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Shapleigh’s successor

Via Greg, the El Paso Times runs down the possible contenders for the to-be-vacated Senate seat of Eliot Shapleigh.

Potential Democratic candidates include County Attorney José Rodríguez and state Reps. Joe Pickett and Norma Chávez.

Two Republicans, businessman Dee Margo and former state Rep. Pat Haggerty, also said they were interested in succeeding Shapleigh.

Margo, who lost to Shapleigh in 2006, said he may consider another run. Margo is chief executive officer of JDW Insurance.

As for Haggerty, he said he might try a political comeback by running for the Senate.

“Of course, once you hear about it, you gotta take a look at it,” Haggerty said. “(But) I’m an old man and this is a young man’s game.” He is 65.

Soon after Shapleigh’s noontime news conference in which he announced his decision to step down, Chávez said she would form an exploratory committee for the Senate seat.

“I’ve been inundated with phone calls of support to look into running,” she said. “Count me in as a contender.”

Hours later, Rodríguez announced that he was forming his own exploratory committee.

“I’m going to consider running and I’m gauging the community’s support,” Rodríguez said.

Pickett said that soon after Shapleigh’s announcement he received more than $250,000 in commitments should he decide to run for the Senate.

“I’m the chair for the House Transportation Committee, and that’s a pretty hard thing to give up for El Paso,” Pickett said.

Interestingly, Capitol Inside suggests Haggerty, who got primaried out of his State Rep seat in 2008 by Margo, who had the backing of Tom Craddick and Rick Perry, might run as a Democrat. There’s a certain logic to that, but it’s hard to see how he wins a Democratic primary against established contenders like Chavez. Had he made a declaration after the 2008 primary that he was quitting Team R, and then made a visible effort to assist Democratic candidates that November, such as State Rep. Joe Moody, the guy who ultimately beat Margo (he teased at it but never came out and said it), that would put him in a stronger position now and wouldn’t make him look like an opportunist. Too late for that, I’m afraid. So while it has a certain appeal, I just don’t see it happening.

On a related note, Burka hears that Shapleigh might be looking at Lite Guv as well. As you know, I love that idea. But I do share Greg’s concern that unless Shapleigh can collect a few million bucks for his effort in short order, he’ll be a target the Republicans will use to attack the entire ticket with glee. The best thing about Shapleigh is that he’s such a breath of fresh air on so many issues. Without the means to get him out there in front of the voters on his terms, that won’t be of much good.

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