Hutchison offered Senate promotion if she doesn't run for governor
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
Frist exit will mean changes
"A lot of us hope she will spend a long time with us,"
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
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,
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
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."