in Dallas.
- State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, jumped into the House speaker's race this week, but incumbent Joe Straus isn't fretting. Straus on Wednesday said he was confident that he would be re-elected and that he's ready to take on the "serious issues" facing the state. "I’ve talked to most of the members," Straus said. "They agree with where the priorities that I’ve set for the House should be. Other members, if they have helpful suggestions, are certainly welcome to weigh in. And if Mr. Simpson wants to run for speaker, for example, it’s his choice." Asked about conservative groups like AgendaWise Texas that are trying to unseat him, Straus said, "AgendaWise, as far as I know, is some guy at a computer [with] kind of a caustic approach to politics which I reject and always have."
- According to a new report, Texas' death row population is at its lowest in more than two decades, and the state has seen a 75 percent drop in death sentences since 2002, the Tribune's Brandi Grissom reports. The declining numbers in Texas mirror a national trend, the exact cause of which is unknown. Data shows, however, that the death penalty, while down, is still being used disproportionately on people of color.
- Former President Bill Clinton visited Austin on Wednesday to deliver the keynote address at the Dell World technology conference. Clinton, who spoke with CEO Michael Dell, discussed the ways technology could help bring democracy to developing nations and bolster economic growth in the U.S. "Crazy things will happen in the world and politicians will do dumb things," he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "Bad things will continue to happen, but on balance, I think the world is headed in the right direction."
"We thank Speaker Straus for the plug, and are proud to have him as a reader. He should know, however, we don't just have computers. We have cell phones and a printer, too." — AgendaWise Texas writer Weston Hicks in response to Joe Straus' remark Wednesday that AgendaWise was "some guy at a computer"
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