Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sen. Hutchison Says Will Resign Senate Seat In Oct. Or Nov.

Update Thursday July 30, 2009 3:55PM
Gov. Rick Perry's campaign has created a new YouTube video criticizing Republican challenger U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, for Wednesday's discussions of when and if she will resign from the Senate.

Update Wednesday July 29, 2009 8:55PM
CQ Politics: First, she [U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison] told a Texas radio interviewer that she intends to resign her seat in the Senate. [Radio Interview Transcript at Houston Chronicle ]

In Washington a short time later, Hutchison said she might stay in the Senate through next year's gubernatorial race and really didn't intend to indicate a change in her anticipated timetable.

Hutchison said her comments were meant to convey that she believed Gov. Rick Perry might -- and maybe should -- drop out of the race, given that it was "pretty unprecedented to have a governor trying to serve 15 years."

In other words, she was nudging Perry to step out and clear the field for her.

Hutchison said she likely would formally announce her intention to run for governor over the August recess but that the announcement would not specify for sure her intentions about remaining in the Senate.
<-------------- Credibility Kay??? ------------>

Original post date Wednesday July 29, 2009 2:55PM - U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told a Dallas radio talk show host earlier today that she will resign her Senate seat in October or November. Hutchison told host WBAP host Mark Davis that she would like to stay in office while running for governor, but she cannot so long as fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry remains in the contest. [Transcript of Radio Interview at Houston Chronicle ]

Gov. Rick Perry holds a 12-point lead over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in advance of the March 2010 Republican primary election, according to a poll conducted last month by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. Many politicos are saying that Perry's 12-point lead is not as significant as it might seem, given the UT Austin poll also found that one-third of the likely voters say they remain undecided or would choose someone else. Still the big swing from a 56 percent to 31 percent lead Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison enjoyed over Gov. Rick Perry among likely Republican voters just last January can't be totally dismissed.

So, what happens to KBH's senate seat after she resigns? Texas could have a special election as soon as November 3, 2009, or as late as May 8, 2010 depending on exactly when KBH resigns and what Gov. Perry decides to do in calling either a special or emergency election to fill the senate seat.

When Sen. Hutchison does resign, Gov. Rick Perry will appoint a temporary replacement to U.S. Senate until a special election can be scheduled. Some have speculated that Gov. Perry will be looking to
appoint a strong well known person to the senate seat that will give him a big boost among the conservative Republican base that he is counting on to win again Hutchison in the 2010 March primary election. Some have speculated that Perry may well decide that appointing Texas Lt. Gov. Dewhurst to temporarily fill the senate senate will give him that boost.
Dewhurst has the personal wealth to self-finance his own campaign with millions of dollars; An important consideration for a candidate that might need to make last-minute media buys in every Texas media market at a moments notice on a 30 day special election campaign cycle.
Unlike most other states, Texas only allows the Governor to make a temporary appointment to fill the senate seat until he can order a special or emergency election. Six people are now in the starting gate to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat when she does resign to focus on her gubernatorial campaign.
Whether or not Gov. Perry does in fact appoint Dewhurst, some Texas politicos believe the Lt. Gov. will join the special election race. (Lt. Gov. Dewhurst isn't amending and cleaning up his fund filings just for the fun of doing it!) (DMN 9/11/09 - The Texas secretary of state - a Perry appointee - projects it would cost $28 million to $30 million to hold a special election, including $10 million for a likely runoff.)

Candidates now in the starting gate pictured below: (Left to right) Houston Mayor Bill White (D), former State Comptroller John Sharp (D), Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams (R), State Sen. Florence Shapiro (R), former Secretary of State Roger Williams (R) and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones (R)
Bill white senate John sharp senate 2 Michael williams senate
Florence shapiro
Roger williams senate Elizabeth ames jones senate
Pictures from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas' special election procedure has no party primaries, but lists all candidates, regardless of party, on the same ballot. The two Democrats and four Republicans that have so far announced plans to run for Hutchison's vacated senate seat will appear together on the special election ballot. If no candidate gets fifty percent of the vote in the special election, the top two finishers, regardless of party, participate a runoff election, generally within 20 to 45 days after the final canvass from the special election.

