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Candidate Musical Chairs

George Nassar's picture

You know, if there's anything I've learned from watching Texas politics for the last couple of decades, it's that how the field looks before filing starts doesn't tend to have much in common with how it looks by the end of the filing period. So I tend to save prognostications for after some of the inevitable mayhem has hit the fan.

And now some of it has. Ross Ramsey, of Texas Weekly fame and now with the Texas Tribune, is reporting that gubernatorial candidate Tom Schieffer will be dropping out of the race this afternoon and endorsing Bill White.

But, you ask, isn't Bill White running for Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate seat, which will be open any day now as soon as she resigns to run for governor? Didn't he just confirm that a couple of days ago, in fact?

Well, it turns out the same folks that were giving me "yeah, right" looks a year ago when I was saying that KBH either enters the race knowing that she'll have support of the Texas Republican Party (read: Rick Perry bows out after a smoky-back-room discussion) or doesn't run at all are now starting to second-guess the assumption that she is in and in to win. Don't get me wrong — I would love for Hutchison to honestly run against Perry in the Republican primary; even with Hutchison barely making any effort in the race against Perry so far, the vitriol each camp has thrown the other has been newsworthy. But I've always thought Senator Hutchison was, sadly, too smart to get into a rough-and-tumble with the other most powerful Republican in the state, and that has effectively turned out to be true with her declaration that she won't resign her Senate seat until after the March primaries — therefore effectively giving up on the gubernatorial primary altogether while getting out of saying she flip-flopped on running on a technicality.

So it can't be too surprising that Mayor White would want to compete in the race that will actually occur, instead of the one that won't. Unless, of course, Senator Hutchison wins the Republican gubernatorial primary while sitting in the Senate and having her public agenda tied up with health care and credit reform legislation, and likely not making any real effort to get a leg up on Perry by attacking him like she had been the past few months — and if you think that'll happen, I've got some Florida swampland to sell you.

The only real question now is, who wins the Democratic gubernatorial primary? Do we get some Lite Guv candidates falling out of this? Or do we go to the voting booth with the current 4- or 5-deep field for the nomination in front of us?

What, do I look like the type to prognosticate this early? One thing you can be sure of, though — the field at primary time will look little like the field looks now. Expect changes, and soon.

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