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.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, Tea Party, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Terrye says:

    I wonder about this. A lot of Tea Party people are not really all that fired up about stem cell research. I think her biggest problem is that she has been around so long and right now that can be a bad thing.

  2. Chuck says:

    What is funny, is that someone who lives in Virginia thinks he knows about Texas. KBH has a long list of problems with Conservatives and Republicans in Texas, the least of which is her stance on stem cell research. As for you claim that “she is/was the most popular Republican in Texas,” you might want to try again.

  3. dunce says:

    The question for people in the tea party, most of whom are not part of the establishment never look at these seats as kennedys seat or hutchinsons seats but as the seat of the people of that state. Sitting senators and congressmen have no ownership claimbeyond the end of their term. this is why we have elections and why the tea party began. Too many politicians were acting like they owed very little to their consituents and that it was their constituents that owed them loyalty. The question in every election is not who is good enough but who is the best person to do the job at hand.This administration is a prime example of people with no real world experience making uniformed decisions to great detriment of our coutry. They have academic aand electoral accomplishments that have proved worthless in serving their country and many question wether it is their intent to serve or to destroy our most cherished institutions and values.

  4. anjin-san says:

    > why the tea party began.

    Really? I thought it was because too many people in this country were learning to read and write…

  5. Franklin says:

    So is the Tea Party socially conservative or not? I’m still confused. I know it’s not a uniform bunch, but there’s got to be a tenet or two. Right?