Kay Bailey Hutchison is the longest serving state official currently serving from Texas. Hutchison, who will be completing her third term next November, has decided, according to the Houston Chronicle, to retire when her term ends.

Last year, Hutchison provided a Republican primary challenge for the incumbent governor, Rick Perry, but was soundly defeated. Her loss perhaps convinced Hutchison that she no longer matched the Republican model in this region of the country. Hutchison has long been known as one of the more genteel figures in the Senate; as such, she has made a large number of friends in that body, and virtually no enemies. She has steadfastly worked on a number of issues that have been integral to the growth of the Texan economy over the last few decades. One of these is the expansion of NASA activities into the state.

When she determined to challenge Perry last year, I think she believed that the state’s Republicans would favor someone of her style over that of Perry, a more confrontational kind of politician. But she was much more a noblesse oblige style than is currently in favor here. The Republican Party, at least in this part of the nation has evolved into a more rough-and-tumble group. It’s sort of comparing George Bush the father to the son.

There’s a reason for this change, of course. When Hutchison left business for politics, the Republican Party in this region was still primarily a party of business interests. It is obviously still pro-business, but also represents lower and middle class whites, and to a lesser degree, Hispanics. Hutchison, to these individuals, was regarded as an antebellum relic. Her popularity among other Senators probably worked against Hutchison’s interest, since this may have been regarded as an elite cronyism that is antithetical to many Tea Party members.

By running against Perry, a Tea Party favorite, many in that group were upset with Hutchison. She probably would have faced a primary challenge to retain her seat from this group. David Dewhurst, the current Lieutenant Governor is expected to announce his entry into the Senate contest shortly. However, because Texas Lieutenant Governor actually has a great deal of budgetary power, Dewhurst may opt to remain in this seat.