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Politics & Government

The Washington Post Sits Down With Kay Bailey Hutchison, Talks Gender

By Bradford Pearson |
Kay Bailey Hutchison questions Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a June 2012 Senate Budget Committee hearing. Source: Leon Panetta’s Flickr page. Really.

Since leaving the Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchison’s spent her time working out of her dining room, with one aide, and, according to the Washington Post,  “not miss[ing] a lot about the life she’s just left behind.” The Post caught up with her at the Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas’ conference:

Even after she won that race, she noticed that male colleagues in her party “could say things a little different way than I could” and still be taken seriously on the public stage. Her fellow House member, now-husband Ray Hutchison, for instance, “could fluff things off in a way I never could have done.” Like George W. Bush and Rick Perry, too, she’d been a college cheerleader, but she had to live that down in a way they never did, and behave decorously at all moments.

When she ran for state treasurer in 1990 and for the Senate in ’93, her gender was “still an obstacle” to electoral success, in her view, but somewhere around 2000 “it started becoming an asset. I stopped feeling like I had to prove myself all the time, and in Texas, people stopped thinking of me as ‘the woman Senator.’ They stopped mentioning it in introductions, anyway – wasn’t it obvious? – and reporters stopped using phrases like “primping and fretting” – one that still sticks in her craw – to describe the sight of her combing her hair en route to an event.