Texas gubernatorial race heats up

July 29, 2009

A looming battle between two prominent Texas Republicans is heating up after U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison confirmed that she’ll leave the Senate this fall to challenge Texahutch pics Gov. Rick Perry for his post in 2010.

Hutchison, Texas’ senior senator whose term ends in 2012, has not formally decided to run against Perry — the longest-serving governor in the state’s history — and will likely make that announcement in August, she told Dallas radio host Mark Davis in an interview on Wednesday.

Hutchison told Davis that she will likely resign her U.S. Senate seat “sometime in October, November … in that timeframe,” and return to Texas to focus on her gubernatorial campaign, with a primary run-off by May 2010.

“I’m coming home to try to give leadership to Texas,” said Hutchison, a television news reporter before she entered politics. “For him to try to stay on for 15 years is too long,” she said, referring to Perry.

A big question is the possibility that Texas could turn Democratic in coming years. In a recent article, The Economist said Texas — a long-time bastion of conservative Republicanism and home of former U.S. President George W. Bush — could swing Democratic in coming years due to a rising population of immigrants.

The last time a Democratic governor sat in the Austin statehouse was 1990, when Anne Richards won the governorship. She was replaced by Republican George W. Bush, who went on to become U.S. president.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Hutchison at hurricane briefing in Austin in 2008, across the table from Perry and then-president Bush)

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