Kay Bailey Hutchinson opts out of running

Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the senior senator from Texas, is going to be retiring from the U.S. Senate. She will not run again in 2012. She says that she’s announcing her retirement now so that state Republicans will have plenty of time to find a replacement for her.

“It’s just time for people to start making their plans,” Hutchison said. “Now it’s time for a new person.”

Senator Hutchinson is one of only five Republican women in the Senate, and only one of two more conservative women in the Senate. The other, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, only joined the Senate this year. There are three other Republican women in the Senate–Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska–all of which are considered moderate, if not liberal.

Earlier this year, she challenged Governor Rick Perry in the primary race for governor of Texas, but lost to him, 31% to 53%. Some say that this exposed a growing weakness in her, and may have contributed to this decision not to run. The Tea Party in Texas was rumored to already be preparing a candidate to oppose her in the primary election in Texas, because she has some more moderate social views.

The Democratic party in Texas is excited that she’s leaving the Senate. This leaves a hole in the Texas Republican party structure, and gives them an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said that it’s looking forward to picking up her seat in the next election. “We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November,” DSCC Director Eric Schultz said.

  • Broc

    Lisa Murkowski a liberal…really…only compared to Faux News and the Tea Party, neither of which are that attuned to how center our country really is.

    • Bob

      I’m using the word “liberal” as synonymous with “liberal Republican” in this context, which is a relative term. It does put her to the left of some Democrats in the Senate, though.

      “Political centrists” or “moderates” in Congress are a dying breed, in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Much of the center of the Democratic party was voted out (at least in the House) in November, which left mostly the left-wing of the Democratic party. Centrists in the Republican party have been decreasing over the last few decades.

      Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s a general unwillingness of both sides to compromise? Do you think it’s a solidification of ideas within each party?

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  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    Ah I see what you meant by “Liberal Republican” I had never heard that term before but I find it interesting, because it indentifies someone as basically not being conservative enough or republican enough. This issue of dying moderates is very complex, however some thoughts:

    The left has been known to “eat their own” even more so, for not being progressive enough and I believe it is a direct result of the dramatic increase of hyper-partisan rhetoric and campaigning. These campaigns create a climate; us against them/they are the enemy/you are with us or against us/we are fighting for American and they are destroying it, we are the “real Americans” blah blah blah. All of that garbage erodes the idea of compromise, the exchange of ideas and bi partisanship. It is difficult for congressman/ woman to rail against democrats or republicans saying they are evil and then after you are elected go back to your supports and say you rallied on the idea of us against them but now say well I am working with Senator Evil or Senator Socialist on this Bill and you should help us. There is a disconnect then with the people who identified with that rhetoric, to then seemingly abandon the values they professed during the campaign. Supports see it as Washington DC politics destroying ideals that supporters thought their Representative held. You then add in the record low approval ratings for congress, and the public is angry that nothing gets done. It is a catch 22, if there is no comprise, then they get mad because nothing is being achieved, however when there is compromise and work getting done they get upset because they view it as abandoning ideals and someone could get labeled “Liberal Republican.” That disconnect is created by the partisanship they themselves used to get elected….well in my opinion.

    • Bob

      Good thoughts…

      One thing to add: it’s not just that the rhetoric is more harsh today; it’s also that the harsh rhetoric is more easily accessible. I think another culprit is the constant, 24/7 media that we have nowadays. In years past (I’m talking 20-30 years ago), people didn’t have blogs, they didn’t have instant access to video on YouTube, they didn’t have 100 different channels to watch, or websites on which to be involved with a “community” of like-minded people. Now that we have that, harsh rhetoric is more easily disseminated, and politicians are more easily smeared.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    Agree about 24/7 media…ahh common ground, a great place to hang out.

    • Bob

      I’m enjoying this moment…. :)

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    You hear there is some push back on the tax hike?

  • http://www.papuagirlindallas.blogspot.com/ Kacie

    She got my vote – I much prefer her to Rick Perry. As I’ve shared, the Tea Party in Texas is taking over the Republican party and therefore loosing my vote. Hutchinson was a good option that I considered sane and reasonable and experienced.

    • Bob

      What’s reasonable about Hutchinson that’s not reasonable about Perry?