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Darren Yancy

Sibley in for SD22 special election

With the official resignation of State Sen. Kip Averitt, his predecessor in SD22, David Sibley, has announced that he will be a candidate for the May special election to fill the remainder of Averitt’s term.

The winner of the expected special election isn’t guaranteed a shot at the general election to serve during the 2011 legislative session.

That will be decided by the county party chairs in the district. The chairs from the Democratic and Republican parties each will meet to select replacement candidates on the general election ballot.

But Sibley made it clear in his statement that he’s running to position himself as his party’s choice in November.

“I believe I have a proven conservative track record at getting results, the understanding of the legislative process and the familiarity with issues of importance to Senate District 22 that will benefit all 10 counties in the district during this tough upcoming session,” he said.

Darren Yancy, who lost to a non-campaigning Averitt in March, is also in. I feel confident that several others will jump in as well. I’ll be surprised if Sibley wins this election and does not get named the Republican nominee for November. He’s the strong favorite for each. More from the Trib, which notes that there will also be a special election in HD100 to fill out Rep. Terri Hodge’s term. No word yet if Eric Johnson will be in for that – he may as well, it’d be some added seniority for him – but he’ll be the representative from HD100 next year regardless thanks to his win in March.

Still for Kip

State Sen. Kip Averitt may not want to run for re-election, but there’s still some folks who want to vote for him anyway.

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.

Averitt drops re-election bid

State Se. Kip Averitt (R, Waco) has withdrawn from the ballot due to health concerns.

State Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, said Wednesday afternoon that he has ended his re-election campaign, citing health problems.

The decision comes a week and a half after the closing of the filing period to run for state elected office as a Democrat or Republican and leaves Burleson insurance agent Darren Yancy as the sole candidate left to campaign in the GOP primary.

No Democrats have filed to run for Averitt’s seat, which covers McLennan, Coryell, Falls, Bosque, Hill, Navarro, Somervell, Hood, Johnson and Ellis counties.

Averitt, 55, a certified public accountant, has represented Waco since 1992, when he was elected to the state House. He issued a statement to the Tribune-Herald that said in recent years he has struggled to balance health and the interests of his family with his role as a public servant.

“I have been advised that I must now put my health above all else — for me and my family — and it is with deep regret that I announce today the cessation of my Senate campaign,” the release states.

That’s unfortunate. My best wishes to Sen. Averitt for a healthy retirement.

The lack of a Democratic candidate in this race, which would seem to hand this district from the fairly moderate Averitt to the teabagger Yancy, inspired some back and forth and back again about whether the Dems blew an opportunity or were in fact playing it smart. It turns out, however, that Averitt’s announcement comes after the deadline for withdrawing from the ballot. So, not only will he remain an option for Republicans on March 2, as the Quorum Report notes, he could give the Dems a second chance to compete:

If Averitt withdraws after winning the primary, then the Republican District Executive Committee (comprised of the County Chairmen from each of the counties SD 22, Sec 171.054) selects his replacement (not the SREC/SDEC); and the Democratic District Executive Committee also gets to nominate an opponent (Sec. 145.036). No litigation necessary.

Ross Ramsey elaborates.

If Averitt wins the primary — as incumbents generally do — and then quits, Republican Party officials can choose a candidate to replace him. But his departure opens a door for the Democrats. If he’s off the ballot and neither of the major parties has a candidate, both of them — the Republicans and the Democrats — get to add a nominee for the race. What is now on track to be a a Republican race would suddenly be competitive, at least on paper.

If Yancy wins in March, the Democrats don’t get to play. Averitt goes home, Yancy runs in November against a Libertarian, and that’s that.

So there’s that. And though it’s highly unlikely to make for a competitive race – SD22 was pretty darned red in 2008, it at least means there’s still a chance of a better outcome than Sen. Darren Yancy. Keep hope alive, and get those recruitment efforts for 2012 (*) started anyway, just in case.

(*) – Yes, 2012. All Senate seats are up in years that end in 2, which is to say the first election after redistricting. Senators then draw straws to see who has to run again in the next election, and who gets to wait four years.