Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)

AUSTIN –U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Thursday took the first step to run for Texas governor by opening an exploratory committee for a 2010 campaign.

"I am not yet a candidate, but Texas law requires this first, important step before an announcement can be made," the Republican said in a statement.

If she decides to run for governor, it could set the stage for a bitter Republican primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry, who has been in office since 2000, and says he intends to seek a third full term.

Hutchison, 65, said she will use $1 million from her Senate campaign to bankroll her exploratory committee. She had $8.6 million in her campaign coffers as of Sept. 30. She could remain in the Senate while running for governor. Her current term expires in 2012.

In his 2006 re-election, Perry won just 39 percent of the vote.
A member of the Republican Senate leadership team, Hutchinson said among her top priorities are lower taxes and better schools and universities for the Lone Star State.

"Texans deserve a governor who, in the context of sound budgetary policies and low taxes, works for quality schools and universities, access to health care for our families, communities safe from crime and drugs, protection of private property rights, sensible transportation and a government that listens and responds to them," Hutchison said.

Hutchinson, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1993, also decried bitter partisanship in Austin.

"There's too much bitterness, too much anger, too little trust, too little consensus and too much infighting. And the tone comes from the top," she said. "Texans are looking for leadership and results."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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