13. Texas (R-Open?)A special election prompted by an early resignation necessarily makes Kay's Senate seat vulnerable, even in Texas. There will be multiple Republicans and at least two Democrats running all in one jumble. The top two vote getters would then go to a run off. The chance for the several Republicans splitting the vote is great. A Democrat could conceivably slip into office because of Kay's early resignation, and now that she seems more likely to resign early, she better have a good answer for the already angry Republican base about why she only served half of her Senate term and gave Democrats a big opportunity to take over the seat.
Which is more likely -- that the last-place Houston Astros win the NL Central, or that Kay Bailey Hutchison is still in the Senate by June, 2010? Start printing those playoff tickets, because every indication we've heard and seen is that Hutchison is leaving the Senate to challenge incumbent governor Rick Perry, which would leave this race wide open. Democrat Bill White, the mayor of Houston, is raising serious money, while state former comptroller John Sharp is bankrolling his own million-dollar stake into the race.
The Whip blog has some good commentary on this subject (link). Excerpt follows...
A well funded candidate like White, or Sharp, with some national attention from the DNC, DSCC, MoveOn, and other liberal interest groups could make a 2010 special election a real hassle for the GOP. It would undoubtedly make it a mightily expensive campaign in a state with a lot ground, and a lot of media markets to be covered. Much of the Democrats hopes, of course, rest upon the fate of the current seat holder, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. It’s no secret that the Texas Senator has a desire to move in to the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, and may challenge sitting GOP Governor Rick Perry in the March 2010 primary to get there.If Kay were to finish out of obligation in the Senate, Republicans could go through a normal primary process for her Senate seat in 2012 rather than a free for all open primary in a special election.
Once Senator Hutchison has fully committed to the Governor’s race, look for that to happen sometime shortly after the Franken seating, and once the rest of the field shakes out after the end of the Texas Legislative session in June, this race will begin to heat up. At that point though, Democrats may have a keen advantage in funds and momentum that will make this race a headache for the GOP in Texas and Washington. Fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn may be forced to divert some NRSC funds he had lined up for other Senate races back to Texas to defend a seat that the Democrats would love to usurp in the home of former President George W Bush.