Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, said she won’t seek re-election in 2012.
In an open letter to constituents released by her office today, Hutchison said her early announcement “should give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor should be.”
The disclosure made her the first senator up for re-election in 2012 to announce retirement plans. Democrats now control the Senate by a 53-47 margin, which includes two independents who usually vote with them. Ten Republicans will face voters next year, as will 21 Democrats and both independents.
Hutchison, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Republican primary last year, had said she would resign from the Senate in 2010. She later reversed course, saying she didn’t want to hurt her state.
“I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period,” Hutchison, 67, wrote in the letter. “I felt it was my duty to use my experience to fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of our health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy.”
Hutchison, a onetime television news reporter, first won her seat in a 1993 special election to replace Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who had joined then-President Bill Clinton’s administration as Treasury secretary. Hutchison won her last re-election, in 2006, with 62 percent of the vote.
One possible candidate, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 65, said today in a Bloomberg Television interview from Austin that he would “probably take a very serious look” at seeking the office.
Other Republicans who considered a bid for the seat during Hutchison’s gubernatorial run include state Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones and Michael Williams and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams.
Among Democrats, former Houston Mayor Bill White is a potential candidate. White lost the governor’s general-election race to Perry in November.
Republican John Cornyn, Hutchison’s Texas colleague in the Senate, praised her service, saying she “represents the very best of the state.”
“Kay came to the Senate to make a difference, to work to find solutions to the complex problems of modern society, and to attain real and lasting change. She has succeeded in brilliant fashion,” Cornyn said in a statement.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, called Hutchison “a trusted adviser and friend” and said in a statement, “The Senate will miss her strength and energy when she leaves.”
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