After a ceremonial bill signing of House Bill 3 at R.L. Turner High School in Carrolton Gov. Perry said he might move up the date of the special election to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison because too many important things are going on in Washington, D.C. [StarTelegram blog, July 29]

A short fast election announced at the last minute would give Gov. Perry's appointed interim senator a distinct advantage. Perry's appointed interum senator will get a burst of local texas and national media attention simply by getting selected by Perry and sworn in as a U.S. Senator. And, don't you just know the newly minted senator will show up on one or more Sunday morning news programs by special election day.

Candidates like Dewhurst or
former State Comptroller John Sharp, who already has statewide name recognition and the personal wealth to self fund their campaign also has an advantage. A quick election will leave all the other candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, gasping for political air in the scramble for attention in a 36-day campaign and election cycle.

Voters, unprepared for a quickly called election, probably won't even know what's happening until the election is over. This will be a distinct advantage for a Republican like Dewhurst because the die-hard religious conservative base will turnout their voters while everyone else is trying to figure out who to vote for and where they should go to vote on that special election day.

Confusion over where to vote in a quickly called November or December special senate election could be made even worse in Collin Co., given the county's plans to implement one-time experimental "consolidated voting centers" for the November 3, 2009 regular general election. [see Consolidated Polling Centers Coming To Collin Co. This November]

Such a coup in getting a conservative Republican elected to the U.S. Senate through 2012 would certainly give Gov. Perry a boost in his primary election against Hutchison.

Texas Election Code and Special Elections:
Texas only allows the Governor to make a temporary appointment to fill the Senate seat until he can order a special election on the next uniform election date after the office vacancy occurs, on the provision that uniform election date falls at least 36 days after the governor orders the special election.

If Hutchison resigns on or before September 28, 2009, Gov. Perry will order a special election for the next uniform election date in 2009, which is November 3rd.
[Section. 204.005 and Section 203.004 of the Code require that a special election be held on the first uniform election date occurring at least 36 days "after an election is ordered," which in this case is September 28, 2009.]
If Hutchison resigns after September 28, 2009, but before December 31, 2008 Gov. Perry would order the special election to occur on the March 2, 2010 primary election date.
[If a vacancy occurs in an even numbered year (2010 in this case) on or before the 62nd day before the spring primary date (which under Section 41.007 will be March 2, 2010), then Section 204.003 requires that the unexpired term be filled at that next general election date. Since there are 61 and not 62 days between January 1, 2010 and the March 2nd spring primary date, Hutchison would have to resign by December 31, 2008 in order to have the senate special election occur on the March 2nd spring primary date.]
[Texas Election Code Sections 2.025, 3.003, 41.001, 41.007, 201.023, 201.051, 203.004, 203.011, 203.003, 204.003 and 204.005]

Alternatively, the vacancy could be filled by a special "emergency special election" called by Governor Perry. Under Section 41.0011 of the Election Code, the Governor has authority to schedule an "emergency election" on any date that the governor deems necessary. For example, if Sen. Huchinson resigns early enough in October, the Governor could still order an emergency special election for the 2009 November 3rd general election date. Such a last minute emergency election order under sec. 41.0011 for November 3rd would seem to be contrary to the sec. 204.005 and sec. 203.004 "36 day" special election rule, but one never knows what Gov. Perry might decide. However, Gov. Perry could still order an emergency special election for later in November or December or anytime up to the 2010 primary date. Under the Texas election code the election can happen on any day the governor pleases.

To call a special "emergency election" the Governor must declare that an emergency exists such that warrants the earlier voting date. The Governor has considerable discretion in deciding whether to call an emergency election, and in the last four years Gov. Perry has ordered at least two emergency elections: the emergency election of February 25, 2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 106, and the emergency election of January 17,2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 48.

Since Texas started selecting its U.S. Senators by popular election in 1916, there have been just four temporary senate appointments and special elections fill a vacancy. The temporary appointee has never won a subsequent special election - twice because the appointee didn't run. Of the two appointees that did run, Democrat William A. Blakley lost to Republican John Tower in 1961, and Democrat Robert Krueger lost to Republican K. B. Hutchison in 1993.

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