Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison still lives out of a hotel here and calls herself a “commuter” from Dallas.
But she has otherwise cemented her return to the Senate since losing the Republican primary for governor to Rick Perry. After announcing in late March that she would stay in the Senate through the end of her term in early 2013, Hutchison has rejoined the Senate GOP leadership, hired a new chief of staff and generally taken on the more public persona that has marked her career.
“This is the Kay that I’m used to,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “This is the Kay we are accustomed to.”
Hutchison’s increased exposure is partly a function of her expertise on several current hot-button issues, including NASA and financial regulations. But friends and colleagues said it is also a sign that any fatigue from the governor’s race has dissipated. And being active in Texas issues during the remaining 2 ½ years of her term could help her rehabilitate her political image after her resounding loss to Perry.
Hutchison’s decision to stay scrambled the state’s political scene, as several prominent candidates had already started gearing up for an election to serve out her term – including some Hutchison told personally that she was leaving the Senate.
She said she hasn’t given any thought to whether she will run for re-election in 2012. And the senator and her staff made it clear that she did not want to discuss the primary contest against Perry. Hutchison has not answered questions about the campaign since her loss on March 2.
She just makes it too easy.