August 04, 2008
The queue behind KBH

If this episode of Waiting for KBH turns out differently than the others and she really does abandon her Senate seat for a shot at the Governor's mansion, there's no shortage of Republican wannabees lining up to replace her. DallasBlog reports:

DallasBlog has learned that Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones definitely will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010 or earlier. Sen. Hutchison is expected to be a candidate for Governor in 2010 even if Gov. Rick Perry runs for re-election. Sen. Hutchison has stated that she would step down from her U.S. Senate position early in order to make the race for Governor. That would allow Gov. Perry to make the interim appointment to the vacated Hutchison Senate seat. It is rumored that Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones and Michael Williams along with Victory 2008 Chairman Roger Williams all are seeking the Perry appointment if the Hutchison Senate seat is vacated.

Republican Elizabeth Ames Jones is a former state representative from San Antonio who was appointed by Gov. Perry to the Railroad Commission and later elected to a six-year term in 2006. She comes from a prominent oil and gas family in the San Antonio area.

Sen. Florence Shapiro already has formed an exploratory committee for a prospective Senate race. Sen. Shapiro reportedly has been encouraged by Sen. Hutchison to make the race for the U.S. Senate.

That's four already, and I suspect that's not the end of it. Former US Rep. Henry Bonilla was reported to be ready to jump into a Senate race in 2006 if KBH had taken the golden parachute at that time; despite his subsequent loss to Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in a redrawn CD23, it wouldn't shock me to see him go for it. Ag Commish Todd Staples and Comptroller Susan Combs are both known to have their eye on bigger things, as is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, though all three are usually talked about as Governor hopefuls. But who knows? We could go from never having a contested Republican primary for a statewide non-judicial office to a free-for-all in multiple races next cycle. Whether or not the Democrats have broken through, we'll likely see a very different state government in 2011 than we will next year.

On the Democratic side, it's a lot quieter so far. Rick Noriega could try again if he doesn't win this year; with a decent enough showing, he'd likely be the favorite for the nomination. Paul Burka has suggested that Houston Mayor Bill White will run for whatever KBH doesn't; I think he's running for Governor regardless (assuming he doesn't get appointed to something in an Obama cabinet), but it's a possibility. Former Rep. Jim Turner is still sitting on a million bucks in campaign cash that he must spend eventually. And of course, by law I must mention John Sharp's name, so there he is.

Getting back to Ames Jones and the GOP field for a second, there's really no one in that group that stands out as a frontrunner or a can't-miss prospect. The thought of Bonilla running in 2006 scared the crap out of me, but not as much now, especially after Noriega's candidacy this year. Shapiro may be the strongest of the bunch, and I guess if I had to choose I'd give her the best odds of winning the nomination, but it's not something I'd stand by if pushed. The thing is that unlike Ames Jones' run for Railroad Commissioner in 2006, I don't think any of them wins simply by being the Republican on the ticket. Even with an upheaval this year, any of them would be favored as "generic R" over "generic D", but 2010 is the year I expect there to be a lot of money available for a Democratic statewide effort, with the battle for the Governor's mansion leading the way. It ought to be a heck of a fight.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 04, 2008 to Election 2010
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