Speculation is rampant that the Dew has set his sights on the U.S. Senate rather than run for reelection. Since Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat will not be vacant until she resigns, probably in June, Dewhurst must hope that Perry appoints him to fill the vacancy. As everybody knows, they haven’t exactly been bosom buddies. But there are sound reasons why Perry might favor Dewhurst against other hopefuls (former secretary of state Roger Williams, railroad commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones and Michael Williams, state senator Florence Shapiro). First, Republican donors have been hurt by the financial crisis and political money isn’t as easy to come by. Dewhurst can self-fund. So can Roger Williams, but Dewhurst is better known and would have a better chance to keep the seat in the Republican column in the special election that would follow the appointment. Second, by creating a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, Perry could play kingmaker in the scramble to succeed Dewhurst as the presiding officer of the Senate. In the case of a vacancy, the Senate chooses its successor from its own members. That’s the kind of political gamesmanship Perry loves. Jane Nelson, Troy Fraser, and Tommy Williams would be in the first tier of possible successors. This scenario is not a good one for attorney general Abbott, who had planned to run for the office in 2010. He might find himself facing a strong incumbent backed by Perry. Or, a new candidate could emerge with Perry’s blessing–most likely, agriculture commissioner Todd Staples.
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