Friday, August 5, 2011

The Coming Year: Bring on the Politics

After years of watching elections, contested elections and related matters, I am absolutely convinced many of us are born with an extra political gene. We are political junkies and enjoy watching all of the machinations of those seeking public office. The coming year ought to be a real doozie for those of us with this kind of political DNA. Unfortunately, most of the action will be among the Republicans.

The retirement of Kay Bailey Hutchinson from the Senate has produced a virtual rodeo of related candidacy announcements among Republican officeholders, with the biggest hat finally thrown into the ring by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Initially, half a dozen Republicans announced they would seek the vacant Senate seat, including a former Secretary of State and two members of the Texas Railroad Commission.  Since that time, a fellow named Ted Cruz also has chimed in and intends to try to parlay the combination of being Hispanic and a very conservative Republican into winning Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s slot. Two of the other candidates, both named Williams, having taken a look at the district congressional seats carved out by the recent Legislature, have decided to seek the same seat just outside Fort Worth.  That should make for an interesting contest with two people of the same name seeking the same job.

Now that Dewhurst has announced he's running for the U.S. Senate , the race is on for Lt. Governor. Three statewide incumbents are already casting eyes on that slot. Jerry Patterson, an ex-marine fighter pilot, who occupies the office of Land Commissioner of Texas, has announced for the office already. Patterson is a darling of the gun lobby, very outspoken, has established connections with Veteran groups, and is flamboyant even in his method of transportation. Patterson barnstorms the state campaigning in an antique Steersman aircraft...the kind of aircraft most commonly used for crop dusting. 

Another candidate is Susan Combs, State Comptroller. This is an office well suited for developing business contacts and good connections with big-moneyed folks well known for funding political campaigns.  The State Comptroller makes critical decisions involving millions and millions of dollars every day, and many of these decisions have a direct impact on how well your business runs. Combs is a fairly well-known officeholder having occupied the Agriculture Commissioner seat before the one she now holds.  Combs has the reputation for being a straight shooter and competent in the management of her office.  Combs’ background is in farming and ranching, she is well known as a “no nonsense” person, and en route to the run for Lt Gov she has gone from the Legislature to the Agriculture Commissioner’s office to State Comptroller.

The third is known as a “good ole’ boy” from East Texas.  Todd Staples came to the Senate defeating David Fisher, who appeared to be the favorite at the time--a relative of well known and revered East Texas federal judge, Joe Fisher.  Staples was pretty soon adopted as a darling of conservative Republicans and blessed by some of the state leadership as a future statewide officeholder.  When Combs chose to leave the Agriculture Commission office, Staples won the seat handily.  

At this point there is only speculation about whether or not Rick Perry will in fact launch a campaign for President of the United States, or will be successful in an effort to be drafted as the number two person on the Republican presidential team.  In any event, there is much speculation about what impact his decision will have on overall politics in Texas.

So far the only Democratic contender seriously mentioned for any of the office is former General Ricardo Sanchez of South Texas who made his announcement back in May that he would seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Add up all of the above factors--and then add to it the consideration that President Obama will be seeking re-election--and what you end up with is a political junky’s dream trifecta...the equivalent of prime seats to the Super Bowl, the World Series,  and the World Championship of Soccer. Indeed, let the games begin.

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