By Anna M. Tinsley, Star-Telegram
Only Kay Bailey Hutchison knows whether she’ll seek another six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
But Texas’ senior senator — once the most popular Republican in the state in terms of voter support — has a target on her back if she does run, put there by the increasingly influential and conservative Tea Party grassroots movement.
“She personifies everything that the Tea Party is fighting,” said Konni Burton, a member of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party steering committee. “She is a Republican, but when you check her votes on many issues, they are not ones that conservatives are happy with.”
Hutchison hasn’t said whether she’ll retire or seek re-election in 2012, but several prominent Texans — including Republicans such as former Secretary of State Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones, along with Democratic former Comptroller John Sharp — have long said they plan to run.
And now there’s talk of perhaps a half-dozen or more Tea Party-affiliated candidates joining the race if Hutchison seeks re-election.
“If [she] runs for Senate again, I feel she will be met with the same results that she received when she ran for governor,” said Angela Cox, who heads the Johnson County Tea Party. “Hard feelings are there, not necessarily because she challenged Perry, but [because] she didn’t remain put as a senior Republican senator from Texas in Washington when we needed her to.”
Adrian Murray, president of the grassroots 912 Project Fort Worth, said: “For the sake of what’s left of her own reputation and credibility, she should not run again. She got shellacked in the primary, and that should have been [a] signal enough that we’re done with her. KBH epitomizes the slick career politician that so many in the movement despise.”
When Hutchison decided to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Perry in her quest to become Texas’ next governor, she said she would resign as senator.
But she stayed on, saying she would step down — win or lose — after the primary. Perry handily won that challenge and at the urging of fellow Republicans, Hutchison decided to complete her term, which runs through January 2013.
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