The race for HD48, which was decided by 147 votes in 2004, just got more interesting as incumbent Todd Baxter has announced his resignation as of this November.
"I am stepping aside because my family and my professional career come first," said Baxter, 37. "My wife and I are expecting our second child this spring, and I am looking forward to spending more time with my family. As I prepared for yet another winning campaign, I realized the full cost of elective victory was the lost time with my family and professional endeavors."
Baxter's move sets up a special election in the coming months that could give the winner the benefit of incumbency, however brief, heading into a November 2006 contest for a full two-year term. The winner of the special election would serve until Baxter's term is up at the end of 2006.
The BOR thread speculates on whether Baxter's exit will help Democrats take the seat. Maybe, maybe not. If you look at the other race totals in HD48, you see that while it went mostly Republican, two Dems (Jan Patterson and Margaret Cooper) carried the day there. This is a fairly evenly-matched district overall - in contested races excluding Baxter/White, the vote totals are 346,189 R to 310,347 D, or 52.7% to 47.3%. From where I sit, that makes this a tossup, with the outcome to be determined by the candidate and his or her GOTV efforts.
You can argue that Baxter was damaged goods and thus an easier target for Brown/Howard/whoever. That's true, but he's also a known quantity with some district-friendly votes on his resume, in particular his opposition to toll roads. The two Democrats who got majority support in HD48 were both running for open seats. He may have been the lowest performing incumbent in that district, but he still won in the end. In general, I'd rather not have to compete with incumbent's advantage.
We'll see when Governor Perry schedules the special election, since the time frame he picks may give a clue as to whether or not he calls another special session on school finance, and if so when that would be.
Gov. Rick Perry can set a special election sometime between the end of November and May. Perry spokesman Robert Black would not speculate Thursday on the election date, because Perry had not received official notice of Baxter's resignation.