Kay Bailey Hutchison Retires: Five Career Highlights

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced she will not seek re-election to the Senate, probably a wise move after conservatives sensed blood in the water after her disastrous gubernatorial campaign.

KBH's three terms in the Senate were somewhat odd in that she never made all that much of an impression even as she was routinely re-elected without strain.

A former TV newscaster with a notable helmet of hair, she rarely took any positions outside the standard GOP common wisdom.

We're not sure if we'll miss her, but here are five career highlights:

5, Bikini cover girl Just as she was getting big on the scene, Dallas writer Brad Bailey (no relation to KBH) examined how her strange mix of middle-aged former-cheerleader looks was his secret turn-on. D Magazine pasted her head (or at least her signature `do) on a bikini-clad model for a memorable cover.

4. Her evolving views on how bad perjury is Hutchison toed the DeLay line on the Bill Clinton impeachment, opining pompously about how "she cannot look away" from Clinton lying under oath. When special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald was investigating Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials over whether they had given false testimony to investigators, Hutchison criticized them for going after "a perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on a crime."

3. Look out for the binders!! In 1993, Hutchison was the defendant in a bizarre case accusing her of abusing her position of state treasurer. Evidence included claims she had hit a staffer -- who happened to be the daughter of former governor John Connally -- with a notebook binder in a rage, and that she fired another staffer -- the son-in-law of former ambassador Anne Armstrong -- for no good reason. She was acquitted. 2. The disastrous trouncing by Perry Hutchison, fresh off two cakewalk re-elections, assumed she could cruise to the sedate sinecure of the Texas governorship against Perry, who had only managed 39 percent of the vote in his previous winning re-election bid. Instead she ran into a Tea Party buzzsaw, was painted as the ultimate incumbent (by a longtime incumbent) and waged a terrible campaign. Here's how FW Weekly described one debate performance: "Kay Bailey Hutchison looked like a substitute teacher trying too hard to establish authority over the classroom."

1. The ominous campaign kickoff Even before it formally started, Hutchison's gubernatorial run was hampered when she exuded a lack of confidence by backtracking on a promise to quit the Senate to run. Things didn't improve with the official campaign kickoff, when she returned to her hometown of La Marque to bask in local-girl-made-good vibrations. Except the master of ceremonies continually pronounced the town as "La Mark-ee," which is not how locals (or, for that matter, anyone on Earth other than that guy) pronounces it.

It was a precursor of things to come: an embarrassing end to a political career.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly