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Hutchison Launches Campaign, Recalls Hometown Values

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

La Marque, TX – Monday morning Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is launching her campaign for Governor with a five-day blitz across Texas. KERA's Shelley Kofler is in La Marque where Hutchison will kick it off with a rally at her old high school. Shelley talked to Hutchison and others life in the small Gulf coast town and how it shaped values.

With less than 24 hours to go before her first full week of campaigning, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison came home.

In Galveston, where she was born, Hutchison shared a meal and memories with friends she's stayed in touch with for four decades. They attended high school together in nearby La Marque, a Gulf Coast community of 13,000.

Hasserd: Our graduating class was 204 people and we just continued to stay close.

Carol Hasserd says she and the Senator were born within days of each other during a 1943 hurricane that demolished the hospital maternity ward.

Hasserd remembers Kay Bailey as head cheerleader for the La Marque Tigers; Miss La Marque High School; the girl who did the right thing even when others didn't.

Hasserd: Kay was always the good one and we were the bad ones. She sort of kept us on the straight and narrow. Like smoking cigarettes, she didn't do any of that. No, no, no.

La Marque Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Hayley says Kay Bailey's family was very involved in the community. The Senator's father was an insurance agent and realtor who drove kids to baseball games.

Hayley: Kay's dad, Allan Bailey was one of the leaders and founders of La Marque in the 50's. He probably put together one of the largest subdivisions ever put together in La Marque called the Highlands.

Hayley says the tight-knit town nurtured a sense of loyalty Hutchison took with her when she left La Marque.

Hayley: She was never too busy in Washington where if I would write her she would always get back with me

The old school hangouts are gone, the drive is closed and a freeway now cuts through town, but Hutchison still returns to class reunions.

Hutchison: I feel like I relate so much better with people all over Texas because I grew up in a small town. I know what the small town issues and feelings are. It's helped me be a more well-rounded person.

The question now is whether La Marque's sweetheart is tough enough to unseat Governor Rick Perry. He's ahead in early polls and has a reputation for throwing hard balls.

Hutchison: The Governor has always run very tough campaigns. But I see Texas drifting. I feel like I can be so much more powerful for helping Texas in Texas than in Washington.

Hutchison will test her message and her mettle this week at rallies in some 19 Texas towns. The sendoff begins with her oldest friends in La Marque, and a political pep rally in the high school gym.