Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Elected: June 1993, term expires 2012, 3rd full term.
Born: July 22, 1943, Galveston .
Education: U. of TX, B.A. 1962, J.D. 1967.
Family: Married (Ray); 2 children.
Elected office: TX House of Reps., 1972–76; TX treasurer, 1990–93.
Professional Career: Political & legal corresp., KPRC–TV, 1967–70; Vice chmn., Natl. Transp. Safety Bd., 1976–78; V.P. & gen. cnsl., RepublicBank Corp., 1978–82; Owner, McCraw Candies, 1984–88.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, the senior senator from Texas, is a Republican who first won her seat in a June 1993 special election. She has said she will leave the Senate in the fall of 2009 to run for governor. Hutchison is of old Texas stock, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles S. Taylor, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. She grew up in LaMarque, near the refinery town of Texas City, a prom queen who went to college and then law school at the University of Texas. Unable to get a job in law in 1967, she worked for a Houston television station as a reporter. In 1972, she won a seat in the Texas Legislature, its first Republican woman. In 1976, she went to Washington for a top job at the National Transportation Safety Board. She married Ray Hutchison, moved to Dallas, went into banking and became a small-business owner in 1978. In 1982, she lost a race for the U.S. House race to Republican Steve Bartlett, later mayor of Dallas. But she stayed active in Republican politics and was elected state treasurer in 1990. This was a breakthrough year for state Republicans, who before that had not been successful in down-ballot statewide races. Hutchison began her political career when it was no advantage to be a woman and has been mocked by liberals for her tight-lipped good manners and by Washington conservatives as a “Texas pom-pom girl.” Her response: “This is what I have faced all my life—the trivialization of me—which I have not ever let bother me. I have always been able to rise above the expectations.” Indeed, she is a senator from the nation’s second-largest state and one of only six senators in history to have been elected with more than 4 million votes. (The others: Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Charles Schumer of New York, and Republican John Cornyn of Texas.)
|Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)||2,661,789||(62%)||($5,734,146)|
|Barbara Radnofsky (D)||1,555,202||(36%)||($1,432,107)|
|Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2000 (65%), 1994 (61%), 1993 (67%)
Hutchison’s next chance to run for Congress came in January 1993, when Democrat Lloyd Bentsen resigned his Senate seat after 22 years to become President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary. Democratic Gov. Ann Richards appointed Bob Krueger, a two-term U.S. representative from Texas in the 1970s who was then the state railroad commissioner. Running against him in the May 1993 all-party primary were three Republicans: Hutchison and Reps. Joe Barton and Jack Fields. Krueger opposed the Clinton budget and tax plan, but Democrats were so unpopular in Texas then—Bill Clinton had a 73% negative job rating—that Krueger won only 29% of the total vote, just behind Hutchison, also with 29%. Barton and Fields won 14% each. Hutchison kept the focus on Clinton and won the June runoff by an astonishing 67%-33%. Three serious Democrats were running as she entered the race for the full term in 1994. The potentially strongest candidate, moderate U.S. Rep. Mike Andrews of Houston, was eliminated in the March primary. In the April runoff, former Attorney General Jim Mattox lost 54%-46% to Richard Fisher, a free-spending moderate who campaigned extensively in the border counties in Spanish. Hutchison cruised to a solid 61%-38% victory.
Hutchison has not had trouble being taken seriously by fellow Republicans in the Senate. She moved up quickly in the leadership, and in 2006, she was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 position in the leadership. The following year, she declined to run for the conference chairman, the No. 3 position. She is the ranking Republican on the influential Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. For a long time, she has had her eye on the Texas governorship. After several false starts, she made it plain that she would run even if Republican Gov. Rick Perry ran for re-election in 2010. In July 2009, she said she would step down from the Senate in the fall of 2009 to focus on her challenge to Perry and her quest for the governorship.
