An article in Wednesday’ edition of the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill dropped a hint about the long-term plans for one of the few staunch space advocates in the Senate. In the article about shuffling of the Republican leadership in the Senate in the wake of Trent Lott’s surprise retirement, the article notes that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is currently the No. 4 Republican in the Senate as chair of the Republican Policy Committee, is considering running for the No. 3 position, conference chairman, should the current chairman, Jon Kyl, move up to Lott’s vacated position of minority whip. The article adds in passing that Hutchison “is said to be eyeing a gubernatorial bid in 2010.”
It’s not the first time that Hutchison has been rumored to be leaving the Senate to be governor. In late 2005 and early 2006 Hutchison was openly mulling a challenge to incumbent governor Rick Perry in the Republican primary; she decided instead to run for reelection to the Senate, which she won easily. A move from the Senate to the statehouse would deprive NASA and its supporters with one of the few strong advocates for the agency in the Senate.