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Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won't seek reelection

A fixture in Texas politics since 1993, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she won't seek a fourth term. In 2010, she failed in her race for governor against incumbent Rick Perry.

January 13, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will not seek a fourth full term in 2012, she announced in a letter to supporters Thursday.

The Republican senator, first elected in a 1993 special election, said she had held her current office longer than she ever intended and looked forward to returning to live full time in Texas.

"Knowing that I have been able to truly help my fellow Texans and make a positive difference in their lives is a public servant's greatest reward," she wrote in her announcement letter.

Hutchison lost a 2010 bid for governor against incumbent Rick Perry, a fellow Republican. A former state treasurer, she had long eyed the governor's mansion in Austin. Perry, the longest-serving governor in state history, made Hutchison's Washington service an issue in the heated primary campaign.

"The last two years have been particularly difficult, especially for my family," Hutchison writes. "But I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period."

Hutchison had initally planned to resign from the Senate to wage a full-time campaign for governor but said in her letter that she was "persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state."

"I felt it was my duty to use my experience to fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of the our healthcare system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy," she said.

She is making her announcement about reelection now, just a week after the new session of Congress convened and 22 months before the 2012 elections, to "give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor will be."

Texas remains one of the reddest states in the nation, and Republicans would be considered strong favorites to hold her seat. Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams is one of several Republicans who have been eyeing the seat for years.

Hutchison was one of 10 Republicans up for election in 2012. Texas' other senator, John Cornyn, continues to chair the GOP's Senate campaign committee for the 2012 cycle, expected to be difficult for Democrats because they must defend 21 seats.

"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," Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

mmemoli@tribune.com

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