Hensarling, who represents the 5th Congressional district, usually doesn’t get much attention when those of us who speculate about these things do our pondering. But maybe it’s about time for that to change.

Hensarling has been one of the leaders of the House Republican resistance to the Bush Administration’s bank bailout plan. “You were being asked to choose between financial meltdown on the one hand and taxpayer bankruptcy and the road to socialism on the other and you were told do it in 24 hours,” he said. “It was just never going to happen.”

These are strong words, especially given how quiet, regardless of party, the rest of the Texas House and Senate delegations have been about the bailout. Which makes me wonder if Hensarling’s leadership on this issue — the House rejected the bailout on Monday — means he needs to be taken seriously as a senatorial candidate when Kay Bailey Hutchison quits to run for governor.

Despite Hensarling’s surprisingly low profile around here, he is a big deal in Washington –- the chairman of the influential and conservative Republican Study Committee and a member of what is always referred to as the powerful House budget committee.

Those connections should help Hensarling raise money if he wants to run for the Senate. In addition, he had $1.5 million on hand at the beginning of the summer, and since he’s running unopposed, most of that will still be there. Meanwhile, Hensarling’s opposition to the bailout will raise his profile locally, something that probably wouldn’t have happened if he had been just another Texas Republican with a safe seat. It’s one thing to complain about waste in government, as Hensarling has for years. It’s another to get on the front page of the New York Times for doing it.

Finally, there is the 5th district itself, which takes in parts of East Dallas and Lake Highlands. The district is important in Texas political history for electing the first GOP congressman from the state since Reconstruction in Bruce Alger in 1955, and its alumni include heavyweights like former Dallas mayor Earle Cabell and former state attorney general Jim Mattox.

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