In her farewell address on the Senate floor this morning, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison touched on the deep partisan divide among lawmakers today.
“Congress suffers a great deal of criticism for partisan acrimony. But while we may disagree politically, and air our opposition in this chamber, it is the conversation, behind-the-scenes, that cements and defines our relationships.”
Political experts say Senator Hutchison’s ability to build relationships, both within the GOP and with Democrats, are a big part of what made her so effective.
Mark Jones chairs the political science department at Rice University. He says Senator Hutchison knew how to work behind-the-scenes to promote the interests of Texas.
“On things such as deductions for sales tax, given that we don’t have a state income tax, to getting funding for NASA and education in the state.”
Senator Hutchison also protected the state’s military bases from a series of closures. Jones says Hutchison ran her political career with a type of statesmanship we’re unlikely to see again anytime soon.
“It’s very difficult to win primaries in the Republican party today in Texas, or in the Democratic party, for that matter, with the effective, pragmatic, moderate approach that Kay Bailey Hutchison has pursued during her 20 years in the Senate, and, previously, here in the state.”
Hutchison served in the Texas House of Representatives and as state Treasurer before she won a special election to the U.S. Senate in 1993. The 69-year-old says she’s eager to spend more time with her two pre-teen adopted children. Ted Cruz won the seat Hutchison is vacating, and will be sworn in next month.