Kay Bailey Hutchison vs. the World?

Selby writes up 2010:

"Nothing has been decided on what he wants to do," Wolf said this week. He stressed the uncertainties of the 2008 national elections culminating in a new president. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas or Gov. Rick Perry could yet end up the Republican vice-presidential choice.

Hutchison, just re-elected, signaled to Austin supporters Monday that she's keeping her gubernatorial dreams alive.

"I'm not asking for your endorsement now. But please don't give it to anybody else," Hutchison said, according to former Austin Mayor Roy Butler, who was a lunch guest.

Hutchison did not say she was running for governor, Butler said, but it was "pretty clear that's where she wants to go."

Makes sense, especially in light of this year's national results leaving Democrats in charge of Congress. Texas is suddenly (decisively) a better place to be a Republican.

At the least, Hutchison wants folks to pause before aligning with Dewhurst or Tony Garza, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico who could come home to run for governor.

Butler declined to make an early Hutchison-Dewhurst pick, saying: "I'll wait four years to see if both of them are running."

Assuming Governor Perry doesn't run for re-election, the big question is whether Kay Bailey Hutchison decides to run. Sen. Hutchison has been saying that she wants to run for awhile, but has chosen not to challenge the incumbent Perry. She's the most popular politician in the state, although that's not necessarily a solid predictor of whether she would win a Republican primary (eg, she may be more popular than W, but she wouldn't win an election against him).

If Hutchison runs, that might not clear the field. Any of these three might decide to take her on: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Ambassador Tony Garza, and St. Sen. elect Dan Patrick. Dewhurst and Garza both have the money to self-fund the race [Dewhurst from the oil biz, Garza is married into the Corona wealth]. And Patrick is sorta the wild-card who may decide to run no matter what the other 3 do.

Hutchison probably knows -- based on her reluctance to run previously -- that a gubernatorial primary will not be a cakewalk versus someone who runs to her right. The state's GOP activists have largely never felt comfortable with her.

Dewhurst is definitely signaling that he intends to run, hoping to steer KBH out of the race just as Perry did. There were rumors that he intended to announce immediately after the election. Certainly, he heavily courted the media at Perry's victory party, spending at least 5 times as long with the media as any other statewide officeholder. That tends to leave the impression that he is intending to run for governor. He ran this year on Jessica's Law, allowing him to position himself as tough-on-crime but in a moderate, appealing-to-women way. However, as a non-incumbent whose ties to GOP activists aren't as strong/long-standing as Perry's, he probably can't scare KBH out of the race.

Right now, I think the signs point to a clash of the titans: Dewhurst v. Hutchison. Despite the years-ago rumors that Dewhurst would rather be in the Senate than in the Governor's Mansion, I doubt he's going to let Hutchison waltz into the Governor's Mansion and simply hope that Hutchison picks him to fill her then-vacant Senate seat. [Random aside: if Hutchison were governor, who would she be most likely to appoint to the final 2 years of her term?]

It's still very early, so crazy things could happen. Hutchison surprised everyone in the '06 cycle by not running, so we'll see about '10. If she decides to run, it might be a savvy move for her to resign her Senate seat. That would give Dewhurst the option to run for Senate, possibly against Congressman Henry Bonilla (assuming he survives the run-off in 9 days), or Garza or any other number of people. It would also signal that Hutchison is in-to-win, after the very-public previous flirtations with running for governor.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 05:38 PM


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