Well, this sucks. Kay Bailey Hutchison isn't figuring on retiring from the Senate any time soon, though she's definitely running for Governor.
Republican sources in Washington, D.C., on Monday predicted that the Texas Republican will continue to serve in the Senate, resigning only if she wins the Lone Star State governor’s mansion in November 2010. Hutchison had been expected to resign her Senate seat in the coming months to focus on her campaign full time.
Should Hutchison still decide to step down, she would likely do so at the end of this calendar year, setting up a May 2010 special election to fill out the remainder of her current term, which expires in 2012. Gov. Rick Perry (R) would presumably appoint someone to replace Hutchison in the interim, as state law empowers him to do.
"I think she won’t resign before the end of the year, if at all," one Republican operative based in Washington said Monday afternoon.
Both of the state's top Democratic candidates, John Sharp and Bill White, have committed to the race for Senate, though since there may not be a race for Senate until 2012 (when Hutchison's term expires), they may be rethinking this.
The situation now is pretty muddled. Hutchison faces a Gov primary against Rick Perry and perhaps another conservative candidate. She's favored to win in a straight-up matchup against Perry, and heavily favored in the general (over Democrat Tom Schieffer, or whoever else files).
If she is elected Governor, she will resign her Senate seat, obviously, and there will be a special election in May 2011. Sharp and White would presumably run in this one.
If she loses the primary to Perry, Dems have a decent shot of beating him if there's anyone decent in the race (be it Schieffer or someone else). Perry is perhaps the least popular Governor in recent Texas history, and is ripe for the picking: the only way for him to even survive the primary is by capitalizing on conservative discontent with the pro-choice Hutchison.
Hutchison would presumably go back to the Senate, and finish out her term; she might even run again. Assuming she retired at the end of her full term, the seat would be open again in fall 2012. Sharp and White could both run in that race.
Still, Democrats had hoped for a Senate vacancy sooner rather than later, so to learn that such a vacancy won't come for over two years - and may not come at all - is obviously disappointing.