Updated: 12:04 p.m.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will serve out the remaining 33 months of her term, reversing an earlier decision to resign from the Senate this year.
Hutchison announced her decision at a press conference Wednesday in San Antonio flanked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas). The two leaders are in town for an NRSC fundraiser and were among the GOP officeholders encouraging her to complete her third full term.
Hutchison said in her announcement that the lobbying efforts of state and national Republican leaders — including McConnell and Cornyn — helped convinced her to stay.
McConnell “asked me to stay many times starting last year, but he has never pushed” she said. She also acknowledged Cornyn’s efforts to encourage her to stay.
McConnell called Hutchison one of the Senate’s “invaluable Members” and said that “if you sense an audible sigh of relief in the air it’s every single Republican” in Congress.
Hutchison’s decision will deprive the Democrats of an opportunity to capture her seat in a special election. The handful of Republicans who were angling to succeed her also will have to put their plans on hold, although the March 2012 primary is less than two years away.
As she campaigned for the Texas governorship this year and struggled to distance herself from voter anger toward Washington, D.C., Hutchison said that she would resign her Senate seat regardless of the outcome of her primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry (R). But she sometimes seemed less than fully committed to that plan, and her landslide loss to Perry four weeks ago removed any real need to leave the Senate early.
Hutchison, 66, was first elected in a 1993 special election and easily re-elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006.
John McArdle contributed to this report.