What will The Dew do next?

David Dewhurst

So Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst isn’t going anywhere next January. I’m going to put aside the questions of what happened for now and ask instead what happens in 2014? As we know, there are three people running for what they originally thought would be an open seat race for Lite Guv in 2014. What happens if Dewhurst decides, as Rick Perry may have also done, to run for re-election again? Do the dominoes stand or fall?

Whatever you may think about Dewhurst and his campaign, the fact that he got his butt handed to him on Tuesday doesn’t mean he’d be easy to beat in a 2014 primary. For one thing, it’s unlikely that there will be millions of dollars spent by outside agitators in the service of calling Dewhurst names. For another thing, three candidates who have each been elected statewide at least twice and have held office for a lot longer than that are hardly the insurgent fresh-faced outsider that Ted Cruz managed to portray himself as. I’m not saying that Dewhurst would be a lock – he might have to learn how to campaign, for one thing – but he’s hardly a dead man walking, either. The conditions that led to his defeat here will not be in play in two years’ time.

So as I said before, we could have a situation where there are no open non-judicial statewide offices in 2014. It’s too early to know what Combs, Staples, and Patterson might do, but here’s something that occurred to me in the waning days of the Senate primary: As far as I could tell, Greg Abbott stayed on the sidelines in that race. If he was supporting either Cruz or Dewhurst, he was mighty low key about it. I bring this up because it seems to me that Abbott had a low cost, low risk way of test driving opposition to Rick Perry by supporting Cruz. I mean, Cruz used to work for Abbott, so surely it wouldn’t have been too much of a surprise for Abbott to announce that as much as he liked Dewhurst he’s going to support his former employee. With a little savvy, he could have worked that into some conversations with media folks in the days leading up to the runoff, as Cruz’s chances looked better and better, perhaps appearing with Perry’s former BFF Sarah Palin at that Cruz rally in the Woodlands, all the while pooh-poohing the idea that this was somehow a proxy for a future gubernatorial primary. But hey, what do I know? For more thoughts on Tuesday’s runoffs, see Robert Miller, Harold Cook, and Forrest Wilder.

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