The question on every Texas politics junkie’s mind is now over. Kay Bailey Hutchison will not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2012.
Hutchison made the announcement in a letter to supporters (which can be viewed here).
In the letter, she says that the early announcement will give Texans “ample time to consider who [her] successor will be.”
There has long been talk of many Texans vying to replace Hutchison. Among them, Mayor Tom Leppart of Dallas (who is not expected to seek reelection as mayor); Roger Williams, a Weatherford car dealer who recently sent out campaign cards to his supporters; Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones; and former Comptroller, Democrat John Sharp.
Her announcement comes as a great relief to Tea Party members who have been critical of Hutchison’s moves on such things as healthcare, abortion rights and stem cell research.
“She personifies everything that the Tea Party is fighting,” said Konni Burton, a member of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party steering committee to the Fort Worth Star Telegram last month. “She is a Republican, but when you check her votes on many issues, they are not ones that conservatives are happy with.”
Hutchison’s announcement comes just a few months after her unsuccessful bid to become Texas’ next governor. Her downfall came for many of the same reasons the Tea Party had it out for her – mostly that she was “not conservative enough.”
Even though Hutchison was able to rake in many high profile supporters such as former President George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney and even baseball great Nolan Ryan, Hutchison lost handily to Perry in the primaries, finishing with 31 percent of the vote to Perry’s 53.
Because of the loss she took during the primary for governor, many suspected she would not seek reelection for the U.S. Senate for fear of a similar brow-beating. In the letter sent to supporters, Hutchinson said that she intended to leave her seat long ago, but was persuaded to stay “in order to avoid disadvantage to our state.”
Kay Bailey Hutchison has served for 19 years in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve Texas in the Senate when she was elected in 1993. She is currently the most senior female Republican senator and the fifth most senior female senator overall.