Commentary: Hutchison needs to pick her fight

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramNovember 18, 2009 

Based on the rhetoric coming from the senior senator from Texas over the past couple of weeks, you might think she was preparing to defend the Alamo itself. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, in deciding to remain in the upper house of Congress while she runs for governor, has said she has to do what is best for Texas by fighting to the last stand against some pretty evil forces.

Hutchison's major battles against the proposed health care plan and a climate-change bill are ones she says simply can't be left to any rookie who might be appointed by the governor should she resign her seat in the Senate.

"I must stay in the Senate while running for the Republican nomination for governor," she said. "I cannot walk away while this fight is being fought by our fellow Republicans. I must stay and fight with them."

Tough talk. Passionate words.

But the truth is Hutchison is in a high-stakes political game and is hedging her bets.

In announcing her candidacy against Gov. Rick Perry, she had said she would resign this fall — by November. When November arrived, Hutchison said she would remain in the Senate through the March 2 Republican primary and leave after that, regardless of the outcome of the governor's race.

Hutchison should make up her mind and choose what she really wants to do. If the fight in Washington is so important that she can't afford to retreat, then she should drop out of the race for governor.

If, on the other hand, she thinks Perry is so bad that the people of Texas would be better served by her coming home, then she should resign from the Senate.

Oh, I've seen the poll that shows that 60 percent of Texans want her to do both and, reportedly, polling of some of her financial backers says the same.

The latest political poll also shows that, despite Perry's unpopularity (with an approval rating around 36 percent), the governor leads Hutchison by 11 percentage points, 46 to 35.

To read the complete column, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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