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Hutchison says she's keeping U.S. Senate seat

AUSTIN — Nearly four weeks after losing her bid to unseat Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison abandoned plans Wednesday to resign from the Senate, saying she intends to serve the remainder of her term to fight the growth of the federal government.

"For family reasons, I had planned to begin making a transition home to Texas this spring," Hutchison said at a hurriedly called news conference in San Antonio. "But it is clear to me that the stakes in our nation's Capitol have never been higher."

Hutchison's pledge to serve out the two-plus years in her term contrasted with her earlier promises to give up her Senate seat regardless of the outcome of her unsuccessful race against Perry in the March 2 Republican gubernatorial primary. Hutchison initially said she would quit in late 2009, but she altered the timetable to peg her departure at some point after the primary.

Republicans praised Hutchison's decision, but Democrats accused her of misleading Texans.

"No one is surprised that Sen. Hutchison is not resigning her seat," said Texas Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie. "We never believed she would leave the Senate, and it's disappointing that she refused to shoot straight with Texas voters."

Standing with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Texas' other senator, Republican John Cornyn, Hutchison said colleagues and constituents had urged her to stay and fight the Obama administration's policies, including continued skirmishes on health care and environmental legislation known as cap-and-trade.

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