Texas Senate changes

The Texas Tribune reports that Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar, also a member of the State Senate, has resigned his seat in anticipation of assuming high office. Governor Rick Perry has called a special election for December 6th, which will likely have to be resolved by a runoff election some point after the 84th Legislative session convenes at the start of next year.

The three candidates for the State Senate district, which stretches from Katy (Hegar’s hometown) to Corpus Christi to the outskirts of Austin (map here), include Gary Gates and Charles Gregory of Fort Bend County as well as State Representatives Lois Kolkhorst (R-Washington County). Needless to say, the huge district will continue to be dominated by its Greater Houston subdivision. No Democrats have, at print time, announced their interest in the district, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that none will run (the last time the district held an election, in 2012, Hegar ran unopposed).

Perhaps the bigger piece of news is some convincing evidence that State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), this year’s unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, will in fact resign her senate seat to run for Mayor of San Antonio. I went over most of the odds-and-ends involving this possibility last week, when I emphatically opined against the decision. Selfishly, I think Van de Putte could continue being an asset for Democrats in this state as an articulate and highly-visible leader of the opposition against Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in the next session.

The source for this is Robert Miller, a lobbyist in Houston who has a history of breaking these types of stories via Twitter. The tweets were immediately confirmed by former staffers of Van de Putte. Miller, as you may remember, correctly pointed to Wendy Davis running for Governor in August of last year (Back when I thought she would only lose by eight-to-ten points, how naive of me).

With Van de Putte out, another special election would have to be called. The Houston Chronicle has suggested that both State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer and State Representative Jose Menendez, both San Antonio Democrats, would throw their hats in the ring to succeed Van de Putte in heavily gerrymandered (for the Democrats) district. Meanwhile, State Representative Mike Villarreal (D-Bexar County), who recently resigned his House seat to run for Mayor of San Antonio, may still end up switching races.

The San Antonio Express-News has a great profile out that discusses the “friction” between Van de Putte and Villarreal. In 1999, Villarreal had succeeded Van de Putte in the State House when she was first elected to the senate, defeated her hand-picked successor in the process. Ever since, the relationship has been tense. Accordingly, the two might have a nasty campaign ahead of them, though I would think Van de Putte (the only statewide Democrat to carry Bexar County) would be heavily favored.

But the optics about candidates and what not can wait until we have more information. Perry and Governor-elect Greg Abbott, when he takes office, are just petty enough to purposefully drag their feet on a special election to ensure the Democrats start the session with one fewer voice, short of the 1/3 needed to block legislation. Although, as I have previously mentioned, the 2/3rds rule is likely doomed anyways.

Off the Kuff has more (regarding Hegar).

Wendy Davis ‘close’ to announcement

KERA reports that Wendy Davis is “close” to making a big announcement, possibly as early as this week, on her political future.

Davis, the State Senator who was swept into international fame after a 13 hour filibuster, has been making recent hints that she would forgo another run for her State Senate seat and instead seek the Democratic nomination for Governor. Despite the empty promises best efforts of many national-funded outreach groups, there have been a grand total of ZERO declared Democratic candidates for Governor for next year’s election. Accordingly, it is absolutely imperative that a competent candidate be found.

Over a month ago, Davis first made some comments that convinced me that she would run for Governor in 2014. Shortly thereafter, Robert Miller told the world that he had heard Davis would run. Davis was originally going to make an announcement by Labor Day, but postponed the announcement, to care for her ailing father, who ultimately passed away.

The KERA article provides no more useful information, instead bringing up old news once again about Davis’ low chances of election. I have always maintained that Davis’ candidacy is about much more than simply the feasibility of electoral success. Jason Stanford at the Austin American-Statesman came to the same conclusion this morning. The Statesman continues talking about whether or not Wendy will –or should– run. You can read the article for yourself, it mainly is a lot of spitballing.

We should know what Davis decides to do at some point this week, I suppose. One point the Statesman brought up is that the death of Davis’ father gives her an “out” to reverse her decision to run, therefore providing a good opportunity for to have an excuse for wealthy donors she had promised she would run to. This casts some doubt, but I still seem to think she will run.

Miller says Davis will run

Robert Miller, the Houston lawyer, lobbyist and political confidant, reports that Wendy Davis WILL IN FACT run for Governor in next year’s Democratic Primary, and not for re-election to the State Senate. Miller cites “credible sources” that have told him this news, and from what I understand, Miller is typically somewhat trustworthy. Miller then goes on to describe why Davis would make a wonderful candidate, even if she doesn’t win, citing some reasons that sound EXACTLY like the ones I have been talking up for over a month, so I guess someone does read my blog:

However, the real winner of Sen. Davis’ decision to run for Governor are Texas Democrats.  Without her, they have no credible statewide candidate in 2014.  With her, they will likely find other credible Democrats willing to step out and run statewide.  She will also provide a race that Battleground Texas, the Obama campaign’s effort to turn Texas blue, can organize around.  Finally, she will likely boost Democratic turnout in urban counties such as Dallas and Harris helping down ballot Democrats running for county and judicial offices.

Anyways, the news is not all that surprising to me. While I had long been somewhat dubious and cynical as to statewide ambitions from Davis, her comments last Friday were able to decisively convince me that she had gubernatorial plans.

In case you need any validation of how seriously Miller is being taken, his comments have already been cited by Kronberg and The Texas Tribune. It appears we will have a competitive gubernatorial election after all. The most recent poll between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis only cited an eight point deficit for Davis, with her competitor still below the 50% mark.

For comparison, Rick Perry beat Bill White by 13 points in 2010. Davis already represents progress. I still am not convinced she could win, but a very competitive gubernatorial election would certainly give a plethora of benefits to our State, including finally not being ignored by national Democratic money interests.

The other major issue that will arise if this occurs is who will run for Davis’ Senate seat. A Republican named Konni Burton is already running an insurgent campaign against Davis, which may lose some steam if Davis is no longer the Democratic nominee. I tend to agree with Off the Kuff that Joel Burns, who himself was Davis’ successor on the Fort Worth City Council, would make the best Democratic nominee for SD10.

I’ll have more when a major news source coaxes a statement out of Davis, if she says anything or any other developments in particular arise.