There are pros and cons to her decision to stay in the Senate.
Potential pros include that she can stay relevant on national issues, although the Horse Race bloggers labels that a mixed bag and a draw. Another potential plus from Kay's decision is really more of a mitigation of a likely downside. It takes away Rick's chance to appoint someone (like the dynamic and very conservative African American Republican Michael Williams) to the Senate who would excite the base and be a big national news bonanza for a few weeks.
There are also some disadvantages to Kay's decision. Excerpts from the Horse Race blog follow:
There are two major pitfalls with remaining a senator. The first is that the Perry campaign will be able to argue that Hutchison is absent from her service to Texas if she ends up missing important votes; on the other hand, if she spends too much time in Washington, the Perry campaign can charge Hutchison spends too much time there. If she resigned, she would have plenty of time to travel the state and raise more funds (she already has $8 million, transferred from her federal account, but by many estimates, that’s only the beginning).Very solid analysis from the Daily Horse Race blog. Kay is faced with a sort of lose-lose scenario. Because she is not resigning her Senate seat, she will likely miss a lot of votes. Expect Rick's people to bash her over the head with that fact on a daily basis. Because she is still part of Washington, it makes Rick's talking points a lot simpler.
The other is that Washington is largely unpopular, with the exception of the president, who won his election by criticizing the behavior of politicians in Washington. While Hutchison is undoubtedly a full-blooded Texan (born, raised, college-educated in the state that she has now represented in the senate for 14 years), Hutchison is finishing her third term (due to expire in 2012), and has therefore spent a lot of time out of the state. The Perry campaign has already disparaged her for her ties to Washington, dubbing her “Kay Bailout” after unpopular TARP legislation. The more time she’s away from Texas, the easier it will be for Perry’s campaign apparatus to link her to D.C.
Clearly this is a very political decision, and Hutchison’s consultants will be judged by the decision they’re making before any blood has been spilled. Keep coming back for more analysis of this race as it develops.
On the other hand, if she had resigned, she may not have a backup position in case she loses the primary. She would be out of office entirely. Kay would also be handing Rick a big gift in terms of a Senate appointment. Rick could appoint anyone he wants, and he could put someone in Kay's place that might upstage her and make her look not very conservative by comparison.