Here are two things we have long assumed about Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
One, she will challenge Gov. Rick Perry in next year's Texas gubernatorial primary. Yes, I know, it should be more than just "assumed," but she made similar statements in 2006 and never followed through with it. But this time she appears serious.
And two, because of the challenge, she has been expected to resign from the Senate, perhaps later this fall.
Now the story gets confusing.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Hutchison told WBAP radio of Fort Worth-Dallas that she'll quit the Senate in October or November. That would allow her to campaign full time for the March 2010 primary. She is quoted as saying she will formally declare her candidacy in August.
But NPR congressional correspondent David Welna reports that Hutchison appeared before reporters late this afternoon to qualify her remarks.
She would quit her seat ONLY if Perry dropped out of the race, she explained. (That would be bizarre, to say the least, since Perry is currently leading in the polls.) But here's what she said:
The point i was trying to make in the interview was that I think there's a chance that the governor would be dropping out of this race. I mean, it's pretty unprecedented to have a governor trying to serve 15 years, and i was trying to say that. I stepped back once before [changing her mind in 2006], no one expected him to run for 15 years, and I think there's a chance that he wouldn't run because he would see how divisive it is and that he's trying to stay too long and that you know he can really help in many ways if he doesn't run, in which case I would be able to then stay in the Senate all the way to the end.
Got that? Me neither.
She stays in the Senate if he drops out of the race? So if he runs, she does resign? And if she resigns her Senate seat, that means Perry names her successor. Is that what she's suggesting?
Things wouldn't be this confusing if we still had ScuttleButton.
On Monday, Hutchison replaced her campaign manager, Rick Wiley, who is leaving "because a recent health problem requires that he reduce the high stress and avoid the hectic pace of managing a large campaign," according to the Dallas Morning News' Christy Hope. Wiley was replaced by Terry Sullivan, who is "known as a hardball strategist."
Anyway, Perry's campaign spokesman Mark Miner blasted Hutchison for breaking a promise:
The senator is clearly putting her own political ambitions above the needs of the people of Texas. We would want to be sure to name someone in that position who wants to be there and wants to do the job they were elected to do.
The delicious part of the Perry campaign criticizing Hutchison for quitting her seat ignores the fact that one of the higher-profile Republicans who are planning to campaign for Perry is ... Sarah Palin.