Sunday, April 26, 2009

Race To Fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R) U.S. Senate Seat

There are now six people gearing up for a run to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat. Plus, there are at least five or six more that have been rumored to be considering throwing their hat in the ring for that race too.

The problem is nobody, with the possible exception of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, knows when or if she will vacate her Senate seat to run against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry for the Governor's Mansion.

Hutchison might resign from the senate by the end of this year, or it could be after the March 2010 Republican primary election, in which she hopes to make Perry a lame duck. Or, she could wait to resign from the Senate on Jan. 1, 2011, the day she is sworn in as governor, assuming she wins the 2010 primary and general elections.

Senator Hutchison has publicly denied reports that she will not resign from the Senate while running for Governor, and has stated that she may resign as early as late 2009. (See "Senate Run May Spur Dewhurst to Pick Up the Pace," p. B-8, Austin American Statesman, March 26,2009 / also see Did Hutchison Make Promise to Set Up May '10 Elections Months Ago?)

In contrast to that denial, fearful that a special election for U.S. Senate could result in a Democratic victory, Congressional Republicans appear to be pressuring Hutchison not to resign unless and until she is elected governor. Republican insiders have been indicating Hutchison will not resign at all if she is unsuccessful in her bid for the Governor's office.
Under Texas law, if Hutchison resigns earlier than shortly before the November 2010 election, Rick Perry, a Republican, would appoint a short-term replacement for Hutchison until a special election can be held.

A special election would likely be held in November 2009 if Hutchison resigns her U.S. Senate seat before September 28, 2009. If she resigns late in 2009, the special election for her senate seat likely could not be scheduled to coincide with the March 2010 primary and would instead be scheduled for May 2010.

If Hutchison does wait to resign until about early September 2010, the special election for her open Senate seat could be held concurrently with the November 2010 general election, ensuring maximum turnout for any Republican senatorial candidate.

If Hutchison doesn't resign until after the November 2010 general election, assuming she is elected governor, she could theoretically name her own short term replacement and call a special election for her Senate seat for May 2011.

Of coarse, if Hutchison wins the March 2010 primary and doesn't resign by election day November 2010, and a Democrat is elected as the new Texas Governor in the November 2010 election, that would deny Democrats the opportunity to challenge her Republican Senate seat until the 2012 election cycle.
Two Democrats — Mayor Bill White and former state Comptroller John Sharp — and four Republicans have announced their candidacies and set up fundraising committees over the past few months. While six candidates have thrown their hats in the ring, none know for sure when or if their names might appear on an election ballot - it all depends on when Hutchison resigns.

Candidates: (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

Potential Candidates: (Left to right) Rep. Kay Granger (R), Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), US Rep. Joe Barton (R), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R), Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and TX State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)
Kay granger senate
David dewhurst senate Joe barton senate
Jeb hensarling
Greg abbott senate

Pictures from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

So far, the Texas Governor's race has been a battle between two Republicans. Conventional wisdom says that if Perry manages to pull off an unexpected upset in the primary, he's actually vulnerable in the general election. (Perry is the most unpopular politician in the state of Texas, and probably the least popular Governor in memory.)

Conventional wisdom also says that if Hutchison wins the primary match up against Perry, she will likely skate to the Governorship in the November 2010 general election. Things are looking a little less certain for Republicans to retain the Texas governor's mansion, even if Hutchison does win the primary, now that long time Texas Democrat Tom Schieffer seems ready to join the Texas governor's race.

Tom Schieffer is a former State Representative, former partner in the Texas Rangers, brother to Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer, and Bush-era Ambassador to Australia and Japan.

Schieffer, a lifelong Democrat, did endorse G.W. Bush for the offices of both Governor and President, but he supported Barack Obama for the 2008 primary and general election, and he supported Democrat Chris Bell in the 2006 Governor's race. Conventional wisdom suggests that Schieffer can attract not only Democrats, but Independents and even some moderate Republicans.

Dallas Morning News: "We are experiencing a crisis of leadership," said Schieffer, a former U.S. ambassador under President George W. Bush who plans to run as a Democrat.

He dismissed his ties to the former Republican president, saying Texans want leaders who are less partisan and more effective in dealing with issues like education and health care.

"Our politics have become less substantive, less thoughtful, less creative and less innovative," said Schieffer, 61.

Research 2000 Texas Poll of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections conducted from April 20 through April 22, 2009 provides a current snapshot of candidates for the U.S. Senate and Texas Governor races:

Favorable / Unfavorable

PERRY (R) GOV 17 34 24 19 6
HUTCHINSON (R) GOV 27 37 16 13 7
SCHIEFFER (D) GOV 9 17 6 5 63
ABBOTT (R) SEN 21 24 13 13 29
DEWHURST (R) SEN 15 24 17 14 30
WILLIAMS (R) SEN 13 20 13 12 42
SHAPIRO (R) SEN 11 17 14 10 48
SHARP (D) SEN 17 19 14 10 40
WHITE (D) SEN 16 17 12 11 44
OBAMA (D) -- 20 25 26 27 2
Full poll results available here.

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