Skip to comments.(V) Is Hutchinson Insurance Against Hillary?
Posted on 06/19/2005 6:13:28 PM PDT by Tall_Texan
Some dominoes of Texas politics fell into place in the last few days or, more correctly, did not fall out of place as many thought they might.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson chose not to run against incumbent governor Rick Perry next year. She will instead run to keep her seat as a Republican in the U.S. Senate, a race she will almost certainly win. One of the reasons given is that Hutchinson is reaching a point of seniority and leadership in the Senate where she may be able to help Texas achieve some legislative perks.
I think there is another reason she decided (or was persuaded) to remain in the Senate. I think there's a chance she will be on the 2008 ticket if a few other things happen.
While Hutchinson is not an ideal Senator by conservative standards, she doesn't stick her neck out far from the party very often. She's a coalition type of politician, one who doesn't prefer to bludgeon her opponents with rhetoric but maintains a civil and reasonable tone. Her voting record is often more conservative than her speech. Her lifetime ACU voting score is 91, although she has scored an 84 in 2004 and a 75 in 2003.
In one sense, she embodies what irritates many conservatives about Republican senators, rarely criticizing or admonishing the excesses of Democrat tactics and rhetoric, choosing to make and keep friends on both sides of the aisle. She is proud of what she considers the "women's caucus" in the Senate made up of members on both sides.
In short, here is someone who comes across well, is not easy to demonize and cannot be easily pigeonholed as a rubber stamp, an extremist or an ideologue. These are reasons I think she has viability as a 2008 running mate.
This early in the race, it would be hard to predict who will be the Democrat nominee but the assumed frontrunner at this point is another member of Hutchinson's womens club, Hillary Rodham Clinton. No doubt many in the GOP do not want to see Mrs. Clinton going up against whoever comes out of the Republican convention with the nomination. They know the media will be solidly in her corner and believe she will return to the bloodsport days of stolen FBI files, secret committees and plans to convert us to one nationalwide government health care.
Should Mrs. Clinton win the nomination and the Republicans nominate a male, the GOP may crave a woman to "balance" the ticket and blunt some of the hysteria over a woman being at the top of the Democrat ticket.
Before going into where Sen. Hutchinson fits in, let's look at what other women might be called instead:
* Sec. Condoleezza Rice. The current Secretary of State and darling of some conservative groups, the biggest liability for Ms. Rice is that she has never run for political office. She would be a complete blank slate with regards to some political issues (particularly social ones). Being the first of her race on a major party ticket would steal some of the thunder from Hillary being the first of her gender to lead a major party ticket but could also lead to claims of "pandering" if she doesn't come across as a credible candidate. As John Edwards' recent campaign illustrated, a vice presidential nominee has to be able to assert themselves yet not upstage the top of the ticket. Any gaffe no matter how small will be blown out of proportion and the liberal attack machines will be in full force. We simply don't know how well Ms. Rice would hold up to this.
* Sen. Elizabeth Dole. There has not been a national Republican ticket in over 30 years that did not have a Bush or a Dole on it and, at first blush, some might think "Liddy" would be a more natural choice than Hutchinson. There are similar appeals. Dole is also something of a moderate Republican from a southern state. The major differences are tactical. While Mrs. Dole has the experience of her husband's campaigns, her term as Senator would be up for re-election in 2008 and the Governor's office is presently controlled by a Democrat, meaning that Republicans could lose that seat in more than one scenario should Sen. Dole be nominated for vice president.
* Gov. Linda Lingle. The Hawaii governor broke through in an impressive way to win in a state that votes heavily for Democrats. That shows promise but will Hawaiian values translate well to the heartland and will her presence on the ticket create a vacuum for GOP prospects in Hawaii?
* Sen's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. The pair of Maine senators would likely be considered too liberal for the party faithful, particularly after taking part in such party-angering exercises as the joining "the McCain Compromise" regarding Senate filibusters.
* Laura Bush or Lynne Cheney. While each has their fans both would likely be thought of as place holders for their more famous spouses. It would be charged that the women were figureheads for the husbands who are no longer able to run for the job.
There are probably a few other names that I have left out but these are the top women in the Republican Party who might be able to fill the 2008 ticket.
Mrs. Hutchinson has some qualities that might make her the most ideal woman the GOP has on their bench. A former cheerleader, she is not unattractive. She is not the spouse of a politician. She has waged and won three statewide campaigns in Texas and will win a fourth in 2006 now that she plans to seek re-election. She has survived a legal dogfight against Travis County (TX) District Attorney Ronnie Earle over alleged mishandling of funds while State Comptroller back in the 1990s so she knows how to stand up for herself. Her Senate seat will be safe if she is called upon yet loses a vice presidential bid until 2012. The Governor's office is presently in Republican hands and will likely stay that way so the GOP will probably retain that Senate seat were she to get the VP nomination and win. Her Senate record will likely be picked apart but it will be hard to find anything that stands out as so exclusionable that either party could use it to vilify her.
Whether Hutchinson has the desire or ambition for a national campaign would remain to be seen. She would be age 65 in 2008. I do believe, however, that she could be seen as "Hillary insurance" for a male GOP presidential nominee in 2008, particularly a northern candidate like Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty.
Some things would need to happen for this to come about but they are fairly easily reached. If the GOP nominee is male. If the Democrat nominee is Mrs. Clinton. If Hutchinson retains her Senate seat in 2006. If the Republicans keep the Governor's mansion in 2006. Should any of those four things fail to happen, Hutchinson would not be a likely option. If all four happen though, I see it as a distinct posibility.
Sen. Hutchinson represents a relatively safe option to balance a ticket and blunt some of the buzz over a Clinton candidacy. She's a veteran campaigner from a safe state who establishment Republicans can certainly get behind.
I would particularly appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
As I have explained somewhere else, Condi is a non-starter due to demographical realities in certain parts of the country.
I think of your list, she'd be the most likely if a woman was going to be on the ticket, but I'm still not convinced that Hillary (or any woman for that matter) will be the standardbearer for the Dems in 2008.
At least they waited till 1998 to start heavy speculation on W, it's too damn early, a million things can happen between today and this time next year, and in general, the longer you put yourself out as a "frontrunner" the longer your enemies have to be able to dig up dirt on you.
There is only one "n". The last name is "Hutchison", not "Hutchinson". My bad.
I'm not sure I understanding. Are you saying Rice would have trouble attracting voters because she is a) a woman, b) African-American, c)from California or d) not solidly pro-life? That's not a loaded question. I just don't know which demographics you are pointing towards. Thanks.
Has anyone outside of Texas ever heard of Kay?
I like your idea in theory, but I don't think she's the best candidate to defeat the *thing*.
Go to # 19 on here, basically, I do an analysis regarding voting patterns of the counties in Alabama which voted to keep the ban on interracial marriage
She doesn't have to *defeat* Hillary. That would be up to the nominee. She only has to appear credible and prevent the GOP ticket from looking like the "old white men's club" in contrast to Hillary and whoever her Veep might be.
You could say I am being cynical about the whole process but you have to dumb down a national election for a whole lot of idiots who are barely connected enough to vote. That's why I stress it would be for balancing, not because she would make a great party leader or ticket headliner.
The problem I have with Kay Hutchison is everytime we call her office or fax her with issues we get no where fast.
Great tactical political thinking. Myself I will vote for Mrs. Clinton.
I see. Is that really a big enough problem as to hand the South back to the Democrats if Rice is on the ticket? I have my doubts about that. It's not like they are promoting Condi as a *spouse* for the running mate. You seem to presume a lot from a photo of the two hand-in-hand.
BTW, I lived in Mobile for awhile and visit Baldwin County frequently because of my mother and sister. I know a little bit about their politics more than the average guy.
Hopefully, there aren't too many of you. ;-P
Just my two cents, as our premier wordsmith on this site would put it.
Don't lose any sleep over this Tall, Kay will not be on any ticket in 2008. She is going to serve her last term in DC and then be done.
Baldwin County is not the problem, they voted to repeal the interracial marriage ban.
The problem is, when you take the small urban/suburban counties and combine them with the Black Belt counties, there is somewhat of a mollification factor (not to mention, some Democratic N. Ala counties didn't vote to keep the ban, so i couldn't include them)
Basically, the pro-ban counties in general, were closer to the statewide pulse in every election on here, than were either high population suburban counties or the Big 4.
And there were people in the Big 4 who voted to keep the ban, there are many counties which didn't make it on the list because the repeal passed by maybe a few percentage points.
I don't like admitting it, but it would be a big issue, and when you add on top of this that Condi is a woman, and by in large, one of those polished women. It spells real trouble out in the hinterlands.
Kay Hutchison? Give me a break. Nice lady, but presidential or vice-presidential possibility? No way, never.
Between now and 2008 every woman in the country will be rolled before our tired eyeballs as presidential materian, including Tonya Harding and Mary Kay LeTourneau.
I think you did an excellent analysis although I don't agree with everything.
I think Kay Bailey may be a little too old for the job. She has all the qualities you mention plus a quick mind but I don't think she has the necessary vigor.
Trying to counter Hillary is a waste of effort. She has her game plan and will follow it no matter who we nominate. Our nominee should be a conservative who is proud to be one and willing to be firm and straight forward about it. Too often, and probably will again, the political consultants get all worried about the "soft middle" or the undecideds and soften their candidate so as to not offend. That means also weakening the fervor of the conservative base, hoping they decide he is better than the other side. Unfortunately, that is always true.
I like George Allen so far. Rick Santorum would be good. Although Frist has more good qualities than we give him credit for he is too much of a soft middle person for my taste.
I think you underestimate, or is that misunderestimate?, Condi but I don't think she wants or will accept the chance to run. Laura and Lynn? Someone's ill thought out fantasy.
I think the Dems are bloodying up DeLay for fear he might run. He would be good. So will Newt but Newt is playing too cutsy with both sides of the street to suit me. However, he is brilliant and thinks these things through about three moves ahead.
Senator Hutchison's approval numbers are significantly higher than Governor Perry's numbers. A primary would have been tight because Governor Perry has higher support among GOP activists.
My personal theory is that President Bush leaned on Senator Hutchison to run for re-election to avoid an open Senate seat election and to avoid a primary which could leave the winner too bruised for the general election. I can only imagine the field day that the MSM and the DUers would have if the GOP lost the Texas governorship.
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