Monday, August 3, 2009

Texas 2010: Governor

Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican who has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate since 1993, appears to be ready to challenge Rick Perry, the incumbent governor, in next year's Republican primary.

This Houston Chronicle article criticizes Hutchison for letting her support slip away by not taking the fight more strongly to Perry. There may be something to that, but it's early days, and it strikes me as premature to write her off to the degree the Chronicle's reporter seems to want to do.

This U.S. News and World Report blog post paints the contest as Hutchison the moderate taking on Perry the extremist. To the extent that's true, it doesn't seem to bode well for her among the state's Republican electorate. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Hutchison has indicated she will resign her Senate seat later on this year, if she does indeed jump into the gubernatorial race.

On that question, it seems politicians are damned if they do, damned if they don't. Several officeholders were criticized for ignoring their duties while running for president or vice president last year. On the other hand, Sarah Palin was criticized for resigning the office of governor of Alaska, in what might be a step toward a presidential candidacy on her part.

Texas has an odd law for filling Senate vacancies. Most states wait until the next regular election day before holding a special election. But Texas law would require the special election to be held next spring, if Hutchison resigns this autumn.

Martin Frost, writing in Politico, analyzes the implications of that, including the possibility that the Democratic Party could elect its first U.S. senator from Texas, since Lloyd Bentsen resigned his seat to become secretary of the treasury, in 1993 (with Hutchison winning the subsequent special election).

It was a quick special election that allowed the Republican Party to begin its ascent in Texas politics, when John Tower was elected to succeed Lyndon Johnson in the Senate, in 1961. Then, Hutchison's 1993 victory cemented GOP control in that state. Could a similar special election start the pendulum in the other direction?

No comments: