Gardner Selby notes that whenever Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison decides to resign from the Senate, Governor Perry controls the timing of the special election to replace her and can use it to help his preferred candidate.
Under the law, if the governor determines that an emergency warrants holding a special election before the uniform election date, then it can be on a nonuniform date as long as the governor identifies the nature of the emergency.
Translation: The election can happen any day the governor pleases.
And should Hutchison step down, Perry would consider setting an election shortly. Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle told me, “If a vacancy were to occur, the governor would be inclined to call an election soon to ensure Texans are fully represented” in Washington.
This possible twist carries huge political implications.
A speeded election would give a leg up to the interim senator that Perry appoints on Hutchison’s departure if only because the fledgling senator will get a burst of attention simply by getting sworn in and settled. And a quick election would probably hurt other aspirants, including Democrats John Sharp of Austin and Bill White, the Houston mayor, leaving them scrambling for attention in an abbreviated campaign period.
Meanwhile, voters — not primed for a customary November vote or given notice of a less-traditional May election — may be asked to act on an unusual date such as (I’ll float) Tuesday, Oct. 13.
An odd date stands to inflate the influence of die-hard voters such as Republican regulars who tend to turn out in heavier numbers in special elections.
The political reverb: Democrats would cry foul, though Perry would draw warm credit in GOP circles for efficiently protecting the seat for his party.
1. Of course Rick Perry will take whatever advantage he can get from this situation. It’s what he does, and he does it well – he’s as good at politics as he is bad at governing. I’m not saying some other governor wouldn’t take political considerations into account. I’m just saying that for Perry, those are the only considerations.
2. Bear in mind, whatever “emergency” Perry might cook up to set an election date of his choosing, he did not call an emergency election to fill HD143 after the tragic death of Rep. Joe Moreno in May, even though he went on to call two special sessions on school finance reform after the regular session. HD143 remained empty during this time until now-Rep. Ana Hernandez won a runoff in December. Bear in mind, Texas’ Senate seat will be filled as soon as Perry names a replacement. It will not be left vacant for any stretch of time as HD143 was. This is as clear an illustration as you can want of Perry putting politics first and everything else second.
3. Of course, as I and some others have repeatedly noted, KBH has a simple counter to all this: Stay in office until she’s been sworn in as Governor, assuming she gets that far and then wins in November. Leave the replacement selection and special election date-setting to someone she trusts, namely herself. It’s either that or let Rick Perry send Dan Patrick to Washington. You’d think that wouldn’t be a hard choice from KBH’s perspective.