The alliance of convenience between Rick Perry and Rudy Giuliani could have a huge impact on Texas politics, especially the 2010 race for governor. Suppose:
(1) Rudy picks Rick as his vice-presidential running mate and emissary to the right wing of the Republican party;
(2) Rick’s lucky charm rubs off on Rudy, and Rudy (and Rick) win the election;
(3) Perry resigns as governor to become vice-president; and
(4) David Dewhurst becomes governor in January 2009.
Now what does Kay Bailey Hutchison do? She is right back where she was in 2002 and 2006, facing a primary race against an incumbent governor. Dewhurst will have a legislative session to build a record and a year to woo Republican heavy hitters to support him. Republicans have a history, both in state and national politics, as preferring to support the candidate with the best claim to the throne.
I have raised this scenario with some influential Republicans, and I think the answer is that she runs. Dewhurst has not done a good job of keeping his fences mended with the Republican big shots. Hutchison has. Many of them are already committed to her, in part because she has twice agreed to submerge her own ambitions for the good of the party (and saved them from financing a bloody primary battle). They feel that it’s her turn now–that she, and not Dewhurst, should be next in line. If Dewhurst were more adroit at handling his political business, he could turn this around, but I’m not sure he’s up to it. So the thinking seems to be that Kay would beat him. All things being equal, I would agree, but they aren’t equal. Dewhurst would have money (his own) and incumbency. A Hutchison win would not be a sure thing.
Meanwhile, Dewhurst’s old job as lieutenant governor would be filled by the members of the state Senate, who would choose one of one of their own, as they did when Perry became governor after Bush won the presidency in 2000 and Bill Ratliff was elected in his stead. Don’t think for a moment that the senators haven’t already started thinking about this. I can’t begin to handicap the lieutenant governor’s race, but I imagine that Jane Nelson will be in the mix.