Chris DeCluitt, a Waco lawyer who sits on the State Republican Executive Committee, said a movement was afoot to re-elect Averitt, which, according to the Secretary of State’s office, would open the door for Republican and Democratic candidates to later vie for the seat.
“There are already quite a few people who are not in favor of Mr. Yancy who are talking about, ‘We’ve got to elect Kip,’ ” DeCluitt said. “I’m one of those people. We’ve got to elect Kip.”
An Averitt primary victory would trigger one of two scenarios:
* If the senator were to withdraw right after the March primary, Republican and Democratic committees consisting of the party chairs from the 10 counties in the Senate district — McLennan, Bosque, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Navarro and Somervell — would each name a replacement candidate to compete in November’s general election.
* If he were to stay on through the general election (where he would have to defeat a Libertarian candidate) and then step down, there would be a special election to fill the seat, in which candidates of any political stripe could compete.
With an Averitt win, DeCluitt said, “I think people of the district — whether through special election or through the selection process with the county chairs — would have more input on who’s going to be our senator.”
I agree that either of these represents a more democratic solution than essentially handing an open seat to some guy nobody knows. Better still would have been for Sen. Averitt to come to terms with his health issues before the filing deadline, in time for any interested party to file for the primary, including those who are now running for something else. Maybe that wasn’t possible, and if so then one of DeCluitt’s scenarios will have to do, assuming Averitt wins the primary. Feels like there ought to be a better way, but right offhand I can’t say what that would be.
David Sibley, the man Averitt replaced in the Senate, brings up another point.
“I’m going to appeal to him and say, ‘Please don’t do this,’ ” said Sibley on Monday, arguing the consequences for McLennan County and Waco could be dire if there’s not local representation in the Senate when lawmakers start carving up new legislative and congressional districts.
“I’m afraid we’re going to get cut up like boardinghouse pie,” said Sibley, a former Waco mayor and county prosecutor who left the Senate in 2002 and now works as a lobbyist. “I’ve seen it happen before, and it can take decades for counties to recover from that.”
Sibley said that during redistricting, legislators place their own electoral self-interest high, working to draw themselves into winnable districts.
He said Yancy naturally would want to shore up his support to get re-elected in the district, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Navarro and Somervell counties. And keeping McLennan, the population center of the district, whole might not fit with that goal.
“I’ve been through it twice, and it’s the most personal thing out there,” Sibley said. “People talk about doing this or that, but he’s not going to want to work with us.”
Of course, Averitt was there in 2003 when the Tom DeLay re-redistricting scheme split McLennan and Coryell Counties into separate Congressional districts, over the objections of local interests. So having local representation can only do so much if there’s a bigger power out there.