Hutchison is a conservative, but her positions contrast pointedly with Perry’s on some issues, notably her support of embryonic-stem-cell research and of the proposal to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. By mid-2009, their contest was shaping up to be a spirited one. Hutchison picked a fight with Perry on an important state issue: whether to impose tolls on Texas’s interstate highways. Perry has proposed a toll-financed “Trans-Texas Corridor” paralleling Interstate 35 from Laredo to Dallas-Fort Worth. Hutchinson called it a “quest to cover our state with massive toll roads.” Perry’s campaign press secretary dubbed Hutchison “Kay Bailout” for her support of the $700 billion government rescue of the financial-services industry in 2008.
Hutchison’s electoral position has been strong. She was re-elected 65%-32% in 2000, carrying 237 of 254 counties, and 62%-36% in 2006, carrying 238 of the counties. She has run about even in the heavily Democratic border counties, and her losses in Austin’s Travis County have been offset by her margins in suburban Williamson County just to the north. In late 2008, she began transferring money from her Senate campaign account to her state campaign account, and in January 2009, she had $8 million, more than Perry’s $6.6 million. In 2006, Perry was re-elected with only 39% in a four-candidate race. Polls in early 2009 showed Hutchison leading him in the Republican primary.
In recent legislative battles, Hutchison withdrew her support of immigration legislation in 2007 after the Senate rejected 53-45 her so-called “touch back” amendment, which required illegal immigrants who wished to stay in the United States to return first to their countries of origin. Also in 2007, she backed the DREAM Act, which would allow high school graduates and military volunteers who had illegally immigrated as children with their parents to become citizens. She also called for 300,000 additional visas for high-skill workers and for more Border Patrol agents.
In 2008, Hutchison authored an amicus curiae brief in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Washington gun control case, which was signed by Vice President Dick Cheney and several senators and House members. The U.S. Supreme Court came down on her side, ruling that the Washington, D.C., handgun ban violated the Second Amendment. On another legal issue, she supported the Democrats’ bill extending the statute of limitations on court cases involving gender pay discrimination, though she sought unsuccessfully to put a higher burden of proof on plaintiffs.
Hutchison rose to the top minority slot on the Commerce panel after the indictment of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska in July 2008. Before that, she had been the senior Republican on the Aviation Subcommittee, where she sponsored a 2000 law strengthening airport security that was being put into effect on September 11. She also worked with Democratic Chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and strongly supported federalization of airport security. Also with Rockefeller, she sought to add funding for upgrading the air-traffic-control system to the 2009 economic stimulus bill. In 2006, she supported the pension bill that gave Delta and Northwest, which had gone through bankruptcy, more time to fund their pensions. She also worked to repeal the Wright amendment, which barred many interstate flights from Dallas’s Love Field, the home base of Southwest, while minimizing harm to American Airlines, which was based at Dallas-Forth Worth Airport. Hutchison has been a longtime supporter of the Amtrak system and of Amtrak lines in Texas. In 2005, when Bush’s budget cut Amtrak funding, she objected: “We need to either commit to a national railroad or abandon the pretense of one. National or nothing.”
Having grown up near what is now the Johnson Space Center, Hutchison is also a strong supporter of the manned space program. Before the February 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster, she warned of underfunding. She hailed the June 2005 Commerce Committee decision to keep the space shuttle flying past 2010, until the first crew exploration vehicle can be launched, which is slated for 2015. Hutchison has suggested including China in the space station.
On foreign policy, Hutchison has been mostly supportive of the Bush administration. In October 2006, she said there was “chaos” in Iraq and suggested that more consideration should be given to dividing Iraq into semi-autonomous regions. When President George W. Bush announced plans to restore order with a “surge” in troop strength in January 2007, she said, “It is critical that the initiative be given a chance to succeed. I respect the president for admitting mistakes, correcting the course.” On the Appropriations Committee, Hutchison has shepherded along the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, through which the government hires private firms to build military housing. In 2004, she helped get $1.4 billion for housing at San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston.
Over the past few years, she has also had a hand in tax policy. In 2006, she worked successfully on legislation allowing taxpayers in Texas and other states with no state income taxes to continue to be able to deduct state sales taxes. She supported the 2001 Bush tax cut and advanced her own version that included a homemakers’ Individual Retirement Account. She also focused on repealing the tax code’s marriage penalty, which forces some married taxpayers to pay more than they would if they filed separately.