But it turns out that Perry has the upper hand — and he's thinking about wielding it.
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.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Rick to choose the special election timing...
If Kay resigns, Rick will not only choose her replacement for the time being he will also say when the special election is.
Selby runs down the legal skinny (link). Excerpt follows...
Kay's resignation would allow her to stop casting or missing votes in the senate which is probably a good thing... but it would also leave her with very little leverage over the news cycle. All of her senate mailings and constituent correspondence programs would go away. Her ability to get op eds based on her senate seniority would go away. Her email blasts, her senate website with her accomplishments, her meetings with astronauts, her taxpayer funded quasi political quasi federal staff... would all go away. Her relevance would go away on a lot of levels other than the fact that she was trying to unseat a fellow Republican.
On the other hand... Kay needs to do something to jump start her campaign, and this might be the grand gesture that she believes will set her on the right course.
Rick has to be sitting there thinking that he will get to appoint someone... which mostly gives him upside. He gets to play kingmaker. He could take care of some political loose ends and shore up some support for his bid depending on who he picks and why. The person he picks could turn around and endorse him... all eyes... even national eyes... would be on him for several days while he weighs the decision.
Rick could also make Republicans very happy if he sets the date in such a way that Democrats become angry and raise objections. That only plays into the theme that Rick is a conservative soldier who can be trusted. Depending on a lot of hypothetical circumstances Rick could take credit for saving the party from a potentially disastrous special election that Kay caused by not fulfilling her term.
Kay is in a tough spot... resigning obviously has some upsides. Remaining in the senate also has some upsides, especially if she loses the primary. She would at least have some place to fall back on.