HOUSTON -

As the Republican Party looks to the future, one of its long-serving senators from Texas is looking forward to life outside of politics.

Texans first knew Kay Bailey Hutchison as a trailblazing Kay Bailey, hired at KPRC in the 1960s as its first female reporter.

Whether on TV or in politics, where she became the first female from Texas elected to the Senate, she broke barriers and paved the way for other women, most often doing it on her own terms.

She decided that three terms in the Senate was enough.

"I never intended to serve more than two terms. I think two terms is exactly the right amount," Hutchison said. "It was a series of circumstances that caused me to serve this third term and now I think it is time for somebody new to come in and have their voice heard."

Ted Cruz, the Republican winner of the primary, is a Tea Party favorite. If he wins her Senate seat, as expected, Cruz is on record as being unwilling to compromise with Senate Democrats. That's a far different philosophy than Hutchison, who cites Ronald Reagan's credo for how to make political progress.

"If you're moving in the right direction and getting part of your priority and then live to fight another day for the rest, it's better than blowing the place up and never getting anything you think is the right way," she said.

On one of her office walls are lighthearted reminders of a near lifetime of public service.

Hutchison grew up in La Marque and said the small-town environment prepared her for political success.

"I think being able to know the concerns that people have growing up from all different socioeconomic stations has allowed me to be able to relate to everybody in Texas," Hutchison explained.

She said the next senator to serve in Washington should make Texans his priority and not a national agenda.

"Sometimes I think people forget who sent them. While I think you can have a national impact, I think you've got to remember that if you don't represent Texas who will?" she said.

Hutchison said she leaves the Senate wishing she'd been able to fix Social Security, the deficit and pushed through better version of health care. But she said if Mitt Romney is elected president, he could get the nation back on track and that he will have her full support.