No, I didn’t hear it directly from her. I got it indirectly from a Texas Republican congressman who is a strong supporter of hers. He got it from her. She has been having regular meetings with Republican members of the Texas delegation (19 R’s, 13 D’s), telling them that she will run and seeking their support. She has received affirmative answers from all but two. One of the holdouts is Sam Johnson. I did not learn the identity of the other, but my guess is Ron Paul. It certainly isn’t Kay Granger, who wants to run for the seat herself. Hutchison will resign from the Senate about a year from now, my source told me, after the legislative session.
The R’s aren’t thrilled about being in the middle of a potential Hutchison-Perry primary showdown. They would have sided with Perry in 2006, but he has done too many controversial things that he can’t undo: the Trans-Texas Corridor, the coal plants, the HPV controversy, his hostility to the education community, both public and higher.
How much influence Hutchison will have in the Senate in the next twelve months is a serious matter. She still has a Republican leadership position, but she’s never been a member of the Senate “club.” Everybody knows she is leaving, and once the switch is pulled that starts the clock running, it is only natural that other senators will look to colleagues who will be around for the foreseeable future.
For those who welcome Kay’s long awaited bid for state leadership, I have some sobering news. Her chief adviser, I was told, is none other than Phil Gramm. Worse, he is involved in every major decision. I do not understand this at all. What does Gramm bring to the table? He couldn’t get to first base with his own presidential bid in 1996. More recently, he shot himself in the foot with his comments about Americans being a bunch of whiners and the country being in a mental recession and had to resign from the McCain campaign.
Nor do I understand why Hutchison won’t make her intentions public. Every day that goes by gives Rick Perry the chance to raise money for his reelection. Isn’t it in her interest to announce that she definitely intends to file for governor? That would make donors think twice before they contribute to Perry. There is no reason to make this into a soap opera. After 2002 and 2006, there are a lot of folks who want to see proof that she is serious about running. What is the upside of playing coy? I can’t find any.
In the meantime, the Perry crowd can resume their tactics of trying to “get in her head.” A few weeks back, there was a fundraiser for the GOP Victory ‘08 committee, headed by former Secretary of State Roger Williams. According to my congressional source, every major Republican officeholder received an invitation–except Kay Bailey Hutchison.