U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was in Corpus Christi and McAllen on Monday to talk about federal health-care reform.
Because she is a sitting senator, Hutchison has to spend at least a few days a week in Washington. And because early voting starts in the governor’s race in a little over three months, it would appear that every day that she has in the state is valuable. Yet Hutchison is not using many of those days to take the fight right to Gov. Rick Perry, who, if you believe last week’s poll from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, is ahead of her. Nor is she using her time to lay out any sort of agenda for what she’d like to do as governor.
Of course, any time Hutchison appears before the media around the state, she is likely to get asked about Perry and the governor’s race, and that will make it into news coverage. But she seems to be doing little herself to forcefully drive a message about the governor’s race.
Each morning, the Hutchison campaign sends out a collection of news stories and editorials that it wants to highlight and talks about what she will be doing that day. Often it simply says that she is in Washington to fight for Texas, or something like that. But consider some of the recent descriptions, from her own campaign, of how she’s spending her days in Texas.
Monday: “Today, Kay Bailey Hutchison is in Corpus Christi and McAllen where she will talk about the recently passed House Democrat government-run health care bill and what it will mean for Texas.”
Nov. 2: “As for today’s schedule, Kay Bailey Hutchison is in San Antonio for a ‘Women for Kay’ event. Also this afternoon, the campaign will host a conference call to announce the formation of a new coalition.” (It was her Aggies for Kay coalition.)
Oct. 31: “Hutchison has no public events.”
Oct. 30: “As for today’s schedule, Hutchison is in Houston to campaign for Proposition 11 on the last day of early voting.”
Oct. 26: “Today, Kay Bailey Hutchison is in the Dallas area where she will hold a ‘Women for Kay’ coalition lunch. She will also address a conference of North American restaurant owners in the morning.”
Oct. 24: “Kay Bailey Hutchison will early vote in Dallas and hold a media availability afterwards.”
Oct. 23: “Hutchison will be in the San Antonio area for events and a media tour to promote Proposition 11.” (“Events” is usually campaign talk for fundraisers.)
Oct. 17: “As for today’s schedule, Kay Bailey Hutchison is at the UT game and will also get in some tailgating this afternoon at the SMU game.”
Her schedule seems to reinforce what we’ve heard for a long time: while much more aggressive now than it was in the first seven months of the year, her campaign doesn’t appear to think voters want an all-out fight for the nomination to last more than the two months between New Year’s and the election. (Since so many people vote early these days, it’s really more like a month and a half, but whatever). And she’s continuing to hold her cards close to her vest when it comes to creating a contrast with Perry on issues, although we’re told that it’s coming. But with the primary season rapidly approaching and the question of whether she is going to resign her seat still hanging over her head, how long can she afford to wait?
When I asked Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder about all this he said, “Every day, she is talking about issues that affect Texans and their futures,” such as education, health care, private property right, the state’s business climate and transportation.
“I will fight as long as I have breath against socialized medicine in America,” Hutchison said.