Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison failed to force Texas Gov. Rick Perry into a runoff following Tuesday’s Republican primary, and attention will now turn to when, or if, she will relinquish her Senate seat as she has promised.
Early returns showed Perry with 52 percent of the vote in the three-way contest, just above the 50 percent threshold he needed to win the primary outright and avoid a six-week extension of the campaign through an April 13 runoff. But Hutchison, whose once-promising challenge to Perry failed to gain traction, trailed badly with 32 percent of precincts reporting, and would have faced strong pressure to drop out even if Perry were to fall just under 50 percent.
Hutchison has said she would resign her Senate seat regardless of whether she won the gubernatorial primary, and a ghost race has unfolded behind the scenes as a number of candidates have been preparing to run to succeed her. But the timing of when she might forfeit her seat remains unclear, with her most recent comments indicating she might wait until the fall to resign.
Conservative activist Debra Medina, who made a splash in the campaign after she gained the attention of “tea party” activists, had 17 percent.
Perry now faces a competitive general election contest with Houston Mayor Bill White, who scored a dominant victory over six competitors in the Democratic primary.