Is Kay Bailey Hutchison Preparing to Step Down From U.S. Senate?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 12, 2009 10:05 AM
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Last week, I wrote about the buzz that the Rick Perry vs. Kay Bailey Hutchison primary race was looking very close. In fact, the latest Rasmussan poll  showed Perry leading KBH by a margin of 42-38 percent. 

Now, a new allegation has emerged from the Texas blogosphere that KBH has been sharing her intentions to resign her U.S. Senate seat and run full-time for governor with the leading Democratic challenger to replace her.

According to the popular liberal Texas Blog The Burnt Orange Report, Houston Mayor Bill White (the Democrat hoping to succeed her in the U.S. Senate) is telling everyone that Senator Hutchinson has been confiding in him since January that she’ll resign in time for a May 2010 primary. 

From The Burnt Orange Report: 

Todd Hill just e-mailed me this news from his mobile phone:

Was just at a Bill White meet and greet in Tarrant County. He said that Hutchison has assured him that she'll resign in a fashion that will lead to a May 2010 special election. She'll likely resign after Houston elections in November.

Why would Hutchison say that to White? Provided that it's true, of course...

Does she favor White? She's a moderate Republican -- maybe she would want to give him a heads up. (Glad to see White is sharing the information, then -- again, provided that this is true).

Has Hutchison finally recognized that Perry is slugging her to death (hence the catch up in the polls) and that she can't play footsy in D.C. any more?

Interesting.

... Chron.com linked to the blog, and added some commentary from February confirming that White is, at least, hinting he has received some insider information from KBH: 

[Burnt Orange] went on to say:
 “White has been sharing this information privately from as early as January -- though no one on staff can remember reading about it in the press until now, and I certainly didn't know about this at all until I got the e-mail from Todd.”

Well, I didn't put it in the "press" version, but we say White was alluding to this in a Texas Politics posting back in February:
"Senator Hutchison has said that she will resign her Senate seat, before her term ends, in circumstances creating a Special Election," said a White fund-raising letter. “

It's not as blunt as the statement from Fort Worth, but it drives in the same direction.
White's folks are declining interview requests with the media, so there is no way to follow-up with him.

If it is true that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is giving inside information regarding her plans to resign only to the Democrat trying to replace her, that would certainly be an issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary. 

... Regardless of the "insider information" allegations, it is still unclear whether or not Hutchison will resign from the senate to focus on her gubernatorial campaign.

Back in January, The Hill quoted Hutchison saying she had not made any decisions:

“I have not made decisions about that,” Hutchison said when asked about her potential resignation.

With the Democrats about to enjoy a filibuster-proof majority, there will be a lot of pressure on Hutchison to stay put.  As one senior GOP aide said in January,
“I cannot imagine that … Sen. Hutchison would abandon her seat to pursue her own ambitions and even risk giving Democrats a supermajority in the Senate.”
But since January, this race has heated up.  Hutchison must balance running for governor with serving in the senate. 

Hutchison's spokesman recently said there is no timetable for resigning – thus leaving the option of resigning on the table:
"... Senator Hutchison has said she will not seek re-election and may resign her seat at a later date. The timeframe for that resignation has not been set. Believe me, Bill White has no inside information as it relates to our campaign."
It will be very interesting to see if and when Senator Hutchison steps down from her Senate seat -- and if there is any evidence she has, in fact, shared the timing with the Democrat seeking to replace her.

Update:  This Rasmussen poll numbers originally cited in this post were incorrect.  Perry's camp released their own numbers showing Hutchison leading Perry 47-36.  But the Rasmussen poll (now corrected above) actually had Perry up 42-38 (within the margin of error).  My apologies for the error.