Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R.-Tex.), widely thought to be planning a run for governor in 2006, has alienated the conservative base with her vote against one of President Bush’s pro-life judicial nominees. Tom Pauken, a Texas conservative who chaired the state Republican Party from 1994 to 1997, said July 8 that Hutchison may have made a big mistake when she voted against Leon Holmes, who was confirmed 51 to 46 on July 6 to be a federal district judge in Arkansas. Holmes is a former president of Arkansas Right to Life and co-wrote an article with his wife about Christian marriage (in which the wife is submissive to her husband as the Bible commands), both of which were used against him by liberal opponents. The moderately (at least until now) pro-abortion Hutchison broke her record of voting for every Bush judicial nominee when Holmes came to the floor, complaining that he did not believe in “equality for women.” Said Pauken, “I’m just appalled who she sided with. She was the leader of the Republican effort to defeat this nominee.” He said that the state’s conservative activists are angry at Hutchison and that the state’s grassroots Republican voters are strongly pro-life. But, he said, “There are a lot of socially liberal Republicans in Texas and they tend to be the big money people. She has sided with the money and power in Texas instead of the grassroots. . . . I guess she thinks she can ignore pro-lifers in this state.” Pauken said that the current GOP governor, Rick Perry, is so unpopular that Hutchison could defeat him via a primary challenge if he chooses to run again. Texas conservatives don’t like Perry but don’t yet have a good alternative to Hutchison, he said. “I’m going to do what I can to prevent Hutchison from becoming governor,” he said.
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