June 02, 2005
Combs and Staples make their moves

Man, KBH's much-awaited announcement is still more than two weeks away, and dominoes are falling already. We'll start with Ag Commish Susan Combs, who has formally announced that she's running for Comptroller.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs officially opened her campaign for state comptroller today without waiting for incumbent Carole Keeton Strayhorn to make her next move.

Strayhorn has been eyeing a run for governor in next year's elections. Combs and Stayhorn are Republicans, as is Gov. Rick Perry, who plans to seek re-election.

Combs, a former state legislator before her 1998 election as agriculture commissioner, said she expects an open seat for the comptroller's office next year based on her previous discussions with Strayhorn.

“She has been aware that I was running for this office,” Combs said. “I'm in the race to stay. I'm in the race to win.”

Strayhorn would not speculate on her political plans.


Strayhorn remains coy about her own political future.

“The people of Texas are asking her to run for governor, and she is listening,” [Strayhorn spokesman Mark] Sanders said.

As is the case with the KBH and CKS Governor speculation, Combs-for-Comptroller has been talked about for months, so this is no surprise. Combs outpolled everybody (even Rick Perry) except Strayhorn in 2002, so she'll be a heavy favorite to win. More to the point, this will force CKS' hand to an extent, since Combs would also be a good favorite to win a primary battle between the two women. One scenario I've heard is Strayhorn running for Lt. Gov. in the event David Dewhurst makes a break for the Senate. Assuming she survived a primary there, Strayhorn could make a pretty compelling case for crossover support by continuing to run against, and promising to continue to be a counterweight against, Rick Perry.

Domino Number Two is State Sen. Todd Staples, who has announced his intent to replace Combs.

Subsequent to Combs’ announcement, state Sen. Todd Staples, R- Palestine, declared his intent to run for agriculture commissioner.

Staples has an agricultural economics degree from Texas A&M. He is rancher and real estate appraiser.

Staples has served in the House and was recently elected to a second term in the Senate. He is a former mayor pro tempore of Palestine.

Staples has his GOP bonafides in order, as he was a leader in the redistricting legislation of 2003 and the Senate sponsor of the Double Secret Illegal anti-gay marriage HJR6 this session. He's picked up the endorsement of State Rep. David Swinford, who had previously been rumored to be interested in the Ag Commish job. And last but certainly not least, he has very good hair.

Staples' candidacy would leave his Senate seat open, which is a fairly rare commodity. His district is pretty solidly Republican, but an open seat is an open seat. Max Sandlin isn't doing much these days; maybe someone should give him a call and make a pitch about Senate District 3.

Thanks to Karl-T for the heads-up. More of this is sure to come soon, including (one hopes) some Democratic announcements for these offices. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The Chron runs down various candidate possibilities.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 02, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Ag Econ? Really? I didn't know that about Staples. I don't know about in his time, but these days, its the joke major at A&M.

Posted by: Chris Elam on June 3, 2005 12:30 AM

You know, just checking out your headlines on Yahoo!, my first thought was "waht an odd combination - brushes would make more sense." Of course, my brain caught up and decided you meant names, and not objects, but...

Posted by: rich on June 3, 2005 7:07 AM

Here's Charlie Stenholm's email address. Write and encourage him to run for Ag Commissioner.


Posted by: Mike Cable on June 3, 2005 4:02 PM