Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison did not leave her Senate seat last fall to run for governor of Texas, meaning that for now, she still has a job, although she said she’d be exiting the Senate regardless of primary results. The results, from her opponent incumbent Rick Perry’s point of view, were excellent. Meanwhile, Democrats look forward to a serious challenge in November.
Hutchison, who became Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee in place of scandal-plagued Ted Stevens (R-AK), was beaten by at 52%-31% margin, with upstart candidate Debra Medina grabbing most of the remainder.
Getting over 50% was a key for Perry, enabling him to avoid a run-off with Hutchison in April without Medina in the mix. However, Hutchison has indicated that even if adjustments bring Perry’s percentage below that number, she will not challenge his win.
She could still stay in the Senate – indeed, 55% of Texas Republicans said they’d prefer for her to remain in service there in the most recent poll – although 40% thought it was time for her to get out of elected office entirely.
On the Democratic side, former Houston Mayor Bill White cruised to victory, and the Democratic Governors Association thinks he has a great opportunity to score an upset in November. DGA noted that an incumbent who barely squeaked out 50% support within his own party looks very vulnerable, and thinks that White is the ideal candidate to knock Perry out of office.
RBR-TVBR observation: What could have easily been a dud of a year – no serious contest for governor, no Senate seat on the line – could now wind up being a banner double dip year with two hot statewide races.
If White makes this into any kind of a race with Perry, national organizations are likely to send in buckets of cash to try to influence the outcome. And if Hutchison is true to her word and does exit the Senate, there will also likely be an extra race for that high-stakes seat. Could be fun, and lucrative.