Texas Senator and Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced that she will not seek reelection in 2012, creating a very early exit at the start of what will be a long and arduous campaign cycle.
Via The Fix:
Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced today she will not seek a fourth term, the first incumbent up for reelection in 2012 to retire.
“I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2012,” Hutchison said in a statement released this afternoon. “That should give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor will be.”
Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), Hutchison’s home state colleague and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, praised Hutchison as “an example to us all”.
Bailey Hutchison had a rough ride in an attempt to run for governor this election cycle, being painted as a political insider by both Rick Perry and Tea Party favorite Debra Medina during the Republican endorsement. Her allegedly “pro-choice” stance on abortion (by claiming that Roe V. Wade was established law) lost her much support in a year where the GOP wanted their candidates as far right as possible.
The race to replace Bailey Hutchison, who was the first female senator for the state, is expected to be overflowing with candidates. Politico reports:
Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones have already filed paperwork to pursue the seat. But Hutchison’s departure from the field will likely pique the interest of additional contenders.
Many insiders peg Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as the “800-pound gorilla” who could burst out of the gate as the self-funding front-runner if he so chooses.
But one GOP operative, who requested anonymity, likened a hypothetical Dewhurst-Michael Williams primary to a replay of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s battle with now-Sen. Marco Rubio.
Williams, who has earned the backing of South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, is seen as a rising conservative star, while Dewhurst is viewed by some as careful, moderate and entrenched in the political establishment.
In a statement, Dewhurst said Thursday was a day to honor Hutchison’s service and suggested he would explore a bid in the coming weeks, but GOP lobbyist Bill Miller said the lieutenant governor “is surely a candidate.” In a megastate such as Texas, the ability to fundraise is critical to boosting name identification in all 254 counties. And Dewhurst would be able to tap the millions he made in the oil and power-plant business before entering politics.
Other potential candidates include Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, a Hutchison ally who recently signaled he won’t pursue another term, state Attorney General Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz, a former state solicitor general and Cornyn aide who is picking up buzz in conservative circles.
Of course, for those of us who would like to see more women in office, it would be good to see more than one female candidate named in the mix of 2012 potentials, especially another moderate Republican, as the seat is likely to remain in Republican hands. But despite an early primary, there is still plenty of time for new options to come out of the woodwork.