With four days to go before the gubernatorial primary, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison this morning bought herself as many as eight more months in the Senate. Speaking on WBAP's Mark Davis Show, she said she plans to resign from the Senate
"sometime this year before the November elections."
That's a rather significant amendment to her most recent public posture. In November, at a Republican gathering in Galveston, she said she would resign after the primary, win or lose. And she has repeated that privately to GOP donors and supporters.
Technically, the term "after" can encompass two minutes, two months or two years. And it was always safe to assume the Galveston declaration left wiggle room in case of a runoff six weeks after the March 2 primary.
But there's no denying that the impression Hutchison left was that she would resign soon after the primary. Soon as in days or weeks, not seven or eight months.
Republicans are speculating openly that she will concede defeat to Governor MoFo next Wednesday even if she forces him into a run-off. That's laughable -- but tells you two things: the degree to which the Perry campaign and its supporters control the narrative, and how wishy-washy they ALSO believe she is.
This marks at least the fifth iteration of Hutchison's resignation plans. Last summer she said she would resign by the end of November. ("The actual leaving of the Senate will be sometime -- October, November -- that, in that time frame," she said, also on the Mark Davis Show.)
That turned into, by November she would announce her plans for when she would resign. Then came, she would stay in the Senate long enough to fight Democratic health care reform and cap-and-trade legislation and then resign. And then the declaration in Galveston in mid-November.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael "Stepin Fetchit" Williams has been lobbying so hard to get the appointment that he will positively have a stroke if she doesn't ultimately quit.
I still believe that Kay Bailey has been direct about one thing: her desire to leave Washington. After all these years she ranks among the most ineffectual senators in the entire body, and that was displayed again last week when she tried and failed to sway rookie Scott Brown on the jobs bill cloture vote. She then left town to continue her campaign to lose the primary to Perry, skipping the final vote on the jobs bill altogether. The governor has capitalized on the anti-Washington rabies rampant throughout his party and mercilessly satirized her in video. She spent 16 years building a reputation as the "most popular Texas politician" (do you remember how often that line has been repeated ... until very recently?) only to have it torn to pieces by the Perry attack machine. She is likely demoralized and perhaps a little bitter over the developments of the past few months.
Considering she has repeatedly stated that one of her missions in staying on was to "fight government-run healthcare", in the wake of another disastrous performance by Congressional Republicans and with the legislation moving ahead via reconciliation she could easily decide to cut-and-run as early as ... say ... next month, no matter what happens next Tuesday (but this probably depends on how quickly and successfully Senate Democrats get something done on healthcare reform ... no predictions there).
If she makes a run-off with Perry and does not concede it, does she resign from the Senate next week and go all-out for Austin? More spin-eculation suggests she's running low on funding. Irrespective of how much or how little money she has, she can't weather the criticism if she bolts now. She's not quitting until she knows her gubernatorial fate with certainty, and even then will wake up each morning with some different idea, as Todd Gillman at TrailBlazers noted in the first excerpt.
Kuffner has more, including the video of the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" I expressed my preference in the headline, and since Perry gets to pick her temp fill-in as well as the date of the special election to permanently replace her, the speculation can shift to how much she cooperates with the governor on "what's best for Texas" and the Republican Party going forward after March 2 ... or after her run-off defeat.