Texas conservatives are happy that Priscilla Owen will finally be sitting on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—but they have reason to worry about who will now replace her on the Texas Supreme Court. She has been a conservative powerhouse there. Republican governor Rick Perry, facing a possible primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, is being advised by some to appoint a woman to replace her. That imperative is in some practical tension with the objective of getting another solid conservative on the court.
To the extent that there is a conflict—if the decision ends up being between a conservative man and a not-very-conservative woman—Perry is probably better off picking the conservative. People who care a great deal about the number of women in high office are going to vote for Hutchison over Perry (or, even more likely, to vote in the Democratic primary). If Perry survives a Hutchison challenge, on the other hand, it will be because he rallied the conservative base.