Is Kay Bailey Hutchison looking for a way out of her primary challenge to Texas governor Rick Perry? Two talk-radio hosts in my home town of Lubbock, Texas, think she may be. Writes one, Chad Hasty, after a telephone interview with the senator (skip ahead in that interview until about 8:30 unless you want to listen to a whole bunch of Texas Tech and wind-energy talk): “The biggest issue by far that we spoke about was resignation. I asked the senator when she planned on resigning and she said that she had hoped to resign this fall, but wanted to stay and fight against government-run health care. She then followed up by saying that’s not what she said and that she is running for governor. . . . By now, KBH should be used to that question, but it’s obvious that she has no idea when she is going to step down.”
Senator Hutchison said she had hoped that the health-care fight would be wrapped up by the end of the year, and that she “had hoped” she’d be able to resign by the end of the year, and then revisited the question and said that she didn’t say she was going to stay until the end of the health-care fight. Another host, Robert Pratt, points out that today was the last day that Hutchison could have resigned and had the special election to replace her held on November 3, in conjunction with another election already scheduled for that date. Texas’s secretary of state, Hope Andrade, says that holding a separate election will cost Texas taxpayers up to $30 million.
Either way, it’s a win-win for Rick Perry. He didn’t want the special election to happen on November 3 because there’s a Houston city-council election on that day, too, and the additional Democratic turnout would have favored Bill White, the Democratic mayor of Houston who is running for Hutchison’s Senate seat. But he’ll be sure to hit Hutchison for imposing (up to) $30 million in unnecessary costs on Texas taxpayers.
It should be noted that neither of those radio guys is a KBH fan. And Jennifer Baker, Hutchison’s spokesman, says that the senator unequivocally is running for governor and dismisses the speculation as “Perry-generated rumors.” She also says that the $30 million election cost estimate is exaggerated — a worst-case scenario. “Once the senator resigns, it will be in the governor’s hands,” she says. “He will have the opportunity to do the fiscally responsible thing. But we expect him, as usual, to do whatever is in his own best political interests.”
Personally, I think they’re making a little more of what Hutchison said than is entirely justified, but she did not sound terribly sure of herself.