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Hutchison offered Senate promotion if she doesn't run for governor

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3186716 May 17, 2005, 11:06PM Hutchison may face tough choice No. 3 Senate post floated in hopes of
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2005
      http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3186716

      May 17, 2005, 11:06PM
      Hutchison may face tough choice
      No. 3 Senate post floated in hopes of persuading her
      not to challenge Perry

      By SAMANTHA LEVINE
      Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

      WASHINGTON - The guessing game over U.S. Sen. Kay
      Bailey Hutchison's possible run for Texas governor
      took a new twist Tuesday when a high-ranking
      Republican colleague said she could get a big
      promotion if she stayed in the Senate.

      Hutchison, however, has promised that her six-year
      Senate term, which ends with 2006, will be her last.

      She has been openly considering running instead
      against Gov. Rick Perry in 2006.

      Tuesday's unexpected comments came from Senate
      Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, whom
      Hutchison had invited to address a women's leadership
      conference she hosted in a Washington hotel.

      McConnell said Hutchison likely would be offered the
      Senate GOP's No. 3 spot, chair of the Senate
      Republican Conference, a position now held by
      Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, if she remains in
      Washington.

      Frist exit will mean changes

      "A lot of us hope she will spend a long time with us,"
      McConnell said.

      There will be a changing of the guard in the Senate
      next year with the expected retirement of Majority
      Leader Bill Frist, R.-Tenn.

      McConnell likely will succeed him, with Santorum in
      line for McConnell's majority whip job, assuming he
      wins re-election next year.

      If Santorum were defeated � he is facing a very tough
      race � Hutchison could move into the high-ranking whip
      position.

      Hutchison did not respond to McConnell's statements,
      which may have been a hint that GOP leaders want her
      to avoid opposing Perry.

      Her press secretary, Chris Paulitz, played down
      McConnell's statement, saying it was only logical she
      would become the conference chair because she is
      currently the vice chair.

      McConnell's statements will not influence Hutchison's
      gubernatorial decision, which is expected in July,
      Paulitz said.

      When Hutchison was elected to a 1995-2000 term, she
      said, "I've always said that I would serve no more
      than two full terms. This may be my last term, or I
      could run for one more. But no more after that. I
      firmly believe in term limitations, and I plan to
      adhere to that."

      Strong approval rating

      She repeated the pledge in 1994 TV campaign ads.

      Regardless, the push-and-pull over her possible
      gubernatorial candidacy is under way.

      Hutchison has expressed a desire to return home to
      raise her young son and daughter. Her latest approval
      rating of 67 percent among Texans far exceeds Perry's
      45 percent, according to a recent Scripps Howard Texas
      poll.

      In late April, Dallas GOP chairman and Perry
      contributor Nate Crain said Hutchison should drop the
      race because her considerations are dangerously
      dividing Texas Republicans.

      The National Republican Senatorial Committee also
      wouldn't want to see her go.

      "When you have a figure like her in the Senate, you
      are absolutely going to want to continue having her as
      part of your team," NRSC spokesman Brian Nick said.
      "Will there be senators encouraging her to stay in the
      Senate? The answer is yes."
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