She was a trailblazer for women in the GOP, at a time when Ann Richards was filling a similar role in the Democratic Party. The two women provided a stark contrast — Sen. Hutchison’s appeal was her genteel steeliness, Gov. Richards’ was her acerbic wit. That’s a contrast inherent in Texas itself, yet it was Sen. Hutchison who proved to be the statesman.
Politics was often not always kind to her. In 1993, during her tenure as state treasurer, runaway jurist Ronnie Earle, the Travis County district attorney — who hoped to be appointed to the Senate seat Ms. Hutchison later won — raided her offices. He didn’t have a warrant and he didn’t have a case, as a judge later ruled.
The 2010 gubernatorial primary, in which she faced Gov. Rick Perry, was also brutal. Despite her lengthy service to (and in) the state, Perry sought to portray Sen. Hutchison as a Washington insider, inadequately committed to the interests of the state over the country.
The irony of that charge was made abundantly clear a year later, when Perry himself ran for president.
She acknowledged the toll that race had taken on her.
Sen. Hutchison will also be missed because she always treated the media well. She provided consistent access, and often reached out to the Tyler Paper on her own initiative. That proved a benefit not only to the newspaper, but to its readers. Sadly, that kind of transparency is becoming more and more rare, especially at the higher levels of government.
Sen. Hutchison says she’s not going away —except home to Texas.
“I may be back,” she said at a Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon in April. “In a volunteer capacity of course … I will be back in Texas.”
And the state of Texas will be all the better for it.