While Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (above, right) remains the frontrunner in a Republican primary that now includes Craig James, Ted Cruz, and Tom Leppert, the Democratic Party lost its only major candidate for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat on Friday when Ricardo Sanchez dropped out of the race. The retired U.S. Army general had been quietly—too quietly—campaigning since the spring.
Enter Paul Sadler, a former six-term state representative from East Texas who chaired the House Public Education Committee and made Texas Monthly‘s “Best Legislators” list four times between 1990 and 2002. As Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune notes, Sadler’s political career ended when he failed to win a state senate seat in 2004. The 56-year-old attorney is currently the executive director of the Wind Coalition, a non-profit lobbying group for wind energy.
Several political observers told Gary Scharrer and Nolan Hicks of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that Sadler was a solid candidate, but none of them predicted his emergence would do anything to change the Democrats’ losing streak in statewide races.
David Catanese of Politico said that the national Democratic Party had initially included Texas on its list of six senate seats it thought it could aggressively contest, but that hope dwindled as the Sanchez campaign failed to pick up steam.
Given that the race is an essentially quixotic task, it bears noting there are others vying for the Democratic nomination. As Scharrer and Hicks also reported, Houston trial lawyer Jason Gibson filed paperwork on Monday, while at least two other candidates had already done so before Sanchez left the race: 31-year-old Sean Hubbard of Dallas and Daniel Boone of Canyon Lake.
Before Sanchez dropped out, blogger Lawrence Person only semi-facetiously suggested Boone might win the nomination simply because he has a famous name. That’s what happened in 2000 when Gene Kelly—like Boone, a retired Air Force colonel with limited political credentials—beat out former state legislator Charles Gandy for the right to face Hutchison for this same seat.
Person also noted the addition of a candidate named John Morton, as well as Eric Roberson, who has previously run for Congress, but there’s still no sign that Tommy Lee Jones will enter the race.