Texas then rocked along with no Senate deaths or resignations until 1993, when Democrat Lloyd Bentsen quit to become President Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary.
The interim appointment power fell to Gov. Ann Richards, then trying to hold off the GOP surge that would overrun the state in coming years. She picked former Railroad Commissioner Bob Krueger, an ex-U.S. House member and a loser in a 1978 Senate race against Tower.
Krueger's appointment touched off a special-election scramble for the rest of Bentsen's term, which ended in January 1995. The field of 24 included Krueger, Hutchison (then the state treasurer, an office later abolished as unnecessary), Republican U.S. Reps. Joe Barton and Jack Fields and Democrat Richard Fisher (now the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas) as the top-tier candidates.
And then there was an entertaining assortment of unknown or little-known others.
Billy Brown of Santa Rosa, then in his seventh bid for a Senate seat, wore a white uniform — he called it a "war suit" — that made him look like an officer in a fourth-world nation's coast guard or, perhaps, a high-ranking ice cream salesman. At a Dallas debate featuring 15 of the lesser-knowns, Brown indicated he was making post-election plans.
"If I'm given a landslide victory, I may even abolish the Republican and Democratic parties," he said.
There were 2,187 Texans who, by their votes, said the uniformed Brown should have been a U.S. senator.
Anti-abortion advocate Stephen Hopkins of Marble Falls liked to run for public office because it allowed him to run ads with photos of aborted fetuses. He got 14,753 votes.
Perpetual candidate Gene Kelly of San Antonio was in the field. There were 11,331 Texans who wanted him in the Senate.
Also in the contest was Charles Ben Howell of Dallas, a judge who made five unsuccessful bids for the Texas Supreme Court and who once showed up at a debate wearing a "Judge Kook" sign around his neck. At the Dallas debate of the lesser-knowns, Howell complained about being grouped with "freaks."
On election day, there were 3,866 Texans who wanted him to be Sen.Kook.
Hutchison and Krueger ran a close one-two in the race, separated by only 99 votes among more than 2 million. The runoff featured an ad showing Krueger, a Shakespeare-quoting academic type, in Terminator-like leather jacket and sunglasses poking fun at himself by saying, "Was it Shakespeare who said, 'Hasta la vista, baby?' "
The Hutchison campaign replied with a "Hasta la vista, Bobby" ad. The runoff was no contest. Hutchison got 67 percent of the votes.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Ken Herman refreshes our memories on special elections...
Good job by Ken Herman with a refresher course on Texas political history (link). Excerpt follows...
Go read Herman's whole article... lots of information that some of the Republican wannabes for Kay's seat might find important...