El Paso leaders ask Hutchison not to run for governor

Senator reportedly upset by request by Perry backers

Associated Press
Sunday, December 12, 2004

EL PASO -- U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison reacted angrily recently after several El Paso business leaders suggested that she not challenge Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2006 because their large campaign contributions to state leaders have increased the city's influence in Austin.

During the private luncheon last week, Hutchison was asked to instead run for re-election. The senator, who has said she hasn't decided whether to seek the governor's office, responded by denouncing the role that large contributions play in state government, some of those attending said.

Many at the meeting agreed that the discussion, organized as an issues briefing by the senator, became strained after some of the business leaders mentioned their large contributions to Perry.

El Paso businessman Woody Hunt, a University of Texas regent, said he reminded the senator that El Paso had not fully participated in state politics in the past and long has been neglected. He and others decided to open their checkbooks and gain influence.

Hutchison's spokesman, Dave Beckwith, said she "is appalled that people are being strong-armed, feel they have to hand over huge contributions in order to be heard in the state's political process."

Luis Saenz, Perry's campaign director, responded: "Others can deal in the Washington-style politics of personal destruction and blind ambition to do what is best for themselves, but Governor Perry will continue to be a strong, ethical and effective leader for El Paso and Texas as a whole."