Texas Vote Could Boost GOP in Senate

TEXAS appears to be poised to elect a woman to the United States Senate, a first for the state.

If voters in tomorrow's special runoff election send Kay Bailey Hutchison to join Phil Gramm, it would be the first time both Lone Star State seats have been filled by Republicans.

Polls show Mrs. Hutchison leading by a double-digit margin over Bob Krueger, a Democrat who was appointed interim senator by Gov. Ann Richards when Lloyd Bentsen became Treasury secretary.

And United We Stand America (UWSA), the Ross Perot political education/advocacy organization, announced its support for Hutchison yesterday based on a postcard survey of the organization's Texas members. Eighty-four percent of respondents picked Hutchison. But only one-third of UWSA's Texas members answered the survey. Hutchison and Mr. Krueger are both UWSA members.

Other Democrats who have held the seat are former President Lyndon Johnson and Texas pioneer Sam Houston. No Republican has occupied it for 118 years.

Hutchison is now the Texas treasurer, the highest state office held by the GOP. Once a University of Texas cheerleader, she got a law degree but could not find a job with the state's conservative, male-dominated law firms.

Instead, she became a television reporter, covering the 1970 race in which Mr. Bentsen beat former President Bush for the Senate seat that Bentsen held until going to the Treasury.

Hutchison switched roles by getting into politics herself, first serving as press secretary for the Republican National Committee, followed by two terms in the Texas Legislature. She bought a candy business, lost a US congressional race in Dallas, then won the state treasurer's job in 1990.

Business and real estate would fare well under Hutchison's anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-litigation agenda, some say. She promises to co-sponsor legislation requiring regulatory agencies to calculate the economic impact - lost jobs and higher prices - of new regulations.

Her motto on reduction of the federal budget deficit is: "It's the spending, stupid." Hutchison favors enacting all of President Clinton's domestic spending cuts except for defense, preferring instead a Bush administration proposal. She also agrees with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley's (R) call to freeze discretionary spending for five years.

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