DALLAS — Ray Hutchison, an attorney, former legislator, gubernatorial candidate and the husband of former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has died. He was 81.
Michelle McCormick, spokeswoman for the Houston-based law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, confirmed that Hutchison died Sunday. A family spokeswoman, Lindsey Parham, said he died at a Dallas hospital of heart complications.
James Perkins, a friend of the Hutchison’s from Tyler, said Hutchison is one of the reasons Texas “turned red.”
“He was the driving forces in Texas’ becoming a Republican state,” he said. “He was a great legislator and lawyer, husband and father. He and Kay were a great team and brought good government and economic success to Texas.”
Hutchison was the chairman of the Texas Republican Party from 1976 to 1977 and ran in the following year’s GOP primary for governor but lost to Bill Clements. He served as a state representative for Dallas’ district 33-Q from 1973 to 1977.
While serving in the state Legislature, he met wife Kay Bailey, then a representative from Houston. They married in 1978 and had two children. He already had two children from a previous marriage, Parham said.
“He was the state chairman of the very first convention I attended,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. “He helped lay the groundwork for us to take control of the state of Texas.”
The Republican Party of Texas “plans to honor him for his dedication,” Munisteri added.
After his unsuccessful bid for the governor’s office, Hutchison focused on his law practice and stood on the sidelines of his wife’s flourishing political career. In 1990 she was elected as state treasurer and three years later, she won a special race for a seat in the U.S. Senate, a position she held for almost 20 years.
“Ray was a leader in every aspect of his life, and his contributions to the state of Texas will positively impact countless Texans for generations to come. Ray was a true public servant, a devoted husband and a loving father,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.
Perkins and his wife, Margaret, called the Hutchisons a “dynamic” duo. Mrs. Perkins attended The University of Texas with Mrs. Hutchison, and the former U.S. senator’s husband had been a supportive of his wife’s political ambitions from the start. Together, they trailblazed a path for other women to enter the political arena, she said.
“They were a dynamic team,” Mrs. Perkins said. “His support for her never wavered through all those campaigns and time in office.”
Hutchison also was a top attorney who handled billions of dollars in public bond developments, said Perkins, president and chairman of Citizens 1st Bank. Hutchison served as counsel at Bracewell & Giuliani to state and local governments on development projects.
“Ray was involved in virtually every major government development project in North Texas over the past five decades,” said Ben Brooks, head of Bracewell’s public finance practice and a longtime friend of Hutchison.
Hutchison was involved in the development of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and other prominent projects in the state, including the construction of several professional sports venues.
In the early 1970s, he led the negotiations to move the Washington Senators to Arlington, where they were renamed the Texas Rangers.
Reporter Adam Russell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.