The Next Tea Party Target: Kay Bailey Hutchison
Kay Bailey Hutchison is in the cross hairs of the Tea Party movement:
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.”
On the issues, it’s hard to figure out exactly what it is about Hutchison that would have the Tea Party crowd so upset. She has a lifetime 89.77 rating from the American Conservative Union and, at least until she challenged Perry earlier this year, she was the most popular Republican in the state. But this is Texas, and it’s the Tea Party era, so apparently perfection is the only thing that’s acceptable:
Some say Hutchison was never conservative enough. Her voting record shows she is conservative — she’s against gay marriage, supports gun rights and casts mostly anti-abortion votes — but she has said she supports individual abortion rights and has voted to support embryonic stem cell research.
Perry portrayed her as a Washington insider, a spendthrift and a person who has lost touch with Texans’ needs.
“On social issues, she is far too liberal and on fiscal issues she is more loyal to her friends and special interests than to the people of Texas,” Murray said. “Listening to her explain her position on abortion was an exercise in verbal origami.”
Since it’s Texas and 2012 will be a Presidential election year, it’s probable that whoever is on the Republican line for Senate will win. Therefore, there’s little chance of the Tea Party defeating Hutchison only to nominate a candidate who can’t win the General Election. Nonetheless, if Hutchison isn’t good enough for these people one wonders who is.