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Katz announces for Lite Guv

Well, at least we have a candidate.

Marc Katz can’t help it. He’s gotta tell you. He’s planning to run for lieutenant governor.

Katz, 62, Austin’s self-proclaimed deli king, said he plans to file paperwork to enter the race as a Democrat, hoping to take the Republican-held seat with a populist campaign stressing the need for change.

“We need a whole new deal,” Katz said this morning, after announcing his intentions to make his first bid for statewide public office to supporters over the Labor Day weekend.

“Katz will never quit for Texas,” he added, playing on the theme of his 30-year landmark Austin eatery: “Katz’s Never Kloses.” “There’s no question we’re in one of the most difficult periods for the State of Texas. But I don’t see any urgency (among state leaders). There needs to be some urgency … some vision.

“I can’t help it. I can’t afford not to do something for Texas.”

I’m trying to imagine which Governor candidate for the Dems would pair with Katz to make the most colorful combination, Farouk Shami or Hank Gilbert. I’m not sure I want to go there.

On the plus side, Katz probably has more name general public recognition than anyone other than Kinky, and he’s sure to be a media favorite as well. On the minus side, Katz’s third-place finish in the 2003 Austin Mayoral election wasn’t an auspicious political debut, and it would be nice to have someone at the top of the ticket with some experience. BOR and Mean Rachel aren’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect. I’m glad someone is running, but beyond that I’ll need to see and hear more.

By the way, if Katz is the Democratic nominee, he will face David Dewhurst, who has apparently decided to run for re-election and sent a letter to supporters announcing his intention to do so.

Dewhurst spokesman Rich Parsons said the lieutenant governor sent the letter to supporters because it is the day after Labor Day, which he described as the traditional last day of summer.

“He’s focusing on re-election,” Parsons said. “All the other talk is just hypothetical.”

Dewhurst’s announcement immediately led to three items of speculation:

  • Hutchison will not resign as stated, a notion considered unlikely by Republican political operatives.
  • Attorney General Greg Abbott has been too aggressive in building a campaign to run for lieutenant governor if Dewhurst vacates the post. By announcing for re-election, Dewhurst keeps Abbott from announcing as a candidate for the race before the Senate vacancy occurs.
  • Dewhurst wants to retire the $2.5 million campaign debt that he personally guaranteed for his political committee before he makes another personal investment in a Senate race. By announcing for re-election, it becomes easier to raise money for the office he already holds, and federal law may preclude him from raising money to eliminate the state debt once he becomes a senator or Senate candidate.

So in some ways, not much has changed. We still don’t know who’s running for what on the Republican side. Take all the time you need, fellas.

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