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Senator Hutchison announces retirement

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In a prepared statement issued Thursday, Jan. 13, Texas' Senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, 67, announced that she would not seek re-election for a fourth full term in office in 2012.
However, she plans to serve out her current term, noting, "In the next two years, you can be assured that I will pursue my duties, and my responsibilities to our state and people, with the same vigor that I have employed during my Senate service."
Hutchison indicated that she ANNOUNCED HER DECISION at this time to "give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor will be."
When her current term expires, Hutchison will have served Texas for 19 years in the Senate.
Citing massive spending that has increased this nation's debt; the government takeover of the health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens America's economy, Hutchison noted, "I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period," adding, "I intended to leave this office long before now, but I was persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state."
During her unsuccessful gubernatorial bid against Governor Rick Perry last March, Hutchison campaigned without resigning from the Senate, unwilling to put her seat into a special election. Texas Junior Senator John Cornyn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky supported her decision.
In an earlier interview with Hearst newspaper reporters, Hutchison indicated that said she decided to make her announcement early in 2011 because Cornyn had "cemented his position as a national political figure and potential candidates for the Senate seat deserved plenty of time to plan their campaigns."
For his part, Cornyn immediately lauded his colleague in a prepared statement issued the same day of Hutchison's announcement.
"It has been an honor and privilege to serve with Senator Hutchison in the United States Senate. Kay has dedicated much of her life to serving Texas and our entire country. I am enormously grateful to be able to work alongside a woman of her vision and energy - someone who represents the very best of the State of Texas," Cornyn said.
"Kay came to the Senate to make a difference, to work to find solutions to the complex problems of modern society, and to attain real and lasting change. She has succeeded in brilliant fashion. I thank Senator Hutchison for her leadership, for her counsel and for her steadfast service to the Great State of Texas and to the United States of America," he added.
Some pundits have speculated that because Hutchison had been badly damaged in her failed gubernatorial race, she would surely face a serious primary challenge in the next General Election.
Therefore, her announcement, not surprisingly, has set up a flurry of speculations as to who might throw their hats in the senatorial ring in 2012. Several daily newspapers pegged current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as a nascent frontrunner for the open seat. After receiving three million votes on election night - more than Perry - he is regarded by many as the most popular elected official in Texas.
A prepared statement released by Dewhurst a few hours after Hutchison's announcement failed to tamp down the speculation.
"While my focus remains on the challenges we face here at the state level and making this upcoming session successful, I fully intend to explore running for the United States Senate," he said. "Should I run, I will run with the intention of winning and continuing to serve the people of Texas just as I have done throughout my career."
Other possible Republican contenders might include Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, current Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams.
Possible frontrunner among Democrats is generally thought to be former Texas Comptroller John Sharp. Bill White, who recently ran for governor on the Democrat ticket, has said he doesn't intend to enter the fray.
Whatever the outcome, Hutchison predicted the 2012 race would be "a humdinger."
She continued, "I will be forever grateful for the privilege of working for you in the United States Senate. The last two years have been particularly difficult - especially for my family. I will now look forward to living full-time in Texas with my family, and to keep working for our state's interests as long as I live. God bless America and God bless Texas."

Pictured: Photo by BCC Staff Judith Pannebaker
Last week, Kay Bailey Hutchison announced that she would not seek reelection as Texas' senior senator in the 2012 General Election. She became the first senatorial incumbent to announce her retirement.