In a wide-ranging discussion with Texas reporters in his Hart Building conference room Wednesday, Cornyn covered a range of issues including Hutchison’s long-anticipated departure.
"There’s only one person who knows, and it’s not me," said Cornyn, who nonetheless stuck to his fall forecast.
The Dallas Morning News has more commentary on Kay's lose lose choices (link). Excerpt follows...
Hutchison doesn't want to leave her party in a lurch, nor give up her day job and bully pulpit too soon. And she's probably loath to hand the governor a plum vacancy to fill – though, as we saw in Illinois, New York and Delaware last fall, governors don't always win friends when they get the chance to anoint a senator.Kay faces a no win situation right now. She sort of jumped the gun by transferring her entire war chest from her Senate account to a state account. She can't transfer those millions of dollars back. Her poll numbers have dropped from a big lead to basically tied or even possibly slightly behind Rick in just a few months. She stays in, and she has to face all kinds of votes that are difficult to explain and can't be as effective at campaigning. She resigns, and she leaves the GOP vulnerable and gets hit by conservatives for being selfish instead of a team player who finishes the job she signed up for.
Would Perry name someone to merely keep the seat warm, or try to install someone he hopes keeps the Senate seat for the long haul? New contenders will probably emerge when the Legislature goes home, and at the moment, Republicans fear they don't have a strong enough candidate to defend the seat.
Though Republicans still dominate the state, a special election to replace Hutchison would have different dynamics that could give a Democrat a strong chance to win.
"If we get a strong candidate that can win the race, then ... concerns will be alleviated to some extent," Cornyn said.
But as the primary gets closer, Hutchison will feel a stronger and stronger tug to return full time to Texas.
"We've had a lot of conversations ... and she reads what I say, I read what she says in the paper. My conversation is, 'We cannot afford to lose your seat, so please, whatever you do, let's work together to hold it,' " Cornyn said. "She understands very clearly what the negative impact both on the country and our state would be if that seat were to change hands, and she is committed to holding it."
Adding to the drama, Houston Mayor Bill White is going around publicly telling people that Hutchison has assured him she'll resign in time for a May 2010 special election. White is hot for that Senate seat and has been gearing up his machine for that senatorial run, hoping to break the Democratic Party's long-running losing streak in the state.
But why would Hutchison tell the Democratic White about her intentions and not people of her own party? Seems bizarre. One theory is that former Lt. Gov.
FredBen Barnes, the guy that got George W. Bush his cushy National Guard gig and a supposed Democrat, is close to both, and is making sure that White and Hutchison coordinate their near-term plans so they don't end up running for the same office. Beats me if that's true.