Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senate leadership

From the Roll Call article:

In an early public move for a pair of the second-tier leadership posts, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) acknowledged last week that they are pushing for the Nos. 3 and 4 positions of Republican Conference chairman and Policy Committee chairman, respectively.

Kyl already chairs the Policy Committee, but term limits will force Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) out of his Conference chairmanship after six years of service at the end of 2006, opening up that post.


The early declarations of interest from Kyl and Ensign set up a further dilemma for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who is term limited out of her position as vice chairwoman of the Conference, generally considered the No. 5 post in leadership. Hutchison is actively considering a bid for Texas governor, but that would involve the risk of running in a primary against Gov. Rick Perry (R).

“She has not made a decision yet. She’s certainly keeping all her options open,” said Terry Sullivan, Hutchison’s top political adviser in the Lone Star State.

If she were to balk at the governor’s race and run what would likely be an easy bid for re-election in 2006, Hutchison could find herself in a position of a different sort of intraparty squabble: a leadership race in the Senate.

Hutchison is believed to have her eyes on the Conference chairmanship as well, as it’s in line with the talents she’s displayed in more than four years as vice chairwoman.

The Conference chairman is generally in charge of leading the message and communications efforts, and Santorum expanded his portfolio by also serving as leader of outreach to K Street.

The Policy Committee chairman is in charge of generating position papers and data, with a large staff breaking down the impact on key issues of the day for the rest of the Conference.

As vice chairwoman of the Conference, Hutchison serves as the deputy to Santorum and is in charge of helping craft the message as well as leading floor speakers during the chamber’s “morning hour” debate. Hutchison also served as the Senate GOP’s main liaison to trade association lobbyists under Santorum.

Some GOP aides and strategists openly speculated last week about whether Kyl could be talked into staying put at Policy if Hutchison were to stay in the Senate, clearing the way for her ascension to Conference chairwoman.

And at an event for GOP women hosted by Hutchison, Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) openly stated that he expects Hutchison to chair the Conference if she remains in the Senate, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Of course, Santorum is running for the #2 spot in leadership: Majority Whip. Santorum is about a 50/50 shot at re-election, by my estimates. He's running behind in all polls right now, but he's not to be underestimated.

If Santorum is not re-elected in PA, then the #2 spot is open and the race for #3 between Kyl and Hutchison could become a race for #2.

However, in previous years, there has been talk that Kay Bailey wouldn't be able to win one of the top 2 leadership posts in the Senate, because she is (whether correctly or not) seen as a moderate. That talk seems to have abated recently, but it might affect a leadership election.

So these are the things Kay Bailey has to weigh: does she want to continue to commute with her young children, even though now is the time she can take advantage of the seniority given to her by her last 12 years of work? Or would she rather put her political career at substantial risk in order to come back to Texas, have a primary brawl and be the most powerful official in Texas?

Posted by Evan @ 06/14/05 07:30 PM


Previous Entry | Home | Next Entry


No comments yet

Add Comments

No flames or impolite behavior. HTML will be stripped. URLs will be transformed into hyperlinks.