January 01, 2009
Sharp makes it official

As expected, former Comptroller and two-time candidate for Lieutenant Governor John Sharp has officially filed the paperwork for a run at Kay Bailey Hutchison's presumably-to-be-open-eventually Senate seat.

In a news release, Sharp announced that he had filed his campaign papers with the Federal Elections Commission. He also said he would work to halt Wall Street bailouts and focus instead on using emergency funds to give homeowners mortgage relief.

"The challenges we face at home and abroad demand innovative solutions, not politics as usual," Sharp said. "Texans are looking for that kind of leadership."

Hutchison, whose Senate term expires in 2012, has said she may leave the Senate as early as next year to campaign. She has formed an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2010. If she leaves her Senate seat before her term ends in 2012, the governor would appoint a replacement until a special election is held.

I've reproduced the press release beneath the fold, if you're interested. Looks like he wants to talk about the economy and the Wall Street bailout, which seems like a good idea to me.

The question at this point is when exactly will the election to fill KBH's not-yet-vacated seat take place? Here are the scenarios as I see them:

November 2009 - There was a time when this was likely. Last year, I was told by a Republican insider that KBH was planning to resign just after the legislative session, to establish to any remaining doubters that she really did want to be Governor and wasn't just teasing again. With Bill White's announced entry into the race, this now seems very unlikely, since there isn't a Republican in the state who'll want that race taking place at the same time as a high-turnout Houston Mayoral election. Barring a change of direction from White, I think this just won't happen.

May 2010 - The main advantage to this scenario for the Republicans - and let's face it, the main consideration for KBH's timing is going to be what works best for the GOP, since anything she does that might be seen as a bad thing for the party will be gleefully latched onto and hammered relentlessly by Rick Perry - is that it can be timed for after the November 2010 filing deadline. That puts the Dems in a box regarding their statewide lineup for the fall. While I still think that anything can happen regarding that, I guarantee you this possibility will cause a lot of hand-wringing, and more than a few attempts to push someone one way or another. The main disadvantage from the GOP perspective is that if a Dem actually wins, then with Al Franken's apparent victory in Minnesota, the Dems will achieve the magic 60 in the Senate, if only for a few months. The Rick Casey scenario is a low-probability one, but it's still greater than zero, and who knows what may happen in a D-versus-R runoff. I think this option has a small chance of coming true, but not much more than that.

November 2010 - Has most of the advantages and disadvantages of the May 2010 scenario, though a hypothetical 60th Democratic Senator would have less time to help break filibusters. This obviously assumes KBH has won the GOP gubernatorial primary - while she could still resign anyway if she loses, I think she sticks it out till the end, if only to ensure Rick Perry doesn't choose her successor. This option has the most to do with what's best for KBH. Will she be a more effective fundraiser and get more positive press if she's still in the Senate while campaigning, or will she need to quit and concentrate full-time on her hoped-for new gig? I rate this case as slightly more probable than that of May 2010.

May 2011 - Here, KBH sticks it out in the Senate, wins her race for Governor, and resigns as close to her swearing in as she needs to in order to ensure that she taps her fill-in. That may not be as sweet a prize now thanks to the current unpleasantness in Illinois, but I'll bet it's still pretty irresistible. I think this is the single most likely choice for her, which is why I think Bill White should shift his focus to Austin, as I've suggested before, and give himself a contingency plan. And I think I'm going to be pounding on that horse till the bitter end.

November 2012 - Until KBH actually resigns, we can't say for sure she really means it this time. And even if she does resign, she hasn't won anything yet. Rick Perry certainly won't roll over. The candle I've lit for the Bill White For Governor dream is still flickering. We'll all feel pretty silly if she winds up serving out her term, won't we? Hell, she may run for re-election to the Senate at that time. You just never know. I actually think this is the second most likely outcome. Stranger things have happened.

So there you have it. Which scenario do you think is most likely? Leave a comment and let me know.

Making good on his pledge to get into the race, John Sharp today filed the official papers to run for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison, launching a streamlined campaign website that features a survey on his innovative plan to stop bailing out Wall Street and instead use existing emergency funds to provide nationwide mortgage relief for current and future homeowners.

"The challenges we face at home and abroad demand innovative solutions, not politics as usual," Sharp said. "Texans are looking for that kind of leadership."

Sharp filed his campaign papers with the Federal Elections Commission and took his campaign website live at http://www.johnsharp.com.

Visitors to the site can sign up for regular campaign updates, make financial contributions, and complete a brief survey on Sharp's plan to allow every current U.S. homeowner to refinance his or her mortgage at a fixed rate of 4.5 percent during the next year. Homebuyers would also qualify for the fixed rate during the same period.

"All Americans should have the right to participate in our economic recovery, and that means no more bailing out of the speculators who caused this crisis in the first place," Sharp said. "The real problem is residential mortgages so let's solve it there with a plan that benefits all homeowners and creates a housing demand that will not only solve the foreclosure problem but lower monthly payments for virtually every homeowner in America."

The mortgage buy-down plan would cost less than $100 billion while helping as many as 2.5 million households, according to an analysis by the respected Barron's. In November, Congress appropriated $700 billion for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to bolster the nation's financial system. About half that amount went to financial institutions and insurance corporations with little accountability. Meanwhile, credit markets remain frozen, confidence in the banking system is at record lows, and home foreclosures and plunging home values continue to threaten families and communities across the country.

Sharp said he will expand his website and add new features and detailed information about his campaign in the weeks and months ahead.

A former Texas Comptroller, Sharp earned a national reputation for innovative solutions that saved taxpayers more than $8.5 billion, helped divert a proposed state income tax, and safeguarded vital public services. His efforts served as the model for Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review, which Sharp set up and directed.

Sharp is a native of the South Texas farming community of Placedo, near Victoria. He graduated from Texas A&M University, where he was elected student body president and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. He earned his master's in public administration from Texas State University in San Marcos while working fulltime as a fiscal analyst at the Legislative Budget Board in Austin.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 01, 2009 to Election 2010

I have a funny feeling about this one ... the kind that makes me wonder if this is a sucker ploy to out the ambitious Democrats. Hutchison may like the idea of being governor, but I don't think she has fire in her belly -- not now, not ever. She may be a moderate, but she's got the personality of a doorstop, and the drive to match.

What we know for sure, now, is who wants her seat. If she changes her mind and decides to stay in the Senate, she will have humiliated two potential candidates for governor, and she will have seriously damaged their standing in the political community. In short, they will be the laughingstock of Texas.

I could be giving the Republicans too much credit for subtlety and shrewdness, but I can't help remembering how certain we were that she was going to run in 2006.

Posted by: Dale on January 1, 2009 6:40 PM

I don't think the Republicans even know what is going on with her. She has irritated the Republicans with this although of course they at least know who the competition will be as does she. She likes "sure things" and the race for governor is probably not a "sure thing" now any more than it was in 2006. So she will probably stay in the Senate.

And that will leave Rick Perry and a Democrat and possibly another Independent again. The latter of course ensuring that Governor 39% still wins even with only 39% of the vote.

Reality is Kay Bailey Hutchison cannot win without that 39%. And it may not be there. What may be looked at with regard to that 39% is whether Craddick retains his position as speaker. He most likely has the backing of that 39% which means the "hard core" Republicans will remain solidly behind Rick Perry.

Posted by: baby snooks on January 1, 2009 11:18 PM
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