January 13, 2008
Hutchison and the border fence

I almost feel sorry for KBH.

In an uncharacteristic display of public frustration with party colleagues, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Friday sharply criticized two Republican congressmen who had accused her of a stealth effort to derail the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Conservative blogs and pundits have attacked Hutchison ever since Reps. Peter King of New York and Duncan Hunter of California accused the Texas Republican of essentially repealing Congress' mandate to build 700 miles of fencing.

"This was a midnight massacre," King said of an amendment Hutchison shepherded into law last month. "It was absolutely disgraceful."

After being labeled "Panderer to the Criminal Invader" and called a traitor to border security, Hutchison fought back Friday.

"There is misinformation, and I think the congressmen who should know better exactly what has happened have been a little loose with the facts," she said in an interview.

"I am a little frustrated that Rep. King and I guess Rep. Hunter are feigning surprise," Hutchison said, noting that both men were notified as far back as September 2006 that she intended to amend the law ordering 700 miles of double-layer fencing.

It's because of stuff like this that I've never been fully convinced that Hutchison would win a contested primary for Governor. Rick Perry, and now David Dewhurst, have spent a lot of time and effort tending to the GOP base. Hutchison's relative moderation, which makes her more broadly appealing, is exactly where she'll be attacked in such a fight. And it's not just immigration where she's less than a hardass, either - abortion and CHIP come to mind as well. The point is that there'd be plenty of material for attack ads on her. It's not clear to me how this plays out for her in a primary.

On the other hand, on immigration at least, the story so far in the Republican Presidential primary is that the hardliners - Mitt Romney, as well as the twin Congressional terrors of Tancredo and Hunter - aren't doing so well, while the candidates with more moderate positions - Huckabee and McCain - are doing better than anyone thought. It's early days, and Michigan may provide the Mittster with a much-needed boost, but perhaps not being the farthest of the far out isn't necessarily a handicap for KBH. Who knows? South Texas Chisme has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 13, 2008 to National news

Ya dance with who brung you.

KBH represents a party of angry white men. She was due to get her share of their ire, sooner or later.

Posted by: Dennis on January 13, 2008 2:37 PM

Dennis, you must have missed that little bit at the end noting that thus far Huckabee and McCain's more moderate positions (certainly true on immigration) have been the messages that have gained traction among the Republicans. IMO, KBH has a much better feel as to where the electorate is this issue than do her HoR counterparts.

Futhermore, I'm willing to wager that she's not going to be seriously challenged in the GOP primary for as long as she wants to run for her Senate seat.

Posted by: Patrick on January 14, 2008 8:34 AM