Hutchison makes it official


As expected, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will exit her post about two years early to take on Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a primary battle, thus touching off two extra advertising opportunities for broadcasters in one fell swoop. Generally, incumbents who decide to stand for re-election, as has Perry, go unchallenged; rarely do they attract a candidate of Hutchison’s stature.

Hutchison will step down from the Senate – as well as from the Ranking Member chair in the key Senate Commerce Committee – sometime this fall. She is going to spend this week on an initial tour of Texas to support her new candidacy for governor.

Hutchison’s gripe with Perry is that he has already served two terms, which she feels is enough. Although there are no term limits in the state, she believes it should cap a governor’s tenure as the US does its president, which happens to be where Perry’s time in office will be come 2010.

She is also a more moderate Republican than Perry. According to reports, Perry had a double-digit lead in a July poll with about a third of potential voters undecided.

The need for at least two major candidates to spend big bucks in a primary battle will be found money for Texas advertising venues, with broadcasters in a prime position to pick up the lion’s share.

Perry will have an opportunity to name somebody to fill the seat until a special election is held – and that special election will be a second opportunity to rake in found money. Although the Democrat’s prospects in the race for governor are not very good, they stand a much better chance in a special election, where low turnout is often the order of the day, opening a path to victory for a candidate that can put together a good ground game as well as motivate supporters to actually show up and vote.

Hutchison’s Senate term expires in 2012, meaning the special election will be for the final two years of her current term.

RBR/TVBR observation: The good news – there’s a lot of territory to cover in a statewide Texas election, making big broadcast buys a must. The bad news – a spirited Republican primary battle doesn’t necessarily translate into more spending fun during the general election.